May 11, 2022

Relationship expert sparks debate with ‘red flag’ issue on social media use

Way of life

A leading relationship expert has sparked an online debate after asking if it’s considered a ‘red flag’ if your partner is constantly on social media. Photo / 123rf

In 2022, you would be hard-pressed to find any aspect of life that isn’t impacted by social media.

And dating is no different – as evidenced by the debate that was sparked earlier this week when a leading Australian relationship expert asked if it was considered a ‘red flag’ for your partner to constantly scroll on his telephone.

“Love it or hate it, social media is a part of our lives, but what impact does it have on our love life and relationships? Perth-based matchmaker, dating expert, podcast host and writer, Louanne Ward wrote in a post on her Facebook group, She Said He Said.

“If you were dating someone who is addicted to social media, would that be a red flag? How much is too much?”

His question sparked widespread discussion among the group’s more than 2,300 members, with one man going so far as to say he would break up with someone if they were on social media too much.

“My pet hate is when you’re on a first date and they’re constantly on social media. I’ve been on a few dates like this before, it’s so rude and disrespectful,” wrote another, to which someone else agreed: “They would be shown the door, as it means the virtual world is more important to them than time spent with their partner.”

“For me, I want someone I can have smart conversations with – if they open their phone in the middle of a date or dinner, it looks like they can’t,” commented a woman.

Social media can become a form of behavioral addiction that harms other areas of life, including relationships, the expert says.  Photo / 123rf
Social media can become a form of behavioral addiction that harms other areas of life, including relationships, the expert says. Photo / 123rf

“It would be boring if you tried to tell them something, and they are so committed to what they were doing it felt like you were talking to a brick wall all the time,” one man wrote.

“So red flag? Maybe not, but boring? Certainly.

When asked if nowadays a partner being constantly on social media is indeed a red flag, Ward told that it could be – for a number of reasons.

“Social media can become a form of behavioral addiction that impairs other areas of life, including relationships,” she explained.

“It’s dopamine that induces the same neural circuitry that triggers the brain’s reward center, causing a chemical reaction [in the same way] like drugs or gambling.

“While your partner is on social media, they’re disengaged from real relationships and the focus is on them. They’re looking for validation and attention in order to get their fix.”

The time they spend on social media, Ward added, “takes them away from other things like being present in the relationship,” as well as other commitments, like work or exercise.

“If they’re constantly thinking about what to post, they use it to forget about problems and get stressed out when they can’t use it,” she said.

“It’s the first thing they do when they wake up and the last thing they do before sleeping.”

And while excessive use of a platform like Instagram or Twitter “isn’t always the result of addiction”, “nobody wants to compete for the attention of someone with a screen, so it’s important to have boundaries and limit your screen time when you are with others and be present in the conversation,” Ward said.

If you notice your partner is constantly on the phone, Ward advised that it’s “always best to start the conversation by talking about how it’s affecting you and impacting the relationship.”

“Don’t accuse them, blame them or try to control the outcome,” she added.

“You can try asking them what they get from social media that you could help achieve. Ask them if you can come up with a solution together to limit the time they spend [on social media].

“You can also share your concerns about the links between social media and negative mental health, and let them know you’re here to help.”

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