The scene: You’re looking through Instagram, keeping up with your old friends from college, scrolling by pictures of your cousin’s new baby, and sifting through different influencers’ posts when you spot it – your guy’s name as one of the “likes” on another girl’s picture, and of course, she’s in a barely-there bikini, sexily lounging on some beach in Italy.
Immediately you feel a twinge of jealousy, a surge of pain. Him liking her picture, for some reason, feels almost like a betrayal. You want to confront him about it, but you also don’t want to be that girlfriend. You don’t want to start a fight for no reason, seem crazy, and make him feel like he’s walking on eggshells. Still, you can’t rid yourself of the feeling that him liking that photo wasn’t okay.
Is it okay for him to like girls’ photos, or is your feeling correct? Are you being too sensitive, or do you have every right to be upset? Is there ever a time when it’s not a big deal, or is it always a no-no?
The Arguments Guys Normally Make
With our culture’s widespread use of Instagram, Twitter, and now TikTok, we all have access to endless content that, 15 years ago, would’ve been unheard of – which is what makes the issue of whether or not it’s appropriate for a guy to like another girl’s picture when he’s already in a relationship a relatively new one.
And for the grand majority of the time this issue has even been a conversation, many men have had an attitude lacking empathy, instead treating their girlfriend like a “crazy female” for bristling when he double-taps a picture of a half-dressed girl.
More often than not, when women have voiced their concern in this area, many men’s replies have sounded something like, “It’s just a picture. Who cares?” or “I just like whatever I see. I don’t even really look,” or “So I’m not allowed to like any other girl’s picture ever?” or “Relax. It’s not like I’ll ever meet her.”
If you’ve ever been met with a response like this, you might have felt dismissed, unheard, or purposely misunderstood. Either way, it certainly made you question if you were being unfair and controlling, or if you had every right to feel like something wasn’t right. So when should you care, and when is it not a reason to be insecure?
When Should You Care, and When Is It No Big Deal?
Do we actually mean he’s never allowed to like a picture of another girl, no matter the circumstances or the photo? Obviously not – or at least, we shouldn’t. While there are times when it’s perfectly innocent of him to double-tap a picture that has another girl in it, there are absolutely times when it’s inappropriate.
When is it not okay? As a general rule, it’s totally understandable to get a little miffed if he’s liking pictures of girls in swimwear, underwear, or little clothing – especially if they’re suggestively posed. Of course, whether or not a picture is especially suggestive is somewhat subjective, but we can typically assess whether or not it’s supposed to be and what the intention was in posting the picture.
If he’s liking pictures that are clearly meant to garner male attention, you have every right to feel like a boundary has been crossed.
If he’s liking pictures that are clearly meant to garner attention (specifically male attention), you have every right to feel like a boundary has been crossed – it’s disrespectful towards you to give other women this kind of attention, even if he’s just one in a million likes. The point is that he “liked” what he saw, literally. Along with this, it’s fair to be upset if he regularly likes photos of a girl he dated or had a thing for.
So when is it not something you should be insecure about? Well, for one, when she’s fully clothed and/or not in a sensual pose. If it’s clearly just a nice picture (say, of a travel influencer on a hike), it’s probably best not to overthink it. Another instance where you shouldn’t get insecure is if he personally knows her (and has definitely only ever had a platonic relationship with her) and he’s just liking her pictures as a way of maintaining the friendship – as one does with friends’ Instagram pictures.
How To Approach Him If He Has Been Liking Other Girls’ Pictures
So what if the pictures your guy has been liking fall into the former category – what if he’s been liking pictures that were clearly posted with the intention of getting male attention? How should you approach him about it?
Approach Him Gently To Invite Empathy
It’s tempting to go in swinging if you see he’s been liking another girl’s bikini pictures. But even if it is inappropriate of him to be liking their photos, approaching him with your fight face on won’t make him want to listen to you. Try to approach him gently, in a way that will invite empathy and understanding. You could bring the subject up by saying something along the lines of, “Hey, I noticed you’ve been liking pictures of X. If I’m honest, I don’t really like that. Can we talk about this for a little bit?”
Tell Him What You’re Feeling
Be candid about what you feel about his liking these pictures. Does it make you feel insecure? Do you feel disrespected? Does it hurt your feelings? Does it make you wonder if he’d do more than like a picture if given the chance? Does it cause you to doubt the relationship? Tell him what you’re feeling, and be explicit about why. Offer explanations as to why his liking that kind of photo feels like a crossed boundary.
Keep Your Expectations Managed
This is the hard part: He might choose not to listen to you. You might have every good reason to ask him not to like these pictures, but the reality is, he can technically do whatever he wants. However, if he dismisses your feelings, calls you “crazy,” and continues liking other girls’ pictures, it might be wise to reassess the relationship.
Remember That You’re Allowed To Have Standards
The man you call your boyfriend would ideally put your feelings and desires over his freedom to like a picture – and you shouldn’t have to beg him to do so. His life certainly won’t be negatively impacted if he simply doesn’t like a photo. Any boyfriend who is husband material will know this.
Contrary to what many men will argue, it’s not the fact that there’s a woman in the photo that upsets us – but I’m guessing they already know this. If your guy has been liking photos of scantily clad women, you have every reason to feel disrespected, and you’re not out of line to ask him to stop.
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