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Studies show how we use Twitter, Reddit and communication apps in our relationships

Technology romance love
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It’s Valentine’s Day, which means tweeting, posting and sending messages about our feelings for others (or ourselves). How we use communication channels like Twitter, Reddit and messaging apps reveals a lot about our relationships, according to studies from the Georgia Tech College of Computing.

Three separate studies conducted by the College of Computing take a close look at how our Twitter feeds after an engagement, how members of online dating services look for help and how couples choose the digital communication channel they use with each other.

Post-engagement Twitter feeds

One of the studies examined the Twitter feeds of 923 people who used the hashtag #engaged in 2011 to observe behavior in the nine months before engagement and the 12 months after engagement. These tweets were compared to a random group of tweeters during the same time frame.

The College of Computing found that after people got engaged, tweets including “I” or “me” decreased by 69 percent. Not surprisingly, they were replaced by “we” and “us.” Tweets including family-centric words like “future in-laws” and “children” increased by 219 percent in the 12 months after engagement.

“The most frequent terms used by females when tweeting about their significant other were tied to emotion (for example, they ‘love’ their  ‘wonderful’ fiancé),” according to the summary of the study. “Men are more likely to use physical descriptors such as sexy, beautiful, or gorgeous when talking about their fiancée.”

Reddit used for OKCupid and Tinder support

Another study from the College of Computing found that when people have difficulty navigating the social norms and best practices of finding love on OKCupid and Tinder, they turn to third-party support systems – namely, Reddit.

Two subreddit groups for OKCupid and Tinder have more than 95,000 members combined, with 1,400 new posts a day. Users shared experiences and gave advice in these subreddits.

“Many subreddit discussions centered on what not to do, with users providing cautionary examples of harassing or unwanted messages,” according to the summary of the study. “Discussions also focused on strategies to take advantage of how the dating sites are set up. Researchers say some of the techniques might actually enable anti-social behavior, a common problem on dating sites in general.”

Common problems include blindly giving marks of approval (e.g., a high star rating or favorable swipes) and creating generic profiles.

How couples choose communication apps

A third study conducted by Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs found that couples choose digital communication channels to use with their partners based on the type of messages conveyed. Messages for daily routines mostly fell into two groups: relationship-based and practical needs-oriented communication, according to the summary of the study.

For relationship-based communications, couples shared emotional moments and intimate shares. As a result, they looked for technology offering sufficient privacy and playfulness.

For needs-based communications, couples focused on coordinating routines, schedule changes or location updates. When selecting the technology used for these types of interactions, couples looked for options that were timely and reliable.

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Jason Hahn
Jason Hahn is a part-time freelance writer based in New Jersey. He earned his master's degree in journalism at Northwestern…
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