Advertisement

Tech Talk: Analyzing the Negotiations and Rules Around Technology Use in Intimate Relationships

  • Jaclyn Cravens PickensEmail author
  • Jason B. Whiting
Original Paper

Abstract

Technology use has become pervasive, and its use in relationships can either be helpful or harmful. While a growing body of research is exploring relationship-based outcomes related to tech use, little is known about how couples communicate about expectations around social media, video games, or other online activities. This study explored how couples communicate about and monitor rules and boundaries related to use of technology in their relationship. Constructivist grounded theory methods were used to analyze semi-structured interviews with 25 couples in committed relationships. The analysis resulted in the construction of a theoretical model explaining the communication process couples engage in concerning use of technology in their committed relationships. Results revealed that some couples have developed explicit rules about technology use, but many couples relied on implicit rules or had not communicated about technology-related issues. Clinical implications and future research recommendations are discussed.

Keywords

Technology Social media Relationships Communication Boundaries 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest, with no relevant financial relationships or grant support to disclose.

Ethical Approval

This study received Institutional Review Board approval from Texas Tech University’s Human Research Protection Program.

Informed Consent

All participants received and completed informed consent prior to participation in the study.

References

  1. Argyle, M., & Henderson, M. (1985). The anatomy of relationships: Rules and skills needed to manage them successfully. London: Pelican Books.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, S. (1972). Laws of form. New York: Julian Press.Google Scholar
  3. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Clayton, R. B. (2014). The third wheel: The impact of Twitter use on relationship infidelity and divorce. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking,17(7), 425–430.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2013.0570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clayton, R. B., Nagurney, A., & Smith, J. R. (2013). Cheating, breakup, and divorce: Is Facebook use to blame? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking,16(10), 717–720.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooper, A., Mӓnsson, S. A., Daneback, K., Tikkanen, R., & Ross, M. W. (2003). Predicting the future of Internet sex: Online sexual activities in Sweden. Sexual and Relationship Therapy,3(18), 277–291.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1468199031000153919.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cravens, J. D., Leckie, K. R., & Whiting, J. B. (2013). Facebook and infidelity: When poking becomes problematic. Contemporary Family Therapy,35, 74–90.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s1059101209231-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cravens, J. D., & Whiting, J. B. (2014). Clinical implications of internet infidelity: Where Facebook fits. The American Journal of Family Therapy,42(4), 325–339.  https://doi.org/10.1080/81926187.2013.874211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Czechowsky, J. D. (2008). The impact of the Black-Berry on couple relationships. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Wilfrid Laurier University. Retrieved September 2, 2018 from http://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article2055&contextetd.
  10. Drouin, M., Miller, D. A., & Dibble, J. L. (2014). Ignore your partners’ current Facebook friends; beware the ones they add! Computers in Human Behavior,35, 483–488.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.02.032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Drouin, M., Miller, D. A., & Dibble, J. L. (2015). Facebook or Memory: Which is the real threat to your relationship? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking,18(10), 561–566.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2015.0259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fox, J., Osborn, J. L., & Warber, K. M. (2014). Relational dialectics and social networking sites: The role of Facebook in romantic relationship escalation, maintenance, conflict, and dissolution. Computers in Human Behavior,35, 527–534.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.02.031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hegi, K. E., & Bergner, R. M. (2010). What is love? An empirically-based essentialist account. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,27(5), 620–636.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407510369605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Helsper, E. J., & Whitty, M. T. (2010). Netiquette within married couples: Agreement about acceptable online behavior and surveillance between partners. Computers in Human Behavior,26, 916–926.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.02.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hertlein, K. M. (2012). Digital dwelling: Technology in couple and family relationships. Family Relations,61, 374–387.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00702.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hertlein, K. M., & Blumer, M. L. C. (2013). The Couple and family technology framework: Intimate relationships in a digital age. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hertlein, K. M., & Piercy, F. P. (2006). Internet infidelity: A critical review of the literature. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families,14, 366–371.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480706290508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (1994). The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  19. McDaniel, B. T., & Coyne, S. M. (2016). “Technoference”: The interference of technology in couple relationships and implications for women’s personal and relational well-being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture,5, 85–98.  https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McDaniel, B. T., Drouin, M., & Cravens, J. D. (2017). Do you have anything to hide? Infidelity-related behaviors on social media sites and marital satisfaction. Computers in Human Behavior,66, 88–95.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.09.031.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Miller-Ott, A. E., Kelly, L., & Duran, R. L. (2012). The effects of cell phone usage rules on satisfaction in romantic relationships. Communication Quarterly,60(1), 17–34.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2012.642263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., Bellavia, G., Griffin, D. W., & Dolderman, D. (2002). Kindred spirits? The benefits of egocentrism in close relationships. Journal of Personality and School Psychology,82, 563–581.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.82.4.563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Norton, A. M., & Baptist, J. (2014). Couple boundaries for social networking in middle adulthood: Associations of trust and satisfaction. Cyberpsychology, 8(4), article 2.  https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2014-4-2.
  25. Norton, A., Baptist, J., & Hogan, B. (2017). Computer-mediated communication in intimate relationships: associations of boundary crossing, intrusion, relationship satisfaction, and partner responsiveness. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,44(1), 165–182.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Owens, Z. D. (2017). Is it Facebook Official? Coming out and passing strategies of young adult gay men on social media. Journal of Homosexuality,64(4), 431–499.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2016.1194112.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Parker, T. S., & Wampler, K. S. (2003). How bad is it? Perceptions of relationship impact of different types of Internet sex activities. Contemporary Family Therapy,25, 415–429.  https://doi.org/10.1023/a:102736070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2013). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,30(3), 237–246.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407512453827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ridgway, J. L., & Clayton, R. B. (2016). Instagram unfiltered: Exploring associations of body image satisfaction, Instagram #selfie posting, and negative romantic relationship outcomes. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking,19, 2–7.  https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2015.0433.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Roberts, J. A., & David, M. E. (2016). My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone: Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners. Computers in Human Behavior,54, 134–141.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.058.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Roscoe, B., Cavanaugh, L. E., & Kennedy, D. R. (1988). Dating infidelity: Behaviors, reasons and consequences. Adolescence,23, 34–43.Google Scholar
  32. Shakya, H. B., & Christakis, N. A. (2017). Association of Facebook use with compromised well being: A longitudinal study. American Journal of Epidemiology,185, 203–211.  https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kww189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Southworth, C., Finn, J., Shawndell, D., Fraser, C., & Tucker, S. (2007). Intimate Partner Violence, technology, and stalking. Violence Against Women,13(8), 842–856.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801207302045.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Spencer, T., Lambertsen, A., Hubler, D., & Burr, B. (2017). Assessing the mediating effect of relationship dynamics between perceptions of problematic media use and relationship satisfaction. Contemporary Family Therapy,39, 80–86.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-017-9407-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  36. Valenzuela, S., Halpern, D., & Katz, J. E. (2014). Social Networking sites, marriage well-being and divorce: Survey and state-level evidence from the United States. Computers in Human Behavior,36, 94–101.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.03.034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vaterlaus, J. M., & Tulane, S. (2019). The perceived influence of interactive technology on marital relationships. Contemporary Family Therapy.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-019-09494-w.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Whiting, J., Dansby Olufuwote, R., Cravens-Pickens, J. D., & Banford Witting, A. (2019). Online blaming and intimate partner violence: A content analysis of social media comments. The Qualitative Report, 24(1), 78–94. Retrieved February 25, 2019 from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol24/iss1/6.
  39. Whiting, J. B., Oka, M., & Fife, S. T. (2012). Appraisal distortions and intimate partner violence: Gender, power, and interaction. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,38, 133–149.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00285x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Whitty, M. T. (2003). Pushing the wrong buttons: Men’s and women’s attitudes toward online and offline infidelity. Cyberpsychology and Behavior,6, 569–579.  https://doi.org/10.1089/109493103322725342.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Willoughby, B. J., Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., & Brown, C. C. (2016). Differences in pornography use among couples: Associations with satisfaction, stability, and relationship process. Archives of Sexual Behavior,45, 145–158.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s0508-015=-562-9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Willoughby, B. J., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Behind closed doors: Individual and joint pornography use among romantic couples. The Journal of Sex Research.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1541440.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilson, K., Mattingly, B. A., Clark, E. M., Weidler, D. J., & Bequette, A. W. (2011). The gray area: Exploring attitudes toward infidelity and the development of the Perceptions of Dating Infidelity Scale. The Journal of Social Psychology,151(1), 63–86.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224540903366750.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Wilson, L. L., Roloff, M. E., & Carey, C. M. (1998). Boundary rules: Factors that inhibit expressing concerns about another’s romantic relationship. Communication Research,25, 618–640.  https://doi.org/10.1177/009365098025006003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yarab, P. E., Allgeier, E. R., & Sensibaugh, C. C. (1999). Looking deeper: Extradyadic behaviors, jealousy, and perceived unfaithfulness in hypothetical dating relationships. Personal Relationships,6, 305–316.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.1999tb00194.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Human SciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

Personalised recommendations