How Does Social Media Affect Dating + Relationships in 2014?

When it comes to dating and relationships, we live in a confusing time. The world is digitizing before our very eyes, making correspondence lack any shred of a personal touch.

In terms of courting, dating, or finding that life-partner you dine out with and argue over movie selections, more and more of us are ditching the traditional “pub ‘n’ club approach,” and going digital. Sure it’s convenient and can be done while wearing sweatpants, but what effect does this have on our relationships?

Social media changes the way we measure and qualify relationships. Bianca Bosker, a culture journalist from The Huffington Post, argues that “true love is sharing a Facebook profile.” Here, Bosker alludes to the recent notion that serious relationships may ultimately attain a “Facebook official” status.

Oh, but don’t worry. When choosing how to tell the world at large about your most recent relationship, the Facebook team has kindly offered you a smorgasbord of (all very tempting) options. Perhaps you’re “widowed,” in a “complicated” relationship, or even in a sexually adventurous “open relationship?” Have fun explaining THAT one to the parents while preparing yourself for an onslaught of pokes and mysterious new friend requests.

According to the Pew Research Center’s latest survey, several new symbols of romantic devotion have taken hold among couples: the shared password, the joint email address and the fused social media profile. “But what does this mean” I hear you ask through the screen? This indicates that we are changing the way we measure the “seriousness” of our relationships by using digital verbiage and newly recognized signposts.

So far, so good? Perhaps not! Tyler Curry a writer for Gay Voices argues that, at least in reference to gay relationships, social media can have a particularly detrimental effect in the way it can be used to misrepresent an individual:

“On their face, social media may seem like just another tool to get to know a person, but in reality, applications like Facebook and Instagram portray a distorted, disjointed and altogether imaginary version of the people we are.”

Risqué profile pictures, new “friends” and unwanted digital “pokes” can also cause an onslaught of problems once a relationship is “official.” While there’s no doubt that social media profiles can provide “supplementary reading” when studying one’s compatibility as a plus-one, Curry concludes that “[w]hen it comes to dating and mating, sometimes it helps to unplug in order to connect.”

At the messy end of the relationship trajectory Ashley Fern, from Elite Daily, notes that the social media age makes it impossible to break up with someone. Rather than closing the door on an already finished relationship, we are constantly reminded of what our ex is up to – particularly if you live in the same city, share a collection of mutual friends, or have an unfortunate pre-disposition to online stalking.

With all this in mind, perhaps it’s time to unplug the computer, turn off those phones and hit the dance floor (like in the good ol’ days) instead?