Can Facebook help couples stay together?

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Couples who make regular posts about their relationship on Facebook are more likely to stay together, results from a new study has shown. The study, which was carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied the online behaviour of 180 undergraduates, all of whom were in a relationship, to see what they posted about their partners.

The students were first asked questions about themselves and their relationship, such as age, gender and how committed they were to their partners. Their online behaviour on Facebook was then monitored by researchers, who recorded how many photos they posted of themselves with their partner, how many times the couples communicated with each other on the website in the past month and whether or not they had listed themselves as being “in a relationship.” The study also looked at how many mutual friends each couple had.

The research, which was published in a journal called “Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking,” was carried out for six months, after which the students were asked if they were still in the same relationship. Results showed that couples who were more open about their relationship on Facebook, such as listing themselves as being in a relationship and actively posting photos of their partner, were still together.

The study’s co-authors, Catalina Toma and Mina Choi, believe that publicly showing romance online can help to deepen a relationship, because people want to be consistent with the way in which they represent themselves online.

“These publicly posted cues likely induced participants to perceive themselves as part of a romantic unit, thus cementing the relationship,” the authors said.

Speaking about couples making online declarations, Toma said: “People declare their love, they make vows in front of friends and family, they take photographs, and they exchange rings. Online claims are very meaningful psychologically, and I think a big reason for that is the access to this diverse and wide audience.”

The study also showed that having more mutual friends with a partner on Facebook could have a negative effect on a relationship.

“We think that having more mutual friends signals having a greater social network, and this greater network might include more alternative romantic partners,” Toma said.


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