Including your better half in social media posts linked to healthy relationship: Study

Washington: According to a new study, if you include your significant other in your social media posts, the act increases the feelings of intimacy and satisfaction. It also helps to counter the negative effects on your romantic relationship.

That is the takeaway from a series of five studies conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Kansas. The results of the study were published in the journal ‘PLOS ONE’.

The researchers found that sharing information online can do more harm to romantic relationships than good. They did, however, find a way to counteract its negative effects. If you often post about your life, include your better half in the post.

The research is the first of its kind to systematically examine how different circumstances can affect whether a partner perceives their loved one’s online disclosure to be positive or negative.
“Prior research has shown that self-disclosure positively affects offline relationships,” said study author Dr Juwon Lee.

“We wanted to explore whether that would remain the case in an online context, where users can share detailed information with large audiences–a phenomenon that typically wouldn’t be possible in person,” Lee added.

Their paper’s five studies built on each other to attempt to resolve inconsistencies in the literature on online disclosure and relationships. In doing so, the researchers found underlying conditions driving the negative effects of online disclosure.

They compared how posting personal information online affected intimacy and satisfaction in online and offline contexts, romantic relationships and friendships, and when the partner posted about themselves versus the relationship as a whole.

They found when one person frequently shares personal information with large groups on social media, it negatively impacts their partner’s satisfaction and feelings of intimacy in the relationship.

The research suggested that a romantic partner could feel left out or see themselves as less special.

“On the other hand, 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 study co-author Omri Gillath.

“This validates the relationship, and a partner likely would see their significant other’s post as caring and inclusive,” Gillath added.

Gillath, Lee and fellow co-author Andrew Miller did find one instance when sharing information with large audiences didn’t have negative effects. Friendships weren’t affected by overly personal posts.
“For many of us, sharing our feelings and daily experiences on social media is one of the main ways we stay in contact with friends and family,” Lee said.

“Because of this cultural shift from face-to-face or phone conversations, it’s important that we understand how our usage of these technologies affects our personal relationships,” said Lee.

“Additionally, other research has found that people benefit from sharing information about themselves, which might be why people engage in it so much. But it’s important to know the full picture, and understand that sometimes sharing can be bad for you,” Lee added.