Facebook is a top cause of relationship trouble, says US lawyers.
When Facebook gets involved, relationships can quickly fall apart - as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi have discovered
A new survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that some two-thirds of divorce lawyers cite Facebook as “the ‘primary source’ of evidence in divorce proceedings,” and “a leading cause of relationship trouble.”
Even though the rate of divorce in the US has remained largely stable in recent years, American divorce lawyers and academics have joined Middle East analysts in picking out Facebook as a leading cause of relationship trouble, with American lawyers now demanding to see their clients' Facebook pages as a matter of course before the start of proceedings.
"We're coming across it more and more. One spouse connects online with someone they knew from school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook," said Dr Steven Kimmons, a clinical psychologist and marriage counsellor at Loyola University Medical Centre near Chicago.
Yet while the US media has been quick to trumpet any evidence of Facebook as the country's leading marriage-wrecker, the truth is "It's complicated," as the site's relationship status would have it.
A 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that four out of five lawyers reported an increasing number of divorce cases citing evidence derived from social networking sites in the past five years, with Facebook being the market leader.
Two-thirds of the lawyers surveyed said that Facebook was the "primary source" of evidence in divorce proceedings, while MySpace with 15% and Twitter with 5% lagged far behind.
Those statistics included not just evidence of infidelity but other legal battles, such as child custody cases in which parents deny using illicit drugs but boast of smoking marijuana on their Facebook pages.
Photographs harvested from social networking sites – including those posted by friends or colleagues on their own pages – are a particularly rich source of damning evidence, according to divorce lawyers.
"This sort of evidence has gone from nothing to a large percentage of my cases coming in," Linda Lea Vicken, a member of the divorce lawyers' group from South Dakota, told the Associated Press.
Statistics for January from online analysts Nielsen showed 135 million people in the US visiting Facebook during the month – nearly 70% of the country's internet users . On average, users spent more than seven hours a month visiting the site, far longer than the less than half an hour spent on visits to Amazon or the average of two hours and 15 minutes on Google, America's most popular web destination.
Ways Facebook Can Harm A Relationship
Facebook provides an escape. If your relationship is in trouble, you need to address what's going on in it. Perhaps you and your spouse need to go to counseling.
Maybe you need to make more compromises, and listen with openness to some of your wife's complaints. Perhaps the two of you need to spend more quality time together.
The problem with a website like Facebook and the online networking it provides is escapism. You can get lost for hours emailing old friends, looking at their pictures or reading their status updates.
Facebook is not the real world. It is an online bulletin board, with each of your friends having their own mini-sites.
If you choose to spend too much time on Facebook, as opposed to addressing your relationship issues, then the problems will likely worsen. You need to face reality, not escape it.
An emotional affair with an old flame may develop.
If your relationship is in a rough patch, you may be more vulnerable than normal to attention from others. Facebook provides an easy way for you to seek such attention. Many people who are unhappy in their current lives find comfort with reconnecting with old flames from their high school days. Their memories are golden, and former high school sweethearts can easily become nostalgic for the past.
If you get in contact with an ex through Facebook, you may quickly get involved in an emotional affair. Instead of turning to your spouse, you may find this other person an all-too-available ear for your problems.Online relationships are not the same as in-person ones. Yet many people get seduced by the excitement they provide.
It is not a good idea to be in close touch with an ex -- if you are in another relationship. For the most part, it is trouble just waiting to happen.
It's easy to make comparisons when looking at Facebook.
So your relationship is not one of bliss. It's easy to fall in the trap of making comparisons of your life to others, based on what they present on Facebook.
Try to avoid this very dangerous pitfall. Facebook is a social networking site; it is not reality. People put their best foot forward on this site.
They may talk about their wonderful families and children. But they fail to mention the mundane, such as wiping runny noses or getting tired of the same old, same old.
You may think that everyone else has the perfect relationship, and that you do not. But you do not get the full picture of someone else's life on Facebook.
So try not to make comparisons. If you do, you can easily depress yourself, which is sad since you are not using adequate data.
While Facebook is a great application for some purposes, it can lead to problems as well. If you are in a relationship that has challenges, limit your time connecting with folks from your past.
Your time will be far better spent focusing on how to work through the problems in your real-life relationship. And you do not need distractions from this important issue.
In the end, Facebook is a social tool. For single people, social networks can help them meet that special someone. Even for marriages, social networks can help further along a relationship. Just like with any other social medium, however, even the most innocent of intentions can turn ugly with improper use.
You don’t need to be a psychologist to realize that Facebook can accelerate the process. Stories of people whose marriages were destroyed by affairs that began on social networks abound on the Internet.
Remind yourself why you’re using a given service and regularly assess your intentions with the people you’re frequently communicating with. Facebook may not call itself a dating website, but hundreds of millions use it to connect on varying levels. Intimate conversations, even online ones, should only be reserved for your significant other.
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