Relationship posts are like birds in the wild in that they are EVERYWHERE. So, naturally, Science got its observation goggles on and decided to take a look at why.
The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reports that when people post their relationship highlights for the virtual world to admire, psychology is involved. Specifically, something called “relationship visibility” occurs, which signifies that people anxious about their partnership are more likely to remind others that they are, in fact, in a relationship with another human being.
On the other side of the spectrum are “avoidant” individuals, who essentially avoid posting such information because they feel secure in their relationship.
“On a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner’s feelings, they tended to make their relationships visible,” wrote the study’s authors. “These studies highlight the role of relationships in how people portray themselves to others.”
Before reaching this conclusion, the researchers conducted three tests. The first test involved examining anxious individuals and their relationship-posting motives. “Both anxious and avoidant people were concerned that other people thought they had unstable, unhappy relationships, but this led anxious people to want their relationships to be visible and avoidant people to want their relationships to be less visible,” reveals Lydia Emery, one of the study’s authors, adding that anxious people thought posting about their relationships would make them feel better.
The team’s second stage involved causing subjects to remember a time when there was a lack of closeness between themselves and their partner. Essentially, the authors wanted to see how this anxiety-inducing memory would affect relationship visibility. The results: “Those who were made more anxious desired higher relationship visibility, whereas those primed with avoidance wanted lower relationship visibility, suggesting that attachment causes differences in how much relationship visibility people desire,” concludes Emery.
As for the third experiment, the researchers had participants fill out an online survey, every night, for two weeks straight. This trial reaffirmed their Test 1 results, since avoidant people reported posting less about relationships. Emery adds, “We also found that daily changes in people’s feelings about their relationship influence their Facebook posts. On days when people felt more insecure about their relationships than usual, they posted more about their relationships on Facebook.” (This will completely change how we view our Facebook feeds.)
To put it simply, if someone is posting about their relationship on a consistent basis, there may be trouble in paradise. So, instead of feeling #foreveralone or #foreverannoyed in response, you should take a moment to remind yourself that nothing on the internet is as it seems.