How Your Social Network Influences Your Romantic Relationship

We care about what others think of us, and our romantic relationships, too. The support we receive from our social networks, such as family and friends, influences the quality of our relationships.

Studies have shown that people are more satisfied with their relationships, and they experience more stable relationships (fewer breakups), when their social network approves or supports their romantic relationships (Sprecher & Felmlee, 1992; 2000).

A person’s social network may support his or her relationship by showing interest in the partner, treating the partner well, and by inviting the partner to do things, a study shows (Leslie et al., 1986).

Why is it so important that our social network supports our relationships? It is likely that supportive responses from significant others lead to less uncertainty and greater couple identity.

A survey study by Sprecher (2011) of 529 students shows that peoples’ social reactions to particular relationships are associated with corresponding behaviors.

In the study, most participants (two-thirds) believed that they could influence another person’s relationship, and those who reported influence attempts also reported that they had a greater effect on the targeted relationship.

According to the author, the results suggest that:

“… network members not only experience opinions and affect (approval or disapproval) toward a targeted relationship, but they also engage in behaviors that correspond with those feelings and behaviors.” (p. 642).

Photo: Oleh Slobodeniuk

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