The Truth About Those Smug Social Media Couples

A new study confirms they're insecure and unhappy. Good, says Sam Parker

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It’s a rare but gratifying moment when a personal prejudice is backed up by science.

A report from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has concluded that people who post endlessly about their relationship on social media (#blessed) are usually the most insecure about them.

The PASPB – a collection of proper scientists, remember, not some paid for ‘report’ by Durex or something – recruited 108 couples and asked them to participate in three related studies while keeping a daily diary about their relationship.

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They found that “on a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner’s feelings, they tended to make their relationships more visible”.

In other words, your buddy and his girlfriend who can’t stop posting photos of themselves looking adoringly into each other’s eyes on Facebook are probably, in real life, gripped by debilitating paranoia and sleepless from endless tearful arguments.

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Not to take delight in other people’s suffering, but good. There is no social media faux pas – not the Self-Important Customer Service Whine, not the Illiterate Political Rant, not even the Candy Crush game invite – as narcissistic or as irritating as the Smug Couple Post.

Now this report has confirmed what the single and happily coupled among us have long suspected, we start seeing these obnoxious spurts of emotional graffiti for what they really are – desperate cries for help.

That surprise home cooked meal you’ve let go cold as you compose the perfect Instagram shot? Clearly a sign you can’t trust each other to eat out in public anymore, not without one of you crying into your serviette because the other has ‘ruined everything. Again.’

The endless tweeting back and forth at each other about what you’re planning to do tonight? A clear sign that, without the mediating presence of an imagined public audience, even your texts deteriorate into bitter acrimony and pointedly withheld kisses.

The Facebook shot of that kitten / puppy / gerbil your SO has just bought you? Yup. A surrogate for the child you both fear having because divorce really messes kids up.

We hear the screams behind your filtered eyes, Smug Photo Couple, we finally hear you.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with announcing an engagement, or sharing wedding photos, or capturing a special moment together in a far off and exotic land. These are special occasions, and anyone who really cares about you will be happy to hear of them.

But to endlessly document the quotidian banalities of your courtship, trussed up in weak jokes or ironic facial expressions, is just a sad reminder that people who are genuinely having a good time together don’t generally want to interrupt the moment and get a camera out.

“Love seeketh not itself to please,” wrote Blake, “Nor for itself hath any care.” Bliss doesn’t need Facebook likes. Contentment doesn’t need retweets. And the rest of us really don’t need to know about #datenight.


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