Is your partner an Insta-creep?
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...