I thought my girlfriend was laid-back, but now that we’re temporarily long-distance she’s insanely jealous.

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I’ve been seeing my girlfriend for several months. Right now, we have a long-distance relationship because she’s on an extended work assignment in the Lower 48, but she expects to be back here this fall. One of the things I like most about her is how laid back she is. In the beginning, our relationship was just really easy, and didn’t have the annoying drama that some of my past girlfriends have had.

Lately, especially since she’s been out of state, we are fighting a lot. The main argument is her getting on me for my social media stuff. She is constantly griping at me for liking other girls’ posts and commenting on other girls’ photos. And often she freaks out about stuff that’s old — like from way before I even knew her, much less dated her.

Example: this past weekend, she blew up my phone for a comment from two years ago in which I told this one girl she looked great when she had posted a photo of herself all dressed up. My girlfriend referred to the girl as a “skank” and worse, and demanded I delete the comment. The fact that the comment was from two years ago meant nothing to her. She said by leaving it up, I was disrespecting her. We went back and forth about it all night and I did end up deleting the comment so she’d just move on already.

It’s like she wants me to erase my life before her. The fact is, I was single for a few years, and yes, I definitely posted on girls’ social stuff. It’s crazy to think I need to delete those things. And currently, I have a lot of female friends. Am I supposed to not like any of their stuff because it will upset my girlfriend? I feel like she’s just being extra weird about all this because she’s out of town, but either way, it’s shown me a side of her I didn’t even know existed and I’m worried it’s going to get worse. And to make it even more crazy, my girlfriend is super active on Instagram and TikTok and she is always liking guys’ stuff and posting comments on other men’s pages, so what’s with that double standard? Advice?

Wanda says:

This will likely get worse before it gets better, and there’s very little you can do about it besides either live with it or leave it. Frankly, this probably has very little or even nothing to do with you. Your girlfriend has come to this relationship hard-wired with deep-rooted insecurities or bad past experiences — or both! — that are fueling an irrational, suspicious, accusatory energy.

There is zero wrong with interacting with friends on social media — as your girlfriend must know on some level, given that she does this herself! It’s not like you’re blatantly flirting, secretly sliding into other girls’ DMs or posting provocative stuff. Your exasperation is understandable and no doubt all this senseless squabbling is exhausting. The only real resolution for her at this point would be for you to follow her requests to the letter and stop interacting with female friends online. But what’s next? Are you no longer allowed to talk to gal pals when you see them out? Will your girlfriend demand viewing rights to your texts and messages? Mistrust is a slippery slope, and certainly no foundation for an equitable and fun relationship.

I get that you miss your laid-back lady and are willing to stick this out if you can weather the weirdness and return to the chill relationship you fostered in the first place. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening. And frankly, it sounds like your girlfriend has a lot to sort through about herself and obvious trust issues before she’s relationship-ready. Take advantage of the current physical distance between you, request a break until she’s back in Alaska, and tell her you’ll look forward to talking upon her return if she’s ready to trust you.

Wayne says:

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. While true, absence also provides certain hearts with ample time to cyber-stalk and compose mean text messages with dramatic demands. Seems you have a lot of both going on here.

I’ll start by saying that all relationships require work, but long-distance relationships are really tough and often require tons of maintenance. While the time apart is causing you to truly miss her, the connection and your “laid-back” relationship, it’s making her mistrust you in a way that’s anything but laid back or acceptable. Oh, no doubt she also misses you, too, and that’s hopefully the big problem here. I wonder if she’d be acting and reacting the same way if you two weren’t apart?

Well, maybe she would be. Perhaps she is a really jealous and insecure person at her core and it took some time apart to reveal the depth of it. Or maybe she just misses you a lot and doesn’t know any healthy and positive ways to channel that longing and loneliness, or any better uses for all the free time that she’d normally be spending with you.

Seems like you’d like to at least see where this goes, despite some red flags. So before slamming the door on her temporarily or forever, do what you can to close the distance. Like shutting the social media apps and using the smart phone’s calling function to have more frequent conversations about love and life, and so many little — “How was your day, boo?” — and big things — her overreacting to your ancient social media activity. Yeah, smart phones are telephones, too! Try it out — it’s fun talking and hearing one another’s voice. And then book a trip as soon as possible to go down and see her for a weekend. Even a brief taste of proximity and intimacy will hopefully cool down the drama and maybe even make you both realize what’s at stake and confirm why you want to be together. If it doesn’t, if the trip is a bust, or if she can’t look forward instead of behind, you’ll have all the intel you need to take your next step, which I hope would be a big one in a direction away from her.