All this chatter about Ashley Madison has led to some interesting/infuriating/ad nauseum discussions about relationships and cheating. The defenses of public-ish figures caught in the honey trap range from a very special Mark Driscoll Real-Marriage brand of victim blaming to Shaggy’s perfectly articulated “it wasn’t me.” My favorite, and the one I’ll address here is the age-old “It was just for funsies. I looked, but I didn’t touch.” Anecdotally and sorta newsly this lame ass excuse is presumed to have legs according to what I presume is skeevy men.
Dating sites and applications were designed to facilitate romantic/sexual connections between two individuals. And, more specifically, services like Ashley Madison and Tinder were created to expedite the casual hookup process. No one is making use of those services to find friends and they sure as hell aren’t using them to look at the pretty pictures. If you are, let me introduce you to the far less obvious methods of people watching and perusing the entire rest of the Internet.
The “look, don’t touch” rule, which in and of itself is icky and objectifying, only applies in situations when your significant other checks out an attractive individual over the course of a typical day. Not when they are actively seeking out a connection with someone using a service that requires time and/or money that would be better spent on literally anything else, including your current significant other. Or, finding ways to break up with your significant other because they clearly deserve better.
My encounter with the misguided appropriation of this excuse fell more on the Ashley Madison spectrum than the Tinder. It didn’t work out so well for him as it turned out to be the final of many, many, many nails in the coffin that represented our dysfunctional relationship.
This little charmer didn’t use Ashley Madison, though. He was old fashioned (and completely broke and extra disgusting) so he turned to a classic. The Craigslist Casual Encounters feature. That’s right. He posted a series of ads on the Internet’s equivalent of a dive bar bathroom stall. Can you believe I let him go? The content of the ads covered a wide gamut of betrayal.
Some contained sob stories about how he just wanted to connect with a nice local lady who might enjoy a dip in the hot tub at my apartment complex. (I assume that was the hot tub he promised, given the fact that his mom’s basement was jacuzzi free.) Others were flat-out filthy propositions to anonymous women in cities he was visiting without me.
Once I found them (by snooping in his email because, screw him #noregrets) he ran through every single one of the Ashley Madison excuses. None of them landed, but my favorite was “nothing happened, I was just curious.”
Excuse me. Something did happen. You’ve proven that something is irrevocably broken in you. You’ve outed yourself as a complete scumbag who deserves nothing from me. You broke any shred of trust I had left and now you get to leave forever. YAY!
The details of each post somehow remain burned in my cranium despite various attempts to scrub them out with post-breakup whisky, chocolate, and rom-com marathons. Seeing those vulgar words in print seemingly made a more twisted impact than knowing he actually hooked up with my neighbor (a fact I discovered after the CraigsList shenanigans). In a certain way the tangible oh-so-descriptive evidence made it more real than the actual physical cheating.
In my mind these online betrayals may even be more unforgivable than any real-world interaction. It’s a deliberate action borne of cowardice and selfishness. When you actively participate in online dating you’ve made an effort to escape your relationship while being too much of a cur to actually end it. Or you simply believe you deserve more than your relationship and an online profile is the path of least resistance.
Offline affairs require more work and offer less discretion (until the recent hack). At times they may start much more innocuously than the calculated approach tied to these online profiles. And, most certainly, they don’t start because his gaze flitted over a passing stranger, so stop trying to pretend like that’s any form of an acceptable excuse. The only excuse weaker than that is the one you make for a man.
Title image via.