We see it all the time: relationship oversharing on social media. Those perfect couples who constantly post mushy gushy love notes to one another, brag about how awesome they are, and leave the rest of us wondering what in the world is wrong with our own mediocre relationships.
Some days I sit there looking at these posts and just shaking my head. Hells yes I’m jealous! Who doesn’t want gorgeous selfies with their guy, and he actually looks HAPPY to be in the picture?
I have to beg Mr. OG to be in a selfie. Then if I don’t push that shutter button quick enough, I end up with a photo of me looking deliriously happy, next to a blur of the side of Mr. OG’s face, because he’s already bailed. Or I end up looking annoyingly perky next to him looking pissed at the world. Like so:
The point is, these kinds of overly-exuberant relationship posts can leave some of us feeling inadequate and dejected, because our regular old relationships don’t seem to hold a candle to the perfection we see everyday on our Facebook or Instagram timelines. Are those couples really that much more in-tune than the rest of us? Let’s find out.
What Oversharing Can Mean for Your Relationship
Guess what? Those indefectible couples probably aren’t as blissfully in love as they appear. Research says relationship oversharing on social media may not be the best thing for your partnership. There are many concerns that this type of behavior could be pointing to, and I am going to briefly discuss three of them.
In an interview with Daily Mail, sexologist Nikki Goldstein points out, “Often it’s the people who post the most who are seeking validation for their relationship from other people on social media.” She goes on to mention that by seeking validation outside of the relationship, you are taking away from the quality of the moments you spend with your partner.
“The likes and comments can be so validating that when someone is really struggling, that’s where they get their up from – not the person making the gesture, but what other people will say about it,” she states. “You see people who will focus so much on taking a ‘relfie’ – a relationship selfie – and getting the right filter and hashtags that they’re missing the moment. Couples are taking these photos, straight away putting them online and then watching the likes and comments instead of being with their partners.”
It isn’t necessarily posting pictures of you and your partner that’s the problem. It’s what you are masking that becomes the issue.
Northwestern University researchers surveyed over 100 couples, and afterward, released a report on the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. They found this: “On a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner’s feelings, they tended to make their relationships more visible.”
Goldstein goes on to mention that how a couple poses in photos, or how they label those photos can bring in an element of ownership. She uses the example of The Bachelorette’s Sam Frost and Sasha Mielczarek, who were constantly posting photos on Instagram of their “perfect” relationship. Sadly, they only lasted 18 months before they split for good.
Source: Sasha Mielczarek’s Facebook.
Many of their Instagram photos were labeled “My man,” or “My bae.” Notice also that in the above photos they are displaying quite a lot of forced affection, and you can see that Sasha is almost always holding onto Sam in some way. These all can be signs of possessiveness, which is never healthy in a relationship.
Goldstein says, “There are a lot of people out there who want to flaunt to their friends and the world that this person is mine.” Do you feel the need to show people that your partner “belongs” to you? That could be a problem.
What’s the Meaning?
So, according to the above information, if a couple feels the need to document every moment they spend together on social media, it might not be a good thing. Or if a couple has to make themselves look way happier on the internet than they are in real life, it might not be a good thing. Or if a couple needs constant reaffirmation from outside sources that their relationship is going well, it might not be a good thing.
Of course, this made me think about celebrities, those people we all follow on social media that look so fulfilled. How about we conduct our own little experiment here? Let’s look at a few examples of celebrities who stay private verses those who overshare (because I don’t think my friends would like if I started comparing them on this blog).
I warn you, this experiment is EXTREMELY scientific.
Here is a short list of celebrity couples who have been together for 10 years or more, and who try to keep the nuances of their relationships private, especially on social media:
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, together since 1988
Source: Rita Wilson’s Instagram
These two are known for being very private, yet they aren’t afraid to address their bond occasionally. They’ve been through a lot together: she is his second wife, he helped her through a breast cancer diagnosis. They credit honesty and humor as two of the reasons they are still together. They don’t hide their relationship from their social media accounts, but they do post sparingly, and generally the posts are not possessive or showy.
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, together since 2004
Source: Portia de Rossi’s Instagram
One of my favorite things about this couple is how supportive they are of one another. If you check out their social media accounts, you won’t see a lot of mushy posts about their undying love. Instead, you see a few pictures of them on vacation together, or supporting one another’s achievements. They definitely respect each other. You also don’t see them looking possessive or having to declare their undying love constantly for the world to see.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, together since 1994
Source: Will Smith’s Instagram
It’s known the the Smiths have had their ups and downs, but one thing that they have always valued is privacy. While they are willing to answer surface questions about their relationship, they don’t talk about the ins and outs very often. Instead, they opt to keep that between the two of them. Search through their social media accounts and you aren’t going to see a ton of pictures of them together. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but usually it’s pictures of them with their kids, or small discreet tributes on special days (like their 20 year anniversary).
Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn, together since 1983
Source: Goldie Hawn’s Instagram
I have always loved this couple! For one, like Mr. OG and I, they have never felt the need for a wedding (Goldie was married twice before they got together, and Kurt once). But that doesn’t mean they are any less in love and committed to one another. Their social media accounts are full of fun pictures of them enjoying life, together and apart (I want to be best friends with them, btw). What has been the key to their successful relationship? “Love, gratitude, compassion, because sometimes every man or every woman will drive their partner crazy. Family. Fun. Laughs. Sex,” Hawn says. “If you don’t nurture that, and remember, you’re done.” These two try to keep their relationship out of the spotlight, and instead focus on nurturing their beautiful blended family.
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, together since 2007
Source: Justin Timberlake’s Instagram
These two have been extremely private since their relationship began. They rarely post photos together on their social media accounts. In fact, it’s almost always on a special occasion if they do. When it was leaked that Biel was pregnant in 2014, the two wouldn’t confirm or deny the rumors for some time. Timberlake is known for being very protective of his family. When they do mention one another, it seems to be with great respect and support, something we can all learn from.
I thought about making a list of couples who overshared on social media and ended up breaking up, but that’s not really fair. We never really know the all of the reasons for a breakup. The point of this article is not to shun posting your relationship on social media. Rather, it’s to caution that too much sharing can be a symptom of problems. So instead, I will mention a few celebrities who are known for oversharing. These celebrities also either can’t seem to make their relationships last, or are often in partnerships that are extremely volatile:
Source: Taylor Swift’s Instagram
Taylor Swift is notoriously guilty of relationship oversharing on social media. Now, that may not have anything to do with her lack of success in long-term relationships, but it certainly doesn’t help. When she dated Calvin Harris, she constantly posted photos of them doing amazing things like vacationing in tropical locations, barbecuing, and riding inflated swans together. It seemed like it was meant to be. Sadly, it wasn’t.
This isn’t the first time Taylor can be accused of oversharing. She seems to be guilty of relationship oversharing with almost every partner she’s been with, including Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Even more, Taylor has a habit of writing songs about her ex boyfriends. Also, she is constantly in disputes with other celebrities (Katy Perry, Kanye West). She has no problem airing her thoughts about said “beefs” on her social media accounts. You’d think she’d learn.
Source: Lindsey Lohan’s Instagram
Lindsey Lohan has long been known for her bizarre antics and strange relationships. She has had many a breakup unfold via social media, including recently with Egor Tarabasov. She posted quite a bit of personal information on Instagram. Basically the world was given a play by play of their entire relationship, including alleged physical abuse and infidelity. If that isn’t relationship oversharing, I don’t know what is. Then, to top it off, she got angry at people for commenting negatively about and “butting in” to her relationship. She went out of her way to make a statement (on social media, of course) to ask that people give her privacy. Go figure.
Of course, she has done all the same things in her other past relationships, with Samantha Ronson and Aaron Carter.
Source: Kylie Jenner’s Instagram
Again, we have a celebrity that can’t stop oversharing! This example is a little different than the previous two, because Kylie doesn’t necessary overshare when it comes to her relationships. She just overshares. This can still put a lot of unnecessary stress on a relationship, though. Of course, it’s to be expected, as she comes from a family that lives constantly in the spotlight. I’m going to inject my personal opinion here (shocker!) and say, Kylie drives me nuts! Almost every single picture she posts is so incredibly posed, it makes me want to puke. She is just trying way too hard to follow in her older sister Kim’s footsteps…..and Khloe’s…..and Kourtney’s…..
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t she look unhappy? That might be because she doesn’t believe in smiling, taking a note from Kim, who says it causes wrinkles. Hmmm….would I rather look like a zombie with no emotions, or have some small wrinkles around my lips and eyes because of happiness? That’s a tough one, and by tough I mean not tough at all. I’ll take happiness with a side of wrinkles please!
The main point is, Kylie seems to struggle in her relationships as well. In fact, don’t all of the Kardashian ladies? If they’d put their phones down for a moment and participate in the reality around them, they might be more successful in their love lives. Of course, they are laughing all the way to the bank, aren’t they?
The Bottom Line:
This theory behind relationship oversharing on social media clearly isn’t completely scientific. But any person with common sense can see there is a definite correlation between maintaining privacy and having success in your relationship. Of course, there is always the other side of the argument. Some researchers say that posting frequently on social media about your relationship makes you stronger. I personally haven’t seen this in action much, but it’s a valid argument that should be considered. The bottom line is, while oversharing doesn’t necessarily spell doom for a relationship, at times it can mean there is trouble brewing behind the scenes.
“But Amber,” you may be thinking, “I like posting about my partner for my family and friends to see!” Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. The key here is to avoid oversharing, maintain privacy, and stop trying to mask problems.
Many of those couples I mentioned earlier that value privacy still post about their partner on social media. There are a couple of key things to remember about the way they post. For one, they usually save mushy posts for special occasions. Also, instead of needing to show possession, with a lot of PDA and labeling, healthy couples generally post photos of them and their partner having fun and enjoying life together. Nikki Goldstein (mentioned earlier) gives an example of a couple who posts about their relationship in the right way: social media star Pia Muehlenbeck and her boyfriend Kane Vato.
Source: Kane Vato’s Facebook
Notice they always seem to be having fun and laughing together. Their photos give us a peek into their relationship, and it doesn’t seem like they are trying reaffirm to everyone that they are SO into each other.
The takeaway here is this: Instead of trying to document every moment of your relationship for your Insta-feed, put that phone down and make some memories. When you do post pictures of you and your partner, stop trying to make all of us believe you are so excessively happy that blue birds follow you around singing all the time. Be honest. Be respectful and supportive. Have fun together, and while doing so, if you happen to capture a moment of that on camera authentically, by all means, I’d love to see it on my wall.
Just don’t share too much, mmmkay?
Talk at ya later!
Research for this article: