TikTok outraged by woman's list of 'controversial' Instagram rules for her boyfriend

Screenshots of the woman's list from her TikTok videos
A woman in the US has gone viral on TikTok after she shared a list of "controversial rules" her boyfriend is required to abide by on Instagram. Photo credit: @thefreakshowcircus / TikTok

While I'll be the first to champion setting boundaries in a relationship, the line between 'beneficial' and 'batshit crazy' can be easily blurred. 

From what's hot and what's not in the bedroom to giving one another space for autonomy and independence, establishing healthy boundaries is an important foundation for building respect and trust in a romantic relationship. It also lays the groundwork for a strong line of communication - it's important all parties are outlining their expectations and having their needs met.

However, like anything, even this can occasionally go too far - crossing the boundary between 'healthy and helpful' to 'who on Earth would agree to this?!'

A woman in the United States has gone viral on TikTok after she shared a list of "controversial rules" her boyfriend is required to abide by on Instagram. 

In the video, which has been viewed more than three million times, the woman shared a screenshot of her list titled, 'Controversial Rules I Make My Boyfriend Follow: Instagram Edition' - and boy, did it stoke some controversy.

The woman, who goes by the username @thefreakshowcircus on the video-sharing platform, began by admitting that her male friends have even labelled her a "psycho" for enforcing the rules in her relationship - always a good start.

"Disclaimer: almost every single one of my boyfriends has followed these rules, so if you're like, 'oh my God, I could never', it's okay - somebody else will," she said. 

The first rule on her list requires her significant other to block anyone he previously had a "romantic interaction" with.

"Obviously people you slept with is a no-no, but if I find out you held a b***h's hand and you're still following her, you're done," she added. 

Number two stipulates that from the beginning of their relationship, her boyfriend cannot start following any women on the app, while number three specifies that he also is prohibited from searching for women's accounts.

"No searching [for] girls' names in the handle bar, like, what are you searching for? No but really, what are you searching for, because you should find it in me," she said.

The fourth rule adds that her partner cannot 'like' women's photos on Instagram - a "point-blank no" - while the fifth says he shouldn't be replying to any Instagram Stories shared by a woman's account.

"Number six: no more than one girl per scroll on your Explore page. I know your Explore page is what you click on, and you want to know how I know? Because one time I asked a guy to stop and he did - and for the duration of our entire relationship, there wasn't one girl on his Explore page."

For the second-to-last rule, the woman says her partner must unfollow a woman on the app if she posts "more than one bikini pic in a row" - including on her Instagram Story - and finally, "no clicking on Link Tree".

"You're gonna give other women your money? No."

It's safe to say @thefreakshowcircus' rules were not universally agreed upon, with responses ranging from "controlling", "psychopath" to "narcissistic".

However, some women backed the TikToker's list of requirements and agreed that rules need to be mutually agreed upon for how your partner uses social media and interacts with others online.

"One of my best guy friends REALLY likes this new girl and stopped every one of these on his own. They aren't even dating yet. Ladies - they know," one woman said.

"I genuinely agree and yes, I have a boyfriend and yes, he follows rules that are literally like this - and we are going on three years," a second added.

"Number six is so accurate. Search algorithms are good enough that it's clear what people are looking at," a third agreed.

Others were quick to call out @thefreakshowcircus for normalising toxic behaviour and acting out of insecurity, suggesting she shouldn't be in a relationship until she has addressed her own "deep-seated" issues.

"Personally I feel if you need these rules to be happy and comfortable in a relationship, you shouldn't be in one to begin with," one said, with another adding: "This whole concept just sounds like a good foundation for abuse and gaslighting."

"I think if you trusted your partner, the thought of asking these things wouldn't even cross your mind," another said.

Others pointed out the double standard, noting that if a man were to share the same rules for his girlfriend, it would quickly be labelled as emotional abuse, while several said they hoped she also followed the list herself. A number of male viewers added they would stick to the rules if it was reciprocated.

"[Rule] nine: not allowed to leave the house because 'he may see another girl'," one person quipped.

In 2019, a woman stoked outrage online after she shared a list of rules she had written for her husband ahead of him attending a bachelor party, which included "no drugs", "no strippers", "no swearing" and "no play-wrestling".