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Expert advice: Protect your relationship in the digital age

10 OCTOBER 2012

Social networks have honed our public prowess, reinventing the way we meet new people and stay in touch with old friends.

Those in the market for love and romance also find themselves gazing into an endless horizon of possibilities.

But social media can quite as easily break the relationships they make.

 

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Sites such as Twitter and Facebook which has just reached 1 billion users are fertile breeding grounds for relationship spoilers like jealousy, flirting and rekindled contact with former partners. They can also foster detachment and replace face-to-face intimacy.

As the internet continues to innovate, so should we.

Four digital relationship gurus accepted HELLO! Online's friend request and gave their advice on managing love in the information age.


Status Anxiety 
 
Match.com's relationship adviser Kate Taylor warns against excessively searching your love interest online.
 
"If you feel you're likely to become over-absorbed in researching a date or your partner online, set yourself some limits. When you find yourself reaching for the mouse, just try to think about the detrimental impact it will have on your relationship.

"If you do find something that unnerves you, remind yourself that the internet is incredibly misleading. Look at your own Facebook timeline where you're hugging your old school friend – you know that it meant nothing, and that your thoughts were far from love, but would anyone else?

"Everything is relative and it's worth remembering that a social network feed never tells the whole story."

 

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The medium is the message 

Jenni Trent Hughes is eHarmony's resident UK relationship expert. She gives her tips for avoiding lazy communication.

"When it comes to communication, the quantity is variable to each couple and dependent on the set up of your relationship.

"It is perfectly acceptable to communicate with your partner through social media outlets during the days and weeks. However this should not become a substitution for telephone calls or face-to-face meetings.

"Both of you should talk on a regular basis. Between the quick, text catch ups to see how your days are going, set aside a specified time that you can actually talk to one another on the phone. This will give you both something to look forward to and create an anticipation to talk to your partner and fill them in at length."

 

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Flirting with danger

Cecilia d'Felice, Clinical Psychologist at Match.com, sets the boundaries of flirting online.

"The boundary comes when we transgress to a place where we have feelings for the person we are flirting with, compromising our current relationship. At that point, we must make some choices as to how we want our relationships to progress.

"No matter the medium, flirting in itself is not wrong; it is what comes next that can be problematic!"


Green-eyed monsters

Ali Campbell, celebrity life coach and best-selling author, gives his advice on controlling jealousy.

"Jealously in any form, whether cyber or otherwise, is everything to do with you and very little to do with the environment. If you're feeling jealous, that can only come from a comparison and judgement between yourself and the source of your bad feeling.

"Social networks can be a great place to keep in touch, but it's when you're keeping in touch with the wrong people for the wrong reason, that the problems start. 

"These sites are just a collection of dots on a screen. It's how you join them that's important and your interpretation when you do."

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