Ask Dr Gilda-My Girl’s Addicted To Facebook
One man is sick of his girlfriend's Facebook obsession and worried her "friends" will tempt her to cheat. How can he convince her to get off-line and be more present? Get Dr. Gilda's take here.
ear Dr. Gilda,
I am fed up with my girlfriend and her addiction to Facebook. It does not matter what time it is or where we are; she visits the site all the time — on her phone, on the computer, while watching TV with me, you name it. It got to a point where we were separated for awhile and she had a "relationship" through Facebook with one of her past flames. I
forgave her, and now we are back together, but recently, she was careless and left her account open on the household PC. I saw that she is still communicating with this guy and others with whom she got up to all kinds of mischief in the past.
|It does not matter what time it is or where we are…|
I do not have a Facebook account because it is too time-consuming and disrespectful to our relationship. I have pleaded with her about this, but she feels it is just a form of entertainment and a way to stay connected with "friends." My argument is that I must not be entertaining if she feels she has to be indulged in something that has put a dagger in our relationship.
I want to leave and not ever come back, as I foolishly did the first time. I do not trust her anymore. She won't go to counseling, but she also refuses to leave Facebook and other people's relationships alone to concentrate on ours. Dr. Gilda, please help. This is really frustrating and hurtful. Am I looking at this wrong?
– Hurt & Frustrated
Dear Hurt & Frustrated,
Many people find various forms of social media compelling and addictive. But once the novelty wears off, those who are more responsible return their attentions to whatever kept them busy before they joined this new party. Yet, if someone is deliberately looking to keep her distance from true intimacy, social media can be a fitting excuse.
You say, "I must not be entertaining if she feels she has to be indulged in something that has put a dagger in our relationship." So actually, you are interpreting her interest elsewhere as cheating. In reality, when your girlfriend connects with others while being in your company, she is cheating, but in a different way than you imagine: she's cheating your relationship out of her emotional presence. I would bet that if she were not involved in social media-based pursuits, she would find something else to help distance herself from getting close to you.
How committed to you was she before connecting with her new "friends?" Or did you not notice? My Gilda-Gram says, "We attract who we are." So, I dare say, you might have drawn a commitment-phobe to you because you are one yourself. You say, "I want to leave and not ever come back, as I foolishly did the first time." But you did come back. Why? It's probably because her personality traits are your personality traits, and beneath the surface, they seem familiar and comforting. Psychologist Carl Jung called our repressed and unconscious shortcomings our "shadow side," and everyone has one.
Jungian psychology holds that the less conscious we are of our shadow side, the darker it is — and the more we project it onto someone else.
|Seeing our weaknesses as a mirror of another is actually a good thing.|
Seeing our weaknesses as a mirror of another is actually a good thing, because it illuminates that image into consciousness. Your girlfriend's behaviors got you to see your own traits in a new way. You recognize that you don't like the look or feel of them, and you want to change them and grow as a person. So whether you break up with this woman or remain together to work things through with her, she has already done you a world of good just by highlighting your limitations!
This is what I suggest you do now:
A breakup is a bummer, but you have already grown. If the two of you don't make it as a couple, your next partner will be more like the new you. As my Gilda-Gram says, "Instead of trying to change someone, grow yourself. Then see who you attract!" Whichever way this works out, be grateful to your girlfriend for having given you many seeds to plant for your own future. The healthy partner you're becoming is the result of the work you're doing in this relationship now.
- Have a heart-to-heart with your gal without making any accusations. Show your own vulnerability by telling her how you feel about her bringing others into your private space. This discussion is not intended to point fingers at her, but to share your feelings. Use this construct: "When you are on Facebook when you're with me, I feel minimized in our relationship." Then let her respond.
- Suggest ways in which you have distanced yourself from her in the past. Offer what you learned from that and how you want to get closer now. Note that you're still not giving her an ultimatum to get off Facebook, nor are you making accusations. This is a distinct improvement in communication from the way the two of you are used to interacting. She'll be able to figure out the impact her behavior has had on you and other relationships if you give her the space to consider these points.
- Let the matter rest for now. Your girlfriend will need to digest your admission of vulnerability and newfound refusal to tell her what to do. Since one ocean wave affects all ocean waves, she may surprise you and begin changing on her own.
- Raise the topic again in a few days. Listen especially carefully to how she voices her perceptions about your feelings. Then — and only then — make your decision whether to end it or mend it with this woman.
Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Today.com. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (DrGilda.com).