You might want to think twice about posting about your relationship this Valentine's Day, writes Libby Blanchard.
What will you be doing this Valentine's Day? Posting photos of the flowers your boyfriend sent? Inevitably, there will be an onslaught of such expressions of love shared on social media, labeled with statements like "My boyfriend loves me so much!!!!!!"
What a contrast from a time, not very long ago, when expressions of love were relished worldwide between two people in exquisite, uninterrupted moments. Such experiences were perhaps related to good friends later on, but only if the opportunity presented itself. This made those moments, arguably, more sacred.
But in the last decade with the advent of social media, broadcasting the special moments of a relationship has become the pastime of many. We know it as cyber-fawning, love-gushing, or basic oversharing. Now, new research proves what many of us already suspected: that there is a correlation between those who make their relationships most visible on the internet, and the tenuousness of those relationships in real life. The study authors write: "On a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner's feelings, they tended to make their relationships visible."
The research on ostentatious portrayals of love and what it really says about the strength of relationships isn't just limited to social media: other recent research on extravagant engagement rings and wedding ceremonies and the long-term success of marriages corroborates this notion that relationship visibility does not equal strength. According to economists Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon in their study, "'A Diamond is Forever' and Other Fairy Tales" the more conspicuous and expensive an engagement ring, the higher the divorce rate. In fact, couples who spent $2,000-$4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times likelier to get divorced than the sweet spot of a $500-$2,000 price tag (some sort of financial legitimacy seems to matter though--rings with a price tag under $500 also increased the chances of divorce). Or consider what the same study found on money spent at wedding ceremonies: couples who spent more than $20,000 faced a divorce rate three and a half times as high as those who spent $5,000 to $10,000.
All this research corroborates the notion that the best relationships build, develop and thrive without the need for a spotlight. On the contrary, that spotlight might take away the natural glow of a relationship, or expose that that natural glow never existed in the first place. Facebook doesn't legitimize love any more than a fake ID legitimizes age.
So this Valentine's Day, try keeping your special moments sacrosanct between you and your partner. Perhaps try sharing them only in real life with real friends. After all, what could be worse than an impulse to post or Tweet getting in the way of your special moment, distracting you from your experience, in a way that both cheapens the moment for you and for your loved one. In a world where everything is shared, why not take some moments for yourself, and keep them unevaluated and unshared, at least initially?
As Shakespeare once wrote: "Speak low if you speak love." Broadcast any higher, and a deeper tragedy might already have taken hold.