Secret online profiles? Not that simple.
And so it begins…
This is the first post from me for the Insomnia Club. So exciting!
First topic: You’ve just discovered you partner still has an online dating profile.
Initial reaction? Simple. Being the honest-sometimes-to-a-fault person that I am, the easy answer is ask them about it. Done. What else is there to say?
However. Upon further reflection, I decided this is a bit more complicated.
See, this topic came from a post by Simone Grant. After reading what she had to say, I realized there is more than just the confront-them-now-reaction.
Instead. Step away from the computer. Sit the fuck down. Take a deep breath.
And. Look at yourself.
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.
This isn’t to negate a discussion about the whole wow-you-still-have-a-profile-wtf thing. That’s still a problem (although it completely depends on how active he is on it. A lot of those things require several month commitment to reduce cost of joining. In addition, boys and girls, we’re all capable of being lazy and forgetting to delete the damn thing during those extra months).
Anyways. Before you get to the bottom of that (by having a rational discussion and avoiding pitching a fit), you need to ask yourself this question:
How did you happen upon his/her online dating profile?
Before you hey-this-is-about-him/her-not-me *scoff*, I argue this question is really damn important, and something you need to consider first.
Sure, maybe you innocently came across it (e.g. you opened up a mutual computer or one they have given you permission to use and the page was already open.) Yeah. Ok. Maaaaybe. But in all likelihood? I bet you’re not so innocent. I bet you were *gasp* snooping. Either looking for a profile specifically, or just for general evidence of shady behavior.
Why, pray tell, would you be doing that? Well, that’s easy, too. You don’t trust your partner.
Now, I see two reasons for that:
- Your partner has given you reason to be suspicious of them, specifically (i.e. you don’t have trust issues in general, it’s specific to this relationship)
- You are suspicious of other people you’re in relationships, generally (i.e. you have trust issues in general, not specific to this relationship)
Let’s tackle Reason One – You Don’t Trust Your Partner first. This was the issue for Simone in her original post: there were issues in the relationship already, yet when she asked her partner about it, he said all was fine. She didn’t believe him, and went looking for evidence to confirm her suspicions (hence the title of her post), and she found it.
If this is the case for you, you already know something’s wrong. Discovering he has an active online profile is not the issue – only evidence of bigger problems. My advice moving forward:
- Don’t get hung-up on the profile thing. It’s really effing easy to allow specifics (like the profile) to distract you. Instead of addressing what’s really wrong, we argue and fight and pitch fits about these specifics, which are only evidence of the real shit, instead of looking at the big picture. We nitpick or throw tantrums over trees, and in so doing ignore the friggin forest. Do we do it on purpose? Maybe. Maybe the forest means it’s time to get the fuck outta dodge, but we don’t want to. SO we ignore it instead. We focus on the little shit, hoping “fixing” or explaining that will mean the big shit doesn’t matter. Umm… not so much.
- Take a long, hard look at that forest: Basically, how scary is that forest? What are the underlying issues here? Can things be solved? And, more importantly, should they? Or is it time to move on? Look, more than likely, the issues are why the profile exists: e.g. fear of commitment, boredom, douchebagery… whatever. Deal with those – because, like I said, the profile is only a manifestation of them, anyway.
- Be honest with yourself: If shit is bad, decide to get the fuck out. Don’t let your long look at this relationship deteriorate into you making excuses for your partner. No rationalizing the reasons why you went looking in the first place, or what you found.
- Have a conversation about the bad shit. Yes, use the profile as evidence for underlying problems and get an answer on why he/she has it. But, again, don’t let that de-rail the conversation (e.g. waste time having them rationalize or excuse the profile, instead of talking about the real issues). You should either be telling him/her it’s over, or discussing how to fix the big things. The real issues. So he doesn’t have a profile and so you don’t feel the need to go looking for it.
The flip side is Issue Two – You Have Trust Problems. Maybe your partner hasn’t done a thing wrong that you’re aware of, but you just know they have. Maybe you just need to check their phone. And their e-mail. And their FB. Maybe you told them “openness” is the key to a trusting relationship and you require passwords/permission into their personal space (*ahem* I disagree strongly – but that’s for another time). Maybe you don’t need to that all the time, but just this once. The main thing is that you have no evidence, aside from your own inability to trust, that something is wrong.
Maybe your issues come from past relationships when you were cheated on. Maybe you are insecure and no one has ever done anything to make you that way. You know what? I don’t really care. The reasons for why you have trust issues aren’t fucking important – they’re an excuse. No matter how awful your ex was or how little self esteem you have? They don’t excuse your inability to trust someone or your ability to go into someone else’s personal space. You NEED trust in relationships – so stop using your past as an excuse why you can’t, and start working on getting over that shit.
SO. Instead of using this newly discovered online profile as an a-ha! See??? I have a reason not to trust! So there, Nikki! moment, use the fact that you went looking as a reason to check yourself and start addressing your own fucking problems.
That being said, you are correct that your issues don’t excuse an active dating profile while in a committed relationship. I’m simply saying that you need to look at yourself separately from your partner’s behavior – and not focus solely on their indiscretions. When you’ve got your own shit you need to deal with, too. Look at both.
From there, my advice to Issue One still stands, with this (gigantic) addition: YOU need to decide if it is at all possible for YOU to learn to get over your trust issues while in a relationship where you will have to build trust anew. Can you do both? To me, that sounds fucking difficult. But that’s where you’re at. And you had better be honest about it, to both your partner and yourself, because that shit is never gonna go away on its own.
The bottom line? I think having an active dating profile is rarely the big issue – it’s just evidence of something deeper. Something that is far more important that needs to be the focus. Not to say it isn’t a pretty significant problem, but don’t run around yelling at trees. Take a step back, and assess the forest.
See? Not so simple, is it?
Well. That’s my two cents – but what are other people saying? Check out their thoughts!