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Advice: How to deal with Instagram jealousy

Hi Anna, I started dating this guy, and though we weren't "official," it bothered me that one of his female Instagram followers was obsessed with him. He claims they've never met, but she put his full name with a heart in her profile. He won't block her either; am I wrong to be upset?--Social Media Ruins Lives

A friend and I were talking not too long ago about how Instagram is the least annoying social media site. Facebook is overrun with racist comments and pictures of your friends' fetuses. Twitter is a depressing lesson in homophobia. And Pinterest is one giant, bored housewife party, where the theme is "Look at my asshole!"

But Instagram! Oh, we thought it would remain pure for at least a little while longer. Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case, what with sponsored ads showing up in our feeds, proving that Ben & Jerry’s can take just as many pictures of their feet on a beach as you and I. And of course, stalking and jealousy exists across all social media platforms. If you need a sobering reminder of Facebook-fueled revenge, do a quick Google search on the topic and then prepare to give up on humanity. Seriously.

But your problem is much less dire than the routine social media stabbings that are now unfortunately branded in my brain, SMRL, so let’s focus on that. Your boyfriend’s Instagram stalker-crush is inappropriate and mildly annoying, I’m sure, but hardly a threat to your relationship or a life-ruiner, as your sign-off implies. They are strangers, after all. And her crimes thus far are confined to pixels on a screen, right? You could try playing the mediator and reach out to her yourself, explaining that you are his girlfriend and that her behavior is unwelcome. You never know, your correspondence might be enough to curb her internet crush. Or she might tell you, “Mind your own beeswax!” (the ultimate insult for 3rd-graders, which is also, coincidentally, around the age one should stop writing one’s crush’s name with hearts in public places).

On a positive note though, kudos to you for airing your feelings to your boyfriend. At least one study has shown that people who talk about their jealousy and social media “creeping” with their partners feel more satisfied and secure than those who avoid talking about it (and then later stab them).

If her behavior escalates--if she starts emailing or texting or infiltrating other social media spheres--then I’d probably bring it up with your boyfriend again, reiterating that it gives you the willies and asking if it’s really that important for this one girl to like his pictures of coffee foam. But as it is now, I’d try to let it go. And remember that, while any internet rando may “heart” your boyfriend’s sepia-toned Chicago skyline pics, his actual heart belongs to you.

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