The Role of Social Media Romantic Relationships (Med Lit Review) Katelyn Dennis

Article Reviewed: The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness.


From the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication comes the case study called The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness. The researchers wanted to figure out how self-esteem and jealousy play a key role in the amount of happiness in romantic relationships. Will individuals with lower self-esteem be affected more heavily by Social Network Sites than those that have a healthy self-esteem? The study took place in Amsterdam at VU University and was written by Sonja Utz and Camiel J. Beukeboom.

The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness

Literature Review

By Katelyn Dennis

Social Networking Sites have taken off in the last decade. It has created a convenience, connection and a source for entertainment for millions of individuals. Through these developmental stages of social media sites, Facebook has been the top site for people to connect and share post with their friends and family. This research focused on how social media may effect romantic relationships for the better or for the worse.

Researchers, Buffardi & Campbell, 2008; Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Kramer & Winter, 2008; Siibak, 2009; Steinfield, Ellison, & Lampe, 2008; Utz & Kramer, 2009, have focused on privacy settings, self-presentation, or consequences of SNS use (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.511). Muise et al. (2009) brought to the theory that jealousy may be a negative emotion caused by romantic relationships on SNS.  The two main points from this research are that if a person shows interest in an individual that is in a relationship it can cause jealousy. However, if a couple share posts and pictures of one another it can create happiness in the relationship. The one main variable that can cause jealousy is self-esteem issues in the people in relationships (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.511). For instance, if a girl sees that another female “liked” a post that her boyfriend posted, jealousy may be an immediate reaction if the girl does not have high self-esteem in the relationship. Again, if the girlfriend is confident then the “like” will not bother her.

Another added focus to this research was that individuals may search through their significant other’s profile because of jealousy (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.513). This was concluded not the case. Both secure and insecure partners check their partner’s pages throughout the course of the relationship. In this case study, they discovered that there was a trait jealousy and then there is possessive jealousy. Trait jealousy is the general tendency to feel jealousy. This means that if a person is insecure, then they may feel trait jealousy on SNS. If the partner feels jealous and monitors their partner’s site, this would leap to possessive jealousy, which was seen less frequent than trait jealousy (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.514). Both secure and insecure individuals searched through their partner’s profile, but the jealously was different depending on how they felt and their motive.

The next part of the study focuses on the positive parts of social networking sites for romantic relationships. For instance, if a girl posts a picture of her and her boyfriend at the park together with the caption, “I love you,” then that causes happiness to both individuals in the relationship. This is mostly aimed at the insecure couples. The insecure individuals tend to look at online popularity as a means for their self-esteem, so if they get many “likes” on a picture of them and their significant other, then the couple feels happiness within their relationship with little jealousy. However, both insecure and secure couples feel happiness from showing SNS affection with their partner.

The testing was done with individuals that were in relationships. They took tests on their self-esteem levels and then another test on how they may react to certain scenarios. These scenarios may include; your significant other commenting on a person’s picture of the opposite gender or a picture posted of your significant other and a person of the opposite gender. There was a scale to record the amount of jealousy one may experience. This also looked into the individuals view on their relationship satisfaction. If individuals were not satisfied with their relationship, then they were more likely to become jealous compared to those that were satisfied (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.521).

This case study focused on the restraining role of self-assurance. Over all, more people experienced more happiness than jealousy in response to their significant other’s activities on social media. However, the lower the self-esteem of the individual the more SNS jealousy was experienced compared to those with higher self-esteem (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.524).

With all scientific studies there are always weak points to the case. For this specific study, the majority of the SNS study was about the popular Dutch social media outlet called Hyves. Of course, if this study was done in the United States, the researchers would have chosen Facebook to conduct their study upon. Every country may view social media sites much differently than one another. This study being conducted in Amsterdam may reveal different results than it would in America, Nicaragua, or any other district around the world. Also, there were more females than males in this study, so that could contribute to the level of self-esteem since females are usually the ones that have trouble trusting in romantic relationships. That is a generalization, of course. In future research, more males should be included in the experiment. Another limitation for this study is that it was conducted by self-reports. The individuals taking the test may not have been as truthful as they could have been when it comes to how often they monitor their partner on social media (Utz and Beukeboom, 2011, p.524).

All in all, this study was very interesting and thought-provoking. One can look at this study and examine their own jealousy and happiness when it comes to social network sites with their partner. This study could change the way individuals view their romantic relationship. It is wonderful to see couples happy and blissful on social media sites. It gives viewers a glimpse into that part of the couple’s life, and we can feel as if we are sharing the precious moments with them.

On another view, it is good to set boundaries if one is in a committed relationship. Boundaries are an essential part of living. It is for safety, discipline, and respect. Social media has many perks, but it is not worth hurting an important relationship, such as a marriage. In general, if the couple is secure in their relationship, then they can choose to enjoy the perks social media, as a couple. If one party is receiving their self-esteem and/or feeling of importance from social media, then it may not be a healthy choice to indulge in cyberspace. Even though this study could still go deeper and father in its evaluation and testing, it has started awareness for couples to take note of their own romantic relationships.


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