Social networking sites like Facebook can be hazardous to the health of your relationship…and not for the reasons you think.

When you signed up for a Facebook account, created your profile, chose pictures and posted witty updates, little did you know where this would all lead. How naive you were when you clicked away on Facebook for the first time about how damaging to your love relationship or marriage this innocent form of entertainment and socializing can be.

According to recent statistics, Americans spend an average of 6.9 hours a month social networking. This might not sound like much, but it’s 3 times what it was just 5 years earlier.

The point here is that many of us have our most of our attention glued to our computer or smart phone screen instead of focusing in on the one we love…and that’s bad for connection, communication, trust and passion.

There are plenty of temptations and room for misunderstanding when you devote a significant amount of time to social networking. Jealousy can be easily triggered when comments or messages are construed as flirting or something more. Online emotional affairs can develop almost by accident.

You and your partner can end up feeling neglected and unimportant when logging onto Facebook is the first thing that happens after being apart or is how you each spend the bulk of your “free time.” This is the negative side effect of social networking that may surprise you.

Even if you or your partner aren’t posting or interacting inappropriately with others, your relationship can be dulled and damaged because you two are “Facebooking” your relationship away.

Despite these hazards, it’s not necessary to become a Luddite or to cancel your Facebook account. Just be aware of how much time you’re spending online social networking or just surfing websites and keep these guidelines in mind…

1. Create online rules.
Have a conversation with your partner where you two agree to some online rules. This should not be a blaming or shaming or “I’m right and you’re wrong” kind of talk. Instead, be honest with one another about your expectations for what’s appropriate and what’s not when online– including about how much time you’re spending there.

When you think about how much of your attention goes to Facebook or other social networking, ask yourself (and your partner) whether this is unhealthy for your relationship. Remember, this discussion and these agreements are meant to prevent conflict and make sure your relationship is getting the care it needs.

2. Social network to add to your relationship.
Consider ways that you and the one you love can use Facebook to enhance your relationship instead of endanger it. You can be flirty and playful with each other through social networking– particularly if you are in a long distance relationship or one of you travels for business. You can be sweet and romantic with posts, photos and memes too.

What’s most important is that when you post to your partner’s wall or tag him or her, it’s kind, loving and helps move you two closer together.

3. Balance Facebook time with real life connecting.
There’s nothing like looking in your partner’s eyes, holding his or her hands, kissing and caressing one another and having an authentic and heartfelt conversation. Your relationship needs regular doses of these things.

If you are spending more time “liking” and “sharing” on Facebook than you are feeding and nourishing your relationship, you will undoubtedly notice a lack of connection and passion and an increase in distance and maybe conflict too.

Find a balance that works for you. A starting point might be to agree with your partner to spend quality connecting time with one another (even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes) every day. This might be what you do before you turn on the computer to “veg” out or it could be something you do each night at a particular time, no matter what kind of engaging posts are flying by on your screen.

When there’s a balance in how much time you’re online and how much time you’re focused on your partner, disagreements resolve more easily and you two will laugh and love one another more deeply.

Try it and see what happens!

About the Author: No matter how long you and your partner have been together, your relationship doesn’t have to suffer from a loss of passion and connection. Get Passionate Spark~Lasting Love from relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto Collins to find out how to create an amazing and long-lasting love relationship or marriage. Visit: www.relationshipgold.com today to get your free copy.