Have you ever been with someone you didn’t trust? A boyfriend or girlfriend. A brother or sister. A friend or teammate. Have you ever just wanted to look through their phone or read their emails because you had a feeling they were hiding something? Odds are, you have. And odds are even better than you found something that justified your insecurities.
People are funny. Some of us are intelligent or street smart, and some of us have trouble learning and aren’t good with details – but the one thing that almost all of us universally have is a fairly good intuition. Over the years, we have subconsciously honed this skill of perception. It is our gut-feeling, and is a tiny warning to keep us from from being fooled or lied to which we interpret as potential danger.
Usually our instincts are right. If we feel someone is lying to us or cheating on us or not telling us the full truth, we are correct. It is an instinct we rely on every single day and over the decades, we have gotten pretty good at discerning potential threats.
Now, have you ever caught someone lying or cheating on you by going through their texts or emails? Unfortunately, some of you have. And it was a sinking feeling. That unique feeling of wanting to vomit, burst into tears, and punch holes in the wall. And you confronted that person and showed them the evidence and what did they do? What was their response? Well, if you’re like most people in the world you were met with something to the effect of, “WHY WERE YOU LOOKING THROUGH MY PHONE!?”
Now, let’s take a step back for a minute. Sure, you violated someone’s privacy and yeah, that’s pretty shitty. But let’s be real here, we all know on the shitty scale, it’s a far cry from someone bold-face lying to you or banging another person. But you did it because you knew if you asked them outright if they were lying to you that they wouldn’t admit it – at least without proof because rare is the person who voluntarily gives themselves up. Most people in this world will hold on to the lie until it’s forced from their hands. Which brings us to “gaslighting.”
Are you familiar with this term? Well, if not, basically it is a tactic people use to make you believe that what you saw/felt/experienced wasn’t true/real/valid. Kind of a sociopathic jedi mind trick. So when you find evidence of cheating or lying on someone’s phone or in their emails, the accused with do everything within their power to get out of the situation and immediately focusing on the issue of you “violating their privacy” suddenly becomes the focus. It is a subtle form of gaslighting.
But how many of you stayed with that person despite the glaringly obvious. Your gut, your instinct, SCREAMED they were lying. That you couldn’t trust them. You saw the evidence but he said, “No, it’s not what it looks like.” And I can tell you, as a guy who has done plenty of shitty things in his life – it’s almost always what it looks like.
And yet despite the evidence, you maintained this veil of trust and put on a happy face and hugged and made up and ordered pizza and went on about your relationship as if it never happened. You told yourself to just forget it. It was in the past. But late at night, you couldn’t help thinking about it. Lying in bed, the events just didn’t add up. They didn’t make sense. “I mean, he said he was here and he told me to my face with such conviction… but the texts and pictures say otherwise.” And you go to bed and wake up in the morning and go about your day doing your best to hide those memories deep in the back of your brain… because you chose to believe the lie.
We have all done this at some point in our lives. Where the truth we know is different from the story we believe. That sharp sting we feel in bed at night is our stupidity. Our desperate faith in love attempting to overthrow our intuition. The idea that someone has abused our already fragile heart by being unfaithful is more than most of us can bear. And we can’t, we just can’t believe that someone who kisses our forehead at night and makes us dinner and looks deeply into our eyes and says, “You’re so fucking amazing,” could be lying.
But here’s the secret – the best liars and cheaters don’t look like liars and cheaters. They don’t act like liars and cheaters. Because the best liars and cheaters have turned lying and cheating into an art form. And their subconscious is attracted to your subconscious because they know that, if caught, someone like you will want to believe the lie and stay by their side. They seek you out. They prey on your generosity and your wide-eyed idealism. They take advantage of your belief in romance novels. They watch for the subtle clues to see if you are willing to believe in love so hard that you would ignore your instincts if you thought you could have even a moment of a John Green novel.
So what do we do? Well first, don’t go through people’s stuff. If someone is going to cheat on you, they’re going to do it whether you lurk on not. Good liars and cheaters learn to cover their tracks and delete evidence and not tell a soul. Not finding incriminating evidence will only give you a false sense of security. Listen to your instincts and ask questions until you are fully satisfied. If someone gets upset and storms out of a room because you are asking simple and level-headed questions, they are hiding something. Ask to meet friends and be a part of their lives. Learn who they surround themselves with. Who a person chooses to surround themselves with is a direct reflection of who they are. But most importantly, learn to communicate. People who feel loved and cared for and listened to are far less likely to be dishonest. And if you just never feel comfortable in a relationship – leave. Because how awful would it be if you just gave up and got comfortable in the feeling of never feeling secure. Life is too goddamn short to be spent with dishonest people who aren’t excited to fully embrace your awesomeness.