Thursday, 17 October 2013

Dirty little fingers

Invading the privacy of one's partner is a classic mistake that so many of us make at some point in our relationship. Whether it's going through his browser in search of pornographic websites or having a quick scan through her cellphone for salacious texts from an unknown number, breaching the silent clause of confidentiality is never a good idea. Even the most secure relationship is guilty of at least thinking it, regardless of cause or reason. Once that seed of suspicion and doubt has been firmly planted into our minds, there's no telling to what lengths we will go to prove ourselves wrong or, in some instances, right. The fixation of satisfying that gut feeling by extreme measures such as hacking into an abandoned gizmo is somewhat alarming and regrettably, far greater than our ability to fess up to the real issue at hand; trust or the lack thereof.

If you have ever had your heart trampled on by some unscrupulous act of deceit and lived to tell the tale, ten to one you're probably as paranoid as I am. The recent popularisation and trending subject of online cheating doesn't really help this new-age paranoia and can often turn a little curiosity into an unhealthy obsession. The wifi generation has created even more avenues for cheating individuals to thrive, making infidelity about as accessible as Honey-Boo Boo's Youtube clips. Facebook, Linked In, AshleyMadison. There are literally thousands of digital forums that encourage you to betray your spouse without them even knowing, each one readily available at the touch of a button. With so many opportunities just a fingertip away, how do we keep our fears at bay without compromising the trust or privacy that we're all entitled to?

Some people find trust to be extremely overrated. Just ask Nancy, a call-centre administrator who keeps her fiance on a very short leash. She had always been a firm believer in full disclosure and that the key to any successful relationship was not to keep secrets from one another. She had been engaged to a well-respected gynaecologist for nearly five years and to this day insists on daily device checks. iPads, iPhones, laptops. Every night before Nancy retires, she conducts a full cavity search on all gadgets, applications and social media networks to make sure that her husband-to-be is not being unfaithful.  

I could suddenly hear Sweet Brown in my head; "ain't nobody got time for that!" The fact that he was totally fine with this mania was even more bizarre. What could have possibly brought on such an insane breach of trust and more importantly, why hadn't Nancy gone to see professional help. "It's not so much him. It's them." It's hard to take someone like Nancy seriously with such dramatic overtures. "My fiancee is an attractive, successful fanny mechanic. Who wouldn't want a piece of that? A few years ago, he had a patient that got a little bit too friendly with him. She stalked him on Facebook and medical forums and somehow got a hold of his cellphone number which is when the sexting and scandalous nudes began pouring in. When I found out, I confronted him immediately, and even though he swore that he never reciprocated, I decided to lay the law down there and then."

As mad as Nancy's methods were, I couldn't help but wonder whether it was actually better to be safe than sorry, even at the expense of our sanity. Can we really depend on blind trust, hoping that our partner is honest enough to tell us everything before the truth surfaces? Nowadays we don't only have to worry about our partner's dirty little fingers, but also the predators that make instant gratification possible. Can there be love without one hundred percent trust or are technical, consensual spot checks necessary to keep one's mind at ease? 

"There was this girl, 26, who fell in love with this guy from the South. Within a month of dating each other, she moved in with him. Of course they were the perfect couple from the outside but like most of these stories go, he had a little dark secret. She was either blissfully ignorant to the signs or he was just a master of bullshit. It started when she found a stack of porn in his wardrobe that he managed to convince belonged to his former housemate. Then there were the seven o'clock phone calls that he took in the back yard. He'd say they were "work related". She even came across facebook posts that seemed suspect but chose to ignore them because she so badly wanted to trust him." 

"Later that year, she accidentally picked up his phone only to discover that she had been the other woman all this time. It was the girlfriend who had relocated to Jo'burg and had been living there for the past year. She soon discovered that she was not the only girl he had cheated on her with. She found a number of emails that linked to an online dating site where he was clearly getting a little side action, the same dating site that they met nearly a year ago. What's even worse is that he had the audacity to create a fake profile to spy on her to make sure she wasn't cheating. Humans are fucked up. This online business makes it way too convenient for people to cheat. Do you understand why I'm so freaking paranoid?"

With so many security settings that we come across on a daily basis, it's ironic to think that the one thing we're all trying to protect is our own insecurities. Breaking through the firewall that is trust is challenging enough, especially to those who have been burnt by love before. While trust is certainly the foundation of love and any healthy relationship, it can easily be broken. The proof is in the profile, and while it can take years to unravel the mysteries and misdemeanours of an unfaithful partner, poking around when you most expect it does not seem like such a heinous crime after all.  

When it comes to privacy, just how much do we really want to know? 

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has had her very safe and seemingly secure world rocked recently by the advent of a determined ex with no scruples and a clearly flattered by the attention significant other - I can attest that no good comes from allowing one's fingers do the walking through their electronic media. My revelation came in the form of an anonymous (gotta love those) email on a birthday getaway telling me that all was not OK back in the Corral (agian, gotta love the timing ) - I needed to check his bbm's ...
    She had re-entered his life a few months back and the messages were tame and friendly - he told me about her recontacting him and he was more than open about our then 4 year strong relationship. However .. things clearly came to a head that long weekend when something turned a corner and their messages started heading from the platonic friendship to the steamy late night messages ..
    I was devestated - all that I had believed in had just had the foundation sucked away and the trust that I needed to believe in vanished in a heart beat. When confronted he admitted to the, in his eyes, harmless banter and feeling flattered - and promised to cut all ties with her ..
    She, not to be put off that easily, continued to contact him and insist that people don't often get a second chance ...
    Eventually she was deleted from all forms of contact
    My world has still not recovered and sometimes I can't help but wonder if I haven't driven them into a deeper level of furtiveness, however, in order for our relationship to survive - I need to believe and trust in him and have to admit it is the hardest thing not to continue to snoop on his electronic media.
    Having read their correspondence - the roles are clearly defined in her being the hunter and he being the flattered prey - she just didn't care who got damaged along the way. I remain convinced that the anonymous email sent to me was her upping the ante and forcing his hand - given some of the details only she, her mom and he had knowledge of.
    To the girl who checks her fiance's electronic media - what is to stop him having a skelm one on the side that she doesn't know about ? You are so very correct, no good ever comes from snooping and if you are about to embark on it, just be prepared for every thing you find out - once you lift that lid on Pandora's box - it is so very difficult to put it back on.
    For me - as I said, I need to believe in the basic tenant of our relationship - trust and integrity - and remain away from the lure of snooping ...