Thoughts of a Psychologist: Dating Apps, Social Media and Breakups
Dating apps, social media, and breakups are still some of the hottest topics of 2019. Now that the New Year has started and it is time to turn a new page, we are sharing with you some great relationship advice to help you start a positive and fresh love life.
We have talked with Floriana Maione, a Psychologist/ Systemic Relational Therapist based in Amsterdam, who has replied to some of your trickiest questions.
How damaging is tracking your ex-boyfriend on Social Media? Are couples who share their love on a social media platform truly happy? What can you learn from your partner's online activity?
Keep reading to see what we found out!
About Dating Apps
FP: It could be argued that technology allows us to ‘track’ our partner 24/7. Does this lead to controlling behavior? Is the latter due to lack of trust or personal insecurities?
Floriana: I personally think that everyone uses the web and the technology based on how they are structured psychologically. Of course, a person who might be inclined, due to their personal history, to develop and show controlling behaviors might find it appealing to control their partner using specific apps. Many other people might be completely disinterested in doing so, even though nowadays it's possible to easily “track” where a partner is.
FP: Dating apps might give us the feeling we have endless options of dating choice. How can this feeling affect human behavior? Does it lead to conceitedness, egoism?
Floriana: The internet and dating apps can spread the illusion that it is possible to meet countless different partners as if just being online is enough to guarantee romance. Tinder or Meetup work to make us feel closer to each other while remaining apart. These apps create the possibility for new and/or exciting experiences without leaving the comfort of our homes.
Online dating encourages us to chat instead of actually meeting up, to communicate through separated “stories” instead of communicating through an intense and integrated narrative about who we are. Virtual relationships are relatively easy to start and to end, they usually are light and uncomplicated.
I personally don't think this would lead to selfish behavior, but of course, if there is an online dating abuse, it might lead to an alienation from ourselves and from our inner life, from who we are and what we deeply desire and need. It might make it more difficult to truly engage with another person, to invest in them and to establish a deep and meaningful relationship.
About Social Media
FP: A lot of couples present their perfect relationship to the world while the truth is far different. How can this superficiality affect the couple’s dynamic?
Floriana: Let's take the example of a couple facing a crisis, while their social media only reflect happiness. I would ask them why they need to do that, which insecurities are they covering up? Is it a way to open up discussion on what doesn't work privately or a way to ignore problems? Perhaps they are trying to show someone significant how good they are doing?
FP: Could ‘liking’ other people on social media while being in a relationship be seen as cheating? How to cope with your partner cheating you ‘online’?
Floriana: Many behaviors might be interpreted as cheating. A partner might feel betrayed due to a variety of things such as: not being listened to, not being taken care of, not being supported or understood, and so on. At times someone's attention might move from the current partner to other potential partners, online or offline. If something like this is happening, I would suggest reflecting on the relationship itself and ask yourself some questions. Why is this happening now? What is the meaning of this? What is the partner trying to compensate for? What does he/she feel they are not getting from the relationship? What happened before they started to direct their attention outside? Are they looking for new possibilities?
Betrayal in a relationship is almost always a failure of the relationship itself, a fact both partners are responsible for.
FP: After a breakup, couples are still able to ‘track’ each other on social media. In which way does this affect/interrupt the grieving?
Floriana: Breaking up can be extremely painful. It can take months, sometimes years, before the person is able to move on from such an event.
During a separation, all the painful emotions in our inner life could flare up again. I am referring to old painful events and memories that had silently settled within ourselves. For example, the neglect by our families, the betrayal we felt when a sibling was “the favorite” of our parents, having to leave home,
the loss of someone loved as a parent or a grandparent, a betrayal we have experienced from a friend. Old hurt becomes relevant once more and is revitalized and highlighted by the current grief of a breakup.
This process can be extremely delicate and in order to truly explore what happened, it is suggested to have a period of absolutely no contact with the ex-partner. Of course, being able to “track” one other on social media can make the whole process more painful and complicated.
FP: What are the methods of dealing with a breakup, if you already see them on social media on a daily basis? Can you ever really forget this person?
Floriana: Moving on is never easy and social media can make it even more complicated, since there is a superficial and sometimes constant updating on “how the other is doing”.
It is absolutely necessary to avoid places, situations and of course social profiles involving the ex-partner in order to have a complete detachment necessary to get over the grief. If possible even a short trip would be helpful. A change of scenario could help get some well-needed distraction and diminish the usual negative thoughts.
During this phase it is important to practice self-care, express all the pain felt and reflect on what happened. One should also explore in what way they played a part in what occurred, accept that the love story is over and there is nothing to be done about it.
The stereotype is that breaking up is always damaging and extremely painful. This can be true, but it is also possible to learn how to nourish ourselves through our own melancholy and consider the positive aspects that a break up might bring.
What we have to ask ourselves is:
•What did I give and gain in those years?
•What did I learn in this relationship?
•What am I learning about myself during this abandonment?
•What really happened?
•Which emotions am I feeling?
Floriana Maione is an Italian and English speaking psychologist with over 10 years of study and practice with international clients.
Currently, she works in her practice in the city center of Amsterdam where she provides counseling and therapy for individuals, couples, and families. In her clinical activity, she mostly works with international clients dealing with: relationships and family matters, interpersonal communication, issues related to separation and divorce, depression, personal growth and development, anxiety and panic disorder, burn-out and work-related stress, sleep disorders, life transitions, and change.
To get in touch with Floriana directly, visit her website: www.psychotherapyamsterdam.com
To find out more on the topic from the perspective of another psychologist, check out our podcast on 21st Century Dating: