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There are a lot of mildly grating, meaningless terms that are bandied out with merry abandon online, including the banal phrase “this one”, used to describe partners, pets and friends etc.

Doubtlessly, “this one” will have cropped up on your Instagram feed more than once (e.g “Romantic dinner with this one” or, “Cosy evening in with this one”); essentially a casual, understated way of boasting. It’s a smug, clichéd way of saying you have “one”, whether partner, friend or animal, without looking like you’re overtly showing off or bragging.

However, a relationship expert says that there are more reasons to put an end to using this phrase other than it just being irritating – especially if used to describe a romantic partner. Celebrity dating coach and author James Preece told The Independent that the term could signify issues within a relationship.

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“If they were truly happy then they wouldn’t have a problem referring to them as their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner etc,” said Preece, explaining that it could be an indication of commitment issues or not knowing what the status of the relationship really is.

“It could just be that it’s in the early stages and they aren’t sure where they stand. So to avoid any problems they keep things light to start with.”

He added that it could also show control issues of the person taking the photo.

“If they aren’t ready to put a label on their relationship, they could be trying to control them by keeping them at arm’s length,” he said. “It’s almost as if they are saying they aren’t together, but nobody else had better come near.”

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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.