Wellness

Why selfies might be ruining your relationship

How people feel about everyone’s selfies except their own and why you might want to step away from the smartphone, for the love of love.
(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Self-celebration is our Zuckerberg-given right. How awesome our meal is. How fantastic our workout was. How wonderfully fun (#squadlove #turnt) or blunderfully trite (#mondays #amirite) our day's been. It's all grist for the social media mill. And the approval, measured one thumbs up or heart emoji at a time, bathes our hungry melons in dopamine.

But chasing that fix may be ruining your relationship.

A recent study has established an irrefutable connection between posting selfies and romantic strife. Or, what the researchers called "selfie related conflicts". Divorce lawyers, take note. It turns out the big baddie here is actually jealousy, that high ranking member of the malaise militia. The study, conducted online of course, examined two potential factors that caused insecurity for many innamorati: 1) excessive solo selfie sharing, and 2) the creation of an ideal single persona from said selfie sharing that didn't line up with the coupled status of those fishing for flattery online. Or put another way, "why you posting hot pics of yourself alone all the time, I was with you at Taco Bell that day!?" also, "Who the sh*t is Trevor!?"

Conclusively, the study showed that the more an individual posted selfies on social media, the more the foundation of their romantic relationship was likely to be eroded by jealousy. The negative effect of sharing one's likeness online created real conflict, with relationship satisfaction taking a serious hit. If there's trouble in your corner of paradise and you're a selfie junkie, it might be time to slow your selfie production.

Previous studies have pointed to Facebook and Snapchat use being detrimental to healthy coupling. Especially with Snapchat's most clandestine-friendly feature which vaporizes all photographic evidence within 24 hours. Social media, though heavy with our "friends", is a bit of a rolodex of potential romantic contenders. Let's not forget that Facebook came to life as a "hot or not game for Harvard students" before evolving into Faceborg for Planet Earth. It's also an emotional graveyard of sorts for all our past loves. Did you really need to spend two hours looking at your ex's bicycle trip through Prague? Probably not. And as innocent as it was to check out Prague and how toned your ex's quads are right now, it may be tricky offering a viable rationale for the standard creeping to your current partner. Cue passive aggressive bickering in the breakfast nook.

If you're tempted to pat yourself on the back with your phone-free hand for having a strong stance against selfies, take a beat. Though we've been casually branding selfie-takers as vainglorious b*stards, narcissists and psychopaths for a few years now, it's a little reductive. And one study has scientifically disproved the link between narcissism and selfies. "It's important to recognize that not everyone is a narcissist," said the study's coauthor, Steven Holiday. Afterall, wasn't it Jesus of Nazareth who said, "Let he who is free of selfies cast the first shame Tweet." I'm paraphrasing, but if we psych-tested every person who's ever taken a selfie for latent antisocial traits we'd have no funding left for more selfie studies. Also, we'd have to lump the Dalai Lama in with the Kardashians.

The truth is we have a very complicated relationship with self-love and self-celebration. 24 billion selfies got uploaded in 2015, on Android alone. And we hate all of them. At least the ones that we didn't post. One study, from the University of Munich, calls the disconnect "the selfie paradox", explains CBC tech columnist Dan Misener. We view our own selfies as "authentic" or "self-ironic" and everyone else's as tacky and disingenuous. The study showed that 77 percent of participants took selfies at least monthly with some taking several a day. But a whopping 88 percent of that same group said they genuinely wished for less selfies on social media. Psychologists call that a "self-serving bias." The rest of us call it hypocrisy.

There was a time you'd have to commission a portrait if you were feeling high enough on yourself to immortalize your likeness. Now you just need a latte, some decent lighting and your phone. I say there's nothing wrong with a little social media self-love shout out. Yes, even if you're a man. I know, revolutionary right? I mean, if you're single, get that dopamine hit and snap away. But if you're not, keep in mind your relationship may not be able to navigate the murky waters of social media sharing. That said, if you plan to keep posting alluring pics of yourself online despite your lover's green-tinged chagrin, maybe brush up on the best ways to shoot an endearing breakup pic. You know, in case you end up all by your selfie.


Marc Beaulieu is a writer, producer and host of the live Q&A show guyQ LIVE @AskMen.

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