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Facebook drives some in relationships crazy with jealousy *

August 6, 2009 | 11:43 am

Before you log onto Facebook to check in with your honey, brace yourself for comments, exchanges and pictures that can bring out the green-eyed monster in you, prompt you to spend more time on Facebook and lead to addictive behavior as you pursue evidence of competition for your beloved's affections.

Never mind the perils of cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying and posting photos that could endanger your future job prospects: Facebook could be ruining your relationship and driving you toward compulsively jealous behavior.

The risk that an innocent peek at Facebook could set in motion this cycle of events is suggested by a new survey of college students described in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior. * Social psychologists from the University of Guelph in Canada queried college students who were in romantic relationships about their Facebook use. Their preliminary findings, presented in the journal's "Rapid Communication" section, suggest that rather than enhancing communication between romantic partners, Facebook use may be fueling wild flights of jealous investigation, as users in relationships perceive hints of potential infidelity and then scramble to find evidence of a partner's unfaithful thoughts or behavior.

Invariably, it seems, they end up feeling more jealous.

And where does this lead?  For some participants in the study, these investigations led to searching behavior they described as "addictive." And the bouts of escalating jealousy, say the researchers, cannot be good for a relationship.

While the survey was of college students, the researchers surmised that Facebook might unleash the same dynamics in adult relationships. Certainly, they noted, it's worth further research. 

The research team responsible for the latest survey has previously found that young adults' need for popularity led them to disclose far more personal information on Facebook than they would reveal in the course of ordinary social contact.

Here's your chance to add to researchers' collection of observations: has an overly friendly comment from a partner's "friend" or a posted photo depicting overly friendly friendship caused you to embark on a cyber-hunt for alleged infidelity? Did you "unfriend" a love interest as a result?

-- Melissa Healy 

* An earlier version of this story misspelled the word "peek."

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Comments (13)

I don't have a facebook account, but typically look for my ex boyfriend to pop up on there. His wife has an account full of pictures of her and their kid, but none of him. I know what some people might say, about privacy expectations and the like, but when one voluntarily posts details of their life on the internet, the reasonable expectation of privacy is gone. Some might say it is stalking and maybe it is something like that, but Im just curious about his happiness in his life and with the choices he made that ruined my life. It would be great to have it confirmed that his life sucks too.
Since some people have a need to be popular it is true they post all kinds of personal details on the internet for anyone to see without using any of the privacy control features that facebook offers, so really, if they post it and dont restrict any viewing of it, how does that make me the bad girl in this situation? And adding people as friends- when you knew you did not get along in the social circles you mixed in, what does that mean? Add a person you dislike so you can say you have another friend? The whole thing smacks of desperation and low self-esteem and desperate efforts to be liked and accepted.
It's sad really, the level that people will go to in efforts to put on a facade.

i am sure the comments were innocent but my husbands and mine past history required that he be a bit more careful with how his friends of the opposite sex treated him on his facebook page...i hadn't used facebook in months and when i went there one day i found things that in retrospect i took to the extreme in jelousy.... i'm living somewhere else due to our circumstanes beyond our control...and this only added to the stress we were under...that i was under...and i made a hasty decision to seperate from him because of the stress i felt with this .... i did not confront him in the crazy sort of was calm actually...asking relevant questions...he felt they were juvenile... he got upset with me..really upset....for even questioning his character...i was afraid....afraid that i was looisng my husband to God knows what and so i made that hasty was hasty....i've regreted it...because i let jelousy eat me when i should have trusted him that he was doing nothing wrong....

Do real men use facebook? If my boyfriend were on there I'd dump him in a flash, and we have been together for nearly 5 years.

this article is all filler.

why waste space on such a childish topic?

I have to agree with this study. My partner actually asked me to explain one by one all of the male "friends" I have on facebook even though it's a networking site. I "unfriended" a lot of males that weren't direct friends as a result but then asked him to explain his friends to me and I kept rolling my eyes like "sure" to all of his answers. I think it showed him how silly he was being and he hasn't commented on any of my facebook interactions after that.

Bottom line is that you have to trust your partner in real life and on the web.

I had the opposite experience on facebook. I went on to cyberstalk my ex boyfriend and see what girls were hitting on him, but one of his male friends I've never met consistently wrote funny, interesting and insightful posts on my ex's page. Over about the span of a month it became really clear to me how much more appealing this guy was than my ex. Now I constantly visit this new guy's facebook page and couldn't care less about my ex's anymore. I'm not going to tell the new guy this or contact him in any way because he would think I'm a weirdo, but I still enjoy visiting his page and following his travels and comments, and I feel completely relieved of any jealous feelings for my comparatively uninteresting ex-boyfriend. for me, facebook killed the green-eyed monster by exposing me to the better fish that are indeed in that sea.

I'm with Caroline--I think men using Facebook is a turnoff, as strange as that sounds given that I'm on it all the time. I would be shocked in my husband decided to open an account!

Wow, this is really crazy and very interesting to read. All the REAL LIFE stories people comment on here! Its almost depressing. It boggles my mind that couple's really don't trust each other all because of a social networking site.
Come to think about it, I do have some friends who had their relationship fall apart because of facebook.
It also makes you realize just how many people are out there with such low self esteem.

I would not stay in a relationship with any guy who made me explain all my male friendships ... FB or otherwise. That's just psycho. FB does make it easier to keep tabs on people, but the jealousy comes from the lack of maturity of the user. There are plenty of people on FB who don't overreact to the silly comments of their significant other's friends.

Oh, PUH-LEEZ! Jealous and distrustful people are going to act out, and social media are simply another option. If a partner pulls this online, it's gonna be 1000 times worse when real life kicks in.

Phil A. : my situation was unique in the sense that my husband had an affair(s) in the past. TRUST was and is a big factor. And when a man allows women to leave "too friendly" notes on facebook by my standards then ofcourse one will react, wouldn't you? My idea was to get him to get these women to respect him and to respect me. That he was married and so that requires a whole diffrent set of rules. If he did not set boundaries then how will women respect him and me as his wife? Maybe i was too delicate or sensative. But after everything we had been through it was required. I have a facebook page and i would never allow anyone to talk to me like that or allow anyone to say anything negative about my husband. There was an uneven balance i felt. I will not tell you that what i did was right because it wasn't it was hasty but with the past history we had, how do you get through to a man like that?

Facebook is the root of evil and leads to the destruction of relationships. My story....I didn't have a facebook account, but I wanted to see some pictures a friend of mine had posted, so I asked my girlfriend (who is younger) to let me log in as her and look up my friend. She started acting very nervous and then said "well, you can just get your own account and look at the pictures".... I then knew something was up, so I kept asking her, "why can't I just use your account. After arguing over the issue for a few hours, and after she thought she had deleted everything that would lead me to finding out the truth, she agreed to let me look on her facebook page for the pictures. At this point, I had no interest in seeing my friends pictures, rather to see what she was hiding. She thought she had deleted everything but forgot to delete the "sent messages". That is when I found a message from a guy telling her about how tired he was from being up so late the night before and planning their next "movie night" and "another massage LOL". She then lied and was just a joke, and I was being ridiculous. Needless to say, this led me to get my own facebook account and begin my investigation. What I found destroyed our relationship and the trust I had for her. Not only was I not being "ridiculous" and "blowing things out of proportion" as she said. But, I found out that she had been cheating on me for over a year with this guy and chatting all day long. All the nights that she couldn't answer the phone because she was "watching movies with the girls", she was really screwing around on me.

My boyfriend and I broke up a few days ago over facebook... About a month ago, I asked him to add me as a friend (we were friends on facebook in the beginning of our relationship but I deleted him when we had broken up for a period of time) and he said no, he would get jealous over posts and was afraid it would cause issues... I felt that was ridiculous and if we aren't mature enough to communicate and trust then our relationship isn't very strong...
A couple days later, I sent him a friend request. Rather than accepting my request, he shortened his name and changed the settings so I couldn't find him in a search. He told me he deleted his account and it was worth that "sacrifice" to avoid any disagreements or jealousy in our relationship. I didn't call him out on his lie right away in hopes that he would fess up on his own and make things right without my prompting.
Saturday night, after no response to a text and phone call, I sent an email to him through facebook (I still had a message in my box from when we were friends on facebook... this is how I knew he changed his name and settings, the name shows up in black instead of blue and it reflected the name he had changed it to... if he had deleted his account, I would not have been able to send the email, further verifying he was in "stealth" mode). At four a.m, he finally called and text me stating "why are you even with me". The next day, he sent me an email saying I was being ridiculous and everything is always a test and he didn't know his account wasn't deleted and had changed his name because an ex-girlfriend was stalking him.. then decided to delete his account but for whatever reason it wasn't deleted...
I told him to add me as a friend to prove he wasn't hiding anything or hiding me...
He refuses to saying that I should know from everything he has said and done that he is not hiding me or hiding anything and that I am being ridiculous for throwing our relationship away over a "stupid website".
What's really sad is we are both in our thirties... am I unreasonable?


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