The study, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that people who use Facebook excessively (interpreted by the researchers as checking it more than hourly) are more likely to "experience Facebook–related conflict with their romantic partners, which then may cause negative relationship outcomes including emotional and physical cheating, breakup and divorce," according to a press release.
Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and his colleagues at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and St. Mary's University in San Antonio surveyed 205 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 82 -- 79 percent of whom reported being in a romantic relationship -- about their use of the social media site and whether or not it had instigated conflict with their current or former partners.
“Previous research has shown that the more a person in a romantic relationship uses Facebook, the more likely they are to monitor their partner’s Facebook activity more stringently, which can lead to feelings of jealousy,” Clayton said. “Facebook-induced jealousy may lead to arguments concerning past partners. Also, our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating.”
The correlation was strongest among newer relationships; Clayton told Huffington Post Divorce via e-mail that "high levels of Facebook use is associated with negative relationship outcomes for newer couples (three years or less)."
He recommends limiting Facebook usage in order to achieve a healthy, lasting relationship.
Clayton said, “Cutting back to moderate, healthy levels of Facebook usage could help reduce conflict, particularly for newer couples who are still learning about each other."
It's not the first time Facebook has been linked to divorce. In 2012, divorce lawyers surveyed by Divorce-Online UK said that the social network was implicated in a third of all divorce filings the previous year.