We all know that one power couple on Facebook whose selfies and gushy posts look and sound like one of the most picturesque relationships of all-time.
But a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin states couples who amp up their “relationship visibility” are actually feeling insecure about their partner’s affections. The more they post on social media, the more they are seeking validation for their relationship from other people.
The study led by Northwestern University, surveyed 108 couples, all of whom were listed as “in a relationship” on Facebook — including open relationships or marriages. It was reported that each individual kept a daily journal for two weeks, logging how secure they felt about their relationship, and also how they interacted with Facebook that day.
Trained coders at the university analyzed their Facebook profiles, taking into account how much time they spent on the social network and how many posts each partner shared about the couple. The findings concluded that on days when one partner was feeling romantically insecure or out of love, he or she shared more statuses, photos, or posts with or about the other partner.
Previous research from a Finnish university found that while people will want to be authentic online, their social profiles would include fake components in order to meet social expectations and maintain their “images.”
It seems from these conclusions that the likes and comments can often become so validating that when someone is really struggling, that’s where they get their motivation from — not the person they’re involved with, but what other people will say about it.