So you’ve started seeing a special someone — how exciting! In the whirlwind of learning their favorite foods, talking about your respective childhoods, and picking up on that funny eyebrow thing they do when they’re frustrated, a certain topic will inevitably come up: should we make this thing Facebook official? That is, should you two mark each other as your significant others on Facebook for all of your friends to see? The choice is yours, of course. But according to research, couples who go “FBO” are likely to feel greater love, commitment, and satisfaction in their relationship.
Two different studies published in 2015 showed that couples who are in it for the long haul tend to make things Facebook official. A Hungarian study that appeared in Frontiers in Psychology asked 292 people between the ages of 16 and 69 to fill out an online survey about their relationship. They answered questions about romantic love, jealousy, and how often they used Facebook. They also gave the researchers access to their Facebook profile information. The results showed that people who declare their relationship status on Facebook “report stronger romantic love toward their partner” than those who don’t. That’s regardless of whether they actually tag their sweetie in that declaration.
Another study published in the aptly named journal Computers In Human Behavior did something similar: researchers had 170 undergraduate students answer an online survey about their relationship status, and how committed to, invested in, and satisfied with that relationship they were. They also answered questions about their romantic alternatives — for example, rating “If I weren’t dating my partner, I would do fine — I would find another person to date” on a scale of 1 to 5 — and how often they used Facebook. The researchers found that those who shared their relationship status online felt more commitment to and investment in their relationship, experienced more satisfaction with their partner, and had fewer romantic alternatives — that is, their eyes wandered less — than those who didn’t make things FBO.
But wait! What if you’re in a perfectly happy, healthy, committed relationship that — gasp — isn’t Facebook official? Well, there’s hope for you yet. One caveat about that Computers in Human Behavior study? You’re also more likely to post your relationship status if you simply use Facebook more often. It could be that some couples are too busy being blissful in meatspace to bother announcing their happiness online.
There’s also the fact that a 2014 study demonstrated that people who feel more insecure about their partners’ feelings are more likely to “make their relationships visible” online, through things like writing posts about their partner and posting profile pictures of the happy couple. In the end, it’s likely that going Facebook official isn’t the thing that makes a happy relationship — it’s just a sign that things are probably going pretty well.