How to Deal with Instagram-related Jealousy and Insecurities

Let me just start off by saying that in my logical, reasonable mind, I trust my partner with all my heart. He’s been perfect, never makes me feel worried about the possibility of him cheating, and reassures me that he cares about me by texting me constantly throughout the day and giving me his full attention when we’re together.

But no matter how much I love and trust him, the less rational part of my mind still worries occasionally (which I think is natural for everyone). When I look through my Instagram newsfeed when I’m bored, I’m afraid I’ll see that he liked a hot girl’s picture and I’ll discover that the happiness I had was all temporary. It’s like I’m just waiting for him to prove that my worst fears are true: that love doesn’t work out and that I shouldn’t trust anyone. I feel incredibly petty worrying about something so superficial as a “like” on Instagram—I know deep down that it’s 100% harmless. And I can’t really get mad at him because I follow way more pretty girls and models than he does, and he never says anything about it (but in my defense, I follow them 50% for inspiration and self-love by seeing more beautiful brown women who make me feel better about myself by extension… 50% because they’re hot as hell and I like to admire them).

When I see he “likes” some girls’ photos, I get this painful feeling in my gut. I imagine him fantasizing about how much happier he would be if they were his girlfriends instead of me. I worry that he is comparing me, with the mole on my face, the rolls on my stomach when I bend over, my meager B cups, to this image of a girl with a perfectly contoured face and a push-up bra.

I know none of this is true. Anyone who uses Instagram scrolls through basically mindlessly, “liking” pictures in a second, then instantly forgetting the previous post once it leaves the reach of their thumb. These worries are part of a story I’ve made up in my head that is a manifestation of all my insecurities and trust issues I’ve developed from past relationships, with exes who had wandering eyes. Seeing the person you love give validation and attention (even in the smallest form, a “like” on social media) feels like a betrayal, in a world where a large part of the construction of self-worth relies on how many “likes” you get and who gives them to you—as much as we’d like to think we’re disconnected from social media, it affects everyone.

When I stop and think about it, my worries have nothing to do with my partner. He could tell me he loves me every day, never hang out with any other girls, do literally everything right, and I still would feel this way (and it makes me feel terrible that I do).

At our very core, when we feel jealousy, it’s not about our partners being disloyal about something so small—it’s about our deep need to be loved and to be given attention and loyalty from the person we love. The jealousy stems from the small child in each of us who needs love and worries that the flaws we see in ourselves will prevent other people from loving us (sorry, I know I sound Zen-y like my dad here, but it’s true).

The best solution when you’re feeling insecure about your partner “liking” other people’s posts is to realize and remind yourself that your relationship with a person is much more than what goes on in social media, and shouldn’t be defined by “likes,” especially if it’s with someone you have a deep connection with personally. You shouldn’t compare one “like” on a picture to the weeks/months/years of getting to know each other that you’ve had with your partner (and if he/she really wanted to be with that other person instead of you, don’t you think they would?).

Don’t compare yourself to others, especially not you in real life, right now, vs a staged photo. I feel like shit when I compare myself to a picture of a girl with her makeup done, while I’m lying in bed wearing my oversized “I [heart] gays” t-shirt and no bra. Your partner doesn’t love you because you look on point all the time, they love you because you have a real connection and because of your personality. Plus there’s no way those girls online look like that 24/7. Instagram is performance (repeat that to yourself 100x every day and you might turn out okay).

Some steps to take when you get into a negative mindset with these insecurities:

Get off Instagram! Be productive, take a walk and enjoy nature and keep your phone on “do not disturb” if you use it to listen to music, interact with the people who are around you in real life, work on a project. Create, don’t get into a negative spiral.

Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t base your self-worth off of whether a person double taps on an image of you. Remind yourself why you are a good person, why you are beautiful, and why you are attractive and worthy of love—most of all, your own love.

What I do:

    • lift weights (makes me feel strong and proud of myself)
    • go for a walk (sunshine makes me happy, gets my sun-kissed skin back)
    • put on a little makeup or curl my hair (doesn’t take that much effort and ends up making me really happy and feel pretty)
    • wear something I wouldn’t normally wear (anything besides work/bum clothes)
    • write (makes me feel smart and capable)
    • tidy my room (makes my living situation more comfortable)

Also, it’s hard to be in a happy relationship with someone who is insecure and doesn’t see their own self-worth (me at times, in this case). You need to remind yourself why you are valuable as an individual and as a partner, both for your own mental health and for the sake of your relationship.

Talk to someone (or at least write it out to yourself). Saying your fears out loud makes them sound a lot less real and will show you they aren’t actual reasons to worry. It helps a lot to get out of your own negative self-talk and train of thought if you have to explain it to someone else, and they can tell you you have nothing to worry about.

Make a list of things to be grateful for in your life. You have more going on for yourself than just one person, anyway!

Make a list of ways your partner has shown they love you. If you’re in a good relationship, these will outweigh the minor slight of Instagram “likes” by far. After I write my lists, I feel so much happier, more in love with my partner, and appreciative of what a good person he is.

Overall, the best thing you can do is to just not look at the feed.

The urge to prevent your partner from looking at anyone else but you (which is impossible) is possessive, and makes me feel small for being controlling in that way. If you want to keep your relationship healthy, you need to just trust that your partner is a good person who does not want to hurt you.

Even more importantly, you need to trust that you are a good person who deserves to be with someone who loves you and will be loyal to you (even if you don’t always believe it, it’s true). The stress of stalking your partner online constantly is bad for the skin anyway, so don’t detract from your physical beauty, and in turn the source of your value as a person (just kidding! internal beauty all the way! *smirking emoji*).

Be the Role Model You Wish You Had

A while back, I was in a toxic relationship. My boyfriend fought with me (verbally) and cussed at me, got mad at me over the littlest things, and made me feel bad about myself deeply. After crying my eyes out while he yelled at me over Skype, I decided that enough was enough. I needed to do better for myself and get out of the relationship.

I’ll also mention that I’m the oldest of 6 children and many cousins in my family, so naturally I serve as a role model for lots of my younger loved ones. So when I decided I needed to get out of the toxic relationship, I knew that I didn’t just need to do it for myself, but for my siblings. They saw my crazy mood swings, from crying at home to being elated and browsing Pinterest for our wedding ideas. They didn’t mention it to me, but I could tell they knew that this relationship was taking a toll on me.

If I let my little sisters see me stay with a guy who treated me with disrespect, I’d be sending them the message that it’s okay to let someone abuse you and not do anything about it. And if I let my younger brothers see me take the emotional abuse and still give love to my partner who wronged me, they might think it’s okay to treat their future girlfriends or wives that way too.

I used the goal of setting a good example for my siblings as a driving force to be the strongest person I could be. I said goodbye to the bad relationship with the intention of never looking back.

I have strong female role models in my life, and I wanted to be the same kind of person who could inspire those who look to me as an example. I couldn’t handle if it if I saw my little sisters in abusive relationships, much less if I knew it was because they learned the passive behavior from me. So when it gets hard to try to do the right thing, I remember the boys and especially the girls who look up to me and use them as my motivation. If you have anyone in your life who has you as a role model, keep them in mind when life gets rough. Even if you can’t be better for yourself, be strong for them.

–Chloe

How to Get Your Partner to Spend More Time with You Without Seeming Needy

Asking your partner to give you more attention or spend more time with you is tricky because it’s easy to come off as needy, if you approach the subject incorrectly. It’s a problem many people face, and is definitely a one I’ve faced many times in past relationships. To figure out the root of your problem, you might want to try thinking introspectively first before talking to your partner about it.

So before you go and tell off your partner for being a horrible negligent asshole, you should re-evaluate how much attention you really need. If you wish your partner would at least see you once or twice a week, that’s a reasonable request. But if you expect your partner to be with you 24/7, and you get upset when he doesn’t meet that expectation, that’s another story.

I used to freak out if my boyfriend didn’t respond to a text for over an hour or if I saw him talking to other people on Facebook when I was still waiting for him to talk to me (yes, I know I used to be a psycho). But instead of blaming him for not making enough time for me, I should’ve made more time for myself. I should’ve been content with the time we spent together but make myself happy when we were apart.

Nobody should make their partner the only thing that makes them happy (much less when you’ve only been dating for a few months). If you think it through and realize that you do spend a reasonable amount of time with your partner, find other things to occupy your time that make you happy, or spend time with other friends. Your partner isn’t the only person in the world who you can have a good time with.

If you notice that your partner doesn’t make time to see you regularly (at least a few times a week, if not once minimum) or doesn’t even bother to contact you through texts or calls every day or so, then you have a reason to ask for more time together. If you two agreed to be in a relationship, that usually entails spending time with each other.

When approaching this subject with your partner, keep a few things in mind: First, don’t accuse him of ignoring you or not wanting to spend time with you. He’ll probably get hurt, angry, or defensive, and will be less receptive to giving you more attention. Second, let him know how you feel. You are his partner, you adore him, and you just want more time with him. If you explain it in a way that makes him feel good about himself and help him to understand where you’re coming from, the outcome is more likely to be positive. Don’t tell him you need to be with him all the time, because you’ll come off as clingy. Just let him know you’d love to see him more often.

Also, you could try setting up fun dates to go on with him. If he has fun, enjoys the time spent with you, and sees how much effort you put into it, he might just want to do the same for you.

–Chloe