Fish Lens: I really don’t care if my partner likes photos of hot girls on Instagram

Everyone has an opinion on this.

Natalie Teo |
April 1, 2023, 9:00 am

We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.

Fish Lens is where we magnify issues and put them up for discussion. Basically op-eds, but with a fancy name.

I probably should preface this article by saying that I’m not exactly a relationship expert, but here are my other qualifications:

  1. A girl
  2. A person who has dated other people
  3. An owner of three Instagram accounts

Aside from these stellar qualifications, I am also friends with people who are actually in relationships and who love to discuss them with me.

One of the terms I’ve been hearing lately is micro-cheating, which is defined as “engaging in subtle cheating behaviours that may seemingly be insignificant but still has layers of betrayal, dishonesty, and secrecy,” according to one mental health therapist Popsugar spoke to.

Micro-cheating and Instagram

This term itself is not new, but has recently seen a minor resurgence on TikTok and Twitter, with discussions on what micro-cheating actually constitutes.

One of these behaviours, apparently, is following and liking pictures of other attractive women on Instagram.

@thefirstdatefix What is it? #microcheating #microcheatinggirls #cheating #flirting #datingcoach #datingadviceforwomen #datingadviceformen #forupage #foryoupge #4upage #4upageシ #4u #foru #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound – Trey (RCS)

It bothers enough people that some variety of this question has been asked multiple times on the internet.

Here’s one of them:

boyfriend liking other girls photos
by u/favoriteuser232 in relationships

On the other hand, there are also puzzled boyfriends who just don’t seem to get what the big deal is:

My GF is mad at me for liking other girls pics on IG but I don’t understand why
by u/Senseibeats410 in relationship_advice

In a follow up clarification, the user likened it to seeing a nice car at the gas station:

“I might tell the owner they have a nice car if [it’s] rare enough I might even take a picture but that doesn’t mean I want to get inside their car or abandon my perfectly fine car on the street.”

Most respondents on both threads agreed that liking other women’s photos on Instagram was disrespectful, though some felt that it was a non-issue.

Meanwhile, research that examined how married couples reacted to photos of other people showed that those who looked away from the photos were less likely to cheat than those who didn’t look away as quickly (that’s just one study though).

What do people really think?

I tend to be in the “I don’t care what they do online as long as they’re not hitting on other girls” camp, but once again, not a relationship expert, so I decided to ask other people what they think.

Some replies were… interesting to say to least.

One said:

“I wouldn’t mind if my boyfriend watched porn, but I’ll be upset if he liked pictures of a hot influencer because they are a lot less removed than porn stars, and then it becomes too real. Why is he giving the validation they thrive on???”

Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum:

Different priorities.

Most other responses though, tended to fall in the category of “it depends”, but even that varied.

One girl told me that if her partner did not know the other woman, she wouldn’t consider it micro-cheating, but if they knew one another personally, then yes, as there was greater potential for it to escalate to full-blown cheating.

And then there was this completely opposite perspective:

When I asked why, she reasoned that if her partner and the other girl knew each other, then she trusted that he was only liking her photo as a friend. Liking other women in bikinis, however, is “gross AF”.

A few of my friends pointed out that they too liked pictures of attractive people, and it wouldn’t be fair to impose double standards on their partners.

To balance out the gender perspectives, I also asked two male friends what they thought.

The first said:

“I think this could be considered micro-cheating? But of course it’s up to the individual couple to decide the boundaries. To me is on the same level as checking out a pretty girl on the street if you’re outside.”

The other said that his girlfriend did not mind, and added that if someone was upset about their partner liking other people’s pictures, it was probably not about the act itself, but a sign of other issues in the relationship.

All agreed however, that commenting or sliding into other girl’s DMs were a strict no-no.


Personally, I’ve never had a problem with my partners liking other women’s pictures on social media, or even verbalising that they found another woman attractive.

Being in a committed relationship doesn’t mean that they suddenly have blinkers on and can see no one else but you.

On that note, nobody that’s dating me would stand a chance in hell with any of these extremely attractive influencers on social media anyway, so it doesn’t seem like a logical source of insecurity.

Still, after listening to more than 10 people weigh in on the issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really no one way to do relationships.

Case in point: The girl who thinks it’s micro-cheating only if her partner knows the other person, vs. the one who thinks the complete opposite.

Ultimately, it’s about what each individual is comfortable with, and whether their partner respects their boundaries.

And if your partner doesn’t respect yours, you can trust us when we say the single life ain’t bad either:

I’m a S’porean man in my 30s who has never been in a serious relationship, but I’m happy to be single this Valentine’s Day

Why you should block your ex & everything else I Iearnt while processing the loss of a relationship

Top image via asiangirlari_, putriwithlove, miyu_kishi01213, dj_choiiii, chantellesiaa, novitresna_ and christinetinevonvon, nina_yxng on Instagram.

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