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"A lettermans jacket or a class ring — those kinds of social courtship scripts don't exist on Facebook." The idea of "Facebook stalking" a prospective date isn't new, but the implications of carefully examining every aspect are still largely unknown.
Those that displayed their significant other in their profile picture and were listed as "in a relationship" were more likely to stay together and less likely to have cheated when she checked back with them six months later.
Researchers have found that Facebook really is altering, or at least reflecting, new relationship patterns, even how people break up. "I've been surprised at what a real impact Facebook has on romantic relationships," Galena Rhoades, a clinical psychologist at the University of Denver, told me.
"And I do think Facebook is playing bigger role in relationship formation and relationship disillusions." One of Rhoades doctoral students in clinical psychology, Gretchen Kelmer, noticed that Facebook's role in romantic relationships got a lot of media attention, but that there wasn't any new research or data to show how Facebook directly affected relationship development.
Goodbye butterflies and excitement, I already know everything about you.
For relationships that get past this weird knowing someone on Facebook before knowing them in real life, Facebook has created new hurdles for those just getting started.
And these check-a-box decisions weren't things couples, or anyone for that matter, had to worry about before Facebook.
Now no one's really sure how to act on Facebook before you're dating and what to do once you are.
"Facebook gives them automatic window into an ex's relationship," said Rhoades.
"And often times that sustained contact can be detrimental, in terms of ones own functioning." In a recent study social psychologist Tara Marshall from Brunel University found that remaining Facebook friends with an ex delayed emotional recovery and led to greater distress over the breakup, negative feelings, sexual desire and longing for the ex-partner.
" "Should we get to know each other on Facebook before we date?
" The difficulty of dating in the era of Facebook is not just in your head, either.
"I've seen couples in my practice struggling with their identity on Facebook," said Rhoades, pointing to decisions like whether or not to be listed as "in a relationship." Kind of surprisingly, Kelmer's research showed that it was actually what people didn't do on Facebook that caused the most strife.