Sunday, July 30, 2017

Finding Friends

Have we came to a place where we need to spy on our partners to sustain our own sense of security? Has technology helped give rise to our increased insecurities and sense of distrust? 

I have seen a few videos where jealous females have hired, or been lured by, people to test their boyfriends’ loyalty-all of which was recorded on hidden camera. In one situation, a young man was in a gym and an attractive female personal trainer (who was in on the stunt) offered to help and after a while it was a bit obvious the boyfriend was aroused by the attention. The girlfriend was livid; after all, she was watching all this on camera. So, he sported an erection. BFD. At least he didn’t return the passes the trainer was making at him, though when she did offer him her phone number-for professional purposes-he did take it. In another video, the boyfriend was waiting on a street corner for his girlfriend to show up when an attractive female-also in on it-stopped and asked for directions to a place a few blocks away. She claimed she was new in the area and asked if he could take her there. He stood his ground and said no, that his girlfriend was due there any minute, and that the pretty girl had better leave before his girlfriend arrives because she has a mean temper. That girlfriend was very pleased. But, using a hidden camera team to test your boyfriend’s loyalty? Seriously? Granted, these were all twentysomethings and trust and security are qualities we need to develop. And that happens over time.

Recently, I had a conversation with two gay male friends which left me a bit overwhelmed and left my friends quite perplexed to put it mildly. I was even startled at the vehemence with which I responded. 

Both my friends had recently suffered losses of relationships-one due to a death, the other to a disastrous breakup. Both had started dating again and one couple had reached a point in their relationship where the new boyfriend suggested they use the “Find Friends” app available on iPhones.  

(This is an app that allows people of any relationship-family, friend, partner, etc.-to connect and then see where each other is through GPS.)

Friend 1 reported his boyfriend had said something like this, “I want you to know where I am. If I say I’m at such-and-such place, I want you to see that that’s where I am. I want you to know you can trust me.” (I'm thinking to myself, “Let’s start with trusting and don’t give a reason not to.”)

The other friend commented he thought that was great that they were having that conversation and that his own therapist had suggested to flee from anyone who refuses to use that app.

Something started stirring in me. It was a deep uncomfortable rumbling, not unlike the first waves building to the major jolt of a massive earthquake. And before I could stop myself, the epicenter ruptured.

“What a massive invasion of privacy!” (I believe a few expletives were also uttered but, honestly, I can’t remember.)

My friends were quick to explain that they didn’t see it like that. They used the app to let their partners know where they were. They wanted transparency.

Friend 2 continued, “I want my partner to be able to see when I am leaving work.”

“Why not just call him and tell him? A voice call is much more endearing and shows more effort in the relationship than simply relying on him to check in on you,” I countered. 

“There’s terrible reception with my carrier where I live.”

“Okay, a text then.”

“This just seems to work for us.”

“Well, I just don’t like it for me,” I said. "What if I decided to make an unscheduled stop at the mall to buy Potential Future Boyfriend a surprise gift? He checks in on me, questions me when I get home and the surprise is spoiled.” I was not comfortable with this idea at all. 

And, I know myself. I’d use the app to find out where Potential Future Boyfriend was and if I discovered he wasn’t where he said he’d be, questions would arise; they’d percolate, ruminate and stew in my mind, and his fidelity would be questioned-especially if he were in a gay place. And even if he were faithful, my self-esteem would be shaky. “He said he was going here, but he went there instead, he wasn’t telling me the truth, therefore I’m not good enough.” And I’m out of there. Or, at least the seeds of doubt have now been sown. Yes, I am a tad insecure. Especially in the beginning.

Plus, I respect myself. I am responsible; I am dependable, trustworthy and loyal. (I sound like either a Boy Scout or a Great Dane!) But, if someone can’t trust me enough to take me at my word then that person doesn’t deserve me. If trust is part of his baggage, I will help him unpack it, but in a more traditional, conventional, less invasive manner.

I understand trust is a huge issue in relationships and maybe more so in the LGBTQ community, but spying is not the way to build it. At least not in my book. And it needs to be built over time. Using this app from the very beginning is like handing someone a ready built escape hatch. One slip up and it’s over. It is tantamount to going through a person’s belongings looking for evidence of infidelity, which we sometimes find when it really isn't there.

And I see too many holes in the plan. The plan works only if the phone is with the person and turned on. I’ve gone off for a quick run to the store, leaving my phone at home. And once or twice I'd accidentally forgotten it when I was running a bit late to work. My phone is at home, but I'm not. Oops. (But, there’s an easy fix for this flaw. Simply implant a tracking device into each potential partner and voila! Problem solved!)

Let’s say your partner works from home. They send you off to work with a kiss, and tell you to have a nice day. They know how long of a day you work. Possibilities for rendezvous are endless.  But, wait, you're at work, and the app says they're at home alone. Or are they? (Here's a fix: install security cameras. Aren't there apps to connect a phone to a camera?)

And then there’s the self-saboteurs. Those who sabotage relationships because they want to end it, but don't have the courage themselves to do so. They leave breadcrumbs for you to follow, like Hansel and Gretel. "Here catch me cheating, so you will break up with me, so I don't have to do it."

I think what bothered me the most was that a licensed therapist was suggesting to base the potential of a  possible relationship on whether or not a particular partner would agree to use a Big Brother type of app. What happened to the idea of building a foundation of trust? “If he won’t use this app, he must have something to hide. Run! Run like the wind!” For me, it would be like starting off a relationship where I'm already considered guilty of a crime which was built on potentially circumstantial evidence that may never even exist and I may never commit. And this from a therapist? This adds an extra level of work to an already difficult relationship. Who needs that extra shit?

To be fair, I do see some value in the app:
  1. Parents can keep track of their children, or perhaps of an aging relative who has medical needs;
  2. Or, in the case of an emergency, like a real earthquake, tornado or nuclear attack, you can quickly track down family members.
I’ve come to believe that technology has taught us to distrust our own feelings, to avoid open and honest face-to-face communication, and to nearly detach from society at large as more and more people hide behind keyboards. Couples connect, and then break up via technology. My own ex-husband emailed me that he wanted a divorce while we were both in the house at the time. Technology made it easier for him to tell me, rather than talking to me face to face. 

I will concede that some people can handle this app. I obviously can’t. I value my integrity and my moments of privacy far too much.

For me, this app is an invasion of both.

Einstein apparently didn't say this, but the picture says a lot. 

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