Shamrocks.  Green beer (or green apple soda).  Pictures of friends decked out in shades of lush grass and forest top greens posted on Facebook. This St. Patrick’s Day, there will surely be an abundance of green.  There may be another form of green that you cannot see quite as well as the bright color plastered all over America on March 17.   There may be an unseen, but equally colorful “green” hiding on Facebook in the form of jealousy!

Jealousy is the feeling of resentment toward someone else, because an individual feels entitled to whatever the other person has gained.  It can also refer to a feeling of losing something or someone to a perceived opponent.  Unhealthy jealousy stems from insecurity, fear, or covetousness.

Photo Credit: Godly Woman Blog

Facebook is a large hub for jealousy.  A recent study looked at romantic jealousy on Facebook.  Participants were asked to imagine discovering a photo of their significant other with a person of the opposite gender on Facebook.  Women reported greater feelings of jealousy than men.  Men and women reported higher levels of jealousy if they imagined the photo’s privacy setting could not be viewed by others on Facebook, which indicated that their partner was hiding something.

A study at the University of Alabama found that women are more likely to experience romantic jealousy caused by Facebook posts from other women on their boyfriend’s walls than men.  Their jealousy increases if they think other people can see that their relationship is heading south.

In another recent study in Forbes, social media causes negative emotions.  One third of the study’s participants experienced predominantly negative feelings as a result of social media, including Facebook.  Many of these negative feelings were linked to envy.  Envy is the longing for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person.  Some of these negative feelings occur when we see Facebook pictures of old co-workers lounging on the beach with a lover in Fiji, while we are stuck working late in our coat-closet sized cramped cubicles.

Interestingly, most of the people that we compare ourselves to on Facebook are people that we do not interact with in real life.  However, we still feel envy toward the individuals that appear to be living lives we wish we had.  More commonly, individuals are viewing Facebook as a source of stress, which makes sense if it is in fact a place that is bringing out feelings of insecurity or covetousness.

Another study found that the majority of its participants were likely to add previous romantic or sexual partners as Facebook friends.  Likewise, their partners had added previous significant partners.  The more time participants spent on Facebook, the higher they scored on the jealousy scale.  This held true apart from individual personality types, relationship factors, tendency toward jealousy, and self-esteem.  Additionally, women were more likely to carefully monitor their partner’s Facebook activity than men.

As a result of jealousy on Facebook and contact with ex-partners and other romantic interests, 1/3 of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word, “Facebook.”  Romantic partners are stalking one another’s profiles and becoming insecure in their relationship with one another.  Further, discussion with outside romantic interests, such an ex or a co-worker, may be sparked through the easy facilitation of conversations on Facebook.  Over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys claim that social networking in divorce is expected to rise.

Photo Credit: Law Offices of James V. Sansone

While Facebook is not the cause of jealousy, it certainly adds flame to the jealousy fire.  Keep your relationships free from unhealthy jealousy and other havoc this spring season.  To avoid feeling increasingly “green” with jealousy this St. Patrick’s Day, limit your time on Facebook.  Enjoy the leprechauns, shamrocks, and green apple soda without Facebook’s green-eyed monster!

Emma is a writer interested in relationships and health and fitness.  For more relationship tips follow her on Twitter @emmanikole29.