Who’s The Bigger Creep: Him or Her?


Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Michelle
Comment: Hi Moxie:  I’m a 53-year-old female and I’ve been dating my current boyfriend for about 18 months.  ‘Brian’ is 58 and we’ve both been divorced a few years.  We’ve had a couple of minor rough spots in our relationship the last year and a half, but for the most part it’s been good.  We’re pretty much inseparable; he says he loves me and eventually wants to live together and get married.

Here’s my issue.  When I met ‘Brian’, he was already on Instagram.  I’m a Facebook person, so didn’t really know what it was.  I joined Instagram about a year ago to see what it was all about, (and because Brian is always on it).  As I became more familiar with the app, what I noticed was that ‘Brian’ liked and commented daily on what I would classify as ‘soft porn’ pics of various women.  I was uncomfortable with this so I eventually brought it up to him, and that particular behavior has stopped.  However, what I don’t think he knows I’ve caught onto is what I’ve come to term his ‘like-f*cking’ several younger, attractive and single women he knows personally through their mutual involvement in sports.  By this, I mean he likes *every-single-one-of-their-pictures*, whether these woman are come-hither-posed or they’re doing something totally innocuous.

While he sometimes likes and comments on other people’s posts in general, (including mine or his son’s), it’s somewhat random and certainly not *every single picture*.  What’s even more disconcerting is that this non-stop ‘liking’ continues until one of two things seem to happen; 1.  He eventually stops when a particular woman isn’t reciprocating, (probably clearly seeing on Instagram that he has a girlfriend), or 2. You can see by her posts that the woman he’s ‘liking’ has found a new relationship with someone else.  This last situation was this past week; he liked this woman’s posts non-stop for the last year until the absolute very picture of her and her new boyfriend went up, and now there hasn’t been a single ‘like’ since, (some 20 pictures later).

To me, what his behavior suggests is that he’s fishing, either for attention or to gauge these woman’s potential interest in him, (if any).  He’s attempting to tell them, ‘I watch every single thing you do and I want you to know it’.

I haven’t brought this up to him, mostly due to the ‘plausible deniability’ of the situation.  While I truly believe Brian wouldn’t cheat, I find this behavior immature at best, and pretty shady at worst, especially for someone his age in an exclusive relationship.  I feel it’s hurtful and disrespectful to me….and I’d sure love to get some perspective from folks on this.  Trust is everything and at my age I really don’t want to have to deal with this kind of monkey business, so I’m thinking of ending it.
Age: 53
City: Portland
State: OR

I haven’t brought this up to him, mostly due to the ‘plausible deniability’ of the situation

By this statement do you mean that you haven’t said anything else because then you’d have to admit you were acting just as creepy, only in a different way? The only way you could see his Like activity is if you viewed all the profiles of the women he follows/likes and checked them regularly. That’s…a lot of work.

Listen, people creep other people’s social media profiles all the time. This isn’t the first story I’ve heard about a person meticulously monitoring the activity of the person they are dating. But the fact that you are going to these lengths means I now question your whole perspective on the situation.

I don’t doubt that your guy probably drools over and flirts with women on Instagram. And I agree that that kind of behavior is disrespectful and a tad creepy, depending on what they’re saying. I cringe when I see women post “modeling” shots on Instagram because the comments fill with crude comments from skeevy guys. The other source of my second-hand embarrassment for these women is that they continue to call themselves models but really are just extremely attractive women who pay photographers to take their picture so they can post them on Instagram and collect compliments. They do this because they can’t get any legitimate modeling work. The photographers exploiting that desperation are always several shades of douchey, with an Instagram profile full of shots of half-naked women posed provocatively. Gross.

To me, what his behavior suggests is that he’s fishing, either for attention or to gauge these woman’s potential interest in him, (if any).  He’s attempting to tell them, ‘I watch every single thing you do and I want you to know it’.

Well, you don’t really know that. That’s just your interpretation of the situation, and like I said, you’re POV is tainted because of what you’re doing. You’re making his actions sound very lascivious – which they may be – but I simply don’t trust your perspective on this.

Do I think the behavior he’s allegedly exhibiting is a gateway to something more? That’s a strong possibility. Unless he’s actively trying to communicate with them off the site, your guy’s worst offense could be that he’s awkward. Liking something on Instagram many times is innocuous and takes minimal effort.What you’re doing, on the other hand, is quite involved. So, who’s worse in this situation?

Michelle, you’ve put yourself in a situation where you can’t say anything because the evidence you have is fruit from the poisonous tree. I mean, you can certainly bring it up, but that argument is going to quickly turn back you. Be prepared for that. Also remember that just because someone is in a relationship doesn’t mean they don’t flirt with other people. People do it all the time, usually when they think they won’t get caught.This just happens to be a case where you can see the flirting.

Unless he’s showing other signs that he might be straying, you may have to consider the possibility that you’re over-reacting.




Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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20 Responses to “Who’s The Bigger Creep: Him or Her?”

  1. BostonRobin Says:

    This letter gives me The Sads. I think there is a way to see people’s Instagram behavior, something like the FB ticker. I stumbled across it in the past, but I barely remember how I found it. So maybe LW’s behavior is not quite as creepy as checking the profiles of all those other users to track this guy’s activity. Oh, but it’s still weird and creepy.

    So a 58 year old dude is “like bombing” all these young hotties. 10 or 20+ years ago he would have been drooling over a porn mag on the toilet and LW would be writing to Dear Abby about it! Newsflash: GUYS LIKE PORN.

    Reading between the lines a bit, I wonder about dating someone for a year and a half and still not firming up the future anymore than vague plans to move in together and maybe get married. I know everyone has a different timeline, so that may not be the issue. But what I have found in my own life and from reading these posts, is that when people have deep issues with their relationships, they tend to focus on something very surface and probably not even problematic.

    So I would suggest that the LW ask herself what her real issues are with this guy. The social media stalking is just the symptom. Oh, and stop that. You’re acting like an Old. This is why the kids got sick of FB and IG and moved on. Too many old people doing it wrong.

  2. SS Says:

    I’m pretty flirty on FB with a few guys – a guy I was seeing told me it upset him so I stopped. I was glad he had brought it up.

    I believe that if something is not ok with you in a relationship, you have a right (if not a need) to address it or it will fester. So I would personally suggest saying something to your boyfriend prefaced with “Look, I’m really embarrassed about this but I noticed you “like” every one of x and y person’s photos. It makes me feel like you are flirting with them and consequently disrespected. Can we talk about it please?”

    I am certain that any decent loving partner would feel horrified, immediately attempt to assuage any concerns you had, and behave differently in the future.

    If these behaviours are not present, then you have a much larger problem than social media… and I’d imagine you are focusing on instagram as a symptom of that issue.

    • Jonathan Says:

      “I believe that if something is not ok with you in a relationship, you have a right (if not a need) to address it or it will fester. “- @SS

      Yes! It is called being open and sharing, which is a needed ingredient of a successful relationship. Had Michelle from the start been open and sharing with Brian about her concerns, all this questionable detective work could have been avoided.

  3. fuzzilla Says:

    I third that this is a symptom of a larger problem. She’s afraid to trust him for some reason, either due to his behavior or her own past issues, and is actively looking for problems. SS is right; if he’s a good guy/the relationship is solid, he will care that he’s hurting her and want to talk it through, even if he doesn’t agree he did anything wrong. If he’s a dick he’ll just turn it back on her and call her crazy (though even a good guy will get at least a little defensive).

    • Bill Says:

      I agree that what he is doing is “creepy”, but on the face of it, it’s innocent. Liking pictures on Instagram is what people do there (I’m assuming since I don’t have it).

      I also agree that what she did was creepy, but is it innocent or defensible? I agree with Moxie that the level of detective work she did on this is not normal. These women that he’s creeping on are no threat to her or their relationship, so why did she feel the need to creep through all of this?

      I think that her term like-f*cking points to the fact that she does feel threatened by them and unreasonably so. Regardless of whether, or how, this situation gets resolved, THAT is going to continue to be a problem for her, him and them. He will never be a guy who only talks to, flirts or looks at her, which is apparently the only way she’ll be happy.

      • Jonathan Says:

        Bill, your use of the word ‘NEVER’ is fitting for the black and white presumptive thinking you espouse. I am someone who believes that NEVER is just a nonsense word to apply to human behavior. Like, I wouldn’t say you NEVER make sense Bill. And, I wouldn’t say that a 58 year old man would never be someone who only flirted with a partner that met all his needs.

        I cringe at some of your absolutist thinking, as I think it avoids reality. Like, “These women that he’s creeping on are no threat to her or their relationship”. Really? No threat? Zilch? You discount any threat to a relationship from behavior that is disrespectful and further contributes to disatisfaction with his partner?

        • Bill Says:

          Really, Jonathan, preach your “never say never” meme all you want… but don’t ignore her proto-stalker behavior. It’s one thing if his overt and public actions are disrespectful and hurtful, quite another to stalk his social media looking for reasons to be hurt.

          There are lines, there are shades of gray… his shades towards clueless, hers shades towards manipulative and controlling.

  4. dee Says:

    To play devil’s advocate, she can see what he’s liking simply by looking at the Activity feed (“Following”) on Instagram. I too would find this behavior to be immature and a serious turn off.

  5. BTownGirl Says:

    Oh this is a timely one! I have a friend from high school who is married with a few children. A few days ago, I was perusing my Instagram activity to see what my friends were liking and if there was anything I wanted to follow…and, lo, there was my high school friend double tappin’ up a storm on the sexy selfies of randoms. I mean, it’s gross. Look if you want to, but obviously people are going to see that you liked it and think you’re a skeeve.

    That being said for Michelle, I have some Facebook friends who are much older men (former coworkers) and they like a lot of my activity and I really, really don’t think it’s coming from A Place Of Gross. Keep in mind, as Moxie said, that you’re putting a lot of effort into this and that’s an issue. Get real with how you’re feeling and try to look at the situation with fresh eyes. If you’re still uncomfortable, there’s your answer.

  6. Penelope Says:

    dee is correct – Michelle doesn’t have to creep to see what he’s doing on IG, it comes through the IG activity feed. I think Moxie was a bit hard on her here. His behavior does seem a bit suspicious to me as well. He’s like-drilling only younger, single and attractive women he knows? That seems sort of lech, especially at his age.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      If he says, “But we’re just friends!” you can say, “So, this person’s gender makes no difference? Do you go on a ‘like’ spree for pics of guys in Speedos?”

      I agree with Moxie that hitting “like” doesn’t take much effort and doesn’t mean he’s communicating with them off the site.

      If it were me, it would raise an eyebrow, but I wouldn’t think of leaving based solely on that. I would bring it up with the guy in a calm and non-confrontational manner (too fucking bad if he thinks you’re insecure – if this is a serious relationship, your feelings should matter to him, and your emotional needs should be met. And same goes for him).

      I have done exactly this, and it worked out fine. My boyfriend used to teach community college so there are some younger women on his FB friendslist that made me a little nervous and insecure. But at least he has a real life connection with them, and he does make it very obvious he’s with me and not available. I’ve noticed other married guys “liking” women on Facebook that are just pinup models/professional Facebook photo bombers and I’m like, “If his wife doesn’t care, then whatever, but – ew.” Sure, all guys like porn, but I’d keep that stuff separate from the social media your mom uses. But that’s just me.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        Porn doesn’t bother me (as long as a guy doesn’t watch it obsessively). At least with porn, guys just admit they use it to beat off in private. The plausible deniability of, “Oh, no, really, this 25-year-old woman is just a FRIEND and I ‘liked’ her pic in a bikini to be emotionally supportive to my FRIEND” is disingenuous and gross.

  7. ATWYSingle Says:

    I’m not a terribly active Instagram user and had no idea there was an Activity feed. I just looked at my niece’s account to see if I could see who she liked and I couldn’t. Maybe I need to update the app, I’m not sure. In any case, the OP has not only been monitoring her guy’s Instagram activity, which is odd enough, but she also appears to be monitoring the activity of the women he follows. How else does she know that he stops liking them when they get in new relationships? Also, does that feed display comments that he writes? If not, then she’s going to the individual posts he likes and seeing his comments.

    I agree that what he’s doing is odd, but some of you people are going to pull a muscle trying to rationalize her behavior.

  8. Jonathan Says:

    Attraction studies show that our brain stops looking for different partners when we find ouselves in a deep loving relationship in which our emotional needs are being met. Michelle and Brian don’t have that.

    This may be mostly a result of Michelle not being able to engage in an open and honest way with Brian, or it may come more from Brian’s inability to be open about what he really wants and what he really desires. Either way, both she and he would benefit from being open to the feedback about how silly each of their behaviors are.

    I disagree that either of you are creepy folks, because I think we all have our good and bad points and it doesn’t make you worth more or less as a person. Still, be open to the possibility that your behaviors are foolish and unhelpful to either of you. And when you behave this way people will think you are creepy and that neither of you can be trusted.

    All this can be fixed with the addition of vulnerability to each others open and honest feedback. It’s never too late to learn how to have a healthier relationship.

    • Chris Says:

      Your assessment, Jonathon, was the most intelligent and kind, in that you’re giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. (which seems to be not so common) I agree with you!

  9. Bree Says:

    LW isn’t creepy. She’s gathering valuable information about the character and mindset of a man she’s considering for a life partner. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to be doing anything with the info except hoping it doesn’t mean what she knows it means, and hoping Moxie and we all here will tell her it’s no big deal. My advice, if you want it Michelle, is dump him.

    You’ve only been dating 18 months and already had “ups and downs”? First year should be the honeymoon period. If you guys aren’t getting along at this early stage, bad sign.

    Brian “always on it” Instagram perving on younger women he’s acquainted with should be a huge red flag. Those women are very unlikely to be interested in him but it doesn’t matter. The point is, HE is pursing them in a way. You gathered good data noticing how his “likes” stop once he realizes the women aren’t available to him. You notice he only goes for younger women. You’ve convinced yourself he “wouldn’t cheat.” If one of those women were interested he’d drop you, fast. He only won’t cheat as long as nobody returns his interest.

    18 months isn’t that long. Cut your losses. Stop letting this man use you as a placeholder. He isn’t giving you what you need.

    • SB Says:

      I agree with this. When you’re with the right person, the insecurity and anxiety over their interaction with others, as well as their inappropriate interactions with others they are likely interested in, will not be present.
      This is not the right partner, and your gut is already telling you that. Listen to it and do what you know you need to.

  10. Sarah Says:

    Brian is 58. And it’s safe to say the women whose photos he’s liking … are not. In other words, excluding the possibility that he’s a billionaire — and we know he’s not, because, well, you’re 53 — this guy doesn’t have a SNOWBALL’S CHANCE IN HELL of cheating on you with an Instagram “model.” Is his behavior gross, inappropriate, delusional, and disappointing? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But if it’s occupying as much of his time as you say, that’s time he’s not interacting with more realistic options. Just let him have this.

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