There is no better private investigator than a woman with Internet access and a curiosity. I can let you know if your boyfriend is cheating, find the girl he dated in college, and figure out every picture your love interest has liked on Facebook in the past fortnight. Serious q: is the CIA hiring?
I do all sorts of online stalking. My typical daily activities as a single woman include:
- Lurking my crush’s Facebook
- Creeping his Instagram
- Memorizing his Twitter feed
- Creating a relationship with him in my head
What I’m trying to say is I consider online stalking to be my full time day job, and sometimes I may accidentally, unintentionally, woopsie-daisily bring these behaviors into my relationships.
It paid off though, when dating my ex-boyfriend, who for the sake of this article I will call Demetrius (because why not?).
A psychic once told me I needed to be more aware of red flags in my dealings with men. Maybe she was talking about the time Demetrius told me there wasn’t a title that could define his love for me. Or maybe she was referring to the mysterious way his phone seemed to die on nights we’d spend apart.
Any way you looked at it, Demetrius was bad. He introduced me to his friends as “baby girl” instead of his girlfriend. He was a blackout drinker. He was constantly receiving texts from other women who he alleged were “just his friends,” even though they were all at midnight asking him to come over.
I always knew Demetrius was up to no good, but questions only got me long-winded answers and bizarre excuses. Eventually I chose to look the other way, for reasons that could make up another article in and of itself -- like low self-esteem and abandonment issues -- to name a few.
Until one day I finally woke up certain everything had finally changed for the better.
"Do you know what day it is today?" he asked.
Yes, I did. It was my birthday. To be quite honest, I was going to be really surprised if he had remembered.
Demetrius pulled out a collection of brightly colored balloons from behind his back and told me in his very best Oprah voice that:
"WE’RE TAKING A SURPRISE TRIP TO DISNEYLAND!"
I couldn’t be more excited -- or shocked. We NEVER did things like this. It was completely out of character for him (his version of romance was dining in at McDonalds). Something was up. What did he feel guilty for?
Then he threw another curveball my way:
"Alison, babe, I’m going to go get you breakfast in bed."
And so, the love of my life, because we all love the men who are the worst for us, went to my favorite Mexican restaurant to get me Huevos Rancheros.
As I waited patiently for my meal, excited to finally be treated like a Queen on my birthday, I decided to hop on the computer to check out normal things like the weather and which rides might be closed at Disneyland that day.
As I turned on the computer (a PC desktop, red flag one), I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t explain it as anything other than women’s intuition, but something inside me told me to snoop.
That’s when I saw a folder on his desktop marked “Private.” He might as well be asking for it.
I double clicked.
There was a single video inside.
I clicked again.
And then I was subjected to a one-hour porn of my boyfriend having sex with another girl.
I watched the entire thing. Three times.
The first time I watched, I fast-forwarded through. Was this an old video with an ex-girlfriend or a weird, experimental one-night stand?
Well, reader, no, it wasn’t. Demetrius had only moved into his apartment a few months prior, and there he was. Having doggy style sex with a girl who wasn’t me in his bed, on camera. The apartment-warming present I had given him, a Tupac Poster, hung in the background.
I watched it a second time to see who the girl was. Was it that bartender he was always flirting with? That weird girl he always claimed was “just like one of the guys?” I’d watch and pause, watch and pause, putting my face a few centimeters away from the computer screen to examine his homemade video. I watched his hands caress this stranger’s body, pull her mess of brown hair, watched them as they rolled around the bed I slept in almost every night.
It was the young, flirty coworker he was always texting with, a skinny brunette, the Veronica to my Betty.
I then watched the video a third time for details. Was the sex romantic? Was it passionate? Was it clumsy, like two people discovering one another for the first time? Had this happened before? What positions were they in? Did they have chemistry? Did he touch her like he touched me? Did she look good naked? Did he use protection?
Since when did HE shave?!
When I heard the door open, I turned off the computer and leapt into bed, pretending nothing had happened. I felt physically ill, comatose, unable to process what I had just seen so I pretended I had seen nothing at all. I knew what I had to do. I just wasn’t able to do it yet.
I still went to Disneyland that day, because I really love Disneyland and no one in their right mind should turn down a free trip to the happiest place on earth. But I ordered rounds of churros like shots at a bar, and made Demetrius buy me three different Buzz Lightyear sweatshirts, a princess hat, and a collectible pin, even though Alison was spelled with two L’s.
I slept our entire ride home, and broke up with him when we got back to his apartment. His response: he had made a mistake and didn’t realize his Skype camera was on and recording. Men, AMIRITE?
I’m not going to lie, that breakup was emotionally damaging. I slipped in to a deep depression. I lost 15lbs. For months, I couldn’t close my eyes without replaying the footage of my ex having sex -- fun, wild, exciting sex -- with another woman. Throughout the day I’d have blinding flashbacks of his fingers running through her hair that would stop me in my tracks. I couldn’t sleep, I developed insomnia, and I certainly lost faith in both men and in relationships. It has taken a solid two years of introspection to feel ready for an honest and healthy relationship that can be built on a foundation of trust, respect, and friendship. One where I won’t snoop. One where I wont have to.
Was this all my payback for snooping? Maybe. But I had a hunch that something was up, and when I investigated, I was right. So ladies, and gentlemen, trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. There’s no need to wait several years driving yourself crazy to find out for sure. Snooping might find you the answers you’re looking for, but it also lowers your self-worth, self-respect, and makes you the crazy person and the bad guy.
So don’t wait for a psychic to tell you to be aware of red flags. And don’t wait until you find a sex tape to break up with your cheating boyfriend. We have instincts for a reason.