Why many use couple photos as their social media profile pictures

Couple pictures shared on social media can serve as sources of inspiration for others, showcasing healthy, loving relationships and promoting positive ideals of romance. PHOTO | PROMISE TWINAMUKYE

What you need to know:

  • Sharing couple pictures on social media holds different meanings and implications for different couples. While it can serve as a tool for connection, validation, and self-expression, it also poses risks of comparison, oversharing, and performance pressure. 

In today’s digital era, the realm of romance has expanded into the virtual world of social media, where couples often showcase their love through shared photos and affectionate posts. But behind the curated snapshots and carefully crafted captions lie a myriad of meanings. 

Emily Apio, a marriage counsellor, says sharing such images can strengthen emotional bonds and create a sense of unity. For these couples, she says, social media serves as a platform to celebrate relationship milestones and create shared memories with their online community.

Connection and communication

Posting couple pictures on social media can serve as a form of communication and connection with friends, family and acquaintances, especially for couples in long-distance relationships or those with busy schedules. It allows them to share moments of their lives and stay connected to their support network.

“Couples may find support and encouragement from their online community when facing challenges or seeking advice. Social media platforms can also serve as a supportive network where couples can connect with others going through similar experiences,” Apio explains.

Celebrating milestones

Social media provides a platform for couples to celebrate their milestones, such as anniversaries, engagements, and weddings, with a wider audience. 

“Sharing couple pictures on social media can act as a digital scrapbook, preserving memories and experiences for the couple. It can also evoke nostalgia and strengthen the emotional bond between partners,” Apio adds

Public interpretation

Couple pictures shared on social media can serve as sources of inspiration for others, showcasing healthy, loving relationships and promoting positive ideals of romance. Seeing happy couples can uplift and inspire individuals who may be seeking similar connections in their own lives.

“They contribute to the sense of community on social media platforms fostering a sense of belonging among followers who may feel connected to the couple’s journey and experiences. Comment sections often become spaces for supportive interactions and shared experiences among followers,” Apio explains.

Education and awareness

Couples who share their relationship experiences, challenges and triumphs on social media can educate and raise awareness about various aspects of relationships. This transparency and openness contribute to a more informed and empathetic society, breaking down taboos and fostering healthier attitudes towards love and partnership.

Shared identity

Posting couple pictures on social media can contribute to the development of a shared identity and narrative for the couple. It allows them to express their values, interests and experiences as a unit, fostering a sense of cohesion and unity in their relationship.

According to theconversation.com, people in close relationships often include their partner in their self-concept; they see their partner as part of themselves. They display their love on social media because doing so accurately represents how they see themselves; as intertwined with their partner.


Apio says using social media platforms exposes people to a variety of things that could potentially harm their relationship, including ex-partners, alternative partners they could start a relationship with and romantic rivals who could attempt to ‘steal’ their current sweethearts.

A survey by theconversation.com, found that people who were more motivated to protect their relationships from these kinds of threats were more likely to use dyadic displays (expressions or behaviours that people engage in that communicate that they are currently in a romantic relationship). 

These not only communicate commitment, but also suggest the profile owner is unlikely to be receptive to romantic advances from other people. This may discourage others from trying to get closer to the profile owner, perhaps protecting the relationship,”

There are couples who prefer to keep their relationship offline, valuing privacy over public displays of affection. Michael Ochieng, a sociologist specialising in digital culture, says these individuals may have concerns about oversharing or inviting unwanted attention into their personal lives. 

“For these, intimacy thrives away from the public gaze, and social media serves primarily as a means of communication rather than a stage for performance,” says Ochieng.


However, some couples turn to social media as a way to validate their relationship and boost their self-esteem. Sarah Kabera, a social media researcher, says for these individuals, the number of likes and comments on their couple photos becomes a measure of their worth as a couple. 

“They may feel pressure to present a perfect image of their relationship, leading to feelings of inadequacy or jealousy when comparing themselves to others,” Kabera explains. In extreme cases, this quest for validation can strain the relationship, as the focus shifts from genuine connection to maintaining an idealised image.

On the other end of the spectrum are couples who view social media as a stage for performance, where they showcase their relationship as a carefully curated narrative. Kabera says these couples may prioritise aesthetics over authenticity, using filters and editing tools to enhance their portrayal. 

“Their online persona often differs from their offline reality, blurring the lines between fantasy and truth, she observes. While this curated image may garner attention and admiration, it can also lead to disillusionment when confronted with the complexities of real-life relationships.

Unhealthy comparisons

Ochieng observes that couples may fall into the trap of comparing their relationship to others based on the curated images they see on social media. This can lead to feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, or unrealistic expectations within the relationship.

Ochieng adds that constant exposure to curated and idealised couple pictures on social media can foster unrealistic expectations about relationships among the public. Individuals may feel pressured to live up to these standards, leading to feelings of inadequacy or dissatisfaction with their own relationships.

“Viewing happy couple pictures on social media may trigger negative comparisons among the public, especially for those who are single or experiencing relationship difficulties. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, envy, or resentment towards others’ perceived happiness,” Ochieng says.