Mar 5, 2021 | LIFE | Advice Column | Illustration by Xixi Qin

Dear Dr. Catherine De La Poudre,

My boyfriend hasn’t posted me on his Instagram even though we’ve been dating for a few months (and were hooking up before that for a while). Whenever we do stuff with friends, we take a bunch of cute pictures together, but he ends up posting a picture with someone else who was there or just a picture of the scenery. Also, he doesn’t seem to have a problem with being featured on my social media — so what gives? If he wasn’t active on the ‘gram I would be able to understand better, but I am pretty frustrated. I also feel like I can’t bring it up because social media is such a trivial thing to potentially argue about.

Sincerely,

I-Would-Settle-For-A-Tagged-Story

Dear I-Would-Settle-For-A-Tagged-Story,

If a pattern you’ve noticed in your partner is weighing on you this much, no matter how “trivial” you say it may be, it still warrants a conversation. But you’ve discounted your worries before the conversation has even begun.

Social media is very much a part of our lives, and thus, very much a part of our relationships. It makes sense to me that you may feel excluded by his actions, or unworthy of being shown off. But, I can almost guarantee you that isn’t his intention.

If I had to guess, I would say the most likely scenarios are that a) he’s afraid of being called a simp in the group chat or b) he posted Instagrams with his last partner and he doesn’t want to have to delete everything he posts with you if you break up.

We could chat all day about what those two options may mean, and I could provide tailored advice for each, but that won’t really do you any good until you discuss your concerns with him directly.

Here’s my advice for starting a conversation about something that’s been bothering you:

  1. Decide what you want from the conversation.

Do you want him to whip out his phone and pop an Insta on the feed in that very moment? Do you want him to just be aware of your concerns? Do you want him to tell you exactly why he hasn’t posted yet, even if he hasn’t done so consciously?

  • Take a walk or do an activity — just lying around while talking allows too much time for rumination. Walking keeps the blood flowing and creates a more honest environment so you can really get to the bottom of where you aren’t seeing eye to eye.
  • Be direct, but not accusatory.

For this particular conversation, I would say something like: “I’ve noticed you haven’t posted any pictures with me on Instagram. Have you noticed this too?”

Because, chances are, he hasn’t. Keep your goals in mind when deciding exactly how you will start the conversation. Avoid hyperbole — “never” and “always” make for terrible conversation starters.

  • If you want to make jokes to diffuse the tension, make sure the jokes don’t minimize either of your feelings, and that they aren’t cutting or mean.
  • When ending the conversation, ask to schedule a time to talk about the particular topic again in case you have lingering questions or think of something else you would want to say.

You’ve got this, I’d-Settle-For-A-Tagged-Story, and down the line you’ll be happy you’ve gotten in the habit of bringing up concerns to your partner. Communication is key! I’ll be looking out for his post.

Sincerely,

Dr. Catherine De La Poudre

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