If you're happy and you know it, then stop posting about it

"Look at this." My friend stuck her phone under my nose. On it was a picture on Instagram of a couple we both know, a photo of one of them pursing her lips over a frothy cocktail in a dim bar, flash on.

Underneath, the caption said something like "Weekly Love Post #72: Fancy cocktails with bae #mygirlfriendisbetterthanyours #weekiversary #sorryshestaken".

"Blagahh," I said, doing my best vomiting noise and pushing the phone away. My friend cackled, delighted by how quickly she was able to irritate me.

This couple celebrate their "weekiversary" every week, without skipping. Ever. They have been doing it for 72 weeks, which is about 17 months, which is nearly 11/2 years. Make it stop.

It is so early in this couple's relationship and I am already exhausted. So are most of our mutual friends. The responses on their weekiversary posts have dropped from dozens of "You two!!" and "Cutest couple ahhhhh!!" comments in the early days of their relationship to just a single comment from one of their mums this week.

The couple are nice people in real life and they are in love and that is wonderful - and they are terrors on social media. The weekiversary posts are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are also close, glistening photos of their home-cooked nightly dinners (kissy face #shesakeeper). There are unrelenting, near-identical pictures of one of them napping next to a cat (heart-eyes #allmine).

The content is nauseating and compelling; an endless highlight reel of two people who are strangely uninterested in keeping small joys in their relationship private.

And it is not just them. I have couple friends who post daily #whyiloveher pictures with paragraphs dedicated only to their partner (and their 2,000 followers), plus 15 hashtags underneath all that.

I know friends in relationships who turn staying in and ordering pizza into a big production.

It creeps me out. Why do people perform their relationships online?

I do not understand the point of writing deeply personal declarations of love, even if it is platonic friendship love, regularly, for thousands of strangers to see.

Do people do it to mark territory? To make their partners feel good?

To show others that a person is worthy of love but - back off - you have already chosen him or her?

Our real lives and online lives are merging. They are starting to feel indistinguishable. Even regular, non-celebrity people cultivate their own brands. Is a relationship real if it is not flaunted on Instagram?

Is the new definition of a commitment-phobe someone who chooses to keep one's relationships offline?

Then I am a commitment-phobe.

Daily love posts make me want to throw my phone in the street.

Public-proposal videos cause me to cover my head and emit feral howling noises.

If you have to keep reminding everyone of how happy you are, something is not right. Happy people do not need to announce over and over how happy they are.

Your friends? They know when you are in a healthy and loving relationship just by seeing you and knowing you.

You do not need to declare it every time you go online.

I get especially weirded out by people who seem interested in cultivating "fans" of their relationship.

While it is cute and flattering to have people make comments on a picture of you and your lover, I think it creates social pressure to stay in relationships that might actually be unhealthy.

One of my good friends stayed with her evil ex-boyfriend for more than a year after she knew she needed to leave, worrying about "letting people down". She had relationship fans. Lots of them. "I just feel so stupid," she told me, in tears. "Everyone thinks we're perfect. I don't want to disappoint people."

Let us take a step back from that. As my mum would say: "Turn the spotlight off, honey."

Your relationship and/or break-up is not part of the public domain, unless you invite and encourage that.

No couple is perfect and no one knows the private things that happen between the well-edited photos you have posted with good lighting on vacation days with your partner.

All couples are a mess sometimes. How weird is it to encourage people to envy you as you play the role of someone in a happy relationship?

Now look, I am not a monster.

I feel happy and excited when my friends are in loving partnerships.

I am in one too - and it is great.

I do not hate all cutesy posts about partners; a few here and there make me coo out loud when I am lying on the couch scrolling through my social-media feeds.

"Aww," I will say to the empty room. "Look at them." And I will tap that "like" button with genuine feeling and search through my emoji for just the right sparkly pink heart and rainbow and flame icon.

I love love. Just not, you know, every single time I unlock my phone.


• Krista Burton is a writer for online magazine Rookie.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'If you're happy and you know it, then stop posting about it'. Print Edition | Subscribe