If you often share details of your personal life on social media, include your better half in the post to counter its negative effects on your romantic relationship, a study suggests.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Kansas (KU) in the US also found that sharing information online can do more harm to romantic relationships than good. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first of its kind to systematically examine how different circumstances can affect whether a partner perceives their loved one's online disclosure to be positive or negative.
"Prior research has shown that self-disclosure positively affects offline relationships," said Juwon Lee, a post-doctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.
"We wanted to explore whether that would remain the case in an online context, where users can share detailed information with large audiences -- a phenomenon that typically would not be possible in person," Lee said in a statement.
The researchers found underlying conditions driving the negative effects of online disclosure. They compared how posting personal information online affected intimacy and satisfaction in online and offline contexts, romantic relationships and friendships, and when the partner posted about themselves versus the relationship as a whole.
The team found when one person frequently shares personal information with large groups on social media, it negatively impacts their partner's satisfaction and feelings of intimacy in the relationship. The research suggests a romantic partner could feel left out or see themselves as less special.
"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 Omri Gillath, a professor at KU.
"This validates the relationship, and a partner likely would see their significant other's post as caring and inclusive," Gillath said. The researchers found one instance when sharing information with large audiences did not have negative effects. Friendships were not affected by overly personal posts.