New US research has found that including your partner in your social media posts can increase feelings of intimacy and satisfaction.
Carried out by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Kansas, the new study is the first of its kind to investigate how different circumstances can affect whether a partner perceives their other half's online sharing to be positive or negative.
The team carried out a series of five experiments involving a total of 692 participants, which compared how posting personal information online affected intimacy and satisfaction in online and offline contexts, in romantic relationships and friendships, and with different types of content (for instance, when the partner posted about themselves or about the relationship).
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that when one half of a couple frequently shares personal information with large groups on social media, it can negatively impact their partner's satisfaction and feelings of intimacy in the relationship, with the results suggesting that this is due to the partner feeling left out and feeling less special.
However, the researchers found that including a partner in online posts could counteract this negative effect.
"On the other hand, when you include a significant other in your post, perhaps as confirming a relationship status online or posting a photo together, we found that it counters the negative effects of online disclosure, increasing the feelings of intimacy and satisfaction," said co-author Omri Gillath. "This validates the relationship, and a partner likely would see their significant other's post as caring and inclusive."
Despite the negative effect on romantic relationships, the team found sharing information with large audiences did not have a negative effect on friendships.
"For many of us, sharing our feelings and daily experiences on social media is one of the main ways we stay in contact with friends and family," said researcher Juwon Lee.
"Because of this cultural shift from face-to-face or phone conversations, it's important that we understand how our usage of these technologies affect our personal relationships. Additionally, other research has found that people benefit from sharing information about themselves, which might be why people engage in it so much. But it's important to know the full picture, and understand that sometimes sharing can be bad for you."