3 Ways the Internet May Contaminate Romantic Relationships
The internet is changing how we behave in relationships—often, for the worse.
Posted February 5, 2023 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
- Tech has brought us closer in many ways, but problematic behaviors have also emerged in romantic relationships.
- Phone snubbing, ghosting, and porn overindulgence can present challenges in relationships.
- We must carefully examine which behaviors we want to accept and which we should walk away from.
Technology has brought us closer in many ways, expanding our notions of how we can organize our lives and interact with people we care about. Dating apps have made it easier to meet new people. Social media helps us stay connected throughout the day.
However, problematic behaviors have also emerged, especially in the context of romantic relationships. Here are three signs that your use of technology may be souring rather than enhancing your romantic relationships.
Research explains that ignoring your partner for your smartphone (i.e., phone snubbing) can gnaw at the fabric of your relationship. A study published in Personality and Individual Differences calls the phenomenon of phubbing a "social allergen"—a “bothersome behavior of others that increases irritation as a result of repetition and attributions about them.”
If not addressed, phubbing can lead to larger problems. Your partner might become hyper-sensitively annoyed or disgusted with your repetitive phone checking.
It is advisable to nip your phubbing habit in the bud. Keeping healthy boundaries with your smartphone, like setting a rule that phones go in a no-touch basket after 8 p.m., benefits not just your relationship but also your mental and physical health.
Ghosting is a popular non-confrontational relationship termination technique that involves the complete withdrawal of communication from one member of the relationship. Though seemingly convenient, research warns that ghosting can incur great psychological costs for both the ghoster and the ghostee.
According to psychologist Katherine Holmes of California Polytechnic State University, being ghosted by someone special can have the following negative consequences for the ghostee:
- Lack of closure. Instead of accepting being ghosted, the ghostee searches for answers for why the relationship was "meant to fail" as a way to assuage their grief. Unfortunately, coming up with false justifications can prolong one’s grief instead of resolving it.
- Confusion over responsibility. The abrupt and mysterious end to a relationship brought about by ghosting can lead to confusion about who or what was responsible for it. Inevitably, the ghostee can veer towards self-blame, causing mental exhaustion and lowered self-image.
- Avoiding future vulnerability. Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of being ghosted is developing the instinct to avoid future relationships altogether. This "self-protection" strategy can prevent the ghostee from forming meaningful connections in the future.
#3. Porn Overindulgence
While occasionally shared viewing of porn can be healthy for a couple, an overindulgence in one or both members of a relationship is a definite red flag. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, unlimited access to and unregulated consumption of porn can have a corrosive effect on your sense of self and your relationship.
According to psychologist Stephen Sammut, our preference for instant gratification can work against us when consuming porn and can lead to problems like anxiety and depression. Other side effects of porn overindulgence include:
- A lowered sense of self-worth.
- Objectification of potential partners.
- A warped sense of reality.
Relationships change with the times and technologies. It is upon us to carefully examine such changes to determine which ones we want to accept and which we would be better off walking away from.