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What it actually means when someone flaunts their relationship on Facebook

A Facebook status I did not actually post, because I am not a monster.

Here’s some bummer news well-suited to the year’s most bummer holiday: All those obnoxiously couple-y Facebook couples, forever flaunting their “ussies” and “in a relationship” statuses, may actually be as #blessed and happy as they say.

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Houston and Pennsylvania State, people who Facebook-post frequently about their relationships actually have better relationships than people who don’t assault their friends with reports from Couplesville every day.

[Read: ‘Back-up husbands,’ emotional affairs and the rise of digital infidelity]

To come to that rather counterintuitive conclusion, the researchers recruited 188 partnered college students and asked them a lengthy series of questions about their current relationships. The researchers were evaluating things like how open the partners were with each other, how satisfied they felt, and how comfortable they were evaluating themselves. But they were trying to get at something else, as well: how much they flaunted their relationship on Facebook, as measured by photos, posts and the all-important relationship status.

That flaunting, it turns out, goes hand-in-hand with romantic bliss.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from this, clearly. First: Despite everything you’ve read and heard in the years since 2008, making it “Facebook-official” does matter, in some way.

Second: Despite our desperate and understandable attempts to trace some kind of direct cause-and-effect relationship between Facebook use and every other aspect of the human experience, things may actually be a little less complicated. Sure, other studies have linked Facebook with depression or loneliness, just as they’ve linked selfies with psychopathy and online-stalking with schadenfreude. But in reality, Facebook isn’t making people depressed. It’s just channeling feelings they possessed on their own already.

“It may be,” the researchers write, “that negative or positive effects related to Facebook use are not innate to the medium itself, but rather these effects are an artifact of how people elect to use Facebook.”

Alas, that means that — when your News Feed overflows with bouquet pics and messages of love on Saturday — you will not have the cruel satisfaction of knowing the posters are clearly compensating for something. Nope, against all odds, they really are that happy! No wonder Facebook “makes” people more depressed.

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