Last week I had the chance to read a question a woman had posed to Dr. Sherry on Essence.com. In it, the woman tells her story about being the pregnant girlfriend of a man she caught looking up his ex on Facebook. The woman, who is six months pregnant and had only been dating the man for a year, was questioning whether or not she should be worried about their relationship because they are clearly trying to start a family and take things to the next level. He told her that he was with her so she need not worry, but of course, that’s not a comforting statement post-shady behavior. When I read her story, I was too ready to check out Dr. Sherry’s response, but her advice in turn was far from what I had expected. Here’s a quick snippet:
“If you seek, you shall find. What were you looking for, and why? Regardless of what the answer is, if you look hard enough you will find it. The fact that you “snooped” suggests that you did not trust him from the start and may have been looking for a reason. Now that you have found out that he was looking up his ex, what are you going to do? He could have some unresolved issues with his ex, but the reality is, he is with you. He stated that he was only looking at pictures of his ex and you acknowledged that there were no personal messages exchanged. So, why are you really upset? Just because you are in a relationship that does not mean that you cannot look at pictures of old friends. This sounds like it is more about your insecurities than his issues. It is likely that your pregnancy and hormones are also attributing to some of these feelings and paranoia…”
She had a point, but I didn’t necessarily agree with Dr. Sherry. As someone who has been in a situation similar to this woman (sans the pregnancy and purposely looking all up and through his Facebook history), I was expecting a different response from her. I didn’t think she was going to be on homegirl’s side gung-ho, but I definitely didn’t think that she would automatically say that the Facebook activity was innocent, that she was overreacting probably because she was pregnant, and that she went looking for trouble, so she found it in turn. Ouch.
I help with social media for work, and while working from my boyfriend’s place on his computer last year, I typed in the letter ‘F’ for Facebook and the name of his ex-girlfriend popped up as someone’s page he had been on. I could have freaked out on him, but I didn’t. I was a little disappointed, but I tried to have that “you can look at pictures of ‘old friends'” stance like Dr. Sherry, because when the name of an ex shows up in my news feed, I don’t shield my eyes (but then again, I don’t go looking them up either). So I didn’t say anything. However, this same scenario happened again a while later during a work from home shift (or, work from his home shift) and I was done trying to be understanding. I wasn’t seeking, but I damn sure found some stuff I wasn’t happy about and it was time for us both to keep it real. There was nothing wrong with him wondering about her, but after making it clear that it was something that hurt my feelings, he stated that he wouldn’t do it again. We proceeded forth with our relationship and we both apologized for our actions. Now, I can only trust that he’s telling the truth and hasn’t looked homegirl up again.
Look, I understand that we as women shouldn’t snoop and trifle through our partner’s things looking for dirt. But I also feel that when your intuition tells you something is going on and your man looks you in the eye and lies when you ask if everything is okay, if you look and you find something, you might be wrong, but clearly he is too. This concept of “seek and ye shall find” and acting as though a woman creates a cheating or shady man by being nosy is backwards as hell. As a woman on the advice column stated in the comment section, those are two different problems in a relationship, not cause and effect. I do also understand that some people do sabotage their relationships because of past cheating men, but some people just get a feeling that they pursue. They see a behavior that’s very different. They notice a freakish attachment to a phone and they get a feeling that things aren’t all good and lies are being told. They look at an open email, at an exposed phone or at a Facebook account and find that somebody’s been doing something they shouldn’t be. Their intuition was right, but they’re all wrong. If you look and don’t find anything, you’re wrong for your actions. If you look and find something, now you’re both wrong. But that snooping person didn’t create the infidelity, so can we stop saying that by looking you make it appear out of thin air?
Once caught, a man or woman has the right to be angry about folks digging through their stuff, but there is clearly another problem, because YOU’RE CHEATING. And before they were looking in your business, you were doing things you knew were bad because you didn’t speak honestly to them about it before getting caught. This doesn’t make one person less wrong than the other, but can we please stop acting like these things go hand in hand? A woman can be nosy, a man can be a cheater, but being nosy didn’t start that man’s bad behavior. He’s grown and knew what he was doing when he participated in unsavory or sneaky stuff. It was alive and thriving before the man got caught. When all of this has been brought to light, both parties can either decide to move on, or they decide to work through trust issues from both sides and stay together, knowing that they both have to do better. But let’s us all please keep it real and take responsibility for our bad behavior once and for all so we can stop acting like one form of shady behavior breeds another. It doesn’t.