Nerds In Love Column: Instagram Blues

Usually I’m very confident in myself and my relationship with my boyfriend. However lately I’ve been down on myself from lack of going to the gym and just general stress. I noticed on Instagram on the following tab my boyfriend followed 15 ish blonde bombshell playboy type models. We are usually the type to both appreciate the beauty of men/women together and he would always say how he loved that about me how confident I was in myself etc. Something came over me and I for some reason got upset about seeing this. Over text I guess I started acting a bit cold to him which led to him asking me what was wrong etc. Eventually I told him (not wording it the best) and he got upset saying he should just delete his Instagram because he values me more and he thought we had a stronger relationship than that. Now I feel guilty as ever for bringing this up and sort of as if he is guilt tripping me. I just feel as if I ruined our dynamic and now he will think of me as some insecure psycho that tries to control his life which isn’t what I want at all. Basically I guess my question is more of if anyone has had experience with this or any idea why I all of a sudden cared so much about his following. I more so just need to vent as well because he stopped replying and everyone is asleep. I also have dark brown hair look nothing like any of these girls so that adds to it I guess.

First off, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feeling really down and stressed out lately. That’s never a fun place to find yourself, and it can be hard to attend to concerns about your relationships while feeling bad. Sometimes, when our energy is drained by stress, sadness, hormones, illness, hunger or other things, small things that might not otherwise upset us can affect us much more than usual. That doesn’t make them any less valid or something to not be taken seriously, it’s just a contributing factor. If being upset about the women your boyfriend looks at on Instagram is out of character for you, it could be that that’s what’s going on. There could be also something about the context of his daily Instagram feed that bothers you more than, say, his looking up porn every so often, or your mutually checking out attractive people when you’re out and about together. Does that sound like what you’re experiencing?

I’m also sorry to hear you’re piling the guilt on yourself after your fight; I know it’s easy when you’re already feeling bad about yourself to keep finding reasons to be angry or upset with yourself. It’s not a happy spiral and it sucks that you’re experiencing that now. Unfortunately I can’t give you any information on whether your boyfriend now finds you “insecure,” “psycho,” or “controlling,” because I’m not in his head. Since you aren’t either and you’re already feeling bad about yourself lately, it might be easy for you to assume right now that all the shame and garbage you’re heaping on yourself is coming straight from his brain. Unless he’s said that he feels that way to you, we don’t know if that’s the case. I also think that having the conversation over text adds another layer of uncertainty as to what he’s thinking and feeling, because we miss out on so many elements of communication over text. People can’t show you with their body language or tone of voice that they want to comfort or reassure you, for example, and without that data we can easily assume that someone feels differently than they actually do.

Basically, I think you both need more data in order to address your concerns. I think you should consider what specifically about your boyfriend following these people is bothering you, and you should communicate that to him as honestly and kindly as you can. Kindly means being both kind to him and kind to yourself. You don’t have to have this conversation by framing yourself as crazy or insecure, and you don’t have to assume that he thinks you’re trying to control his life. I do think you should consider having this conversation in person or via a more expressive medium than texting, to avoid misunderstandings. If you get the sense that he’s trying to manipulate you or make you feel crazy for having feelings, that’s a communication tactic that is not okay- your concerns are real and valid and deserve attention, and he shouldn’t dismiss your feelings or imply that you’re a “psycho”- but if you think you could be assuming a lot about what he’s thinking and feeling, then have an honest conversation to see what’s in his head, and figure out how the two of you can come up with a solution to your concerns.

One last thing:  if you’re feeling down a lot lately, do try to make sure you’re doing some self-care things for yourself as you’re able- get enough sleep, eat regularly and healthily,  hang out with people who make you feel good and supported, make room for something fun, etc. If you’re getting the sense that you aren’t coping well with your feelings or your stressors, please do consider seeking out assistance from a doctor, therapist, or other helping professional. Good luck, take good care of yourself.

-Kim

Kim Hall, BA, QPPMH is a clinical intern and graduate student in mental health counseling.

Be sure to listen to the Nerds in Love podcast for more dating advice!

Remember, this advice doesn’t substitute for actual professional mental health assistance. If you’re in crisis and need help, please contact:

1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Lifeline)

You can find a therapist over at https://www.psychologytoday.com.

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