Blogging and Break-ups
Here’s Molly our newest Parent Panel mum and author of the Mother’s Always Right blog, with a thought provoking look at how spending time on social networking can impact on your ‘real life’ relationships.
It’s 11 o’clock at night and I’m busy typing. I look over at my partner as he sits watching the TV and realise I’ve barely spoken to him all evening. In fact, I haven’t had much of a conversation with him for the past couple of days. The reason? My blog.
Like thousands of other mums across the UK, I’ve joined the growing army of Mummy Bloggers. Our ranks are growing so fast we now have our own social networking sites and conference events. Two years ago, our numbers were fairly small. But that’s all changed. Now, we’re expanding and growing almost as fast as our Mummy Blogging friends over in the US.
But what effect is all this increased time online having on our real life relationships? As we make new internet friends and chat to people we’ve never even met on Twitter, what happens to those conversations we used to have face-to-face? Are we guilty of spending more time writing about our family than actually talking to them?
Divorce lawyer Tony Roe thinks so. “I’m starting to see social media being brought up by clients in divorce cases,” Tony says. “As a society, we’re spending less time together as families. Social media just adds to that. But the way it has taken off, I can’t see it stopping anytime soon.”
There are no hard statistics for this. Social media is a relatively new phenomenon, as is the huge rise in UK parent bloggers. But over in the US, back in March, lawyers issued a report stating Facebook is being cited in an increasing number of divorce cases. It seems those elusive statistics may start to appear soon.
But Tony Roe doesn’t think it’s that simple. “We haven’t seen a rise in divorce cases in the UK for a while. In fact, the number of people getting divorced here is the lowest it’s been since the 1970s”, Tony says. “But that may be because fewer couples are getting married. It’s now common for couples to live together. And if these couples break up, we won’t have statistics for them. It’s important to remember that relationship breakdown isn’t just confined to marriage.”
Relate agrees. The charity tells me the likes of Facebook, Twitter and blogging are being brought up in the counselling room. But again, they have no hard and fast statistics to measure the extent of the issue.
But from speaking to other Mummy Bloggers, it would appear I’m not alone in spending more time on my blog and less time on my relationship.
Emma Murphy tells me she’s in exactly the same boat. ““My husband’s sick of me being online almost every night, either blogging or keeping my online profile going. He doesn’t understand the need to engage with people online and calls my Twitter friends my ‘imaginary friends’. He doesn’t believe they’re real.”
Emma admits her blog has been the cause of arguments and has had to start blogging during her lunch hour, so her online time doesn’t eat into the evenings. “We’ve had rows that have got so heated my husband’s stormed out saying I care more about blogging than I do about him. I’m now making the effort to only blog when he’s not around.”
But what happens if you’re not prepared to compromise? What happens when blogging becomes the main focus in your life, rather than your “real life” relationship?
Meet Suburbia (her online name). “I left my marriage as a direct result of blogging,” Suburbia tells me. “I started my blog three years ago. It wasn’t long before I spent most evenings in front of the PC. My marriage was pretty empty anyway, worn down by bringing up two children and having left my career to have them in the first place.”
Once she’d started her blog, Suburbia discovered a new world. One which became more interesting than the “real” one she lived in. “Not long after starting to write I found another blogger who lived in the same city, a man, younger than me.”
This is where Suburbia’s story becomes like a film. “This blogger always made me laugh. Within weeks, I found myself logging onto the PC before taking the children to school, to see if he had posted overnight. Within about two months we were emailing each other directly. Nine months after starting my blog we arranged to meet. It was two weeks before Christmas. On the 2nd January I told my husband I wanted to leave him.”
It’s debatable whether Suburbia’s story is a positive or negative one. Yes, she left her husband because of her blog. But actually, her marriage was an unhappy one in the first place. She is now divorced and in a loving relationship with a fellow blogger. And, interestingly, she admits to now spending less time online.
Suburbia’s not the only one who thinks blogging has made her real life a happier one. Emma Richards says her marriage would be a very different one without her blog. “I was having a hard time. I was a bored mum of six with no social life and not much to look forward to. Since blogging, I have a new lease of life and it’s made me a happier and stronger person. This, in turn, has made my relationship a happier one.”
So, it would seem, there’s hope for me yet. My blog doesn’t have to spell the end of my relationship. Luckily for me, my partner’s used to seeing me tapping away at the keyboard, as he knows I need to spend time online for work.
But I suppose I will have to rein it in a bit. For one thing, my blog seems to thrive on late nights and early mornings, just like my baby. And I know which one’s my priority (the baby, of course!).