There are a lot of great things about social media. It can help keep us connected to friends and family. It can introduce us to some exciting new brands and products. It can be an avenue for information, learning, and political discourse. Social media might even help us meet a new romantic partner. And of course, it offers hours of entertainment, and usually at no cost.
At least, most social media comes with little or no cost in terms of money. The toll it can take on your life may be pricey in terms of your wellbeing though. Myriad studies have found that extensive social media use can lead to an increase in cases of depression, it can negatively impact a person’s attention span, it can interfere with school work or our careers, it can spread false information and promote hate and bigotry, and it can even have markedly harmful effects on your sex life.
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If you have recently found your sex life less fulfilling and you can’t identify any overt cause, such as a breakup, an illness or injury, or some other clear factor – or if your partner seems less satisfied and you’re not sure why – then your overuse and/or misuse of social media may be to blame. Let’s look at three common ways social media can deteriorate the quality of your romantic and sexual life.
You struggle to grow aroused or remain stimulated
Social media use can cause issues with arousal in two primary ways. First, when stimulated by social media, the brain releases little hits of dopamine, the feel-good hormone that can also be released by things like a bite of chocolate, a favorite song, or the onset of a romantic encounter. When you are scrolling and swiping and tapping on various social media platforms all day long, your brain grows trained to get its dopamine fix from these engagements, and other previously exciting activities, even including sex, lose some of their appeal. (This is of course all the truer if you often view pornography.)
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The second issue with social media and sexual arousal is the fact that an overuse of it reduces a person’s attention span and ability to focus. These issues can even extend to sex, so if you have found it harder to see a sexual encounter through to a mutually satisfying conclusion of late, it may well be your social media use that is the cause.
Your relationship with your partner is suffering
Social media can easily cause friction between partners. It can cause jealousy if one partner regularly chats with other people in a flirty way, looks up exes, or of course spends time on dating apps potentially looking for a paramour on the side. And even if neither party has the intention to cheat, whether in a virtual or physical affair, constantly seeing pictures and videos of people to whom you are attracted can needlessly put space between you and your partner.
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You would not walk around a city street or shopping mall openly leering at people, yet you probably do pause and ogle people on social media. And on another note, if social media is getting too much of your time and attention, the communication between and quality time spent with partners is sure to suffer, and communication and attention are bedrock fundamentals for any successful relationship. If one or both parties in a partnership are overly dependent on social media, the relationship is very likely to suffer.
You are less satisfied with your sex life based on comparisons
Everyone puts their best self out there when posting on social media. That one friend who always seems to be climbing mountains probably spends more time waiting in line or stuck in traffic than reaching summits, but if the peaks are all she shares, her life will seem one constant adventure. Your friend who seems always to be visiting new countries and meeting new people probably spends more time at work than in Paris or Bali or Tokyo, but if he posts a dozen pictures from every trip he takes, he’ll seem a consummate globetrotter.
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When it comes to sex and romance, people also posit their best selves online – even when they really shouldn’t. If you are suddenly less satisfied with your sex life, the issue may be that you are constantly comparing yourself to people you see posting videos or pictures of themselves with their partners.
Envying the sex lives of others will do nothing but make yours ever less satisfying to you, and chances are good there’s nothing to actually envy anyway.
How to stop social media from hurting your sex life
The best thing to do if social media is hurting your sex life is remarkably simple, but of course not easy: get off social media. You can indeed live a life without Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and all the rest of it. But if fully abandoning social media is just not an option, instead work to curate your experience to ensure it will not interfere with how you feel about sex and romance.
Spend the time to unfollow people who cause you feelings of envy or unhealthy desire, hide posts you know negatively impact your libido to begin to train social media algorithms not to serve them to you, and set limits to how much time you will spend on social media. Also, set yourself time parameters, avoiding social media before you are going to see a significant other, for example, so you can keep your focus on him or her.
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