What would you do if you discovered your boyfriend still had an online dating profile?
"For me, it was confirmation that the man I was in love with was not the man I thought he was," writes Simone Grant at Sex, Lies and Dating in the City. She had noticed the change in the relationship. She had asked if anything was wrong. She'd been told things were fine.
Then it had occurred to her to check his profile on the dating site he had used prior to becoming involved with her. She found his profile was active, checked in within the last 24 hours. Not only that, but he had a VIP premium membership.
"I didn't really need to find that account," Simone recalls. "Or hear his stories about why it still existed or how he really wasn't using it. The online dating account was just confirmation of what I already knew. That the relationship was over. And it was time to move on. Not that I realized it at the time. Nope."
Instead, she heard him out. He told her that he had pre-paid for the account. The only reason it was active, he told her, is that the day before he'd received a message and he’d gone in to check, out of curiosity.
"I listened. And I tried to believe. And I let the relationship linger in sadness for a while longer," Simone says. "Like millions of other men and women, I don't always like to see what's so obviously in front of my face."
She eventually ended things, but she knew she should have before she even went out looking for that profile.
Taylor Cast had a similar experience. She took down her profile a month into dating a man she'd met on Match.com, but he didn't. When she asked him about it, he said he hadn't used it since they had started dating and that he would eventually take it down if things continued to go as well as they were. Time passed. Taylor started noticing strange messages from different women on his social media profiles. One night, she caught an incoming text thanks to iPhone's text message preview: "Hi baby, I miss you & your sexy body."
Her boyfriend gave her more answers. Friends being silly online. Obsessive exes who didn't get the picture. We've heard them all before. Taylor had, too. But she chose to believe.
"I was hoping that he wasn't going to be like my ex, hoping that he meant it when he said he cared about me," she recalls. She continues:
Sometimes we are so starved for affection we will believe anything even when the glaring truth is on our face. After that fight he then made a big deal of telling me that he had taken down his Match profile and proceeded to tell me that he loved me. I had a nagging feeling he was lying, and that I was one of a few women he was dating.
So instead of confronting him I signed back onto Match and looked at his profile. There is was flashing in front of me, ACTIVE IN THE LAST 24 HOURS. Not only had he been active one of his new pictures was a photo I had taken of him in Vegas. Irate doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. I immediately called him and asked why he had lied. He gave me some bullshit excuse about getting a message from Match about his subscription so he logged in. Let me pause right here and say, guys when you tell us this, we know you are lying. You all say this and it is the worst excuse ever.
Like Simone, Taylor eventually let him go, knowing she should have done it sooner. But Sam Sharpe at Met Another Frog doesn't think it’s so cut and dry.
"Who hasn't been there, who hasn't done something stupid and self-destructive within a relationship out of fear, insecurity or anger?" he asks. "Hell, as far as I can tell, many if not most of the conflicts that arise within a relationship are directly related to fear, insecurity and anger. Many, if not all the pathologies that lay waste to relationships can be directly traced to those things."
In his own post on the topic, he goes on:
The action isn’t the problem; it's usually emblematic of something else, perhaps something deeper plaguing them or the relationship. It's for this reason that I've always told people that I don't think your partner being unfaithful means you should end a relationship. To me, infidelity is usually a symptom, not the disease. I'm not saying you should stick around with someone who's been unfaithful. I'm saying you should investigate the reasons for the infidelity before deciding a relationship is unsalvageable, especially if you claim to love them.
Alex at The Urban Dater goes even further. Alex's girlfriend still has her Plenty of Fish account -- she says she can't be bothered to close it or check it. Alex knows and doesn't care. In fact, Alex wouldn't care even if she did check it.
"It's something I call 'trust.'" Alex explains. "My girlfriend could choke me out in my sleep, put a knife in my back or run me down with her SUV. To date she has done none of these things. She demonstrates that I can trust her every day just by being her and just by showing me she cares. I'm sorry, but some profile on a dating or hook-up site isn't going to change that."
Nikki at Women Are From Mars agrees with Alex.
"You need to look at yourself separately from your partner's behavior -- and not focus solely on their indiscretions," she says, adding: "So much of what we do in life is react to other people, and one thing we don't do enough of is reflect on our own behavior."
She recommends addressing the issues separately. Before jumping on your partner demanding an explanation, ask yourself how you happened to stumble on the profile. Were you snooping? Did you go digging? Ask yourself why.
"I see two reasons for that," Nikki says. "One, your partner has given you reason to be suspicious of them specifically or two, you are suspicious of other people you’re in relationships generally, meaning you have trust issues in general, not specific to this relationship."
For Simone, it was the first. For Taylor, it was mostly the first, with a little bit of the second.
"If this is the case for you, you already know something's wrong," Nikki goes on. "Discovering he has an active online profile is not the issue -- only evidence of bigger problems."
If it's the second, she suggests treading with caution. As Alex mentioned previously: trust is essential. And trust doesn't mean demanding all the passwords to their e-mail and social media accounts or sneaking around reading their messages and obsessing over postings on their Facebook walls.
Trust means knowing that they will not do something that would hurt you. Snooping and looking for signs of cheating and lies will eventually jeopardize a relationship, no matter how well-founded it is.
So, Nikki suggests: question yourself. Make sure you are fair in your dealings. How you came across the profile doesn't invalidate its existence, of course, but it certainly tells you something about yourself that you went looking. Being honest with yourself and analyzing the origin of your fears and insecurities is a great help in navigating the next steps to confronting a partner and making a decision about the future of your relationship.
In the end, as Jackie Summers says, "You will always find whatever it is you go looking for. Never ask questions you already know the answer to. When you know it's over, exit gracefully. Don't wait until Vesuvius covers you in two feet of molten lava and ash."
For this, you will need to keep your head on your shoulders.
The same is true if you decide to stay and work through it, as Sam suggested.
Have you ever gone looking for evidence? What did you find?
AV Flox is the editor of Sex and the 405 -- what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.
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