Being together apart: does communication via social media help or harm romantic relationships?

Mark Turner, Emma Prince

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Social media has become central to how people form and maintain friendships and romantic relationships, although its effects are not always positive. The current study investigates how social media use impacts satisfaction in three different types of romantic relationships: (i) long-distance relationships, (ii) geographically close relationships, and (ii) couples living together. How young adults communicate with their partner via social media, the shared behaviors they exhibit and their association with the support, conflict, and relationship depth they experience are explored. Responses from 236 participants aged between 18–25 years (M = 20.68, SD = 1.83) were obtained. Complex associations were found between perceived relationship quality and different indices of shared social media behaviors. Findings provide partial support for the idea that social media platforms may provide an effective mechanism to support and maintain long-distance romantic relationships. However, the overall frequency of social media use was not an important factor in maintaining a satisfying relationship, whether couples were long-distance, geographically close or living together. In addition, greater social media use was not predictive of reduced relationship conflict in any form of relationship. Paradoxically, engaging in social media based surveillance behaviors was related to a higher sense of relationship depth. Those in long distance relationships used social media more for direct communication with a partner, but this also correlated with greater levels of relationship conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHCII 2020: Social Computing and Social Media. Participation, User Experience, Consumer Experience, and Applications of Social Computing
EditorsG. Meiselwitz
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-49576-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-49575-6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2020
EventHCII 2020: International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 19 Jul 202024 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceHCII 2020: International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction


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