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Is there a correlation to be made between cheating and tweeting?
Since the dawn of social media, experts have tried to understand how these new technologies might help or hinder our relationships. Now researchers are looking specifically at Twitter and how those few short keystrokes can affect real couples.
Nearly 600 users of varying ages were surveyed in a new study, with conflicts reported around everything from overuse of the service to suspicions of cheating via tweeting.
While it’s not surprising Twitter users were found to have a greater chance of encountering Twitter-related conflict within their relationship, what was compelling was how strong and common the emotions can be.
Participants in the research were asked about how often they log in, check their newsfeed and interact with others. They also were asked to estimate how often Twitter use had led to a conflict in their relationship.
Those who used the service heavily were found more likely to argue about just that, but more importantly they also were more likely to cheat and/or breakup.
“Those who heavily used Twitter were
more likely to cheat and/or breakup.”
Russell Clayton, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, led the research. He warns that while many of the issues being argued may seem smaller in scale, the consequences could still lead to separation or the corruption of trust.
His report, titled “The Third Wheel: The Impact of Twitter Use on Relationship Infidelity and Divorce,” suggests the social media giant has a relatively innocent reputation compared with other online entities.
However, just because it’s not a dating site per se, Clayton warns it can still serve as a open invitation to someone not feeling fulfilled in their relationship.
In this study, and in an earlier one that focused on Facebook, Clayton found those who overused the service were in fact more likely to cheat.
Heavy Facebook use appears to be an equal threat for couples that have been together for less than three years. Among those couples, they were even more likely to encounter difficulty when both partners were heavy Facebook users.
While the same results also were seen with heavy Twitter users, those findings were not specific to couples that have been together for less than three years.
“I found it interesting that active Twitter users experienced Twitter-related conflict and negative relationship outcomes regardless of length of romantic relationship,” Clayton said. “Couples who reported being in relatively new relationships experienced the same amount of conflict as those in longer relationships.”