Couples who post excessively about their relationships on social media aren’t that happy
They may be overcompensating for their unhappiness.
Have you ever seen a post by some guy on Facebook with a photo of his significant other and a message that says, “She is my rock. I could never live without her," or something similar? Did it make you think that the couple was doing well or that he just messed up and needed a little external validation?
If you were skeptical and thought that the relationship might be in trouble, you’re probably right.
A survey of 2,000 British people ages 18 to 50 by Shotkit found a dramatic difference in relationship happiness between people who post a lot of couples' content and those who “never” share any.
Of those who share excessively (three or more times a week), only 10% report being “very happy” in their relationships, and 42% say they are “very unhappy”—as opposed to those who “never” share couples' content, of which 46% are “very happy,” and 13% are “very unhappy.”
Those who also share a moderate amount of couples' content (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) tend to have healthy relationships as well. Thirty-two percent are “very happy,” and 12% are “very unhappy.”
Relationship happiness levels infographic
graphic via Shotkit
“We wanted to carry out this research as there are often mixed views on whether posting on social media regularly has positive effects on us or not. We, in particular, wanted to look at the correlation between this and people in relationships. We expected there to be some disparities with the survey, but we didn’t know quite how much of a difference it could make in relationships,” Mark Condon of Shotkit said.
“However, this isn’t to say that all selfies are bad, of course not,” he added. “Perhaps the saying ‘too much of a good thing’ is true in this case. We hope that the research provided some insight and perhaps food for thought for some people.”
A study published by Psychology Today found that posting “general” social media content about a significant other can be a sign of happiness. However, when people make “excessive” posts about their significant others, it’s often a sign of an unhappy relationship.
“So people who post relationship information that they deem as potentially embarrassing or that shows more affection than they are comfortable expressing in person were actually less satisfied,” Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D. writes.
Further, people who make these “excessive” posts assume they will help their relationship, which doesn't always happen.
“This suggests that these types of over-the-top displays are being used to compensate for weaker relationships,” Seidman continues. “These individuals then believe that engaging in these types of posts has helped their relationship.”
However, Seidman says that it’s “not clear” if these posts improve their relationships.
So the takeaway is that it can be healthy for couples to post normal status updates about their relationship, such as “George and I went camping this weekend,” or “Happy anniversary to my boo.” But when the posts are excessive, both in quantity and the amount of personal information disclosed, and out of character for the person posting, they may be a sign of trouble.