Finding the Silver Lining Between Romance & Social Media
How can social media save romantic relationships? Social media facilitates communication, especially between family, friends, and loved ones. Connections are no longer bound by distance or time.
Nowadays, people often communicate through email, text SMS, Instagram messaging, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and other platforms. These platforms allow for easy access and communication between partners in romantic relationships. Moreover, college students often use social media to initiate, supplement, and improve their romantic relationships.
For many college students, social media is the preferred method of online communication between college students engaged in romantic relationships. Communication on social media is quick, easy, and convenient. Couples usually seek attention from one another through this method if they are constrained by distance or busy schedules.
Social media extends one’s relationship by eliminating the constraint of distance. Social media has become interwoven with people’s friendships and relationships because of the ease of communication and the elimination of distance and availability as a constraint to connection.
College students use social media to initiate potential romantic relationships. In Renee S. Sherrell and Glenn W. Lambie’s 2013 research article, “A Qualitative Investigation of College Students’ Facebook Usage and Romantic Relationships: Implications for College Counselors,” Sherrell and Lambie’s study finds that, “Facebook does not merely facilitate college students’ interactions [but also] establishes, shapes, and defines their intimate relationships.”
The article’s purpose is to examine relationships in conjunction with Facebook usage. The authors create a qualitative analysis on students’ Facebook experiences from a specific university, and consequently, suggest implications for college counselors.
As one male student from the study stated: “Facebook allows you to know what she does, where she hangs out, who she hangs out with if she really is who she says she is, [and] if she already has a boyfriend or girlfriend.” A lot can be learned about a person online.
Social media is a way of getting to know another person through electronic communication which is usually the first step to building a platonic or intimate relationship. After learning about the significant other’s interest and becoming closer, interactions can start to occur offline. Group hangouts, study sessions, and sometimes one-on-one interactions outside of social media arise. There comes the point in the relationship where the two agree to see each other.
Once the two become close and intimate enough, which is different for many relationships, they vocalize their togetherness.
Although this research focuses on Facebook as a specific platform, the findings from the research can be extended to other forms of social media. College students use Instagram and Snapchat to get to know their prospective significant others through direct-messaging and their public page.
Sherrell and Lambie used Facebook specifically because it had the largest data set. As a result, intimate relationships can be initiated on these platforms as well as Facebook.
Social media supplements offline romantic relationships between college students. Sometimes college students in intimate relationships use social media to share posts and pictures with each other to start conversations. For instance, Sherrell and Lambie’s example of someone’s boyfriend that shares a news article on social media to his girlfriend, opens the door to an engaging conversation.
Other students can share motivational, funny, or silly posts for inspiration, laughter, and other kinds of reactions. This interaction is an extension of a discussion that can occur with an intimate partner offline.
Sometimes when my girlfriend is upset about something, I send her a bunch of videos of dogs and birds. It cheers her up and shows her I care. Although I could be miles away, I am able to comfort my girlfriend through videos and kind words. It had the same effect as a face-to-face conversation. Essentially, social media gives college students the ability to converse about different subjects and even console their partners instantly, regardless of their distance or time constraint.
College students engaged in intimate relationships offline use social media to improve their real-world relationships. The ability to communicate with another person anywhere and at any time is not insignificant in a relationship, especially a romantic one. Since romantic relationships are no longer bound to distance because of social media, college students can date people that are miles away or go to different schools.
Another way social media and direct-messaging have improved intimate offline relationships is by allowing students to collect their thoughts before communicating them. “Online communication allows [college students] to perfect what they want to say, in that they can erase what they write before posting it, or they can retype their posts to make them more funny or amusing.”
Through social media, college students can impress or entertain their romantic partner through thoughtful responses because of the elimination of the time constraints offline conversations have.