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I Found Out My Boyfriend Was Cheating On Instagram

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It’s the most used social media platform for people under the age of 30 and has 400 million active users per month. Almost as soon as it launched in 2010, it’s primary function as a photo-sharing app was surpassed. In 2015 (and going into 2016), it’s become LinkedIn, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr, Raya, and Twitter all rolled into one. You can ‘poke’ people (follow them), ‘endorse’ them (like a picture), 'text' them (direct message), and ‘stalk’ the hell out of them - that one just read as ‘stalk’.

You know how it goes now. You meet someone. You don’t ask for each other's numbers, but you get their name. You put them into ‘Google’ - sorry, we mean Instagram’s search bar - and voilà. You follow them. If they like you, they might be brave, go a few weeks deep and like a few selfies - that’s basically asking you out for a date in Instagram-speak; you might return the favour. Then before you know it you've got a 'direct message' (a DM) which, in Instagram-speak, is basically a proposal.

Then what happens once you’re nice and settled as a couple, blowing off your friends and family to stay indoors instead, safely liking your drunk best mate’s pictures from the warm nook of your new lover’s arms? For some people life goes on, for others tracing your partner's social media footprint because a hobby, a sport, a part-time job. You find yourself doing a Tom Cruise in Minority Report; while your new beau is in the shower, you’re summoning up his 'like history', sifting through his tagged pictures.

For as many people as it brings together, Instagram is also tearing people apart, and no one is addressing it, because, caveat: Instagram is not real life (thanks Essena O'Neill), but, caveat: tagged photos, DMs, likes, not-liking…they’ve all become as real as a handshake, a glance, a kiss? Our behaviour on our mobile phones is as real as a face-to-face conversation and the reality is that social media is now no longer virtual: it's a very tangible part of our social and romantic lives.

Here are three brave people’s anonymous accounts of how they came to find out the person they called their partner was playing away from home via Instagram…

Lisa

“So I met ‘Sam’ on Tinder a year ago. I was already dating other people but after talking to each other on WhatsApp for a couple of weeks, he had my full attention, and we decided to meet up. He invited me over to his place and, when I got there, none of his housemates were in. I left the next morning feeling pretty good about meeting up, so after he was having dinner with his friends a few weeks later, we decided to meet up again although this time he seemed pretty intent on coming over to my place despite the fact that I live with my mother. I thought nothing of it and let him come over.

We continued dating for a year. He carried on coming to my house or meeting up with me out and about, always complaining about his housemates. For the entirety of our relationship I had a knot in my stomach, this unsaid feeling, that if I looked at his Instagram (he said he didn't have one but I'd found one that he hadn't used in 24 weeks when we'd first started dating, so I'd kind of forgotten about it) I was gonna see some shit that would throw me off but I liked Sam and I reasoned that the worst that I'd see was corny hashtags for his pictures. Nope. What I actually saw upon going from his work company's profile to his profile to what was clearly his current girlfriend's profile was that he'd been with his other girlfriend for near enough a decade.
Max

I was dating this guy for three years who was in a band. My ex was dating a guy in another band - weird coincidence. Anyway, this other band ended up supporting my boyfriend's band on tour. Suddenly I could tell from Instagram that my ex and his new guy had broken up, and I saw almost immediately that my boyfriend had followed the guy in the supporting band on Instagram. I mentioned to him casually on the phone 'Oh you met Olly, is he nice? I heard he and Ben split', he got instantly cagey and for two or so weeks he carried on being strange with me. Anyway long story short, I went to Manchester to see him on his tour and he began to deny he'd ever met Olly, despite me having seen their Instagram interactions. Turns out they'd been sleeping together. End of our three year relationship.
Rosie

I was seeing this guy who was semi-famous. Bad idea, I know. He had loads of girls always contacting him and he always had his phone on him. Sometimes he'd even take it in the bathroom with him (I cringe now, but I was madly in love). He was forever assuring me that we were together (I'm so dumb). Girls kept following him and liking his profile, but I kept strong. Then one day, for no reason, I started to stalk his activity and the whole thing unravelled. I found pictures in his tagged photos of this one girl. She had posted pictures of them together when he told me he was out with his mates. One night we went to this really cool event and he wanted to post a video on Instagram but his battery died so he logged in on my phone to post it. The next day I logged on thinking it was my Instagram account, and read months and months of his messages to this girl, who had been sending him nudes on direct message. I screen-shotted them all, sent them to myself and logged out. I've never felt so sick in my life - but I'm glad I found out. I cannot say how glad I am that I'm not still chasing him. Every cloud, eh?
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