By Divorce.com staff
Updated Jan 03, 2023
Relationships have always been challenging to maintain. However, with the introduction of social media networks, they became even more challenging to keep together.
Little things that might have passed unnoticed between a couple in the past now sit on servers preserving themselves in pixels on Facebook, or Instagram accounts for spousal discovery—creating little distances and, sometimes, damaging the relationship's bond.
Social media usage has had a significant effect when it comes to relationships ending in divorce. Nearly all people under the age of 49 have social media accounts where they spend a lot of time.
The presence of one's online feeds can feel like the third entity in the marriage. Not surprisingly, social media posts often create distance in a relationship, hurt feelings, jealousy, and even infidelity.
However, the effects of social media remain present after filing. A post of intimate pictures or one that has negative information about the other spouse can affect outcomes in the divorce agreement regarding financial support and child custody. What you post is what people see—including your spouse's divorce attorney.
There are things you should know about social media usage and divorce. Also, it would be best if you changed things about your online behavior, social media posts, and even your text messages before, during, and after the divorce.
So, let's take a closer look at divorce and social media networks.
Social Media and Divorce Statistics
It is clear that increased engagement with social media networks and the risk of divorce—or at least marital strife—are correlated. For example, consider the following social media usage and marital dissatisfaction statistics:
- 72% of adults in the US have a social media account they say they are active on, per the PEW Research Center 84% of younger adults, 18-29, and 81% of adults 30-49 report being active on a social media account.
- Facebook and YouTube are the two most popular social media sites for US Adults at 69 % and 81%, respectively.
- When Facebook enrollment increases by 20 %, the state's divorce rate increases by 2.18 to 4.32 percent (based on numbers in 2011-2012).
- A study out of Houston reported that the more a social media network had a presence in an individual's life, the more dissatisfied with their relationship the person reported feeling.
- The Guardian reported that the GlobalWebIndex research indicates that 30% of Tinder's 75 million monthly active users (around 22.5 million) are married.
- In a 2015 survey of 2,000 married Brits, one in seven considered divorce because of their spouse's activity on social media networks.
- A study of US social media users in 2014 found that increased social media usage correlates with decreasing happiness and satisfaction with marriage and increasing marital strife and divorce contemplation.
How Does Social Media Lead to Divorce?
The numbers show that social media usage is widespread. But, unfortunately, they also reveal that social media networks are not doing marriages any favors.
There are several ways that social media usage can lead to divorce:
- Creating addictive or compulsive behavior
- Paling by comparison
- Disclosing otherwise private things publicly
- Connecting with exes
- Facilitating confirmation behavior
- Bolstering one's courage
- Facilitating online infidelity
Creating addictive or compulsive behavior
When people constantly interact with their online connections, in-person connections can suffer. Also, excessive engagement with social media can lead to negative feelings, social distance from a spouse, and work challenges.
The stress and negativity wear on marriage and lead to problems in the relationship, fights, and, in some cases, divorce.
Paling by comparison
Several studies have revealed that what people see on social media makes them feel bad about their lives by comparison. One Pew Research study showed that people that had symptoms of major depression had increased by 52 % in teens and 63% in young adults over the years 2005 to 2017.
These negative influences can also affect relationship satisfaction. For example, if a person sees another couple's trip or another person's gift from their spouse, it might also lead to a feeling that one's partner isn't putting in the same amount of effort as they see online, leading to dissatisfaction in the relationship.
Disclosing otherwise private things publicly
Many spouses do not like that their partner has put personal information about their relationship online, even when that information is not especially sensitive or embarrassing. Having that information released without consent crosses an essential boundary of the relationship. This loss of privacy leads to conflict in the marriage and an erosion of trust.
Connecting with exes
Social media networks present an excellent opportunity to feel connected to people you have known throughout your life. However, it also means you can reconnect with people that were once a significant part of your life—and that often doesn't go over well with your current significant other.
In other words, gaining access to an old flame can damper the heat of the relationship you are in today. Marriage.com cites studies revealing that 19% of people feel jealous of their spouses' online interactions.
Facilitating confirmation behavior
Social media networks, like Facebook, allow partners to observe the activities of their spouse indirectly through the posts and likes of mutual friends. This access to discrete snooping to confirm suspicions could lead to ending the marriage.
Bolstering one's courage
People engage in social media to connect with others. So, if someone is feeling unhappy in their marriage and receives encouragement to leave their partner from their social network providing emotional support, the unhappy spouse might feel encouraged to act.
Facilitating online infidelity
This emerging infidelity type describes how people can form romantic and sexual relationships with people that are not their spouse, maintained through electronic conversations. These relationships, which begin online and may lead to face-to-face indiscretions, degrade the bond of the marriage, and destroy trust between partners.
YouGov America reports that one in six of the current users of dating apps reports that cheating on their spouse is one of the reasons they use them.
Social Media Before Divorce
Social media is a part of our lives and affects our relationships. Therefore, there are a few things to consider about social media before divorce.
First, are you spending more time online than you do with your spouse? If so, consider closing the Instagram app, putting down the phone, and starting a conversation. These connections are crucial to keep a marriage on track.
Do you have a hard time not engaging with social media? Social media addiction is a thing, and it can lead to problems in your life and relationships. So, if you think you can stop anytime you want, try it. On the other hand, if you have problems giving it up, it might be time to reconsider your relationship with social media networks.
Are there social media posts you do not want your spouse to see? If you have posted things on Facebook, Instagram, or other sites that you wouldn't want your spouse to read, consider why that is. Those reasons indicate an opportunity in your relationship that needs attention.
What Not to Post on Social Media Before a Divorce?
There are a few things one should not post before a divorce, which include:
- Anything you wouldn't want someone in your life to read
- Any intimate relationship details
- Any criticisms about your relationship
Anything you wouldn't want someone in your life to read
If you don't want what is in your social media posts read by your spouse, parents, boss, or anyone else, you shouldn't put them on social media networks.
Any intimate relationship details
Relationships are private. Putting private information in public damages the relationship, especially if it is unflattering or embarrassing about or to your spouse.
Any criticisms about your relationship
It's not a good idea to air your grievances or put negative information online. Not only is that unfair to your relationship, but also legal teams can use these social media posts against you in divorce proceedings later.
Social Media During Divorce
Social media networks have become a go-to resource for digging up stuff on your spouse. The most important thing to remember about social media usage during divorce is that what you put online or into text messages can follow you into divorce agreement proceedings.
Research indicates that 81 percent of divorce attorneys report that spouses search for online evidence to support their claims in divorce. Also, one out of every five divorces cites Facebook.
In addition, despite the temptation to do so, social media networks are not the best place to discuss your feelings about your divorce. It is better to share those feelings with close friends or family in person.
Otherwise, your emotional reaction to a complicated process can end up in front of 400 of your closest acquaintances on Instagram, which will only elevate the drama associated with the ending of a marriage.
What Not to Post on Social Media During a Divorce?
In addition to the things mentioned that one should not post before divorce, there are a few things to avoid posting during a divorce, including:
- Pictures of big purchases on your social media accounts
- Intimate pictures from wild parties or other scandalous details of your life
- Anything without a myriad of privacy filters
Pictures of big purchases on your social media accounts
These can come up in court, sometimes multiple times, and end up costing you even more in legal fees to defend and explain than the substantial purchase price you paid.
Intimate pictures from wild parties or other scandalous details of your life
Putting those details out there is like wrapping them up in a gift for your spouse's divorce attorney to bring up in child custody arguments.
Anything without a myriad of privacy filters
If you want to stay on social media and post, invest some time in understanding the privacy filters of the various sites. Also, ask your friends to refrain from tagging you in photos or posts. And, of course, realize that even with the privacy settings in place, nothing you say online is really private, so proceed with caution anyway.
Social Media After Divorce
Once the dust settles on the divorce agreement, you might think it's okay to go back to your old habits on social media networks. However, there are still some things to avoid on social media usage even after the divorce is final. Your social media posts after divorce can still lead to legal issues.
After the split, you and your ex must establish rules and boundaries regarding social media usage. Also, your lawyer should be able to give you some critical guidance on what those social media rules should be and what you should avoid after the final agreement.
Common sense is also an excellent guide here. If you don't know whether you should post something, then don't. Better safe than sorry is a good rule of thumb in this situation. At the very least, wait a day or at least a few hours, then revisit the post.
Social media posts are more permanent than you think, no matter how tight your privacy settings are and how quickly you delete them.
What Not to Post on Social Media After a Divorce?
Here are a few things not to do with your social media accounts after divorce:
- Do not overshare
- Do not use social media posts to show your spouse how much happier you are
- Avoid updates related to your children or finances.
Do not overshare
Once a divorce is final, that doesn't give you license to bash your spouse or release the details of what happened between you. The less you say about it, the better.
Do not use social media posts to show your spouse how much happier you are
Avoid checking in on dates, putting up pics with your new significant other, or wry memes about "feeling lighter" without your ex bringing you down. Posting these things with the idea of making your ex feel anything is not good. It prevents you from healing from the divorce. It would be best if you spent your energy trying to move forward with your life.
Avoid updates related to your children or finances
New information from your social media posts can lead to court hearings related to support and child custody, even after the agreement. If you violate the rules of the child custody agreement regarding what photos you post, it could lead to questions about your parental fitness.
Likewise, if you enjoy a change in your salary from a promotion, you might end up paying more support to your ex.
How to announce your divorce on social media?
The divorce announcement has become a necessity since the growth in popularity of social media networks. However, unlike the cat photos you usually upload, this social media post needs special care. Short and sweet are two essential components.
Short, meaning succinct, and sweet, meaning respectful to your ex. In addition, it's a good idea to keep it positive, as in "looking forward to the next phase in our lives." Perhaps most important is what isn't included here: blame, vitriol, negativity, or bitterness.
What are the signs of divorce on social media?
Some of the signs of divorce on social media include:
- Changing the profile photo from a couple shot to a solo shot.
- Venting feelings about the marriage or the person through social media posts
- Using private messaging a lot to communicate with people that are not the spouse
- Unfriending or Unfollowing the other spouse on the platform
- Spending more time on the platform than with your spouse—and preferring it
- Discovering your spouse is investigating your posts through friends of friends.
What to do with social media photos after divorce?
One of the first things you should do after deciding to end your marriage is to change your profile picture, mainly if your ex (or soon-to-be ex) is in it. Next, you should delete the photos you have stored there of memories from your life together.
This step might seem complicated, but it is essential to help you move on to your new future. Also, having pictures of your ex on your profile might signal that you are not interested in meeting other people. If you are ready or even dating someone else already, it might be a good time to get rid of these photos.
Perhaps most importantly, don't feel guilty about this after-divorce photo scrub. It's healthy and makes room for new images of the next phase of your life to replace them.