It's that time of year.
The photo albums from the bridal showers. The lovey-dovey status updates. Wedding season has taken over your Facebook page.
And while your friends may be entering a new blissful stage in life, things have remained the same between you and your beau. Does this mean you should be hurrying to walk down the aisle or is your relationship headed to Splitsville, population you?
As it turns out, you may be experiencing a very common dilemma thanks to social media.
"'Wedding envy' is definitely a phenomenon that exists," says Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. "You may occasionally hear of a cluster of friends getting engaged around the same time, and even scheduling wedding dates in close proximity. This is because many young women can't bear the feeling of being 'left out.'"
Experiencing jealousy after witnessing your friends' blossoming love lives on Facebook isn't a new concept. In a recent study conducted by two German universities, it was reported that one in three people felt more dissatisfied with their lives after browsing the world's largest social networking site. Relationship success was recognized as the third most envy-causing incident. And with the warmer summer months comes wedding season, which means many women in relationships are likely to fall prey to such a phenomenon.
However, experts advise thinking twice before discussing this social media-induced marriage itch with your significant other. "Wanting to get married is basic, but it doesn't mean you are with the right person or that you are both ready," says Nina Atwood, dating coach and author of Temptations of the Single Girl. "You are ready for marriage when you have spent enough time together to know exactly who you are getting, warts and all. The other thing is what makes you compatible or not, such as religion, children and finances. When you have acceptance, plus you are aligned on your core values, you are ready to marry."
According to psychologist Karen Sherman, seething in resentment is not only unhealthy, it can quickly strain an otherwise stress-free relationship.
"I think it's dangerous to be tempted to get married because you get the itch based on social media," says Sherman. "Based on social comparison theory, we look to others to see how we're doing. Social media certainly makes it easier to do this. But the decision to marry is a serious commitment and one that should not be entered just because everyone else has done so. For all you know, others who are announcing their plans have been influenced by other social media postings!"
Dr. Walfish adds that focusing on your relationship reality is far more important than trying to keep up with your friends.
"Don't talk with your man until you are crystal clear on your goals and expectations," she says. "Then share them with your partner. Listen to his. It's also very important to examine how as a couple you resolve conflicts. You don't always have to agree, but you must be able to bear differences with mutual respect."
Another way to deal with wedding envy? Chill out.
"Be careful you don't let it impact your relationship with your guy," says Atwood. "He will probably not understand it and will only feel pressured. The very best proposal is when he initiates it instead of you pressuring him to do it sooner than he is ready. I say talk it out with your friends first, let it go and relax."
— Stephanie Nolasco
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