December 11, 2012

Teen Talk: Throwback Thursday picture post elicits hurt, angry feelings

DEAR KELLY: Recently my boyfriend posted a Throwback Thursday picture of him and his girlfriend in freshman year. We're seniors, and they broke up like middle of sophomore year.

DEAR KELLY: Recently my boyfriend posted a Throwback Thursday picture of him and his girlfriend in freshman year. We're seniors, and they broke up like middle of sophomore year. So many people, including his mom, liked it. People even wrote things like, "You guys were the cutest couple ever" and someone said, "Too bad you broke up, you would have made beautiful babies." All of the comments and all of the people who liked it really made me angry.

My boyfriend said I was being too sensitive because everyone knows we are together and I shouldn't be so insecure. He acted mad at me like I was making a big deal out of it and that I was the one overreacting.

He and his ex are friends but nothing else and she has another boyfriend, so I'm not worried about them getting back together. My mom agreed with me and thought it was so disrespectful of his mom to like the picture because I know how close my boyfriend's ex and his mom were when they were going out.

Now I feel weird around his mom and don't know what to say to her, which makes me mad because we used to get along so well. I'm so mad about all of this and he's acting like its all me instead of admitting that if he just never posted that stupid picture, none of this would have ever happened.

Was I wrong for acting like that? Or was he wrong to post that? Should I have pretended I wasn't upset about it? What, if anything, should I say to his mom?

– Ariel

DEAR ARIEL: When we are angry, it usually means we are hurt. Anger seems to be a much easier emotion for people to share when really what they should say is that they are upset and hurt.

Let's start with his Throwback Thursday picture. Was it wrong to post a picture from four years ago? No. It seems pretty harmless because she has a boyfriend and you are his girlfriend. My guess is that it was posted to show how different they looked four years ago – not to hurt your feelings or make you feel insecure about your relationship. But it unfortunately did that, and his response could have been a little more sensitive and a little less defensive. Had he of apologized for how you felt and assured you of his reasons why he posted it, your feelings might have been a little different. Instead he made you feel worse and nothing was resolved.

When we are in a relationship, it is not about who is right or who is wrong but rather about how the other person feels. He felt attacked for doing something he didn't feel was harmful and you felt unsure of the relationship and anxious. With a little bit of open communication and the conscious effort to put this behind you, the two of you can move forward.

Acknowledge to your boyfriend how you felt without blaming him. Phrases like, "It made me feel scared you didn't like me anymore" or "I felt like people said the two of you made a better couple than us," could explain your feelings. Let him explain why he posted the picture and try to listen without getting angry. Figure out what you need to do to move ahead – do you want him to delete the post or just not to post any more pictures of old girlfriends on his Throwback Thursdays? Be honest about your expectations, but don't be unrealistic.

Regarding his mom, she did nothing to say that she likes his ex better than you. That is your fear, not her feelings. All she did was say that she liked a picture of her son from four years ago when he looked like a teenager compared to now when he is close to being a man. It wasn't disrespectful of her to like a picture and she wasn't the one who said they made a cute couple. So what if she liked his ex-girlfriend four years ago?

Why should that affect you? You get along with her now – isn't that more important?

Back off his mom. Let it go. Telling her that you are hurt or angry over her pressing a "like" button on a picture of her son feels trivial and petty.

If things are good between the two of you now, don't risk it by confronting her on something like this.

Social media causes issues between people because a picture or a choice of wording can be interpreted differently by different people. What seems simple and harmless can hurt someone else and cause a relationship rift. Learn from this and be careful of what you post in the future.


Lately I have received inquiries from people asking, "What do teenagers want for Christmas this year?"

So I'm putting it out to you to please help enlighten readers as to what is on the "Hot List" for 2012 and anything you want to include on the "Not List," in case your dear sweet aunt is reading Teen Talk and still thinks you might want superhero underwear or a giant coloring book and new crayons.

Send me your lists ASAP and I will publish them. No names will be listed so don't worry about being figured out.

Happy holidays!

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