Facebook posts can actually help couples stay together longer

First comes Facebook, then comes deep, long-lasting romance, but please — don't go overboard with the lovey-dovey photos

By Bloomberg News

Jul 24, 2015 @ 1:47 pm EST

Deborah Liu, director of product marketing for Facebook Inc., speaks during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco on March 25, 2015 David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Couples that broadcast their love on Facebook may be annoying, but they seem to have their relationships figured out. According to a study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, people who are loud and proud about their significant others on Facebook are more likely to stay with their partners.

The research, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, and released online last week, looked at how 180 undergraduates reflected their relationships online, as well as how long they stayed smitten.

The students in the study, who were all in couples, first answered questions about their age, sex, length of relationship and level of commitment. Then they logged into their Facebook profiles and allowed researchers to record the number of photos they had posted with their partners, whether they had indicated that they were "in a relationship," how many times each person in the couple wrote on the other's wall in the last month and the number of mutual friends they shared.

Six months later, researchers asked the students by e-mail whether they were still in that relationship.

After controlling for age, sex and relationship length, the study found that people who said they were “in a relationship” and posted a lot of photos with their partners were more likely to be deeply committed and still together.

“These publicly posted cues likely induced participants to perceive themselves as part of a romantic unit, thus cementing the relationship,” wrote Catalina Toma and Mina Choi, the co-authors of the study.

Their theory is that publicly confirming romance in and of itself deepens that romance, partly because people want to live in a way that's consistent with how they represent themselves to the outside world. Having a lot of mutual friends was not associated with staying in a couple past six months, nor was how often a person's partner posted on their wall.

(More: Ashley Madison hack fallout: Don't let infidelity cloud your decisions in divorce.)

Ms. Toma and Ms. Choi considered the competing idea that the Facebook activity merely reflected couples' deep commitment to each other, rather than helping deepen that commitment. They tested that hypothesis statistically and found more evidence that Facebook affects relationship commitment than vice-versa.

As the saying goes: first comes Facebook, then comes deep, long-lasting romance.

Join the Discussion

Most Popular

Affluence Influencers