During the two years of my last relationship, my ex-boyfriend and I argued about Instagram more than once. More precisely, I was upset about the fact that he didn't post enough pictures of me or the two of us on his account. This happened at least twice. While both times we dropped the argument after coming to the conclusion that I was probably just being dramatic about something so trivial, I'm glad to know that recent research has my back. Thanks, science!
The folks at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Kansas, in their research, confirm that oversharing on social media is sometimes a bad idea. But since constantly posting about our lives and thoughts has become the norm in this day and age, they found that if you're going to broadcast your life, then you should include your significant other in your posts to keep your relationship healthy.
"When you include a significant other in your post, perhaps as confirming a relationship status online or posting a photo together, we found that it counters the negative effects of online disclosure, increasing the feelings of intimacy and satisfaction," said Omri Gillath, a professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, who co-authored the study.
In their five studies, researchers compared what happened when people posted personal information on social media and how that affects intimacy and satisfaction in their romantic relationships and friendships. They also studied what happened when a person posted about themselves instead of their relationship. What they found is that the partner who's left out of a social media post could feel left out and less special in real life.
This is not the case, however, with friendships. The researchers found that friends don't experience FOMO as much as romantic partners do when it comes to social media posts. This is the first research of its kind to systematically look at how what we share online affect our relationships, and considering how much of our daily lives center around the Internet, it's probably not going to be the last.
Now, don't reach for your phone and upload back-to-back pictures of your significant others on all of our dozen social media accounts just yet, because you may just ruin your relationship this way, as we've written before here. And there is always some wisdom in keeping your personal life completely offline. Besides, it's probably more important on working out each other's insecurities than working hard to perform your love for the Internet.
As a reminder, whether or not you're in a romantic relationship, it's probably better for your mental health if log out of all your social media accounts every now and then.