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Is ‘Liking’ Someone Else’s Posts Cheating?

Social media how changed how we interact, creating this new relationship debate.

Man and woman are laying in bed on their sides facing opposite directions. The man is scrolling on his phone.
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff)

The age of social media has allowed us to connect with more people than ever before. While this is usually considered a blessing, for those in relationships, this could be a curse.

Social media users have recently been debating whether ‘liking’ someone else’s picture on platforms such as Instagram can be considered cheating in a relationship.

I’m sure fifteen years ago, people didn’t know these debates would even exist. However, the internet provides unlimited access to new people and the ability to hide your actions behind a passcode, which can be both tempting and worrying.

There is no one definition of what it means to cheat in a relationship. Typically, it is anything that violates the boundaries of a relationship and breaks the trust two partners have. It is completely dependent on the individuals involved.

A couple is sitting on the floor having a conversation.
Setting boundaries with your partner is key to a healthy relationship.
Credit: Shutterstock/bbernard

There are three types of cheating that people generally agree on: micro, emotional, and physical. Micro-cheating refers to “small breaches of trust in a relationship that don’t pass the threshold into a physical affair,” according to an article by Psychology Today. An example of this would be not telling a person you’re in a relationship when they’re flirting with you.

An article published by Healthline explains that emotional cheating occurs when “your closeness to someone else disrupts your investment in your partner.” This could be seeing or texting a different person of interest, which in turn results in you withdrawing from your partner. While this may be okay in some relationships, others may consider it “gateway cheating.”

Physical cheating is the most obvious and indisputable. It occurs when someone in a relationship engages in a form of physical intimacy with someone other than their partner, such as kissing or having sex.

So, can ‘liking’ someone’s post be considered cheating? Let’s look at what social media has to say.

The debate on social media

There are several videos shared across social media that argue why or why not liking a post is cheating.

@thecoffeebreakup

Fellas, stop liking other girls pictures on social media! #relationship #dating #marriage #datingadvice

♬ Daylight – David Kushner

In this video, podcast hosts Marvin Scholz and Christian Viera talk about how it’s dependent on the context. For instance, it’s okay to like a female friend’s posts when they’re celebrating a graduation or birth, but not if the photo is simply a girl posting a thirst trap in a bikini. They also note that establishing a pattern of regularly liking one girl’s posts can be inappropriate.

“It’s a matter of respect,” explained Marvin Scholz.

In this video, Chris Perry explains that by liking a female post, he is letting that woman know that he found her attractive and is trying to get her attention. He also states that doing this would be disrespectful to a partner. 

In this clip, Sadia Khan looked at the debate from the perspective of his partner, sympathizing with how she would feel if he liked another woman’s provocative posts. He said if his partner had liked a topless photo of a guy, he would “flip out.” Normally, this conversation focuses on men doing the liking, but the door definitely swings both ways. 

Here, Casiah West explains that finding someone attractive in their post isn’t the issue. The issue is that now “this girl thinks that your man wants them.” 

Based on these clips, it can be assumed that there’s an online argument that many couples do see this as a form of cheating. These views believe a post like allows someone to think they have a chance with you, and so is engaging in a form of micro-cheating. However, once again, it all depends on your own relationship and boundaries.

Not cheating?

Hannah Hughes, 20, said that it depends on the picture. “If it’s a promiscuous, barely clothed girl, then yes, I’d be hurt by that. But if it’s a friend of ours, normally clothed, normal post, then not at all.” 

She went on to explain that social media, in general, makes it easier to cheat in a relationship. It’s easier to find new people to communicate with, and it’s easier to hide that from your partner. 

While Shyanne Burpee Williams, 21, didn’t agree that liking a post on social media is a form of cheating, she did agree that social media makes it easier to cheat because “it connects people.”

“If If you wanted to find a hook up or new significant other, social media is the place for that.”

Shyanne Burpee Williams

Laine Richards, 21, agreed and said: “I don’t think liking a picture is cheating, but social media definitely gives more access to text someone or begin a relationship without your partner knowing.”

Based on these responses, it seems as if social media may have exaggerated the problem. Perhaps there are more important issues with social media that can disturb the dynamic of a relationship to focus on.

Other problems with social media

While you may or may not consider ‘liking’ posts a form of cheating, there are other ways social media can negatively affect a relationship.

1. Many agreed it makes it easier to cheat in general

Woman is on her phone while standing on a crowded bus.
It is easier to hide your actions and reach more people on your phone. Credit: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

As you can see in the responses above, there is an agreement that social media makes it easier for one to cheat on their partner. Not only is it easier to meet new people, but it is also easier to contact them because you can just send them a DM rather than needing to physically meet up. You can also easily hide this behavior by excusing it as simply scrolling through you your Facebook feed.

2. People may reveal too much information about their relationships online

Social media has created an environment of oversharing which may cause issues in a relationship. From updating people about what you’re eating to when your birthday party is, we provide a lot of information online. For example, let’s say you asked Reddit why your partner didn’t say “I love you” this morning. Your partner may be upset that you didn’t just ask them instead. Why get strangers from the internet involved in your relationship?

3. People seek validation from others

People may also post pictures or share accomplishments online which allows people to display interest or congratulate them. Depending on your relationship, your partner may not be okay with this. Why are you seeking validation from other people? Why did your partner have to learn about your promotion from social media?

4. People feel neglected because their partner spends so much time online

A man is on his phone while hugging his girlfriend.
Spending too much time on your phone can damage your relationship. Credit: Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

Perhaps the biggest relationship issue stemming from social media is the fact that people spend so much time on it. According to MedicalNewsToday, this can “negatively impact quality time, create conflict, and reduce relationship satisfaction.” Being blown off by your partner because they’re busy scrolling online is never a great feeling. Especially when the negative ideas they’re consuming may be subconsciously harming your relationship.

Setting boundaries

It is clear that social media can have a negative effect on relationships in a variety of ways. From liking someone’s post to simply dedicating too much time to a random group chat, it’s important to set boundaries. By establishing what is acceptable early on, you can avoid a lot of issues with your partner later.

Written By

Multimedia Journalism student at Grand Valley State University. Intern at Trill Mag. Lover of iced tea and desserts.

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