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Facebook Valentines: Study Finds Oversharing On Personal Life Hurts Romantic Relationships

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FACEBOOK VALENTINES STUDY
In this 2008 file photo, a young woman walks by a Valentine's Day ad in Mumbai while looking at her phone. | Getty Images

You may want to think twice before declaring to the world your love for your "valentine" this Valentine's Day.

Through three separate studies, psychology researchers from the University of Kansas found that people in romantic relationships don't like their partner broadcasting their feelings to the Facebook world.

One of the problems with your significant other opening up on Facebook is that "you feel less special and unique," Kansas doctoral student in psychology Juwon Lee concluded. Many times you feel they're trusting you with intimate information, but then you see them sharing their feelings with everyone, Lee said.

The Kansas University researchers created mock Facebook walls as part of the studies, with various levels of opening up, and asked participants how they'd feel about the postings if each was a romantic partner.

When there was a high disclosure rate on feelings, particularly deeply personal feelings, there was a feeling of less intimacy with that person, the researchers found.

"There's an assumption that as a partner you're entitled to some kind of privileged information," Lee said.

Oversharing on sites like Facebook has been the subject of research before. One survey of 1,000 online individuals found that 32% of respondents admit having posted something online that they regretted. Some of them said it specifically ruined their marriage or relationship with someone. More than half of users under 25 said they experienced second-doubts after posting something.

Deciding how to handle your personal relationships on a more public platform like Facebook is one of the great challenges of recent times. One blogger Divine Caroline described the issue as follows:

When one of your Facebook friends becomes more than a friend in real life, navigating the social media space as a couple can pose challenges. Wen do you update your relationship status? Should you friend all of your new boyfriend's friends? (Hint: no.) And how often should you comment on his wall posts?

She goes on to say that the best way to handle a significant other on Facebook is to figure out the usage over time, as every couple interacts differently on social media, and "keep the private stuff private."

Another issue with social media is it can prevent love from happening altogether.

As David Wygant, a dating and relationship coach, wrote for the New York Times, "Social media is what I'd call a romance contraceptive. It prevents romance from happening every single day."

He encourages people to put the phone away, especially when you're out, and "be uncomfortable" in the real world. It's too easy to hide behind your phone and interact in the "imaginary world," but you'll miss out on opportunities for love.

Ann Brenoff wrote for The Huffington Post, "It seems we have substituted real relationships with our public image and personal 'brand'" which we tend to on social media. That's the major risk we take when we have our priorities wrong and overshare to Facebook.

 
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