Is your part­ner an In­sta-creep?

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

BELLA, 27, FROM SYD­NEY, WAS SIT­TING ON THE COUCH WATCH­ING A MOVIE WITH SAM, 26, HER BOYFRIEND OF THREE YEARS, WHO WAS AB­SENT-MIND­EDLY SCROLLING THROUGH HIS IN­STA­GRAM FEED. OUT OF THE COR­NER OF HER EYE, BELLA SPOT­TED A PHOTO THAT SET OFF HER ALARM BELLS. SAM WAS LOW-KEY STAR­ING AT A SHOT OF A GOR­GEOUS BRUNETTE BELLA DIDN’T RECOG­NISE, ROCK­ING A SHORT SKIRT AND IM­PRES­SIVE CLEAV­AGE.

A quick grilling re­vealed her iden­tity: Eiza Gon­za­lez, the sul­try 28­year­old Mex­i­can ac­tor and singer who played a sexy crim­i­nal in Baby Driver in 2017. For some rea­son, Sam’s new­found en­thu­si­asm for Eiza’s ‘act­ing tal­ents’ didn’t sit well with Bella.

‘I just felt like it was so ran­dom that he’d searched out this new chick and fol­lowed her in the time we’d been dat­ing,’ Bella says. ‘I found it weird be­cause she looks noth­ing like me, and her brand of sexy is very overt – short skirts, makeup and cleav­age – the op­po­site of what I thought he found at­trac­tive.’

Then, when go­ing through Sam’s In­sta­gram fol­lows to find a mu­tual friend – with his per­mis­sion – Bella saw a num­ber of un­ex­pected names pop­ping up.

‘All these girls were ap­pear­ing, like Hai­ley Bald­win, Gigi Ha­did and Kate Up­ton – peo­ple he’s never talked about in his life. I asked him why he fol­lowed them and he said, in a jok­ing tone, “I like their movies”. Ob­vi­ously, Gigi Ha­did has never been in a movie.’

Bella also spot­ted Emily Rata­jkowski – a pop­u­lar choice for In­sta­dudes – on Sam’s fol­lower list and ad­mits to covertly un­fol­low­ing her on his be­half.

‘It’s not some­thing I worry about in the prac­ti­cal sense, he’s not the kind of guy who’d stray and there are no real­life girls he talks about. But I didn’t think it was his thing – all those girls are the op­po­site of me.’

It was clear to Bella that her boyfriend was en­gag­ing in some clas­sic In­sta­creep­ing. It’s not cheat­ing, so why does she care? And does she have a right to?

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Lorel May­berry, a sex­ol­o­gist at Curtin Uni­ver­sity, this is a com­pletely nor­mal re­ac­tion and, de­pend­ing on your re­la­tion­ship, may even be an ac­cept­able one.

‘It can make you feel in­fe­rior,’ Dr May­berry says. ‘Who’s go­ing to live up to those im­ages? And it’s not just for fe­males, males can feel that pres­sure too.’

But ex­actly how you re­act to see­ing your part­ner zoom­ing in on a pic of Em Rata’s booty de­pends on the type of at­tach­ment you have.

‘At­tach­ment is like the “felt se­cu­rity” you have in your in­ti­mate part­ner­ships,’ Dr Zoe Hazelwood, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and se­nior lec­turer at Queens­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, ex­plains.

Un­for­tu­nately, you don’t get much of a say in the type of at­tach­ment you pos­sess – most of it comes back to early care­giv­ing ex­pe­ri­ences – but it plays a huge part in your present re­sponses.

‘A se­curely at­tached per­son will prob­a­bly no­tice their part­ner notic­ing some­one else but may not nec­es­sar­ily be con­cerned. They are se­cure in them­selves and they don’t au­to­mat­i­cally view their part­ner’s be­hav­iour as a threat to their well­be­ing or their re­la­tion­ship,’ Dr Hazelwood says.

‘On the other hand, if we are talk­ing about some­one who is inse­cure (or anx­iously at­tached), it’s pos­si­ble this per­son would have a dif­fer­ent re­ac­tion. This per­son may ac­tu­ally be quite dis­tressed by their part­ner’s ac­tions.’

Joe, a 28­year­old lawyer, says this kind of re­ac­tion con­trib­uted to the break­down of his two­year re­la­tion­ship with his ex­girl­friend.

He was fol­low­ing what he deemed ‘a slew of In­sta mod­els’

and his part­ner got up­set. At the time, Joe says he was de­fen­sive.

‘My frus­tra­tion was that I wouldn’t have had any prob­lem with her fol­low­ing ripped guys and was re­sent­ful about the sug­ges­tion it wasn’t some­thing a faith­ful boyfriend does,’ Joe says.

But since his split, Joe ad­mits his view­point has changed.

‘Look­ing at it now, I think if some­one fol­lows some­one sim­ply be­cause they want to stare at their body, rather than be­cause they like them as a mu­si­cian or an ac­tress, it’s en­tirely rea­son­able for a part­ner to re­quest you stop fol­low­ing them and you’re a bit of a douche if you stren­u­ously ob­ject to that re­quest,’ he says.

‘To my mind perv­ing on In­sta mod­els is no dif­fer­ent to watch­ing porn alone while in a re­la­tion­ship. I don’t think it’s be­ing un­faith­ful but it could be symp­to­matic of some­thing phys­i­cally lack­ing in your re­la­tion­ship, and you’re more likely to get in trou­ble be­cause it’s pub­lic.’

While we ap­plaud Joe’s self­re­flec­tion, there is no right or wrong way to feel or re­act to this sit­u­a­tion. It de­pends on your unique re­la­tion­ship and, as al­ways, com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

‘So of­ten peo­ple in re­la­tion­ships as­sume their part­ner thinks the same as them,’ Dr May­berry ex­plains.

‘Some part­ners re­gard [In­sta stalk­ing] as in­fi­delity, it’s all about what con­sti­tutes in­fi­delity to you. It’s im­por­tant to feel com­fort­able say­ing you’re un­com­fort­able.’

Much like the con­sump­tion of porn, Dr May­berry says so­cial me­dia has given peo­ple un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions about re­la­tion­ships, sex­u­al­ity and at­trac­tion.

‘It has a huge im­pact be­cause they’re given a whole lot of mes­sages about things like their body and what it should look like,’ she says. ‘Es­pe­cially for young peo­ple that don’t have the skills to be dis­cern­ing.’

And don’t ever worry that you’re be­ing con­trol­ling. That ball­and­chain stereo­type needs to be kicked to the kerb.

‘Every­one has the right to ex­press how they feel,’ Dr May­berry says. It’s just a mat­ter of know­ing your lim­its, pick­ing your mo­ment and ex­press­ing your­self in a re­spect­ful way.

‘If your part­ner be­came ob­ses­sive about it or was al­ways look­ing at it, that’s a con­cern be­cause it’s tak­ing time and ef­fort away from you. And if they’re con­sum­ing it in a de­grad­ing way, that’s ob­vi­ously also a prob­lem.’

If you raise it, try turn­ing a neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive. Dr May­berry sug­gests some­thing along the lines of: ‘I love it when you say nice things about my body and how I turn you on, it just makes me feel a bit un­com­fort­able and con­fused when you look at those im­ages that don’t look any­thing like me, can we talk it out?’

Sam has a sim­pler ap­proach to do with how the blokes in the equa­tion make their de­ci­sions.

‘If what you’re look­ing at was on TV when you’re with your girl­friend, would you feel com­fort­able or like a creep? If it’s the lat­ter, maybe don’t fol­low those girls or pages,’ he says.

‘Ul­ti­mately it’s just a lit­tle dopamine hit on In­sta­gram, and your re­la­tion­ship should be more im­por­tant than that.’

‘Every­one has the right to ex­press how they feel’

THIS WASN’T EX­ACTLY HER IDEA OF PIL­LOW TALK

WE’RE NOT INSE­CURE, BUT...

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