Cheesy sentiments like "JeffnKimmy" are no longer reserved for airbrushed license plates. You sometimes see them on Facebook accounts too — two people who are sharing one profile, rather than having two separate ones. Maybe the couples feel it's a sign of their connection — but the practice generates lots of "dislikes" from their Facebook "friends."
"Most people (myself included) hate shared Facebook pages with a fiery passion," says online marketing specialist Rachael Nicol, of Atlanta, in an e-mail. "The reason [is] you never know who you're talking to when you message the 'couple' page." Ashley Procacci, a doula/owner at Orange Blossom Birth Services in Merritt Island, Florida, agrees. "I hate it only because if I need to send that person a message I don't know which one is going to respond. I actually decline people now if they have a joint account. It's annoying."
So why do people do it? Why not set up your own account, rather than piggy-back off a spouse or partner? "I think some couples want to provide a united front to the world and show that they're close enough to each other that sharing a social media channel makes sense for them," explains Erika Tayor Montgomery, CEO of Three Girls Media, Inc. in San Francisco. "[Or maybe] one of the partners isn't very active online and decides, 'I don't post very often so I'll just share your page.'"
Couples whose relationships pre-date social media, might be more likely to share a Facebook account, says New York City-based neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez via email. "These couples are able to openly share their social media because they have established a foundation of trust and security in each other. Partners as such can be perceived by others as combining their virtual identities into one. By doing so, it prevents unwanted solicitation from any individual seeking out a romantic relationship." In other words, as Nichol adds, "It's hard to hit up your old high school girlfriend on Facebook when you share a Facebook page with your wife."
The fidelity issue certainly seems to be a common perception by bystanders. "Most people are [probably] thinking, 'I wonder which one cheated?'" says Elizabeth Norris, a sales representative from Decatur, Georgia.
A joint account can be a great way to reduce jealousy (as well as trolling), explains mental health expert Lynette Louise, but it doesn't last. "This reduces stress initially but it quickly builds jealousy even bigger, due to a jealous person's need to tighten the noose."
However, some people have joint accounts, not because they are attached at the hip or don't trust their partners one inch, but for more practical reasons. Laurie Taddonio, owner of LMT Consulting in Aliso Viejo, California, lists some of the people she knows with joint accounts. "One is a celebrity and shares an account with his wife under her name," she explains via email. "[Another] is a federal agent and not allowed to have an account, so she just shares under her hubby's name; one is my elderly uncle [and aunt] and since she doesn't know how to use the PC, she doesn't have her own account."
It's tough to quantify how many couples have joint accounts and for what reasons, since it's actually against Facebook policy. (Some people try to get around this with profile names like "ChadElise Jones" or "The Bradfords.") Facebook does allow joint pages for commercial reasons, like promoting a business. But those aren't supposed to be used for personal postings.
Despite Facebook's best efforts, some couples will continue their joint sharings and others will continue to be annoyed. "You can be in a perfect relationship but you still need to be your own person and express yourself as you would offline," says Richard Harmer, director of communication strategies with Ardent Creative, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. "You don't see people just walking around speaking on behalf of their spouse 50 percent of the time, why would you want to see that online?"