Engagement changes the way couples view their relationship, and that new attitude changes behavior, even with something as trivial as social media.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology looked at the Twitter feeds of almost 1,000 people who used the hashtag #engaged to announce their marriage plans, and they found that the use of the words “I” and “me” dropped by 69 percent in the 12 months after the announcement. Those singular pronouns were replaced by the collective pronouns “us” and “we.”
"People began to paint themselves as a couple, rather than as individuals," said Munmun de Choudhury, one of the study’s authors. "They're going through a major change in life, and it shows on social media."
Marriage and family therapist Michael D. Williams demonstrated this new collective identity by emptying his wallet onto a table and having someone else do the same. “These things are no longer mine or yours; they are ours,” Williams wrote on his blog. “Each resource will then be used by the new couple to meet their needs and interests as they determine together.”
The couple’s friends and relatives will also start viewing them as a unit, inviting both partners to family events and offering both family support. Once a couple is engaged, their relationship will get more respect, according to marriage blogger Meredith Bodgas.
In addition to shifting from “I” to “we,” the Twitter study found engaged people increased their use of future tense verbs by 62 percent. Couples are "looking forward to the future in their real lives and boasting about it on social media too," said researcher Michael Massimi. Engaged couples have a wedding to plan, and the rest of their lives to plan as well.
Marsha Maxwell is an online journalist, writing teacher and Ph.D. student at the University of Utah. She can be reached at email@example.com.