Couples urged to be cautious about sharing love online

AMIDST the memes and cat videos, plenty of people find room for love online - but a CQUniversity social media researcher warns that celebrating Valentine's Day on your Facebook page should be approached with caution.

CQUniversity social media researcher Amy Johnson is doing her PhD on how Defence families manage their relationships around deployment, and the role social media can play.

The wife of a Navy sailor, Amy said that increasingly, couples are using social media to bridge long-distance challenges - but romantic days like Valentine's Day add to the difficulty level. 

"ADF spouses who are away from their loved ones often experience heightened feelings of loneliness and jealousy of Valentine's Day," Amy said.

"Especially when they're seeing other spouses, who are good at communicating long-distance, absolutely lavish love on their partner online - for a partner is less skilled at expressing love in writing, those feelings can be tricky to manage".

While Amy says she and her husband "aren't too fussed" about Valentine's Day, she said that being apart on big holidays heightens the sense of loss.

"The experience for me, and for many of the partners I speak to, is that the tiniest stuff just makes it really hard - like being apart on Valentine's Day!" she said.

"So getting a romantic post or Instagram photo on Valentine's Day really does make a big difference."

Amy warns that with all social media communication, clear messages and practical expectations are important.

"Both parties need to be aware of what the other person expects, and also what they're capable of - if a partner isn't romantic 364 days of the year, they're not suddenly going to flood you with romance on Valentine's Day."

"And if your partner's a submariner and stuck out under the sea, there's probably not going to be a present in the mail, or even a post going up on Facebook."

"Also, have an understanding that what other people post on social media, about their amazing relationship or what they received for Valentine's Day, usually isn't the whole story!"

Amy, who lives in Perth and is studying by distance education, said the same applies to couples where one or both partners work FIFO, or live in different locations. 

And she said for ADF families, or people separated from loved ones on Valentine's Day, connecting with your wider community was crucial.

"As well as staying in touch with partners, we're seeing ADF spouses build up a whole network of friends and neighbours via social media - so that's a great place to start if you want a girl-date on Valentine's Day, with someone who's also missing their partner on deployment."

But the social media enthusiast also warned about the perils of too much social media on the calendar's most romantic day.

"For people who are alone ,for whatever reason, being online on Valentine's Day can feel like 'everyone is just rubbing their happiness in my face', which isn't a great experience for anyone!"


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