Infidelity in the Digital Age: Does Social Media Lead to More Divorce?


Opportunities for connection have never been more abundant than in today’s digital age. At our fingertips, nearly every one of us holds a smartphone that allows us to send messages and chat with people we may or may not know in person.

While there are obvious benefits to social media, this technology may also play a modern role in marital satisfaction, trust, and overall endurance of a marriage. 

Increased Time on Social Media

It’s not only what one does on social media, but the actual time spent using it that can lead to conflicts within a marriage. A study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that social media usage is linked to marital unhappiness and higher rates of divorce. Another study conducted and published by Thrive Global found that 50% of the study’s participants reported that social media had some sort of negative effect on their relationship.

One person in the relationship may experience FOMO (fear of missing out), a modern phenomenon that causes one person social anxiety stemmed from the belief that they are missing out on a fun social event that they see others posting about on social media. For some individuals, time spent on social media can explode into a full-blown addiction that decreases the time spent talking with or bonding with their romantic partner.

It seems that social media is creating a paradox effect: in our highly-connected world, it has never been harder to connect with the person right in front of you, even if that person is your romantic partner.

Distrust, Snooping, and Jealousy

When one partner in a relationship spends an increasing amount of time on social media, it can ultimately lead to distrust and snooping. Oftentimes, social media can be an easy access point to find out information about what one’s partner has been doing online and whether they have been messaging other people.

Whether or not the suspicions are warranted, the partner whose phone was snooped through may, in turn, begin to distrust their partner and become angry, bitter, or resentful. Arguments may form about what is considered “cheating.” For instance, one partner may claim that an online chat is innocuous, while the other spouse may feel betrayed and cheated on.

Social Media and Infidelity

Unfortunately, suspicion about a partner’s social media usage is sometimes warranted. In today’s world, many “flings” and affairs begin online. If there is dissatisfaction within a romantic relationship or marriage, social media provides an easy access point to venture beyond one’s existing relationship.

Couples don’t have to eliminate social media from their activities completely; however, by taking certain steps together and setting appropriate boundaries and guidelines, partners can increase trust within the relationship. Here are a few tips to keep social media from harming yours:

  • Don’t Keep Secrets. Typically, keeping a secret because you don’t want your partner to get upset or offended can do more harm than good; if you receive a message or friend request from someone you were previously involved with, tell your partner so you can come up with a plan of action together.
  • Share Passwords with Each Other. Sharing passwords with your spouse can help prevent them from feeling like you are keeping secrets and can improve trust within your relationship, especially with social media usage.
  • Limit Time on Social Media. Be aware of how much time you and your partner spend on social media and set times for when you will put your phones away; making sure that quality, in-person time together is a priority.
  • Communicate With Your Partner. If you are worried about what your partner is doing online, tell them about your concerns and let them know what you are feeling and why.

If you are beginning the divorce process after your spouse was unfaithful, turn to Wisselman, Harounian & Associates for help getting started. We understand that you probably have many questions and concerns regarding child custody, child support, and alimony agreements.

Our team of dedicated legal advocates is here to provide you with the caring and compassionate legal assistance you need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For more information or to schedule your free consultation with our Long Island family law firm, you can call at (516) 773-8300 or fill out our quick online contact form.

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