Technology has completely changed how we live our lives, and it’s happening at an ever-increasing rate. Our worlds are completely different from the world of even 10 years ago. This obviously has resulted in differences in the way we work and play, but did you know it’s even changed the way we have sex?
A new issue causing strife between couples is “Netflix adultery”: watching TV shows and movies alone that they promised their partner they would watch together. Twelve percent of those surveyed said they do it, and 59 percent of cheaters even reveal spoilers, which means that more than 7 percent of us are dating huge jerks.
Netflix’s director of public relations Jenny McCabe says that couples are reporting some serious drama over the phenomenon, commenting “We hear people say, ‘We made a pact, we were going to watch this together.’ ” It’s a real violation of trust and lack of consideration that can cause tension every bit as real as fights over money or other relationship matters.
The Internet has made actual infidelity easy and guiltless. Cybersex offers a convenience and anonymity that can prove too tempting for many to resist, even if they have someone who is generally willing to have sex with them right there in the other room. There’s no physical contact, so what’s the problem? It’s not like cybersex is really cheating, right?
Wrong: 77 percent of people surveyed said that cybersex infidelity is unacceptable. Despite the many reasons a cheater could use to rationalize their activities, an overwhelming majority of people agree that cheating is cheating, period. This new and puzzling gray area is such a big problem that it was responsible for a full third of divorce cases in 2009.
8We’re All Creepy Stalkers
The Internet has given us unprecedented access to the personal lives of prospective and past partners, and boy are we making use of it. Almost 90 percent of us admit to “stalking” the social networking activities of our ex-partners, and 60 percent of us admit to doing so to a crush.
This can have catastrophic effects on our well-being, because the information often doesn’t fully satisfy our curiosity and causes even more anxiety. Stalking an ex can significantly hamper our recovery from the breakup, and even spur us to make really bad decisions like hopping back into bed with them (yes, scientists actually studied this stuff). It might be best to keep them out of feed, out of mind.
7 Fear Of Intimacy
Harvard professor Craig Malkin has coined the term “cybercelibacy” to describe the increasing number of people who turn to online games and networks to satisfy their social needs without having to face scary real people. It creates a vicious cycle, he explains, where people aren’t forced to face their anxieties about relationships, which makes those anxieties grow and causes them to retreat further.
How bad is the problem, exactly? Well, 28 percent of people surveyed admitted that they spend less time with meatspace friends in favor of online activities, and almost as many (20 percent) say they’re having less sex. It turns out that going outside occasionally is a really important step to taking up residence in someone else’s underpants.
6Facebook Provokes Your Jealousy
Following your partner’s Facebook feed creates needless jealousy, one study says. Even after controlling for other factors (that’s science for “weeding out the crazy people whose unbridled jealousy would exist either way”), the study found that the more time you spend reading your partner’s boring status updates, the more likely you are to turn into a raging psycho.
This happens because a good chunk of your partner’s social interaction becomes visible to you, but you don’t have those in-person cues that gives the exchange context. For example, when your lady’s gay co-worker or the best friend who loves her like a sister leaves an innocent “You look great!” on her picture, they know it’s a harmless compliment—but all you see is some dude hitting on your girlfriend.
5 Too Many Points Of Contact
A lack of communication can be a big problem in a relationship, but one study suggests that communicating too much can be a strain as well. A survey of 24,000 married people found that using more than five channels (such as social media, texting, instant messaging, etc.) to communicate with your partner actually decreases relationship satisfaction.
The stress of never being more than a series of ones and zeroes away from your partner and monitoring so many incoming data streams is a killer. Think about how easy it is to step over that threshold. You follow your partner’s Facebook and Twitter feed, obviously, and of course they have your phone number for calling and texting—if you regularly use even one more communication tool, you’re screwed.
4The Online Pornsplosion
With porn so easily accessible, convenient, and increasingly hardcore, many women are feeling either neglected or pressured to adhere to male-centric sexual scripts that they don’t enjoy. It turns out that many ladies don’t actually enjoy being sprayed in the face or poked in the butt (acts that are simply a matter of course in even mainstream porn nowadays) but feel like they have to if they want to please their man.
That is, if they’re being asked to please them at all: More women are reporting that they can’t compete with the blonde, tanned, and augmented video vixens, and their partners neglect them in favor of prerecorded thrills. It’s never a good thing if one person is unhappy with the naked-time routine, but the problem is so bad that in 2003, it was reported that online porn played a major role in a quarter of all divorce cases that year (and we’re pretty sure the amount of porn available hasn’t decreased any since then).
Some people are literally addicted to their smartphones; they can’t even leave the room without carrying them around like a colicky baby. Or maybe you like to bring your laptop to bed for some late-night work, or even just watch a little Letterman before tucking in. Well, all of those things could be wreaking havoc on your sex life, studies show. The mere act of having a phone nearby is so distracting that we can’t focus on the person we’re with, and simply having a TV in the bedroom can cut the amount of sex you have in half.
2 Dubious ‘Matching Algorithms’
Matching algorithms, such as those used by OkCupid and eHarmony, use questionnaire information about users’ personality and interests, which may help the strangers find things to talk about, but won’t in any way guarantee relationship success. Hold on, you say, isn’t it important that my partner likes Star Wars and skydiving as much as I do? If I end up with a scaredy cat who hates sci-fi, how are we even supposed to relate to each other?
Actually, the former has little to do with the latter. The way two individuals interact with each other specifically—i.e., plain ol’ chemistry—is the best indication of a good match, something that can’t be determined until two people meet. Maybe that overly cautious person keeps you grounded without holding you back, or the foreign film nut knows intuitively just what kind of support you need when you’ve had a bad day. Furthermore, the sites encourage users to objectify potential partners, “shopping” for matches based on these superficial and insignificant traits.
1Googling Your Date
There’s really no such thing as a blind date anymore: 48 percent of women will not hesitate to Google you before they agree to go out with you, and just as many are willing to decline if they find unsavory information. Sure, some serious bullets can be dodged this way, like if you find your potential date’s incoherent, violent blog about his serial killer fantasies, but in many cases, you might be rejecting your soulmate based on a false (or at least meaningless) representation.
According to one study, the more information we dig up about our suitors, the more likely we are to reject them. You might think that just saves everyone some time—you’re going to find out about her online shrine to Hanson eventually, right?—but before you judge too harshly, take a minute to Google yourself. Did anything potentially off-putting come up? That embarrassingly naive op-ed piece about Objectivism you wrote for your college newspaper, say, or videos of your misguided attempt at hip-hop superstardom? How representative are those things of you as a person?
The fact is, someone who’s had a chance to get to know all the virtues and quirks that come packed in the you-shaped bundle is probably going to find those things endearing, but someone whose first impression of you has been based on them is going to run away screaming. As study coauthor Joanna Frost, PhD., says, “Your disillusionment with someone during a conversation might take hours, during which your date has the opportunity to explain himself, whereas online that disillusionment can happen almost instantly.” So give that freak a chance to explain herself over a beer—it might just be a charming quirk in an otherwise flawless package.
Manna writes and wrongs from sunny Portland, Oregon. Check her out on Cracked, Twitter, and her blog.