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Rob Gould

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002). Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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Social Social with Rob Gould
Posted: September 30, 2014

What do all those blissful relationship posts on Facebook really tell us? | Surprise!

We all have those Facebook friends who love to post incessantly about their significant others. Specifically, posts about how perfectly in love they are. Besides leaving me feeling vaguely nauseous, those friends also always leave me feeling a little suspicious. Well, it turns out I was onto something. But, don’t take my word for it. That would be really stupid. Recent related academic studies have shown that a sure-fire way you can tell if someone is feeling insecure in their relationship is by their Facebook posts. I KNEW IT!

In a new Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin study about how people deal with relationship uncertainty online, researchers found that “on days when people felt more insecure about their partner’s feelings than they typically do, they posted more relationship-relevant information on Facebook.” The same went for people who were anxious in general.

Now, I’m not talking about the occasional photo of you and your loved one. There’s nothing annoying about that. At all. I’m talking about the constant stream of coupled nirvana that we’ve all been forced to experience from time to time. “Here we are at the beach — SO in love!” “He just called me and said something SO sweet — best boyfriend ever!” “My girlfriend is SO amazing — isn’t she gorgeous?!” Sometimes it seems like it just goes on, and on, and on …

You see, that sudden influx of posts you all-too-often witness about those “incredibly thoughtful gestures” and/or “wildly romantic dates”  is scientifically known as relationship visibility. These particular posts are the image people want to convey about their relationship. Unfortunately, these picture-perfect posts are often just a mask for insecurity.

Researchers hypothesized that attachment underlies relationship visibility, meaning “avoidant individuals showed low desire for relationship visibility, whereas anxious individuals reported high desire visibility.” And after recruiting 108 student couples to participate in three-related studies that required them to keep a daily dairy about their relationship for two weeks, their hypothesis was proven correct.

“On a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner’s feelings, they tended to make their relationships visible,” researchers wrote. “These studies highlight the role of relationships in how people portray themselves to others.”

In other words, when a person is insecure in their relationship and feeling down about their partner, they take to Facebook for some kind of validation. At the very least the reassuring comments could be a distraction from personal distress. These findings are on par with the findings of another study that found the more “authentic” social media users really aren’t.

Airi Lampinen, the co-author of the latter study, said in a press release, “while social norms required individuals to be real in their sharing behavior, presenting oneself in the right way through sharing often necessitated an element of faking. We found that it was not uncommon for some users to purposely choose to listen to, or indeed not listen to, particular music according to the image that that individual wants to portray to others.”— Medical Daily

Does any of this really surprise anyone? I didn’t think so. However, it is nice to know that I wasn’t just imagining things. The moral of the story is; the next time someone is frustrating you with all of their sickeningly sweet relationships posts, don’t get angry. All may not be well in wonderland. And, think twice before you feel envious. Instead, have some compassion. It feels much better than anger and envy. Trust me.


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