What counts as cheating on social media?

Hi Meredith,

I am a 22-year-old woman in London, and my boyfriend of one year is 26. He is a Taurus and I am a Virgo. I am currently studying at university. We are very close, and we both have deep feelings for each other. He treats me well and we spend every weekend together. He takes me out to restaurants, bars, cinemas, and away for city breaks, etc. He has introduced me to all of his friends and cousins. He is caring, affectionate, and very passionate. When we are together, it is the best. However, social media seems to be an issue for us.

When something bothers me, I communicate my feelings. He, on the other hand, shuts down and ignores me until I ask what's wrong – then he tells me. The issue we are having now is about boundaries and social media. Examples that have caused friction: 1) Having social media conversations with the opposite sex and hiding it from one another (deleting chats) 2) Being online on Instagram multiple times a day without messaging the other person at all. Is the attention going elsewhere? 3) Sending hearts and blowing kisses emojis to others. 3) Noticing a pattern of one particular woman getting too friendly with my boyfriend and him removing her to prove it's nothing. Then the girl messaged my boyfriend asking why he removed her, and he told her (without my knowing) that it was because I was suspicious of her, and then she replied and said "haha let me like all your pictures and annoy her more." 4) Random new female followers. 5) Guy friends following me; my boyfriend noticed these friends never like the pics of me with him, only the ones of me alone.

Meredith, I really need your advice how we can build trust online and be less suspicious of each other. I don't want to cause unnecessary arguments. I think we both fear losing each other so I guess there's a trust issue between us. Physical infidelity is an obvious deal-breaker. But it's the subtle things that we do online that make each other worried.

– Anti-social

You've explained the issues so well in this letter. Now you have to set some boundaries instead of talking about the same concerns over and over again.

One thing that might help is to figure out what's out of your control as a couple. For instance, No. 5 on your list isn't something you can fix. If other men prefer solo pictures of you and decide to like them, that's out of your hands. From my experience, selfies do seem to get more traction on Instagram. It’s the kind of shot that seems to be asking for validation.

No. 2 also seems less worthy of concern and conversation. Sometimes people go on an app for a distraction or to fill a little time while they're going about their day. They might sit on Instagram and look at pictures of sunsets without feeling the need to message a significant other. That's OK.

Points 1 and 3 seem like the biggest issues right now, so when you have your next conversation about this, try to focus. If you don't want your boyfriend messaging women he's never met, ask him if he can set that boundary with you. If the two of you would prefer that heart emojis are saved for each other, make that rule.

Really, this is not that difficult. You should want to make each other comfortable. If you can't come to any sort of compromise, your relationship isn't as great as you think.

– Meredith

Readers? Thoughts on social media rules – and the message from that other woman? Thoughts on Taurus/Virgo relationships?