Why stalking his social media for signs he likes you does more harm than good

With over 140k Instagram followers, Lalalaletmeexplain is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers.

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Social media has had a huge impact on dating and relationships in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, it has opened up the world to us, it has connected us to millions more people and a wider dating pool. When I first started dating in the 90s you had no choice but to meet people at school, work, or out and about. We were pretty limited in our dating options but now we have the world at our fingertips, and the added bonus of being able to do a bit of research on the people who we do meet.

Back in the day there was no way of finding out anything about your new lover’s past unless you had mutual friends. Now we can easily google them to establish if they’re a convicted murderer before we agree to go on a date, which is obviously pretty handy.

Those are some of the positives, but I’m going to focus on some of the ways in which social media has made things worse. The benefits of now having millions of potential partners in the apps on our phones are somewhat outweighed by the fact people seem much less likely to invest their time in one person than they used to be.

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Ghosting, breadcrumbing and situationships definitely weren’t as commonplace prior to the rise of the apps and social media. I’m not suggesting that dating was perfect before, it just wasn’t so cutthroat and competitive as it is now.

There are a few social media related issues that regularly come up…

Watching stories

I often receive messages from people who say something along the lines of: “He ghosted/ended things/doesn’t want me, but he watches my stories every day, in fact he’s nearly always the first person to watch my stories. What does this mean?”

It means that he watched your stories, that’s about as far as it goes. I completely understand why people attach meaning to watching stories, in fact I have been going through it recently. Someone who clearly has zero interest in me has been religiously watching my stories, and at first, I really did think THIS IS A SIGN.

But it’s not. A sign would be them messaging me to ask me out. Sometimes you watch stories accidentally, they just play, and you end up watching stories you had no intention of watching. Sometimes stories just roll by while I’m blowing drying my hair, people might think I’ve watched their story, but I haven’t actually seen it. Sometimes, I purposely watch the stories of men who have given me the ick because I kind of enjoy the confirmation it gives me that I definitely made the right decision by ending things.

Sometimes, people enjoy the mind games, they know that watching your stories will get you excited. Either way, them simply watching stories or even liking your pictures really shouldn’t be something that we obsess over or place too much significance on.

We need to focus on the bigger stuff, like, are they actually contacting you or replying to your messages? Are they making plans to see you? Are they treating you with respect and leaving you clear about where you stand? Who cares if they watched your story? If they are filling you full of anxiety then concerning yourself with whether they are viewing your social media is not going to help. If it’s stopping your progress, I would advise blocking, deleting and moving on.

Obsessively watching their content

I think we’ve all been there. You start talking to someone frequently, it’s all going well, maybe you get a couple of dates under the belt, and then their communication changes. They suddenly go from ‘Good morning gorgeous’ texts every day, to leaving you on blue ticks for ten hours. I’m not even sure I know the words to describe the breath taking, stomach churning feeling that comes with that palpable shift in contact, but it is all consuming. And it often leads us to obsessively watch their social media activity.

There is nothing worse than being left on blue or grey ticks on Whatsapp and seeing that they are online. Especially if they are on and off-line for ages and you can quite clearly tell that they are engaging in a conversation with someone – just not you.

Or even worse, while they’re completely ignoring you, you see them posting Snapchat or Instagram stories saying they’re bored and asking their followers for some entertainment suggestions. Or EVEN worse, you see them post a picture of them at dinner and you’re pretty sure you can hear a woman in the background, so you watch the story 9000 times to figure out if you’re right.

It is soul destroying. This is not based on any real science, but I am sure that they can feel the needy energy that comes from us obsessively watching their content. I am certain that we put something out there when our anxiety is through the roof and we can’t stop thinking about them. My advice is to play it cool. Pay close attention to the change, but don’t let it drive you crazy.

Avoid replying to every story and liking every picture to get their attention, avoid messaging to say ‘You obviously want something different to me, have a blessed life.’ No message is a message, no contact is intentional. Give it a few days and if they still don’t reply take it as a ghosting. You are well within your rights to say something, just don’t expect anything positive in return. Come off your phone and channel the energy elsewhere.

Posting to get their attention

It is so incredibly obvious to me when someone I follow is trying to get a man’s attention. Just this week I noticed that a friend’s stories had gone from normal everyday stuff to pictures of her squatting at the gym and quote posts about loyalty with ‘This is so me’ written underneath, it started on the day that the guy she was seeing told her that he wasn’t sure about things. I am guilty of this too.

My posting completely changes when someone I’m interested in starts following me/ignoring me. I start posting TBT bikini pictures under the guise that I’m missing my last holiday, but really, I just want to give them something to reply to and to remind them of how hot I am (even though I don’t even think I could fit into that bikini anymore).

Posting constant thirst traps actually has the opposite effect. It’s far better to keep your posts normal, especially if your increase in posts results from wanting to get the attention of someone who has stopped giving it. If you want to make them miss you and wonder how you are doing, then you should actually post less.

Liking/commenting on other women’s pictures

This used to be a really common issue before Instagram took away the feature that showed you what the people you were following had liked. Prior to the removal of that feature many people obsessively watched their partner/crush’s likes and caused themselves major stress as a result. But despite the fact that the ‘what others have liked’ section has gone, it’s still an issue that comes up in my inbox often.

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Firstly, do yourself a favour and stop searching through their social media looking for interactions with other people. You either trust them or you don’t. And if you don’t then why are you staying? However, if you happen to see your partner liking or commenting heart eyes on certain pictures, then my personal opinion is that you have the right to say something.

To be clear, I don’t mean this in relation to pictures of random influencers or celebrities, or anyone who they have absolutely no connection to, or chance of bumping into. But if the pictures they are giving approval of is their colleague in a swimsuit, or their ex, someone they matched on Tinder before they met you, or someone who goes to their gym – anyone who is accessible and who may take their like or comment as validation – then you have the right to feel a little miffed.

And you have even more right to feel miffed if you raise it with them and they say “No I will not stop commenting on my ex’s pictures. It means nothing” Because if it meant nothing then stopping would not be an issue. If they undermine and belittle the fact that it has made you feel insecure then that is a red flag. I am not suggesting that it’s OK to control your partner’s social media use, but it is certainly reasonable to raise things that have made you feel uncomfortable and to expect them to hear you out with respect. If they can instantly make you feel more secure by no longer celebrating their neighbours bum pictures, then why wouldn’t they?

Not posting you

Stress about why your other half refuses to post you on their social media is just another annoying issue that has arisen in the dating world. I think it’s only relevant if your partner is an active social media user who posts everything. If they rarely post anything then it’s a non-issue. If they post their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their days out with colleagues and their nights out with friends, but they never post any of the activities they do with you, then I can see how that can lead to anxiety. Some people don’t like to post their partners on social media because they don’t want the world to know their personal business, I think this is valid.

Some don’t post because they aren’t quite sure yet and they don’t want to go through the embarrassment of deleting pictures if it all heads south. Some don’t post because they are worried that their followers might try to poach their new person. And some don’t post because they are seeing other people, or have another partner, and posting you would obviously be relationship suicide. There may be some other pink or red flags if this is the case – can you go to their house? Are they available to chat at weekends and evenings?

Are they cagey with their phone when they’re with you? Have you met their family and friends? If there are other red flags, then not posting you may well be another one. The key here is communication, how do they react when you tell them that you feel weird about them not posting? Are they defensive? Do they belittle you and tell you that social media means nothing?

Or do they give you a decent reason whilst also acknowledging why you feel a particular way about it? It’s not an issue that should be made bigger than it is – unless of course you have real suspicions that you aren’t the only romantic partner in their life. In which case, run.

Of course, these aren’t the only issues, and the truth is that these are quite minor issues that we shouldn’t stress too much about. But we are where we are and we can never go back to the pre-social media days, so we’ve just got to do our best to not date people whose social media activity is making us insecure, and who doesn’t make our own social media activity turn into a rampant attention seeking show reel. My book will help with this, but until then, block, delete, move on!

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