Ask Him: Following Models on Instagram

Q: How many models is too many models for my boyfriend to follow on Instagram? I’m not jealous by nature, but at what point is enough, enough? It’s starting to make me feel a little weird.


A: This question is tough in some ways because Instagram is still a relatively new technology, and one that makes it much, much easier than it was before (which was pretty damn easy) to look at as many photographs of attractive people as we want to at any time that we want to. There’s really no established precedent for what is widely considered the appropriate number of models a man in a relationship should be following on social media. I suppose the cutoff should definitely be when he’s following more models than friends, although in his defense models are good people to follow on Instagram if you’re tired of the frequent stream of meals your friends post. (Because models don’t eat food! Get it?!)

I don’t think that in most cases you’re going to be able to set a specific number for how many models your boyfriend is allowed to follow on Instagram without coming off as a little bit strange. Imagine saying something like this to him: “I was clicking through the people you follow on Instagram the other day and I feel as though you should shave the number of professional models down by about 33 percent.” It’s just not something that’s likely to go well. His crazy alarm is going to go off as soon as you admit you know who he’s following on Instagram, and as a result of your own research. He’s immediately going to start wondering what other parts of his digital and real-life footprint you’re monitoring for missteps.

However, I totally understand why this might be an issue. It’s not really very much fun to think about your significant other looking at other people they find physically attractive. It makes you feel inadequate in some way, even though it’s patently ridiculous to think that your special person will find you to be the only physically attractive person he or she will ever encounter for the remainder of his or her life. It’s impossible to eschew these feelings completely, but it’s not impossible for us to keep them to ourselves or to go about “checking out” other people in a clandestine way.

This is kind of a technological extension of the age old debate re: how appropriate it is for spoken-for dudes to be checking out other women, whether it’s when they’re walking around the street, or photographed in magazines or online in a non-pornographic capacity. (The “Should I be pissed my boyfriend is watching porn?” debate is something we’re going to have to discuss at another time. Seriously. Somebody ask me about this. Please.) It bothers some women, while others are fine with it as long as it doesn’t extend past looking. I assume you’re among the former, which I understand. The best advice I can probably give if you’re uncomfortable about this is to bring it up in an analogical way, like telling him you wouldn’t really dig it if he was Shanghaiing your Victoria’s Secret catalogs all of the time and poring over them, and that really a model’s Instagram is not much different—it’s just a more digital and convenient showcase of a woman who is paid for her stellar genetics, insane exercise regimen, and staggeringly low caloric intake. Tell him that when you’re aware that he’s browsing through pictures of scantily clad womens’ selfies and stuff, it doesn’t make you feel good—that it makes you feel physically inadequate, that maybe your own boyfriend isn’t warm enough for your form for it to be the one he loves looking at the most.

Once you broach this subject with your boyfriend, he should take it to heart and take it upon himself to quit following so many models, or surfers who pretend to be models or whatever, without your having to put, like, a cap on it.

He’s supposed to want to do what he can to make you happy. And it’s not that big a deal anyway.

Because then he’ll just look at pictures of girls in other venues that you’ll never know about.

And ignorance is bliss.

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