Watching your Facebook timeline fill up with status updates about how great your friend’s new boyfriend is, or photos of their matching slippers as they have a “cosy night in!” may make your stomach turn, but new research has shown that it can reveal a lot more than their cheesiness.
According to Albright College, people whose confidence depends on their relationship status are more likely to overshare on social media. The experts call this ‘relationship-contingent self-esteem’.
They surveyed a group of volunteers, with couples who had been together for just a month, all the way up to 30 years, and asked them about their satisfaction and relationship-related Facebook habits. They also surveyed them separately and asked them about ‘The Big 5’: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
What they found was that people with high relationship-contingent-self-esteem (RCSE) have lower overall self-esteem and higher social anxiety. One of the authors of the study, Gwendolyn Seidman, explains: “There is positive correlation between your self-esteem being contingent on relationships and it being contingent on other things external to you (e.g., others' approval).
“Those high in RCSE feel the need to show others, their partners and perhaps themselves that their relationship is ‘OK,’ and thus, they are OK.”
Apparently introverts are more inclined to show off their relationship on Facebook, aswell as keeping tabs on their partner’s online activity:
“Introverted individuals [can] feel more comfortable expressing hidden aspects of the self online, so maybe they would be more comfortable expressing affection online or using [Facebook] as a way to seek out information about their partner by monitoring their activity.”
However, while this may give the cynics among us satisfaction, as it sounds like these people aren’t REALLY happy in their relationship and it’s all just for show, this isn’t necessarily the case: “I think they’d be surprised to hear that it is associated with being genuinely happy in their relationships.”
So they’re not overcompensating for their terrible relationship by posting a photo of the breakfast their boyfriend made them – now we’re REALLY jealous!