The seven-year itch is over, relationships are shorter than ever, it’s all Facebook’s fault, blah blah BLAH. Another day, another scare-mongering story about how social media is wrecking our lives and turning us into semi-sentient, dribbling fem-bots, incapable of forming a meaningful connection with anything we can't swipe right on.
Erm... sorry, rant over: let's backtrack. Basically, a new survey by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk has revealed that the average relationship is now much shorter – it only lasts an average of two years and nine months. And before you ask, no, the survey doesn't tell me how this compares to a year, or five years ago. And in case you're interested, none of the couples surveyed had children, but over half the couples were married or living together before they broke up.
Now, two years and nine months doesn’t seem like a very long relationship to me, but what do I know? So in the absence of any data from VoucherCodesPro.co.uk on how the average length of relationships has changed over the years, I’ve done some digging myself. And bingo – a 2008 poll carried out by The Observer reveals that, six years ago, the average length of a relationship was 15 years, which, if you disregard the fact that we’re using two entirely separate surveys, is quite a steep downward curve. Hurrah! We’re definitely turning into antisocial relationship pariahs!
'But what does this have to do with social media?' I hear you ask. Voucher Codes Pro's survey then goes on to quiz the participants on their social media habits. 79% of those quizzed admitted to using social media sites before their break-up, while over half (54%) felt that social media played a part in the demise of their relationship. 34% say that their ex-partner met someone new on social media/was flirting with other people via social media. In contrast, the 2008 survey doesn’t mention social media at all (because that wasn’t what the survey was about), but I think we can assume Facebook et al played a smaller part in people’s relationships back then. Unless you followed your boyfriend’s band on MySpace. Which proves* definitively** that social media is making our relationships shorter!
ANYWAY, there is a serious point to all of this, I promise. The idea that social media is killing our ability to form meangingful relationships might feel like tenuous scaremongering, and for the most part it is. Except for the bit that isn't. After all, what do you think Tinder – and Twitter for that matter – is doing to our attention spans? We're developing a kid-in-a-candy-store attitude to relationships because we know there's always something better out there – we've seen it on our iPhones.
** not particularly definitive
Follow Rebecca on Twitter @rebecca_hol
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.