A man asks Eli and Josie for help when he suspects his girlfriend is Facebook-stalking her ex.
Dear Sexes: I saw on my girlfriend’s Facebook (activity register) that she has been searching for some of her old boyfriends too many times—many times a week. She told me that it’s a mistake from Facebook, and that she didn’t look so many times, but I can’t believe that. She also told me that she was just looking sometimes, when she was bored. But I could see that she was looking during our trips together. Or if she couldn’t look during our trips, she would look as soon as we returned. What should I do? Do you think this could be Facebook’s mistake?
She Said: I know nothing about Facebook’s mistakes. I guess in the universe’s possibilities, this could be a browser caching issue. But…probably not.
The real question is this: Why does it matter?
I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t matter, because it does. But why? What hurts inside of you when you see “Bob Smith” was searched 83 times in the last week? And what makes you look at her Facebook history so fervently?
There is an alarm ringing. And it’s loud! It’s the “this relationship is in big trouble” alarm and it’s time you responded quickly and compassionately. Tell her that even if it is a Facebook mistake, that something feels strange about it to you, and that strange feeling has you doing some things you’re not proud of (unless you’re proud of stalking her Facebook history?).
Then you two need to get to the root of this. Why is she looking? What does she want to see? If she’s bored, and just looking to see what’s up, that’s normal. But she needs to be honest with herself about whether she’s unhappy in this relationship and that’s why she’s getting wistful.
Sometimes we go back and fantasize about our exes because it seems “safer” than fantasizing about a whole different person. We feel like it’s somehow less of a betrayal. I could argue that fantasies aren’t a betrayal at all, but lying about Facebook’s ghost in the machine sorta is. And snooping through the browser history sorta is.
So get down to brass tacks. Each of you list five things you really, really like about your relationship. Then each of you list five things that you’d like to improve about your relationship. Perhaps write them down.
Do not interrupt or defend while your partner is listing his/hers, just listen. Then you can discuss. But no more snooping, and no more half-truths about Facebook glitches.
He Said: There’s some mistakes being made here, but it’s not Facebook (most likely). This is a common question we have on SSHS. Not the Facebook part of things, but rather the part about one person secretly monitoring/snooping their partner’s activities.
It’s hard to say what your girlfriend’s motivations are for visiting her ex-boyfriends Facebook pages. Maybe she’s very sentimental and likes to look back at her past relationships. Perhaps she’s just curious about what her exes are up to nowadays.
Maybe she has more devious intention. There’s no way of knowing her reasonings without asking her why she does this. Is she just viewing their pages, or is she also messaging them? You said she was looking “too many times”, but that’s a relative term.
To me, the more important issues are why are you snooping, and why do you care (so much) that she’s looking at her exes pages? If you have to snoop on your partner’s activities, there are some serious trust concerns that need to be addressed.
Relationships without trust are doomed for failure. So… try and trust your girlfriend more. If that isn’t possible, be direct. Tell her you don’t trust her, and explain why you feel the way you do. Ask her how she feels about her ex-boyfriends, if it’s a big concern to you. Tell her you want to trust her, but you feel like you both need to work on building that trust. See how she responds – if the relationship is important enough to her to work through these challenges.
And then, stop snooping!!! It’s highly unlikely you’ll inspire your girlfriend to be a better partner by telling her you’ve been spying on her activities.
Do you have a question for Eli and Josie? Ask it here!
Originally appeared at She Said He Said
Photo: Flickr/John Loo