A couple of years ago, people thought nothing of posting all details of their life to Facebook. Being tagged in a hazy nightclub photo with a flushed face was all part of the college experience. It took a few years of whispered rumours about HR departments and search engines for us to do a deep edit of those images where both our palms cradled glasses of wine.
It was the same with relationships. Flirting was conducted via visible wall-to-wall conversations. It was obvious and the mortification recall makes us blush on the regular. Then there was the relationship stage. Did anyone need to see you and your lover take turns in front of tourist attractions and the digital camera you don’t use anymore? Cute cats > 87 photos of a boring trip to Lisbon.
In the last two years especially, most people have been taking a step back from posting too much personal stuff on Facebook, but maybe that’s not entirely a good thing.
A University of Wisconsin study recently looked at 212 heterosexual undergraduates who were ‘in a relationship’ and the portrayal of their relationship on the social media platform. After six months, those who tended to state their relationship status on their profile and posted photos of their partner on the site were more likely to still be dating, and feeling far more committed to each other.
Chief researcher Catalina Toma says that this self-presentation on Facebook had positive effects for relationships. What people say about themselves in public influences what they think about themselves, she claims. Being ‘in a relationship’ can also impact on your ability to remain faithful. “People declare their love, they make vows in front of friends and family, they take photographs, and they exchange rings,” Toma says. “Online claims are very meaningful psychologically, and I think a big reason for that is the access to this diverse and wide audience.”
Another interesting pattern’s Toma observed? The more mutual friends, the more strain on your commitment. Toma theorises that this is down to seeing other relationship avenues open to you. We just see it as a great excuse for getting out of group hangs with people we don’t like. “Oh sorry darling, I can’t do overpriced tapas with Mark and his girlfriend and all those jerks from college. I might be tempted.”
While we’re not advising relentless overshare, just don’t be afraid to have the occasional moment of public-to-a-select audience happiness with your significant other.