Social Networks and Relationships

Introduction

Social networks play a very significant role in romantic relationships. The roles may include initiating such relationships, maintaining them, or even dissolving the relationships (Lepper 189). Other benefits may accrue from membership in such sites when in a relationship. However, there may be disadvantages, and negative emotions present, such as jealousy. The main focus of this paper is Facebook as a social networking site and relationships.

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A social network is a website that lets people create a freely available or partially available profile within an enclosed system (Lindner 11). The people in the system communicate an outline of other users that they share connections. They also view and go over the users’ list of links within the system. As Lindner states, social networking is an essential part of human relationships. However, Lindner asserts it is not a new idea as many may choose to perceive. Social networking is almost as old as society (Lindner 10).

Social interactions are somewhat different in today’s world because of technology, especially the availability of the internet. These networks are a resource relevant to the provision of social ties for human development (Joison 1028; Lindner 10). Humans’ psychological well-being has its roots in social support. This wellness spills over to physical health by significantly reducing stressors in life.

A common characteristic in most social networking sites is that the users’ profiles hinge on the impression of their network of associations with others. The profiles may vary depending on the sites, but major descriptions involved are details such as a person’s hobbies, age, and location (Lindner 12). One more familiar feature among social networking sites is the means of communication among the users. They can either leave their messages in the public section or private correspondence section.

Facebook

Facebook is one major social networking site created by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004. It is a freely available program that permits other developers to design applications that combine with it. Information is sent to both parties, enabling a wealth of social experiences online (Ko et al. 37).

Facebook’s nature of offline and online information exchange plays a role in forming and maintaining relationships (Lindner 14). People make profiles that describe them then set up links with other people in the network known as friends (Lampe, Ellison & Steinfield 435).

Facebook friendship means the ability to read a friend’s profile (Lindner 16). A person interested in friendship instructs the system to instigate a friend request. The two groups involved must consent for friendship on Facebook to be effected (Tong et al. 532). Communication on Facebook can be effected through writing on a member’s wall, conveying a private direct message, or conveying an email message via Facebook.

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The Role of Social Networks in Romantic Relationships Development

The Facebook social context is one of its kind. Facebook has a major role in the growth of romantic relationships. Social media, especially Facebook, complements, or at other times substitutes the traditional interactions in relationship growth for some people (Fox, Warber & Makstaller 4). People, therefore, meet online and engage in romantic relationships. They are also able to inform their friends and family of their status online.

The use of social networks, in this case, Facebook, makes it easy to send and receive messages across a wide group of people, especially messages of romantic relationship status. There are ways of conveying people’s relationship status, such as wearing rings or even by word of mouth, but since Facebook is a public domain, it is used to spread information to many people.

Previously, people in an individual’s extended social network never got an opportunity to know such information as meeting these people was not an everyday event. Facebook, on the other hand, is instantaneous as the news is received almost as soon as it is posted (Fox, Warber & Makstaller 4).

Effective coupling should accomplish some goals in society. One of the tasks of coupling is combining the social networks of the couple to create a harmonious existence. Two models are proposed that explain how social networks work in romantic relationships (Lindner 23). These are the support and interference models. The support model states that the social network associates endorse the couple’s affairs hence making the couple contented with each other.

The network associates foster a sense of being a couple by including the couple in social activities and affirming that the pair can overcome any hurdles they face. The models give what Lindner refers to as the glue of relationships (Lindner 24).

The social care offered by the associates is critical in decision making and determines whether the relationship is sustained or not. The interference model has a different view. The model champions the idea that network members are instrumental in creating feelings of discontentment hence dissolution of relationships.

The support and interference models’ role is to decrease the level of uncertainty, social comparison, social restrictions, personal regulation, and resocialization. Individuals can use the strategies mentioned in improving their relationship. Uncertainty reduction is used when talking about issues in romantic relationships (Lindner 24). Different opinions are received from discussions of issues with associates in the social network.

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Social comparison is a measure of a couple’s relationship with other people’s relationships. Social restrictions are imposed either by approving or disapproving the relationship when associates in the social networks are displeased with a particular couple’s relationship. The individuals can be resocialized if the network members disapprove of the relationship.

Resocialization is done by the individuals being reminded of the societal expectations of them. The attitudes of the people involved are reinforced by personal regulation. Here, they try their best to obey laws suggested by the social network members (Lindner 24).

Jealousy

Jealousy, which is a multidimensional concept, is the emotive reaction to a threat to a romantic affair. Various typologies of jealousy have been proposed. There is a difference between jealousy as a state and jealousy as a disposition (Sonja & Camiel 511). Dispositional jealousy is a trait in a person, whereas state jealousy is a reaction to a situation or event that stirs up jealousy. Buunk distinguishes between reactive jealousy, possessive jealousy, and anxious jealousy (Sonja & Camiel 512).

Reactive jealousy is the emotive reaction, for example, anger at the realization of a partner’s infidelity. A cognitive element is part of anxious jealousy, which entails endless pondering whether one’s partner is unfaithful.

Possessive jealousy contains a behavioral element. It incorporates monitoring behavior attempts to stop one’s partner from keeping friends of the opposite sex. Reactive jealousy appears as a response to a genuine threat to the love affair. Anxious jealousy and possessive jealousy may appear even when there is no genuine threat (Sonja & Camiel 512).

Facebook, as a social network, causes Facebook jealousy. Behaviors such as getting jealous after one’s romantic partner obtain a message on their wall from a friend of different sex are considered Facebook jealousy. Reactions to common Facebook behaviors such as accepting friend requests, exchanging wall messages, and uploading photos constitute possessive and anxious jealousy. When one romantic partner posts comments on the photo of an attractive person of the opposite sex, jealousy also arises.

All these occurrences bring attention to the negative effects of Facebook. Access to one’s partner’s Facebook information might provide new information about the partner. Facebook jealousy is not entirely as a result of Facebook. Other individual traits and the amount of time spent on Facebook have a significant effect on Facebook jealousy (Sonja & Camiel 512).

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Facebook Use and Relationship Happiness

Facebook is used to build up the bond between friends and acquaintances. Facebook is helpful for upholding feeble ties with acquaintances and maintaining strong ties with close friends (Lepper 175). Therefore, it also makes romantic relationships as strong as time passes. Facebook is used to show signs of loyalty to one’s partner (Sonja & Camiel 517; Lepper 184).

Loyalty signs are shown, especially when a new partner updates status as that of being ‘in a relationship.’ Sonja and Camiel quote Mod, who asserts that altering the relationship status is an important action in a relationship as it changes the behavior in the actual offline affair (517). Mod also asserts that public display of affection on Facebook makes people happy. This may involve posting partners’ photos on Facebook.

Relationship satisfaction has a positive correlation with the use of Facebook. Facebook use for grooming is projected to have the greatest impact as grooming entails looking through the profiles of Facebook friends and one’s lover. The course of emotions is established by the information posted on Facebook.

People whose primary reason for visiting Facebook is to go through profiles of friends and their partners bump into more information about their partners than those whose main reason for visiting Facebook is for a personal presentation. People who make use of Facebook for grooming tend to get Facebook relationship happiness. Pictures of the couple updated on Facebook and positive comments about the relationship make the couple feel that their relationship is fulfilling (Sonja & Camiel 517).

The personal need for recognition foretells the happiness of Facebook relationships. People who value popularity on social media are happy when their partners openly show the positive sides of their relationship online (Sonja & Camiel 517). The need for recognition has a positive correlation to social network relationship happiness.

However, self-esteem controls the outcome of social network usage and want for recognition on Facebook relationship happiness. People struggling with low self-esteem are happier when their partner displays their relationship status than people with high self-esteem (Steinfield, Ellison & Lampe 444).

Facebook centers on the restoration of kinship and closes social relationship such as romantic relationships. This is possible by the use of Facebook technology to make up for long distances and absence from the people one loves (Fox, Warber & Makstaller 13). Facebook influences dating relationships in a big way. Just like any other social relationships, Facebook faces challenges that are not unique to it alone. The challenges are equally present in offline relationships.

These challenges, just like other cultural situations, can be controlled. There are more advantages than disadvantages to a budding romantic relationship on Facebook. The most common demerit is jealousy (Sonja and Camiel, 517). However, the trait is not entirely as a result of Facebook use. It can also be as a result of an individual’s disposition.

There are more reasons to champion the use of Facebook among couples than there are to discourage them. As Sonja and Camiel (517) observe, Facebook makes couples in a relationship happy. It is also observed that Facebook is cited as a primary communication means in partners during the early stages of their romantic relationship (Fox et al. 13). Therefore, it is a useful means of maintaining a relationship.

The use of Facebook has been observed as a way for couples to prove their commitment to the relationship (Lepper 184). Facebook affirms a couple’s relationship, especially when positive comments are posted by friends in the network. A partner may also openly appreciate the other through Facebook.

Annotated Bibliography

Fox, Jesse, Katie M. Warber and Dana C. Makstaller. “The Role of Facebook In Romantic Relationship Development: An Exploration of Knapp’s Relational Stage Model.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 30.2011 (2011): 771-794. Web. 

The study by Fox et al. centers on the repercussions of social networking to romantic relationships. A stage of the model theory of relationships by Knapp’s (1978) guides the study. The part played by Facebook in the stages of a romantic relationship is observed. The study also considers the implications of the declaration of one’s romantic relationship status.

Facebook is found to be a key tool in determining the stability of the relationship, especially after the official declaration on Facebook. The declaration results, however, are based on gender. Possible meanings for social networks in romantic relationships are hypothesized. The study is important to the topic of discussion, especially because of the input in the actual role Facebook plays in initiating and maintaining romantic relationships.

Lampe, Cliff, Nicole Ellison and Charles Steinfield 2007, A Familiar Face (book): Profile Elements as Signals in an Online Social Network. Web.

Data obtained from Facebook is used to determine the connection between a user’s profile and the number of friends they have online. It gives a clue into the weight the users place on the profile to network with other people. Theories such as transaction ground theory and common ground theory are used to predict the significance of given areas of the user profiles in determining friendship articulation in the site. The method of data collection depends on the analysis of profiles of Facebook users.

The results indicate that there is a positive correlation between filling in profile fields and the number of friends. This study is relevant in finding out the relationship between Facebook and romantic relationships as the profiles play a significant role in couples’ happiness or jealousy.

Lindner, Katherine A. 2012, The Effects of Facebook “Stalking” on Romantic Partners’ Satisfaction, Jealousy, and Insecurity. Web.

The work by Lindner is a fairly new study done in an attempt to know how people use Facebook about romantic relationships. It is a response to fill a knowledge gap by researchers who have done so much on Facebook and left out the dynamics of romantic relationships on the site. The data collection instrument used is a 42-item questionnaire. The items include the respondents’ tendencies on the internet, their satisfaction levels in their romantic relationships, and their jealousy levels. Individuals that term their relationships as unfulfilling engage in jealous behavior. Respondents who are insecure depend heavily on Facebook in maintaining their relationships. The article is relevant to the topic of discussion social of networks and relationships, especially in explaining jealousy.

Sonja Utz and Camiel J. Beukeboom. “The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 16, (2011): 511–527. Web.

This study focuses on two specific emotions experienced in romantic relationships. These are jealousy and happiness due to using social networks. Sonja and Camiel investigate whether relationship satisfaction, dispositional jealousy, and social networking affect the emergence of happiness and jealousy. The role of self-esteem in the outcome is considered.

The focus is to test formulated hypotheses. Esteem is found to be a predictor of jealousy; hence, the conclusion that high-esteem individuals seeking popularity thrive with positive images of themselves posted while low-esteem individuals react with jealousy on perceived partner’s infidelity. The study is hence relevant in the attempt to understand the role of Facebook in romantic relationships as it shows which user ends up happy or jealous.

Steinfield, Charles, Nicole B. Ellison, and Cliff Lampe. “Social Capital, Self-Esteem, and Use of Online Social Network Sites: A Longitudinal Analysis.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 29.6 (2008): 434-445. Web.

This study employs a longitudinal research method on subjects that are Facebook users. Test items include the connection relating to the level of Facebook utilization, measures of emotional well-being, and issues of social capital. The level of Facebook utilization in the first year has a strong correlation with bridging social capital results in the second year.

However, self-esteem moderates the correlation between Facebook utilization and bridging social capital. Hence, the effects of high and low esteem on bridging social capital are discussed. This paper helps build the discussion of social networks and romantic relationships since self-esteem is a key variable in determining who uses Facebook and why they use it.

Works Cited

Fox, Jesse, Katie Warber M. and Dana C. Makstaller. “The Role of Facebook In Romantic Relationship Development: An Exploration of Knapp’s Relational Stage Model.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 30.2011 (2011): 771-794. Web.

Joinson, Adam, 2008, ‘Looking at’, ‘Looking up’ or ‘Keeping up with’ People? Motives and uses of Facebook. Web.

Ko, Moo Nam, Gorrell P. Cheek, Mohamed Shehab, Ravi Sandhu. “Social-Networks Connect Services.” IEEE Computer Society. 43. 8 (2010): 37-43. Web.

Lampe, Cliff, Nicole Ellison and Charles Steinfield 2007, A Familiar Face (book): Profile Elements as Signals in an Online Social Network. Web.

Lepper, Tammy Swenson. “Facebook: Students’ Perception of Ethical Issues about their Online Presence.” The Ethics of Emerging Media: Information, Social Norms, and New Media. Ed. Bruce E. Drushel and Kathleen. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. 2011.175-188. Print.

Lindner, Katherine A. 2012, The Effects of Facebook “Stalking” on Romantic Partners’ Satisfaction, Jealousy, and Insecurity. Web.

Sonja, Utz and Camiel J. Beukeboom. “The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 16.4 (2011): 511–527. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.

Steinfield, Charles, Nicole B. Ellison and Cliff Lampe. “Social Capital, Self-Esteem, and Use of Online Social Network Sites: A Longitudinal Analysis.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 29.6 (2008): 434–445. Web.

Tong, Tom S., Brandon Van Der Heide, Lindsey Langewell, and Joseph B. Walther. “Too Much of a Good Thing? The Relationship between the Number of Friends and Interpersonal Impressions on Facebook.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.13.2008 (2008): 531-549.

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