Science Has Good News For People Who Flaunt Their Relationship on Facebook
You can stop the eye-rolling.
The road to a happy modern relationship might be paved with the same tagged statuses and selfie shots that you've been posting for years.
A new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Houston and Pennsylvania State University, finds that couples who constantly post about their romantic relationships may be just as fulfilled and satisfied with their partner as their statuses would have you believe.
More posts, more happiness: Researchers independently asked 188 partnered students about their lives, including their relationships, and then evaluated their reported Facebook behavior — what kinds of photos they posted, their relationship status, how often they tagged their significant other in posts.
It turns out that flaunting a relationship through a high volume of sharing on Facebook (which they called "relationship awareness") most often correlated with high relationship satisfaction (what they called "relationship quality"), both observed and self-reported.
Going public and proud: "Despite everything you've read and heard in the years since 2008," Caitlin Dewey concludes in the Washington Post, "making it 'Facebook-official' does matter, in some way." By posting relationship statuses on Facebook, couples are verbalizing their commitment to one another and exercising their own self-esteem within the relationship.
"Posting about one's relationship on Facebook may be positively related to the quality of the relationship because it symbolizes making a public commitment to the relationship. [...] An individual is highlighting to themselves and to others that the relationship is an integral part of his or her self," head researcher Mai-Ly N. Steers notes in the study.
That thinking is in line with previous research, like a 2012 study from University of Wisconsin-Madison, which found that men who selected the "in a relationship" status reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Those who proudly displayed their partner in their profile picture also reported higher levels of relationships satisfaction. It makes sense: The better your relationship is doing, the more you may feel compelled to share it.
And sites like Facebook are particularly compelling ways to share. Even on public sites, the Internet lends itself to an unfiltered, diary-like self-disclosure that we might not even practice in our face-to-face interactions with friends. That's why what we post on Facebook is a pretty good barometer of how we actually feel offline.
A new kind of communication: Facebook can also act as a bridge of communication for a couple. While past studies have indicated that excessive Facebook use can lead to depression, loneliness or jealousy, this latest study indicates that couple-centric posts are not only an expression of a positive relationship status to the outside world, but to your partner.
"Encouraging individuals to post honestly about their relationship may be a positive means by which to express themselves as part of a couple," the study concludes.
So, if you find yourself posting the third photo in a row of your boyfriend making waffles, things are good. Your relationship is going great. Plus, you have waffles.