Why are couples more comfortable with PDA on social media?

June 14, 2017
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“Oh, how I love you, you are amazing my soul mate, my best friend, my partner in life.”

“Just want to tell this cutie how much I love them and let them know how amazing they are, you are the best girl/boyfriend in the whole wide world.”

(Excuse me, but vomit, vomit, vomit.)

I don’t know about you, but I feel the need to turn my face away in a respectful way when I see a couple kissing and hugging in public. It’s a natural part of “coupling” and romance (or maybe it’s just horny teenagers). They should be allowed to have that moment of connection and romance without me watching. It’s not that I’m disgusted, actually it’s quite the contrary – I think it’s beautiful. I’m not a prude, I love romance!

So if we all know the unspoken guidelines of public displays of affection (PDA), why aren’t we following them on social media? Even though it’s online, it’s still a public space. Turns out science might have a few reason as to why this is…

Peeping Tom

There is a Peeping Tom in our intimate online lives … Facebook. It turns out that Facebook has been keeping tabs on our romantic lives… I know, creepy.

It knows when we are falling in and out of love. Research from Albright College found that one’s self-esteem has a lot to do with the strength in one’s romantic relationship. That means a couple’s confidence is closely tied to how much they will use social media to broadcast their “love”.

Can you ‘Like’ my relationship

If you’re also not a fan of the social media PDA, you might also have the feeling that couples are grabbing your face with both hands and forcing you to look. Making me ‘Like’ and tell them how cute, adorable and #couplegoals they are.

So it’s not surprising to hear that people who post these super mushy posts of endless devotion tend to be people with lower overall self-esteem and higher social anxiety. They’re often seeking the validation of people ‘liking’ their relationship and making their relationship Facebook official.

Listen up introverts

What might surprise you is that even though it’s common knowledge that extroverts tend to be more active on social media and have a larger follower-ship (AKA more people to share that romantic kiss with), the research shows that introverts are more likely to post and check up on their paramour than extroverts are!

Why you ask? One reason could be that extroverts are already more comfortable sharing all aspects of their life offline. Introverts, on the other hand, use the social media platform as a way to share their more intimate and private lives that they’re not comfortable displaying offline.

Self-esteem

We’ve all seen the cringeworthy declarations of “Having the best man/woman in the world” without any options but to ignore, agree, or just silently throw up….

According to Albright College, the Relationship Contingent Self-Esteem (RCSE) determines how much you are going to post content about your partner. Individuals with a high RCSE are going to feel the need to brag more about their relationship as well as keep tabs on their partner, while people with a low RCSE won’t suffer as much of a blow if something does go wrong in the relationship.

“These results suggest that those high in RCSE feel a need to show others, their partners and perhaps themselves that their relationship is ‘OK’ and, thus, they are OK,” said Gwendolyn Seidman, an assistant professor of psychology from Albright College.

While I am a fan of romance and love, please learn the online PDA rules, AKA, keep it private.

Monique Taylor

Monique is studying a Bachelor of Media with PR & Advertising at UNSW. She is a lover of animals, chocolate and is a travel enthusiast.

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