Study: Facebook makes lovers jealous

According to a study at the University of Guelph in Canada, Facebook doesn't enhance romantic relationships. It destroys them.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

It's easily done, that slide into the Facebook face-plant.

You casually slip onto your lover's Facebook page and see that his or her status has been changed from "in a relationship" to "single."

Perhaps you'd had a fight. Perhaps he or she was pressing you for a commitment, a press that you responded to with the wrong words or the wrong tone. Or perhaps you saw that your lover seemed to have a new special friend, one who delighted in commenting on every one of your lover's new photos.

Suddenly, there it all is: love destroyed by a few strokes, not of another's body but rather of a keyboard.

If that woman on Facebook is more than a friend, I'll spike her with my head. CC Lord Khan/Flickr

Some social psychologists at the University of Guelph in Ontario would like you to know that they can prove that your heartbreak is largely Facebook's fault, or rather that the fault lies in the fact that Facebook exists. After a little research, the wise brains penned a study entitled "More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy?"

And in their minds was the question of whether the social-networking thing enhances lovers' relationships or perhaps tugs at their essentially brittle strings, unraveling them like a cheap sundress.

It seems to be the latter. In preliminary findings, published in CyberPsychology and Behavior, the researchers found grim tales of lovers torn asunder.

Look, for example, at these words of woe from one Facebooker. Referring to his lover, he says, "I have enough confidence in her to know my partner is faithful, yet I can't help but second-guess myself when someone posts on her wall...It can contribute to feelings of you not really 'knowing' your partner."


The researchers put it so knowingly: "Ambiguous scenes involving a partner and contact with past romantic and sexual partners are among the common triggers of jealousy in romantic relationships, and these ambiguous scenes are a regular occurrence on Facebook."

But even worse is the feedback loop. The oracles of Guelph describe it with such accurate precision: "Heightened jealousy leads to increased surveillance of a partner's Facebook page. Persistent surveillance results in further exposure to jealousy-provoking information."

Once you are on that slippery slope, you are headed for slippery slop. Naturally, some respondents (for they were students) began to use the word "addiction" to describe their behavior.

Having read these utterly depressing conclusions, all I can hear right now are the words of the wise human researcher, Sting--or at least some of his words: if you love someone, set them free from Facebook.