Is He Cheating? His Twitter Use Might Hold a Clue

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you or anyone you love uses Twitter, this headline will alarm you: "If Your Spouse Is Tweeting All The Time, They're More Likely To Cheat On You." As reported in Business Insider, psychologist and journalism student Russell Clayton has studied Twitter behaviors of hundreds of people in relationships, and here's the bad news: "active Twitter users are far more likely to experience Twitter-related conflict with their romantic partners, which can lead to divorce, break-ups, emotional and physical cheating." (Clayton's previous work indicated that Facebook usage is connected to relationship problems too, especially in newer relationships).

But remember, correlation does not equal causation! Is Twitter the reason these people are experiencing more relationship problems, or are the types of people who would be very active on Twitter also the types of people who are more likely to cheat? Or is the root cause something else? A little research confirms my suspicions: there are many other possible explanations. For instance, other psychological studies show that extroversion (i.e., being outgoing) is correlated with sexual promiscuity and, to a lesser extent, infidelity. And being an extrovert also changes how you report relationship troubles, too. 

So it could just be that extroverts use social media, including Twitter, more in the first place, whether for innocent or illicit purposes. These are people who were likely to create relationship problems with their social butterfly-ness already; Twitter may just be the medium for that.

That could just be wishful thinking on my part, though: my significant other and I are both very active Twitter users. But in my (hopefully our?) experience, Twitter has actually been a relationship strengthener: it's a low-cost way to see how each other's days are going, what the other is reading, etc., and we've developed many overlapping iPnternet friendships. I'd like to see some studies to this effect, instead of just the same old social-media fear mongering coverage.

But if you're still worried, you can check out Clayton's full Twitter and relationships study, available here. That'd be a more constructive response than, say, hacking into your partner's account to read their direct messages.


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