I've always been a proponent of trust in relationships — I don't understand why you would date someone if you thought they were going to cheat on you. That's why I write articles like If Your Partner Loves You, They'll Let You Travel.
Maybe I fell victim to the false consensus effect, but I assumed most people would agree.
Until I started RVing full-time.
That's my rig — isn't she a beauty? See also:I'd Rather DIE Than Live In a Van.
As an RVer, I plan my life around surfing and mountain biking — but I've had the amazing privilege of meeting up with male and female friends all along the way. It's infused a ton of meaning into my journey...
But it's also made me wonder why so many couples feel the need to supervise each other.
I haven't been keeping official numbers, but I'd say at least half of the dudes I've reached out to — including dudes I haven't spoken to in over ten years, including dudes with whom I have no romantic history — respond instantly by saying, HOLD ON HOLD ON HOLD ON HOLD ON!!!!! I NEED TO ADD MY WIFE/GIRLFRIEND TO THE THREAD RIGHT AWAY!!!!!
I try not to judge. For all I know, the girlfriend recently caught him cheating, and forgiveness was contingent on supervision.
But after a recent bizarre-o experience with a buddy's wife (the three of us had been texting; they'd invited me to "boondock" in their driveway for five days; I backed into their driveway; the moment the wife saw me, she stormed off into the house and didn't utter a single word to me the whole trip — though at night, I could hear her screaming at him for hours on end from my RV and she accidentally sent me some abusive messages that were meant for him), I started wondering whether and when this kind of weird supervision is healthy, and when it's a symptom of abuse or other dysfunction.
(See also: Your Significant Other is NOT Your Emotional Slave and There is a difference between helping a depressed friend and enabling an abuser.)
I also asked myself, have my attitudes and behaviors been consistent on this front?
The answer is yes. I've been lucky to date guys who trust me enough to "let" me travel alone several months a year, then join me for a week or two when they could. I've never been with someone who didn't "allow" me to spend time alone with my guy friends.
AND. I've trusted the guys I've dated so much, it never even occurred to me to demnd they add me to text threads. Upon reflection, I realized I had a boyfriend for years who would go on whitewater kayaking trips without me.
I never even asked if there would be a chaperone in the car while he and another woman drove for hours together along scenic roads into the mountains.
Upon further reflection, I realized I also never asked about sleeping arrangements. Did they share a tent? Did they sleep in different tents?
I don't know.
I don't even care.
Because I trusted my boyfriend enough to know that even if they did share a tent, he wasn't going to do anything inappropriate.
I wouldn't be dating him, otherwise!
I've thought long and hard about any possible rationalization for couples supervising each other, and I've come up empty-handed.
But you want to hear something even crazier?
Yesterday, I was talking with my guy friend on the phone. Technology came up, and I mentioned a walk I'd taken with an aunt in Texas. Though we were the only two people out walking that afternoon, she kept dropping her voice to a whisper, as though someone might overhear.
Eventually, I was like, "Why are you whispering?"
"Because everyone in this neighborhood has a Ring, and they use them to listen to people's conversations. It's caused a lot of drama."
ARE YOU JOKING?
But my buddy responded to this story, "That's nothing. I had a guy working for me. He got married about six months ago, and the marriage has already been annulled. I saw it coming his first day back after the wedding. You want to know how?
"They had a Ring — every time his wife left the house, he'd whip out his phone to see what she was doing, then make comments or ask questions.
"'I don't like that outfit.'
"'Where are you going?'
"'Who was that in the passenger seat?'
"I was just like, how can this woman NOT be screaming for freedom?"
The story continued, "One time, I made a joke to him: 'I'm surprised you don't have a tracking device on her car.'
"But the guy was like, 'I don't need one. She has Safety360 on her phone.'"
That is a level of supervision that was previously beyond my ability to imagine.
I don't like to write blog posts unless I've got some kind of actionable takeaway... but I'm not sure I have anything more to say on this topic. Maybe just a question.
Couples who supervise: if you trust each other, why do you do it?
If you don't trust each other, why are you still together?
Curious minds (at least two of them) want to know.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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