PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — Excessive use of the social-media website Facebook can cause major problems in relationships, according to a recent study.
The study published in the journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking suggests Facebook is leading users to connect or re-connect with previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating, breakups or divorce.
"The more that I'm on it, the more I worry about him being on it, so I get a little paranoid," Kate Wise said.
Kate told CBS2's Rachel Kim about a year and a half into her marriage with her husband, John, she found out he connected with an ex-girlfriend on Facebook.
"Well, first I confronted him. We tried to talk about it together for a little bit; it wasn't working. I was getting angry," she said.
The Pasadena couple admitted during the seven years of marriage that a lot of their focus has been online instead of each other.
"Yeah, it caused a major rift between us for a while," John said.
Psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Ramani Durvasula says individuals turn to Facebook as an escape where inappropriate relationships are formed and people end up cheating with an ex, old friend or someone they just met casually.
"Now you can find them in a late night search — bang bang, put their name in and there they are," she said. "And then so it starts a little bit of liking, a little bit of flirting and something that seems so harmless to start with escalates like wildfire."
John admitted he experienced this firsthand.
"There was a conversation between me and this former lover that was of a nature that I was ashamed of to be quite honest," he said.
Durvasula says a Facebook photo can also ignite emotions such as insecurity and jealousy.
"Once upon a time, you might have found a love letter or a note. Now, you're actually seeing a photograph of the person that you may be betrayed with and that is a far more powerful stimulus than speculating on who this person is," she said.
Although the study's findings applied only to newer, less mature relationships – three years old or younger, Durvasula believes all couples on Facebook need to have honest conversations about their expectations and ask themselves one question.
"If you saw your partner sending the email, text, FB message you just sent, would you feel comfortable with that?"
John and Kate said therapy helped them get through their issues, challenging them to spend more time face to face instead of online.
"It may have taken a toll on our relationship, but I think we worked hard at not having that be a problem," Kate said.
"Don't communicate with ex-lovers on Facebook; don't ever do that," John added.
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