A leading support charity is calling on couples in Edinburgh to get in touch with their local service if they need help, after a new study found that the internet is one of the biggest causes of relationship problems.
Published by Relationships Scotland, The Way We Are Now 2014 lifts the lid on our relationships and sex lives. The study is one of the largest of its kind.
The report asked more than 5000 people across the UK how they feel about their sex life and relationships.
It reveals some concerning statistics around how close we feel to others, with one in five or 18% rarely or never feeling loved in their relationship and one in ten saying they didn’t have a close friend.
The charity said that in as many as 50 to 70% of cases in couple counselling in Scotland the internet had an impact on the relationship yet in the study very few people reported the internet as causing a problem in their relationship
Only 1% of respondents said they’d cheated with someone online but not in person.
This clashes with the findings from the survey of counsellors, with many of them reporting the use of social media and online pornography as an issue that comes up in the counselling room in over half of cases.
Anne Chilton, Head of Counselling said, “There is a disconnect here between what people see and assume their partner is doing and what they are actually doing. Seeing your partner on line night after night you maybe assume they are just browsing. Its only when you look at what they are actually looking at do you find that there is problem. Maybe they are chatting to someone else, or looking at porn. Either way, this is the point couples come to us for help. What maybe started as a solution to loneliness in a relationship now becomes the problem.”
“What often happens now is that instead of talking to their partner when they are unhappy in the relationship or dissatisfied with their sex life, people get drawn into looking for a solution online.”
One in four people are dissatisfied with their sex life (24%) and a quarter also reported having an affair (25%).
The Way We Are Now 2014 included an additional survey carried out by Relate of 250 Relate and Relationships Scotland counsellors, who listed three factors for a happy sex life: improving communication, making time to be together and learning how to talk about sex with your partner.
The study finds a clear link between relationships and high levels of wellbeing but simply being in a relationship doesn’t guarantee that people will feel good about themselves: it’s the quality of the relationship that has an impact on wellbeing and happiness.
Anne said, “It’s very sad the number of people who don’t have a close friend. Research suggests it is linked to the rise of the internet. While someone could have hundreds of friends on Facebook they might feel these are superficial rather than friendships of real substance. Online you only use one channel of communication and it’s hard to connect with people. When you are face to face you can feel, hear, see and really interact so it’s much better for building friendships and deeper levels of intimacy.”
The report finds a strong connection between our relationships and our personal wellbeing. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, relationships still act as ‘shock absorbers’ when times are hard.
Relationships Scotland says the research shows that couples and families can get the help they need to invest time and effort into building stronger relationships.
Stuart Valentine, Chief Executive of Relationships Scotland, said: “This new study examines the quality of our relationships, showing a clear link between our personal relationships and our wellbeing. Whilst there is much to celebrate, the results around how close we feel to others are very concerning. There is a significant minority of people who never or rarely feel loved or who have no close friends.”
“We know that strong relationships are vital for both individuals and society as a whole, so investing in them is crucial. Through our network of services around Scotland we provide support, advice and counselling to couples, families and individuals as well as mediation. The help is there and we hope that anyone who feels they need a helping hand will get in touch with us.”
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