Ah… social media. A source of a lot of good stuff, no doubt. But also a huge source of jealousy, anxiety, and panic for a lot of grumpy girlfriends. If you’re blessed with a non-social media user kind of partner, this post might not be for you. But the rest of us need some basic rules to follow.
These rules are not objectively true. I have just made them up. But! I have made them up based on my own experience and they are rooted in love for myself, love and trust for my partner, and taking full responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings. And as a rule lover myself, I love when people tell me the rules so I can simply follow them. That’s why I’m offering these rules to you.
So without further ado, here are 5 rules for you to follow surrounding your partner’s social media.
1. Zero tolerance for follower browsing
Nope. Just don’t do it. You’re not allowed. It serves no purpose but to hurt your own feelings. You have to commit to zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.
Whenever I have a client who goes through her partner’s social media obsessively and tracks who they follow and who follows them back, or perhaps they have even worse habits of going through their partner’s phone, I start by identifying their own limits.
Because this kind of behavior is a sliding scale. What are you okay with doing and where do you draw the line? They usually describe that this behavior is fuelled by a fear of being caught off guard and being cheated on or left.
I ask them “Would you ever create a fake account and flirt with your partner as another person to see what happens?”
So far, every answer has been no (I’m sure there’ll be a yes one day and I’ll have to come up with something else hehe). This clearly shows that the girlfriend has a line she won’t cross. Why? Because that would “just be crazy.” She clearly states that “Oh no, I would never even consider doing that” even though it would help her not be caught off guard if she was able to “provoke” the crime and she would prove her thoughts to be right. She just won’t do it.
This is the line we want to adjust. Move it right up to checking who your partner follows and who follows them. Not because it’s inherently “crazy” or “completely unreasonable behavior.” It’s not. But it serves no purpose for you. All it does is fuel your negative emotions and make you feel like shit.
So — from this point forward, never go into your partner’s following or followers lists again.
2. Block and restrict accounts
If there are certain people who trigger you, get rid of them. Don’t let them stay there because you think “you should be able to handle it” or to keep track of what they’re doing or not doing. Protect your peace. Set yourself up to be successful.
Normally, I don’t encourage my clients to get rid of the triggers. We want to work on the triggers and learn how to defuse them. But that girl on Instagram that is friends with your partner who likes their posts and just happens to pop up with her stinkin’ little face all over the place… YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE HER ALL THE TIME.
Seriously. Get rid of her. I know it will feel scary, to begin with, because “you might miss something”. But that will soon pass and you’ll forget all about her. There are more important things for you to put effort into working on than not getting triggered by someone’s face on social media.
I also have some clients who block their partners on social media, not because they don’t want them to see what they’re up to, but because they don’t want to be tempted to go snooping around. This is also fine. There is no rule that you have to engage with your partner on social media. But if you want to, then managing your mind and processing your emotions about their stuff and blocking/getting rid of other people is a good compromise.
3. Assign responsibility where it belongs
If a pretty girl comments on your partner’s social media post, that’s not your partner doing something wrong. The girl isn’t even doing anything wrong! Nothing has gone wrong here.
Your partner is responsible for their comments and how they choose to interact with these people. The other people on social media are responsible for what they choose to do or not do. And you are very much responsible for what you make it all mean.
“Why did she comment this on your photo? Have you spoken with her? Is she a friend? How much do you talk to each other?”
Your partner is not in control of what other people choose to say or do. So don’t blame them for things outside of their control.
4. Kindness is not flirting
You know the saying “kindness is so rare these days it’s constantly misinterpreted as flirting”?
Yeah. You do that.
If your partner likes a comment or replies in a kind way, you read into it. Have you forgotten that your partner is a kind, loving, respectful person? Would you prefer if your partner was an asshole to every single person on the planet but you? (A lot of girlfriends would probably say yes to that hehe).
Now, I know my situation is a little different than the average person’s since I have had a big social media following for close to a decade and my partner has been a part of that too. So we both have a lot of people following us, liking our stuff, commenting, and so on.
But my brain does the same thing your brains do. “Who is she? Why is she commenting? Is she hot?” yada yada yada. Whenever my brain starts getting pissed off that my partner is kind to these hot people, I remind myself that what is true for me is also true for him.
I get “I love you” and “You’re so pretty” messages all the time from random guys and I reply kindly and say thank you. Sometimes I use heart emojis when replying to comments. It has nothing to do with them, it has nothing to do with my partner, it’s just the way I type on social media. And to be honest, my social media communication style is completely different compared to how to text my partner and my family and friends.
So the same can be true for him.
Kindness is not flirting and I am glad that my partner is kind to people on social media. Even if they are in love with him and are trying to seduce him hahaha.
What would a normal person do?
This is something I encourage you to ask yourself every single day. Let me explain why.
There is no objectively normal person. So it’s not about comparing yourself to someone who is better than you or someone who has all the right answers.
This “normal person” that I want you to get acquainted with is a person who does things that are totally reasonable and… well, normal. If you can in some way justify or reason with the narrative, option, thought that makes sense, then that’s what the normal person would do.
I use this question every single day of my life in all areas in order to calm my anxiety. And it has changed everything for me. Yet, I still haven’t figured out a clear way of describing what it actually entails. I’m working on it, haha.
Let me share an example:
I used to have phone anxiety. I hated calling people, answering the phone, talking on the phone, all of it. Then I started asking myself “what would a normal person do?”… a normal person would call, listen to the other person, ask questions if they didn’t understand, and if the other person didn’t understand the normal person would explain or correct them. If a normal person didn’t hear what the other person on the phone said, they would say “excuse me, I didn’t catch that, can you repeat?” and that would be totally normal. When I started pretending to be a normal person, slowly but surely, my phone anxiety went away.
So what about a social media situation?
Well, if your partner is following a female athlete or perhaps an actor from a show on Instagram, you can ask yourself “would a normal person do that?”. I’d say yes, that is a very normal thing to do. You can follow them because you think they’re funny, attractive, post nice pictures, you like their character or any other reason. That is normal. Normal people do that.
I also think that way about my own DMs and my partner’s DMs. We don’t share our accounts, passwords, etc. with each other, we don’t go through each other’s stuff… but I often ask myself “do I have anything to hide?” and the answer is always no. Because every single thing in my inbox or anywhere on my social media, emails, texts, etc. are 100% normal people stuff. There is nothing shady or weird going on.
If someone writes something to me and I reply in a kind way, my brain sometimes thinks “Oh no, what if my partner thought I’m cheating on him if he saw this?” (you know, normal brain drama stuff), and then I just do the WWNPD test on it and I’m like… no… first of all, I’m not cheating. Second of all, a normal person would write this.
NOTE: Don’t go reasoning and WWNPD:ing about your stalking, browsing, and toxic behavior. I know you can make it seem totally normal in your brain. That’s not what this exercise is about. This exercise is about choosing a “normal person perspective” that allows you to not do the toxic thing and manage the anxiety about it.
At the end of the day, I can summarize these rules into three quick ones; Don’t torture yourself, set yourself up to be successful, and pretend to be a normal, reasonable person.
But here’s a quick summary of the 5 rules I want you to follow:
- Never ever under any circumstances check who follows your partner, who your partner follows, or who has liked their posts. Just don’t go browsing for triggers.
- Get rid of people whose faces trigger you on social media. You don’t have to look at them.
- Don’t blame your partner for other people’s actions on their social media account.
- Being nice is not flirting. You fell in love with a nice person. Accept it.
- WWNPD: Practice interpreting things in a way that allows you to let them go rather than get lost in a social media stalking rabbit hole.
Leave a comment and share which of these rules you needed the most!
PS. If you want to follow these rules but you just can’t control yourself when you get triggered, you have to download my free guide that will teach you how to get that control back. This is the process you must follow in order to stay on top of your actions and behaviors! Click here to get the guide.