Olivia Wilde, like many of us, reveled in A$AP Rocky’s admiration of pregnant girlfriend Rihanna slaying her Super Bowl performance. But in doing so, Wilde touched a nerve for some people.
“If I thought he was hot before, this really put me over the edge,” she wrote in a now-expired Instagram story of A$AP Rocky filming Rihanna; she also tagged them both. One social media user asked, “Why (is she) posting about somebody else’s man like this???”
Wilde later re-posted the video and said “For anyone who got it twisted 🙄… it’s hot to respect your partner.”
There’s no golden rule when it comes to complimenting someone else’s significant other, therapists warn, so it all comes down to individual relationships and their respective boundaries.
“Context is important,” says Kimberly Vered Shashoua, licensed clinical social worker, as is the person on the receiving end of the compliment. “We perceive the same comments in different ways.”
What celebrities like Olivia Wilde, A$AP Rocky tell us about ourselves
Whenever a celebrity’s actions ignites a strong reaction in a regular person, it’s usually more about that person and less about the celebrity.
“When people who aren’t celebrities have an emotional reaction to something that happens in a celebrity’s life, it likely means they are having an emotional response to something that is prominent in their life,” says Benjamin Goldman, licensed mental health counselor.
Perhaps someone has been cheated on before. Maybe that person’s significant other first expressed admiration for someone else then acted on those feelings. They might now think any expression of admiration will inevitably turn into attraction and then action.
Relationship boundaries are paramount for everyone involved when it comes to expressing desire or admiration for someone else. A couple may agree that romantic or sexual attention outside the relationship should be ignored or should be reported to the other person in the couple. Others might enjoy if their partner receives attention this way.
“It can feel sexy to be seen as sexy,” Goldman adds.
The gender dynamics at play
Would a man calling a woman “hot” receive the same kind of backlash? Not likely.
“Our society normalizes men expressing attraction, but sees women expressing attraction as unusual,” says Vered Shashoua. “We often perceive the same action differently.”
A woman is viewed as “sexually aggressive” if she expresses attraction like this. “Women expressing desire is seen as ‘uncomfortable,’ ‘desperate’ or ‘thirsty,'” Vered Shashoua adds. “People think Wilde is not expressing a passing thought but hitting on someone else’s partner.”
Her follow-up post addressed that – and reminded everyone that perceptions are not always reality.
If you want to call someone hot
- Set your boundaries. “There’s no right or wrong in terms of what’s appropriate or inappropriate for couples to agree upon when it comes to attention outside the relationship,” Goldman says.
- Listen to your partner – and consider whether societal gender norms may be influencing behavior. “Sometimes, partners can perceive things differently,” Vered Shashoua says. “If you don’t agree on whether a compliment was appropriate, it can help to discuss your boundaries and expectations with your partner and with the person who made the comment.”
- Think before you speak. Are you interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with someone new? If you’re not in a monogamous relationship, and neither are they, and everyone consents, it could be fair game. “If you’re in an open relationship or polyamorous, someone propositioning your partner is fine,” Vered Shashoua says.
Overall, it comes down to respecting your partner. As Goldman says: “It is not our job to read our partner’s minds, but you want to be aware of things that are communicated that are problems, and ask yourself, ‘Is there another way that I can accomplish this goal that I’m trying to reach?’
And maybe that means refraining from calling someone “hot” – even if you think so.
For more on boundaries and relationships
Good question:What does it mean if my partner is looking at racy pictures on social media?
Yikes:Feeling like you’re the ‘second choice’ relationship is common: When it becomes a problem
It happens:It’s time to break up with your significant other, but why can’t you?
To consider:Many people take seductive selfies. Are the pictures empowering or desperate?
Story Credit: usatoday.com