What’s a sure-fire way you can tell if someone is feeling insecure in their relationship? Their Facebook posts, of course.
That sudden influx of posts you see about “bae” or a particularly sweet, romantic date is scientifically known as relationship visibility. These particular posts are the image people want to convey about their relationship. Yet, what sounds seemingly happy is really just a mask for insecurity, as found by a recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
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.”
And now that this idea is out there, we wonder if it’ll make other Facebook users insecure, too. Medical Daily previously reported on the research that found emotions shared on Facebook are contagious, and if your friend is happy, then you’re more likely to also be happy. Only if your friend is insecure then you’ll be insecure, too?
Maybe. Maybe not. Nevertheless, Facebook is onto you, relationship-related posters. Perhaps it's reason to finally consider giving the site a break.
Source: Emery L, Muise A, Dix E, Le B. Can You Tell That I’m in a Relationship? Attachment and Relationship Visibility on Facebook. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2014.