It’s 3 a.m., and you’re lying in bed, the artificial glow of your phone screen causing you to squint and blink. You obsessively check every social media outlet — his Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — looking for something, anything to prove this that this twisted feeling in your gut is correct. With every piece of interpretable evidence that could possibly fit your agenda, you twist the knife in deeper. Another girl's name on his Snapchat best friends? Twist. An ex-girlfriend liked his picture on Instagram? Twist. A new Facebook friend who looks like she might be pretty? Twist.
For those who already battle fierce insecurity and excessive worry, social media and its readily available wealth of personal information is a dagger. It can turn the most comfortable, loving relationship into a nightmare filled with jealousy, accusations, endless questions, and hurt feelings.
I myself have been sucked into this cycle — and it isn’t pretty. While my better judgment has allowed me not to take it too far — I have never hacked into social media accounts or contacted the suspects, demanding to know who friend-requested who — I know that even the most seemingly innocent behaviors can take a toll on your relationship and your mental well-being.
I have a boyfriend for the first time in over three years — I love and trust him and wouldn’t trade him for the world. But one thing I sure don’t miss about relationships is the special type of crazy it can make me when it comes to the potent mix of my own insecurities and social media. I don’t miss the anxiety and worry that comes over me when I stumble across another female on his social media accounts. I don’t miss being so vulnerable to the fear of being let down, cheated on, or lied to.
It’s a nasty feeling, and a pervasive one. It can gnaw at you until you finally explode at Applebee’s screaming nonsense about that girl who always reposts all of his tweets and how she’s probably Photoshopping herself and there’s no way she’s cute in real life (get your eyes of judgment off of me!). And while I’m in no way an expert on battling this particular brand of insecurity, I have learned a few ways to deal with it so that it doesn’t negatively affect my relationships in major ways.
Open the lines of communication without being accusatory. If you’re feeling some type of way about something you saw on his social media accounts and you can’t let it go, don’t let it fester. Keeping it in and marinating on it will only cause it to erupt eventually, and usually by this point it’s been blown way out of proportion in your head. If something is bothering you — address it. The important thing to keep in mind here is not to be accusatory off the bat. Unless it’s completely obvious, such as a comment on his timeline that blatantly says “Hey, thanks for the sex last night,” it’s likely his explanation will put you at ease.
He doesn’t owe you answers about everything. If he is having flirty conversations out in the open on social media with someone, then yes, he owes you an explanation. If someone posts a #TBT with him and proclaims that they love and miss him in a friendly sort of way? He doesn’t owe it to you to delete her and never speak to her again, nor does he owe you an explanation for everything. A good boyfriend will likely explain anyway, as a means of reassuring you and making you feel better, but it’s important to note that just because his social life involves other women does not mean everything is your business.
Don’t make demands. If his interaction with another female on social media is making you seriously uncomfortable, so much so that it’s affecting your relationship, you need to talk about it. If her intentions or actions are inappropriate, your boyfriend should be willing to work with you on this and make some changes. For example, if a female is constantly commenting on his pictures, calling him when drunk, and sending half-naked Snapchats, this is inappropriate and your boyfriend should be willing to tell her to stop, or delete her from his social media accounts. Is it simply an old friend from back in the day who likes to check in and see how he’s doing? Don’t deny him of this relationship, and don’t demand that he do anything to change it. Depriving him of his social freedoms and not trusting him to make the right choices when it comes to his friendships is a surefire way to suffocate him and harm your relationship.
Remember — just because you feel out of your mind over something doesn’t mean that you need to act out. An honest conversation about the way you’re feeling, without projecting your problems onto him, will go a long way. In the same way that you need to be able to trust him, he needs to be able to trust you, and making irrational accusations or unnecessary demands won’t allow him to do that. It often takes willpower to resist obsessively checking in on his Twitter mentions, but it’s important — for your own wellbeing — to rid yourself of this habit. In the long run, you will worry less, communicate more, and that relationship status won’t change as a result of insecurity.
Reprinted with Permission from Styleite. Want more? Check out these related stories: