Can social media rupture relationships? Can an unhealthy competition for likes and followers result in marital discord? Relationship experts weigh in
Content creator and Instagram influencer Kusha Kapila’s divorce with husband Zorawar Singh Ahluwalia received varied responses on social media; some of them were problematic, others were mostly misogynistic. While a section on the Internet blamed social media likes and clout chasing for broken marriages, others blamed Kapila, whose popularity has grown over the years, for being unfaithful in a relationship based on rumours, none of which have been substantiated so far. A day after the announcement, Ahluwalia took to social media to defend Kapila amid the vicious trolling. “With Kusha being subject to vile attacks online makes me sad and disappointed. To attack Kusha’s character and paint her as some villain is shameful. Let’s all please do better,” Ahluwalia wrote.
For many, Kusha-Zorawar’s split was oddly reminiscent of influencer couples going their separate ways, which has become way too common in the creator economy. Think fashion influencer Kritika Khurana, famously known as “That Boho Girl’ calling it quits from her husband Aditya Chhabra six months after their wedding, or more recently, beauty content creator Malvika Sitlani announcing her divorce with Akhil Aryan, while she was pregnant with his child — Indian Instagram influencers have not only been candid about their separation, but also chronicled their journeys of healing and finding themselves again after the split.
The bigger question here is — can social media make relationships go sour? Can it result in a divorce? “If a couple is using social media to make money or monetizing content, this can lead to a competition between them. This competition, if unhealthy, can hurt the relationship”, says relationship coach Vishal Bhardwaj. For those who don’t use social media to make a living, the beast can still affect their relationship. “We see couples post stories with quotes on loneliness and emotional challenges life throws at them. This can lead to a rift between them and their better half”.
When asked what advice he’d like to give to couples to nurture healthy relationships in a world dominated by social media, Bhardwaj says “Couples should build each other up. If they are making a living off social media, they can encourage each other to grow their accounts and help their better half grow their follower base.”
Meanwhile, Sidhharrth S Kumaar, numerologist and relationship coach, feels it isn’t entirely fair to blame social media for break-ups. “Social media can be one contributor to divorce, but it is definitely not a significant one”, he says. “Infidelity, lack of sexual and non-sexual intimacy in marriage, financial incompatibility are other reasons that can play a role”.
Having said that, based on his personal experience of helping couples, Kumaar feels social media can certainly increase the distance between loved ones. “Inferiority complexes in couples, based on follower count, can lead to increased heated arguments and unsolicited distance between them.”
Are non-influencers just as prone to broken relationships as influencer couples?
Kumaar feels given their exposure to social media, influencers might be able to manage their emotions and relationships better as compared to those who aren’t making a living off it. “Big influencers usually have their team [manage their social media] and rarely use it themselves, so they are personally away from a lot of toxicity. Even influencers managing their own accounts are better aware and in a state of social media realisation vis-à-vis the common person and can safeguard their emotional and mental wellbeing.” Kumaar feels that it is non-influencer couples who should be extra careful while navigating the toxicity on social media.
As for Kapila and Ahluwalia, the couple has maintained a low-profile on their respective Instagram accounts post the announcement. In a country where staying in bad marriages is encouraged and walking out of an abusive home is frowned upon, one can only hope Kusha-Zorawar’s split, though heartbreaking, can encourage those who feel trapped, find their freedom.