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*).

What to Do When You Want Your Ex Back

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(Don’t listen to Cher Lloyd.)

I had a minor freakout this morning because I thought I had residual feelings for an ex. I blew up my friends’ phones with long texts about my fears, asking them what I should do. I let my imagination run wild and imagined worst case scenarios, in which I was stuck pining over someone who wanted to be with other people. I imagined running into him everywhere I went or seeing him making out with another girl at a party. I told myself I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I even told one of my friends “I’m dying” because I got a small anxiety attack just thinking about everything. I turned to Google, as I do with most of my problems, and went on a fast streak of skimming through Wiki How articles on what to do when you still have feelings for your ex.

Then I took a deep breath. I realized as I read those Wiki How articles that this is absurd. It isn’t a good idea (on my behalf) for us to get back together. I felt all my dormant insecurities creep back and take center stage in my mind. I was letting my fears win. I realized that all of this is stupid. I don’t need him and I don’t need a boyfriend at all. I made a choice to date myself, and I needed to honor that commitment.

When you chose to date yourself, you’re going to get lonely at some point, no matter what. It’s hard to be satisfied with only yourself when you see happy couples all around you, or when you crave physical affection you can only get with another person. But the trick is to wait it out. As my dear Andrew VanWyngarden said, “the trick is to try to be free / and tend to the void, don’t just fill it.” When you get lonely, don’t just find a person to fill the space that feels empty inside (totally not talking about sex either) — you need to learn how to be whole instead of covering up your emotional wounds with a new relationship.

Your emotions are like the tide — sometimes the water will be calm and you’ll be fine with being alone. Then suddenly, something will trigger your negative emotions and amplify your fears; it will get stormy. But you are your own ship and captain, and you can get through the storm.

When waters get rough, talk to a friend. Let out all your crazy thoughts and feelings to a trusted friend. The fears and worries you keep to yourself usually sound insignificant or silly when you actually say them aloud. Plus, your friend can give you an outside, objective perspective on your situation (and if you need a friend, I’m always here!).

If you’re not comfortable sharing your deeply personal feelings with another person, journaling about your feelings can help a lot too. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own thoughts, and writing them out can bring order to the chaos in your head. Complicated situations get simpler for me after I sort it out in writing. You can even get creative and turn your thoughts into poetry, which can also be really cathartic.

Remind yourself that you’re awesome. You’re stronger than you think you are. When you get lonely, just remember that the feeling is temporary. As Kelly Clarkson said, it doesn’t mean you’re lonely when you’re alone. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (Kelly Clarkson lyrics are actually great advice).

Note: My friend/cousin/older-sister Emma gave me the Kelly Clarkson lyrics as advice and also made this picture of her face on Kelly’s body just for this post. Enjoy!

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–Chloe

How to Get Out of a Toxic Relationship

She checks his phone when he’s not looking. Or she makes him give her his phone so she can check it in front of him.

He proposes to her after they’ve dated for a month and gets upset when she wants to take it more slowly.

They have each other’s Facebook passwords. Or worse, they share a joint Facebook account.

She sees his overt jealousy as love and protection instead of mistrust and disrespect.

He suggests changes she could make in her physical appearance to make her more attractive to him, like cutting her hair or dropping a few dress sizes.

She stops telling her close friends about the problems in their relationship because he says it’s the two of them against the world.

They talk to their exes when they want to make each other feel bad.

They keep score of different times their partner has messed up in the relationship, to throw it back in their face during a fight.

They change their Facebook pictures from couple pictures to ones of them alone when they’re mad at each other.

Does any of this sound familiar? These are all examples of what it’s like to be in a toxic relationship.

I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve been in a toxic relationship myself (and I’m going to spill my guts a lot in this post, so be gentle with me). Unfortunately, all of the above are things I’ve experienced in the past. It hurts to see people I care about going through toxic relationships, and if you think you might be in one too, think critically about your relationship. Re-evaluate what it means to you and try out these steps.

Talk to someone.

It’s easier to stay in a relationship when you’re isolated to talking to your partner more than anyone else. It’s unhealthy to have this type of codependency with your partner, and if you feel like things aren’t going so well with your relationship, it helps to get an outside, objective opinion. Talk to a close friend or family member who has your best interests in mind. It’s easy to get swept up in what your partner says to you, but when a person outside of your relationship validates your feelings or worries about the relationship, it can help you see things more clearly.

Branch out.

If you don’t have one already, create a network of friends and family who will help you get through this breakup with love and support. One of the things I fear most when it comes to breakups is being alone. But if you have at least a handful of people who you know will have your back when you go through with the breakup, it makes it a whole lot easier. Near the end of my destructive relationship, I realized how I hadn’t been in contact with a lot of my friends from high school and some of my relatives I used to be closer to. I looked past the awkwardness and vented to them without filtering any of the bad stuff about my relationship that I usually hid from people. It was a little embarrassing at first, but they each assured me of what I wouldn’t admit to myself. I had chosen a partner that was treating me poorly. With their support, I gained the confidence I needed to face him and end our relationship for good.

Make your intentions clear to your partner.

If you don’t tell him straight up that you do not want him in your life anymore, he might get the wrong idea. I made the mistake of answering a persistent ex’s calls even though I really wanted to move on with my life. I was so used to talking to him (and I even missed him) so I gave in. After awhile, I tried ignoring him, but it didn’t work. The best way to let someone know you don’t want them in your life anymore is the simplest way: tell them upfront. In a decisive yet respectful way, tell him that you want to stop talking to each other so that you can go on with your lives separately. If he tries to win you back or sweet-talk you, be even more direct and tell him that you don’t want him romantically any more and ask him to respect your decision. That won’t always work, and if it doesn’t, you’ll need to go cold turkey and block him.

Block him from your life as much as possible.

Make it a point not to contact him. At all. Delete his number from your phone (and use Mr. Number, a useful blocking app, to block his calls and texts), unfollow/unfriend him on every social networking platform you both use. If you initiate conversation or even respond to him when he talks to you first, he won’t take you seriously. He could try to wear you down, but you have to stay strong and stay away. Check out this other awesome lovescrewed post for ways to keep your ex out of your life.

Mourn the relationship, but embrace the change.

A definitive chapter of your life is over, so you should allow yourself to feel sad and cry it out if you need to. Take as much time as you need to let all your emotions out.

Now that you’ve gotten out of the destructive relationship, the worst is behind you. However, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy taking on what comes next. You’re alone. The thought of being alone can be really scary, but it can also be a good thing. Change isn’t always bad — it’s just different. You need to allow yourself to get used to this change in your life and recognize all the good that comes along with it. You’re out of a bad relationship. You have the freedom to explore and figure out who you are as an individual. The possibilities are endless.

Explore what life has to offer you.

It may seem like I’m bashing my ex and making our relationship out to be horrible, but that’s not how it was. We just weren’t right for each other in the end and we both had a lot of growing up to do (and I’m admitting here that I was very much at fault too). This relationship helped me to grow personally more than almost any other experience in my life, and that’s what I take away from it. Don’t look back in anger (cue Oasis song) at your relationship, no matter how toxic it was, how much you wish you’d done things differently, or how poorly your ex may have treated you. Look at it as a learning experience. Even though you may have thought this person was your world, that isn’t true. There’s a world around you full of people you can share your life with and who can help you be happier than you would be if you stayed in the toxic relationship. Appreciate this not as an ending, but as a new beginning.

-Chloe