Welcome to !Hola Papi!, the advice column where John Paul Brammer helps people work through their anxieties, fears, and life's queerest questions. If you need advice, send him a question at email@example.com.
I've recently started exclusively dating someone. I decided to remove half of my gay "thirst follows" on Instagram, or guys who've been flirty with me or expressed any sort of romantic interest. While I was single, it was admittedly validating! I could've easily seen myself being propelled into the realms of social media fame if I had really committed to vanity. But it seems like the default mode for gay guys on social media is flirty, and I didn't want it to come between my boyfriend and I. It feels like it could potentially raise a lot of questions and eyebrows.
Something that I should include is that I am a pretty jealous person and it's something I don't like about myself. I also think I have some insecurities related to social media and the sexual promiscuity that gay men display -- especially when I'm wanting a loyal, monogamous relationship. I recently got annoyed with my boyfriend for "liking" photos of a guy he used to hook up with before dating me. Are those my own emotions/insecurities suffocating me? Or is it socially acceptable to be annoyed by that? I think people can "like" a photo for plenty of reasons and it doesn't have to be for a deeper reason/meaning. In this instance, it felt unnecessary to me for my boyfriend to keep "ears perked" on an old FWB. Is that unfair?
Hey there, IG!
First, how impressive that your modesty is able to hold you back from InstaFame. I imagine it's difficult being so beautiful and so pure at the same time. Can't relate, but it's compelling to read about! Congratulations on the face.
Now, on to your dilemma. I hope you don't mind a bit of tough love, IG, but it sounds like the first paragraph of your question is an attempt to justify projecting your own views and insecurities about social media onto your boyfriend. It's perfectly fine to recognize what's healthy for you in your monogamous relationship and to act accordingly. If you don't want to be flirty in the DMs or be the subject of attention from strangers because you've got a man, unfollow whomstever you need.
But your reasons for doing so, that it would "potentially raise a lot of questions and eyebrows," sounds like it's coming from your own eyebrows. That's convenient, isn't it? Because if we accept that premise, then you have a strong argument for your boyfriend not "liking" other people's pics. I'm not saying you're wrong for it to bother you. I'm saying let's be honest here. You don't like your man giving or receiving attention from people on social media, especially if it's from someone he's been intimate with in the past.
That's not an unreasonable cause for anxiety, IG. I've felt it myself, and I genuinely applaud you for recognizing that jealousy is something about you that you're working on. And you know what? Jealousy has its place! We don't want our feelings to be trampled on. We want to feel respected in our relationships. We want it to feel fair. Sometimes that nasty, jealous feeling tugging at us has something important it wants to alert us to. But it's crucial to learn how and when to engage with it before handing the wheel over to our worst instincts.
I would tell my boyfriend pretty much what you told me. Jealousy is something you're working on. You've noticed he "likes" a lot of this former fling's pics. Tell him how that makes you feel without trying to guilt him into doing anything, as that would just be a great way to breed resentment. Hear him out. It might not be that he's keeping his "ears perked" for this guy, as you said. I hand out "likes" on social media like they're beads and I'm on a float at Mardi Gras. That's just how I engage with the internet. More conversation is needed here, not less.
It could be the case that you'll bring this up and he'll unfollow the guy. Or maybe he'll shrug and just stop. I'm not saying there's a 100% chance there's nothing going on there (we're dealing with men here, after all). I'm saying that the way to find out is to open the dialogue and try to arrive at a healthy place together. That's the best barometer for any romantic relationship. For now, recognize that you're rushing to conclusions and projecting a lot of your insecurities onto the situation. Clear your mind and ask for a conversation.
And hey, if it ends up not working out, you can always get revenge by becoming InstaFamous! I heard that option is on the table for you.