This is a potentially explosive topic that a lot of people seem to have mixed opinions on, with some maintaining that it's a harmless meaningless behavior and others feeling that it is unnecessary and even damaging to relationships, and yet in our modern technological culture, it's an ongoing issue, one that brings up some difficult emotions and anxiety for many women.
Is it a red flag about your partner?
Do you have the right to feel offended or even upset by it?
Every other article or video I have seen on this subject previously, leads to this situation being handled poorly and results in dissatisfaction for both sides involved, especially for the woman, and yet people have such divided opinions on this that it's difficult to know how to respond. So I wanted to address this issue once and for all.
What does a dating coach of over a decade think of this? Read on to find out...
First of all we need to look into context, and this is so important, we need to walk a fine line here because while it is never our right to try and control what our partner does on the internet, we do have the absolute right to avoid being disrespected in our relationship.
For starters, there's a huge distinction between a man who has long term female friends that he is supportive of, who enjoys a wide range of content online vs a man who specifically focuses on engaging with sexual content to the exclusion of more wholesome online activity.
What does his online consumption look like as a whole?
Although this question doesn't address the issue in it's entirety, it is a good question to begin with, Although we all utilize social media differently, most of us will follow a wide range of content covering hobbies, interests, venues and pastimes, loved ones, friends and family, a man who moves like this who occasionally comments on a beautiful woman's photos or gives her a quick double tap, is probably just doing his thing without any negative agenda. But a man who predominantly uses social media to engage with beautiful women, to compliment them, watch their stories or religiously stroke their ego is more of a concern for sure.
How is he as a boyfriend overall?
Do you feel he is generally attentive, loving and respectful of you? Or are there other issues creeping in to your relationship, do you also find him overly flirtatious to a disrespectful level? Has he ever degraded you to impress another woman? Does he openly ogle other women or make derogatory comments about their appearance?
Do you feel like he tries to appear single online, or only posts about you when he feels like he has to? or is he very transparent about being half of a couple?
My boyfriend Mike had always liked seductive pics of women online and commented regularly but to be honest it never really bothered me, it was when this extended to other areas of our life together, in restaurants he would stare at the waitresses or other customers, he would even flirt right in front of me. I got so tired of his wandering eye and inappropriate comments, but when I brought it up he gaslit me, he said I was being paranoid and making him feel uncomfortable. The irony! I stayed with him for a while but eventually it became too much, it even extended to my friends, I was constantly on edge and felt humiliated by his habits in public. I had to end it. - Leah
Is his engagement generally respectful?
The final step in considering context is to evaluate how he is engaging with these accounts. I would personally be insulted if my partner was engaging like image 1, However engagement like image 2 wouldn't bother me in the slightest, even if the woman was very attractive.
The exception here though, is if he seemed to have singled out image 2s social media and was commenting excessively in a way that was out of character for him, it would be a huge red flag for me. I feel that if you have an agreement of monogamy then your boyfriend or husband giving spot light attention to another woman is crossing a line.
As you can see context is everything in this situation.
Should you be concerned?
At this point it's time to tap into your feelings, and explore them, not what anyone else tells you is right or wrong, not a rationalization, try instead to be honest with yourself. What do you truly feel?
Try to ponder this for a while or even journal on it for clarity.
Essentially, if it bothers you, it bothers you.
As much as this may be a controversial opinion, I am with you on this! I am a woman who likes to be worshiped! (smiles) and I don't behave like that online so why would I want my partner to? Frankly I would find it embarrassing if my man was acting thirsty on the internet. For me it signals immaturity, a lack of self control and a total disregard for my feelings or reputation. I find it to be seedy and super lame.
While this behavior isn't sneaky because it's happening right in the open, it's kind of strange to me that a man in committed relationship would need to spend so much time admiring other women online.
I don't want to feel like I have to compete with other women and it's not something I would be drawn into.
Also I'm not naive, I understand that men are visual and that they are going to notice other attractive women as part of their nature BUT going a step further and making an energetic connection with those women is unnecessary, especially when it's brazen.
I want to feel respect and admiration for my partner and for me, these types of habits, diminish that.
But remember, this is just my opinion...
The other woman's perspective
The fact is I have been the woman on the receiving end of this sort of attention online, although there a few ways to categorize this, with the men that I knew had girlfriends who were constantly heart reacting to my selfies or writing thirsty comments, even sliding into my DMs, for me there was an overwhelming feeling of sadness for his girlfriend or wife, perhaps even pity that her partner was so disrespectful of her and so creepy online. I wouldn't engage with these men at all but often felt that if I did, that man would have been tough to get rid of.
I wouldn't ever want to feel like the target of another woman's pity because of my other half's behavior on the internet. That would hurt me.
In turn there were normal guys too, ones that paid the odd sincere compliment or just made a joke to me, I always saw them as having well balanced, healthy relationships. Just interacting innocently with the people they encountered online.
Of course now I'm a happily married lady who rarely posts selfies so this is a thing of my past.
I can tell you though that as women we generally know what it means when a guy who is off the market, gives us a disproportionate level of attention and admiration. It usually means that a guy is still looking, and that he would probably cross the boundary if he got the chance, or at least that's how it comes across.
In conclusion: When it comes to relationships this behaviour is a no from me.
That's my own bottom line not only as a coach but as a woman who has a secure attachment style and is not easily roused to jealousy.
Please resist falling into the trap of hating or blaming the woman
Blaming or shaming other women for what they post online is dis-empowering to us all, I know it can be difficult to accept when you believe that your boyfriend is attracted to another woman, but she is not your rival. If a woman is feeling herself, is proud of her body or loves her outfit and is feeling good that day then she should be allowed to post about it, without judgment, even if it openly welcomes male validation and attention. The women in the photos have no obligation to "cover up" for the sake of others.
Your partner however, does have a duty to ensure that you feel secure with him, to the best of his ability and within reason, and to operate as part of a couple, knowing that his actions impact not only him but you as well.
I confronted him about his thirsty online habits, but he became defensive and we argued. In the end he told me "fine! I'll delete my social media" now he is moody and I feel worse
This too, is a red flag. Not only was your partner unable to contemplate your point of view without becoming defensive, but by concluding that he would have to delete social media he is essentially admitting that he only uses it as a tool to view women he finds attractive online. Maybe this isn't what he meant but still, it's an immature response that demonstrates an inability to compromise with a fair discussion and without going to extremes.
So what should you do?
If you have read this guide in detail and have considered the points of context carefully and explored your feelings, you may realize that your boyfriend or husbands behavior online is quite harmless and yet, you may still feel that this is an issue for you and is causing feelings of jealousy or inadequacy to arise. In this case it may be time to explore where these feelings are coming from so that you can dispel them and also approach your partner in a calm and healthy way to discuss and gain reassurance. I can help you with this in a coaching session.
However if this guide has validated for you that his online activity is potentially crossing a line and it is something you don't want to tolerate anymore then you need to come up with a careful approach, one that does not involve dumping him suddenly, throwing accusations or making ultimatums as this will almost certainly aggravate the situation further, there is also a risk that the guy in question will become defensive and attempt to shift blame onto you or even to move to more secretive interactions once you make him aware that this bothers you. Each situation is a little different and there is not a one size fits all, blanket solution to this, which is why opinions on the subject are so stark in contrast across the board. contact me now and we will come up with a tailored solution carefully crafted for your own circumstances and situation.
Jade Isabelle is a certified life coach and relationship consultant with well over a decade in experience, she specializes in building attraction in relationships, developing confidence and self esteem and promoting healthy communication without resorting to games. She lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and their sons. Read her reviews here.