Tuesday 12 December 2017

Should I block Facebook and risk my relationship?

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Orla Barry

My boss has asked me whether we should block Facebook in work as he reckons hours are lost by staff on the website.

I'm in charge of such decisions but the rest of the staff know I am the one on it most of all. I don't want to block it as I'm seeing a girl who has been living abroad for the last year. The relationship has been fairly intense for me. I have visited her six times this year and she has been over here four more times.

I quite like the long-distance stuff. It means I can do my own thing during the week and then we have a great time together when we meet up at weekends. Facebook is a great way to keep in contact, although one other problem is that she has started posting all her photos on the site and I spend half my time looking at her page. I've discovered she goes out partying more than I realised.

I can't tell whether she has been with another guy or not but after looking at the photos I wouldn't be surprised. We never said we would see each other exclusively but I didn't think we needed to say it. Now I'm wondering if I have been a bit foolish and whether I should demand an exclusive relationship.

She's a pretty cool girl and I haven't had a relationship as good as this for so long. We rarely argue and when we do she just gets over it. I don't want to mess things up by sounding paranoid but I can't help checking her profile and status updates regularly.

I've also noticed -- to add to my paranoia -- that there is only one photo of me there and you can't tell I'm her boyfriend.

Since I work very long hours it's a great way to feel you are still in contact with someone. What can I tell my boss to persuade him we shouldn't block it and should I bring up the question of a relationship with this girl?

I can't tell you what to say to your boss in order that you can continue contacting your girlfriend in work. He has a point after all. I know a lot of companies do block Facebook, although I wonder at the impact on staff morale.

So much focus is placed on productivity in the office that management often neglect the importance of employee happiness. Staff don't stay with an employer long-term because of the pay but because of the experience.

When management remove these key social aspects from the office, workers move on.

It might be worth investigating if there is a way you can assess how much employee time is spent on Facebook and whether it is truly affecting productivity. Your boss may find that giving workers that five minutes on the web might just be the break they need.

On the other hand, from your perspective, a little time away from Facebook might be just what a paranoid brain requires.

For someone in a long-distance relationship it's a double-edged sword. Sure it's a great way to stay in contact but now see what happens when you're not about.

The first rule of Facebook is that everyone wants to look their best on the site. You want to make it appear that you have a pretty great life. I don't buy that they want to keep people updated, mostly it just makes everyone else green with envy.

Long-distance relationships allow plenty of self-editing too. Great and all though the relationship was, it's still based on an artificial premise. The intensity of feelings for a partner soar when we are abroad and separated.

A short time like a weekend can keep that relationship in the rosy stages but it's not going to remain like this long term. Or at least if it does, I suspect the exclusivity clause will certainly be broken.

You're together a year, which is a considerable length of time to start questioning where to from here. The distance is already driving you to question the relationship. It's surely fair to ask what her thoughts are on it. Does she envisage either of you moving to the other's country? At some point all this flying back and forth will become exhausting.

Ask yourself where you want to see things headed in the next year or two. Are you committed enough to move abroad?

Perhaps you don't know her as well as you thought and maybe your social lives do differ greatly. If she has a partying lifestyle, it would be an issue you would have to confront if living together.

Don't get me wrong, long-distance relationships can work as long as both of you are honest with each other.

As regards your boss, assess employee reaction to blocking Facebook at work and see if the loss of productivity is worse than the impact on staff morale. Perhaps curtailment of your own use of Facebook would be a start.

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