Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Monday, December 6, 2010

facebook OCD: facebook Can Destroy Your Romantic Relationship!

Oh, Lord, here we go: all over the world, men and women are emotionally regressing at rapid rates, morphing into adolescents who’ve caught a terrible romantic infection that leads to markedly jealous and paranoid feelings. I’m talking about how facebook, the social networking site that has the world singing with glee in the same universal chorus, and I’m concerned that the state of romantic relationships today is jeopardized because of it.

I find that men and women, when interested in someone romantically, are checking their romantic target’s facebook page, walls, etc., trying to get more information on said target. Early on, they’re on the hunt for photos: does it look like he might be with that girl? Is her arm wrapped around him in a sexual way? Do you think they’re together?

Once in the relationship, I see this obsessive-compulsive checking continuing and, to boot, getting worse. These men and women start searching for information about their romantic targets' friends, reading everyone’s walls for appearances of their romantic target’s name. People start getting anxious, and there’s no slowing down from there. Has she mentioned me on her wall? Has she posted any pictures of us yet together?

The worst of the facebook OCD I see is what happens when men and women in romantic relationships end their relationships. People are breaking into their target's facebook account once they’ve been cut out of their target’s friendship circle, trying to glean more information about what he or she is doing now. This behavior, the facebook obsessor often realizes, is becoming a problem. Checking facebook and what the targe is doing becomes its own drug. People start swearing off facebook, determined to close their accounts or vying to never check their target's page again.

Oh, this is terrible! The therapist in me is crying out: “This is really unhealthy, and it is lowering your self-esteem!” Facebook OCD is turning grown men and women into adolescents who are susceptible to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. One of the hallmarks of facebook is OCD is the fact that, after all the obsessive thoughts about their romantic targets and the compulsive checking on facebook to track their target's daily life, the checker feels worse: ashamed of the lengths they've gone to, and feeling empty, sad, and alone even thought they're connected - so to speak - with five hundred million others.

If you engage in this kind of self-destructive behavior on facebook, try to cut it out altogether, or, at least, to reduce its frequency. Focus on your feelings and your needs, rather than the person you were once – or still are – interested in. Finally, if facebook is leaving you feeling unhappy, consider taking a break. Maybe when you return to it, you’ll have had time to focus your mind on things that make you feel better, rather than worse.

PLUS: Dr. Seth's new book, Dr. Seth's Love Prescription, is about how to stop repeating bad patterns in your romantic relationships. It's in every Barnes & Noble store, as well as Borders and others, and online at Amazon.com!

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