Understanding why irritating couples overshare on Facebook

It’s all about low self-esteem


Happy couples on Facebook. Happy couples using each other’s nicknames on Facebook. Happy couples using too many emojis on Facebook. Happy couples holding hands in the holiday photos they uploaded to Facebook. Happy couples who love to overshare on Facebook. Why?

Research from Albrighton College finds that people whose confidence is closely tied to the strength of their romantic relationship—or those with higher levels of relationship-contingent self-esteem, in science talk—are more likely to use the social networking site to broadcast their happiness.

Don't worry, they're actually deeply unhappy with life

Don’t worry, they’re actually deeply unhappy with life

Relationship-contingent self-esteem, or RCSE, has been linked to lower overall self-esteem and higher social anxiety. It might lead people to seek validation by systematically “liking” each of their partner’s status updates or insisting on making things Facebook official. Or, those irritating couples you see on your newsfeed need to publicly display their affections all the time because not doing it would make them feel anxious.

The study was based on a small group of volunteers in relationships ranging from a month to 30 years old. Researchers asked this group about their relationship-based Facebook habits, including how often they posted couple photos and how much they interacted with their partners’ pages. They also used a personality test to asses participants personalities based on five traits: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

And it’s all as unhealthy as you suspected. Unsurprisingly for those high in RCSE, having something go wrong in the relationship is an even bigger blow to their self-esteem than it would be for someone low in RCSE. And those who need to brag about their relationship to others online are also more likely to monitor their boyfriend or girlfriend’s Facebook activities.

“These results suggest that those high in RCSE feel a need to show others, their partners and perhaps themselves that their relationship is ‘OK’ and, thus, they are OK,” said Gwendolyn Seidman, one of the lead researchers.

According to the researchers, individuals high in neuroticism are also more likely to use Facebook to monitor their partner and show off their relationship. “This is what we expected, given that neurotic individuals are generally more jealous in their romantic relationships,” said Seidman, who suggests these individuals may use Facebook as a way to lessen their fears of rejection and anxiety within the relationship.

If you love someone, show them, not your newsfeed.