If you find yourself and your partner are spending more time apart than together, don’t respond to each other’s messages or you find yourself turning to someone else during major events, then your relationship may be over. A study recently conducted has also found that social media language can signal a breakup months before it even happens.
Social media can tell if your relationship is doomed even before you can
Researchers at the University of Texas conducted a study, analysing 1 million Reddit posts by over 6,800 users, both one year before and after they announced their breakups on the r/BreakUps sub. The study found that as much as three months before a split, the social media user’s language changed and often didn’t return to normal until about six months later. Leader of the study Sarah Seraj, of the University of Texas at Austin revealed:
It seems that even before people are aware that a break-up is going to happen, it starts to affect their lives. Even when they are not talking about their relationship, their language-style changes.
The trick lies in the pronouns
The study found that whether or not the social media poster was the dumper or the dumpee, their use of pronouns changed as far as three months ahead of the breakup. The language became much more personal and informal, with the poster often choosing the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we.’ Seraj explained that ‘these are signs that someone is carrying a heavy cognitive load. They're thinking or working through something and are becoming more self-focused.’
The lead author continued to discuss that the use of ‘I’ can also be a marker of depression, which often leads the suffer to focus on themselves and become less able to relate to others. These language patterns peaked on the day of the breakup and often didn’t relax again until about six months after the breakup. Some even suffered for up to a year afterwards. The study showed that these people were also more likely to rehash their heartbreak story over and over, making it harder for them to move on.
Co-author Kate Blackburn revealed that the study also shed light on how long it may take for some to get over their past relationships:
Implications for this research are far reaching. At the most basic level, it gives you, me, and everyday people insight into how loved ones may respond over time to the end of a romantic relationship.
So, if you find yourself questioning your relationship, check your language use. Maybe you made up your mind without even realizing it.