Today’s modern couples have fully integrated sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube into their relationship.
In fact, social media is an integral part of the dating ritual, the engagement stage, and everyday married life. Unfortunately, it is also a factor in relationship break-ups, the open sharing that “it’s complicated,” and the public announcement of a separation or divorce.
Social media connects us with anyone at anytime to do anything anywhere with anybody. From the countless stories we’ve heard from broken-hearted spouses and scorned lovers, most every relationship that was negatively affected by social media-related issues occurred because the couple never discussed their online guard rails or virtual boundaries to protect their relationship.
“The Techlationship Talk” is five basic questions every dating, engaged and married couple should discuss to make sure their virtual activities and technology habits don’t create problems in their real-time relationship. (To help the conversation go a little deeper, we’ve offered some additional scenarios to consider.)
- Is Anybody Not Acceptable? Are there real life associations that shouldn’t be a Facebook Friend, Twitter Follower or other online connection: people who are a negative influence; certain family members; exes of any type (including boyfriends/girlfriends, ex-spouses, crushes); co-workers, employees or clients; people not known in real life; current or past porn stars? (Since “Weinergate,” this last one is now officially on the table for discussion).
- Is Anytime Off Limits? Mobile technology and free wi-fi makes access to social media sites easy, anytime and anywhere. But is that a good thing? How much time online is too much time? Is it possible to log on too early in the morning or too late at night? What is an acceptable amount of time to be using social media each day?
- Is Anywhere Out of Bounds? Social media allows people to communicate in a variety of private and public ways. But just because it’s possible, does it make it acceptable? What about private correspondences through chatting, inbox posts, or direct messaging? Is it OK to send private messages to any online friend, or should these forms of online communication be reserved for certain people? Are there any Groups, forums, private or semi-private online gatherings that are problematic?
- Is Anything Taboo? What happens online, stays online forever and is accessible anytime by just about anybody, anywhere. So on that note, what is and is not appropriate to share about one another and the relationship? What is and is not acceptable to disclose to others in online communities? Is it OK to flirt online with someone else? Due to a number of recent, high profile stories defending “consenting adults” sharing steamy messages and images online, what would constitute as “cheating?”
- Is Anyplace Not Allowed? Social networks give 24/7 access to people, brands and information. But, can the online community expect 24/7 access to you in return? When is it not OK to check in on what Facebook friends are doing? Are there social media-free times like dates or family activities? How about scrolling the News Feed from the bathroom, the bedroom, or the dinner table? What about special events, sacred ceremonies (church, weddings, funerals), or regular gatherings?
The difference between anything happening and nothing happening is that everybody assumes that nobody is doing nothing, when in fact, something is happening and someone is hoping that no one finds out.
The ultimate goal of “The Techlationship Talk” is for couples to openly and honestly talk about where technology and their relationship converge, discuss their social media habits, and share their opinions on how the virtual world and real world collide.
This removes the guesswork for the modern couple, who in this social media age, must find the balance between technology and their relationship, and agree upon mutual guard rails and online boundaries for their relationship.
Now here’s one last question…when will you and your mate have “The Techlationship Talk?”
Share what’s on your mind! (add your comments below)
Have you had an official or unofficial “Techlationship Talk” in your relationship? Did it work for your relationship? Share what you and your mate agreed to.