'Happy' Facebook Couples Are Actually All Liars

couple taking a selfie with tablet on bed

A beautifully Instagrammed snap of a bouquet of roses, an ode to a husband who changed his first diaper (#HottestDadEver!), or a status update about the best date night. It's easy to scroll through your Facebook feed and think your friends' relationships are storybook fairytale perfect. And the people sharing the most about their love life must be the happiest, right?

Not necessarily, say Northwestern researchers, whose new study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, busts myths behind carefully crafted, filtered representations of relationships on Facebook.


In her study, lead researcher Lydia Emery surveyed 108 couples at a university in Canada, all of whom were listed on Facebook as "in a relationship" (including open relationships and marriages). Everyone in the study kept a journal for two weeks, logging how they felt about their relationship and also what they did on Facebook on any given day. Then, trained coders looked at their Facebook profiles.

As it turned out, when one partner was feeling romantically insecure, he or she shared more statuses, photos, or posts with or about the other partner. Well, well, well!

The most vocal, happy-seeming couples on Facebook are likely struggling the most. But hey, even if that's the case, as long as your relationship looks picture perfect to your social network, at least people won't know what's really going on offline.

Okay, so we use Facebook as a means for masking our deepest insecurities. That's not really news, right? Rarely has Facebook reflected what our lives are truly like in any way -- especially when it comes to our romantic relationships, which we often want to present as enviable to the world.

Come on, who is going to post pics of their husband acting like a big baby when he has a cold or write a status update about the date from hell? (Okay, some chronic oversharers might. But it's more of an exception than a rule.)

More from The Stir: Oversharing About Your Relationship on Facebook Is a Bad Idea

But here's the thing: Even before it was possible to create a digital representation of our lives (accurate or not), couples weren't exactly 100 percent honest about their romantic ups and downs with their social circle. It's the reason most of us will readily admit that no one really knows what is happening in a relationship besides the two people who are in it.

So feeling jealous or annoyed -- or any other emotion, for that matter! -- by any depiction of a relationship on Facebook is pretty pointless. Can't judge a book by its cover or a couple by their updates!

Would you say this rings true for you or your Facebook friends?

Image via iStock.com/LePatrizi

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