I spent hours (OK, minutes) this morning digging through my e-crates in order to share this cautionary tale with ya'll. Hotmail, you guys. I searched all up and through eight-year-old email messages to find the one I sent to 50 strangers with the subject line, "I Don't Know What This Mofo Is Telling You." Anyway I still couldn't find what I was looking for, which is funny because this is a story about looking for trouble and finding it.
The year was 2004 and I was in crazy, stupid love with a military man let's call Lieutenant Dan. He had a sly smile, two crooked front teeth and the morals to match. Lt. Dan wanted to go steady almost immediately. I took that as a sign of his commitment and not as his peculiar penchant for collecting girlfriends, a full-time hobby he could've turned into a career.
We lived about an hour apart on the Metro North. The trouble started when he stopped answering text messages for entire weekends at a time.
"I was busy doing stuff," he'd explain.
Then there were the calls he'd take in the other room, with the door shut. "Oh, my mom says hi," he'd say. Did I mention I was 24?
I got suspicious when, during a week-long road trip back to his hometown on the west coast, I received all of two rushed and after-midnight phone calls. He had an "ex-girlfriend" named Sparkaleena (not her real name but sadly very very close) who I'd created a faux BlackPlanet.com account to stalk and chat with online. Did I mention I was in crazy, stupid love?
During one illuminating chat Sparkaleena told her new BlackPlanet friend (me posing as a member of fraternity she was familiar with) that she'd been traveling the country with her boyfriend Lt. Dan and "visiting family." His family. I died.
We broke up, of course. And then got back together, of course. This time, like the Daily Mail's Samantha Brick I decided that snooping was for our own good. Lt. Dan was just the victim of an ex-girlfriend who wouldn't let go. He was just too nice to tell her, I reasoned. So then it was my job to be the watchdog of our relationship -- sniffing out the bad guys and barking like a maniac until they skulked back into the night.
In a recent column, "I snoop on my man's emails because I don't trust other women," Brick, who unabashedly admits to checking her husband's voicemails, emails and texts, explains:
While you might be appalled, let me say I'd never consider my actions as spying or the desperate efforts of a paranoid wife. In fact, I consider it to be protecting my marriage.
It’s not that I don’t trust my husband, Pascal — I do. I just don’t trust other women.
I felt the exact same way. Nearly a decade ago. Thankfully the offending significant other soon availed me of that super-heroine role. Because, of course, there were more women and more women and more women. Could it be that my man was just that desirable? That horny zombie throngs of women couldn't help but feed their hunger so that when he said, "Stop I have a girlfriend," they just kept pawing at his pants?
Or maybe he never mentioned me?
After doing a routine sweep of his email inbox, the password for which I gleaned with the quickest of guesses, I found an e-receipt for 1-800-Flowers.com. When I called (exactly) the customer service rep read off the message, "Hope this makes you feel better, babe" before thinking to ask my name. No, I didn't get those flowers.
After spending more than year searching for clues, I finally got the hint. Snooping wasn't strengthening our relationship. It was destroying my self-esteem. Every time I found something suspicious and waved it under his nose, I felt like a harpie and not a real live girl with feelings and a heart that was continually getting broken.
I told my friends I was fighting for our relationship. A good one had the guts to ask, "What relationship?"
My last immature act of rebellion was to send a mass email to every address that seemed to even remotely belong to someone with a vagina in Lt. Dan's contacts list. In the body of the email, I copy and pasted all the love letters and AOL chats he ever wrote me.
"You can do whatever you want with this, but I'm done," I signed off. That's the email I was trying to find for you guys, but thankfully its been lost forever.
Since then, I couldn't imagine taking the time out of a busy day of fooling around on the Internet to cast "a beady eye" over my boyfriend's texts and emails, as writer Samantha Brick does with her hubby's inboxes every morning.
"I scrutinise his inbox for female names," she writes. I have the time, but definitely not the energy.
Shouldn't "openness and transparency," the key to a successful relationship according to Brick, lead directly to trust, which the dictionary defines as "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something"?
To constantly be on red alert that women are gunning for your man just seems tiring. And to belittle men as being clueless about "how pitifully easily they can be trapped by unscrupulous women hell bent on hooking any chap they fancy" is just sort of sad. Who wants a dude who's too stupid (or too smart) to figure out when he's being macked all up on?
Maybe I'm just lazy. Maybe I should shadow my man with a bat. Better to scare away all those bitches in heat ready to hump him till next Tuesday with. Or better yet, maybe he'll pat them on the head and head home to me.