An excerpt from Karen Zeifman’s Let’s Talk About EX, Baby
Remember the original mobile phone tracking app Find My Friends, which was originally just a basic GPS safety feature that Apple provided?
It was mostly used on iPod Touch by teens to locate their friends at the mall, or parents needing to make sure their kids weren’t skipping class and driving their Acura Integras (yes, my two best friends both got one for their sweet 16) to Olive Garden for unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks like I used to do.
But sneaking off school property for food rather than drugs (I didn’t light up my first joint until after graduation!) made this whole concept of keeping tabs far less useful in those golden days of innocence than it is in today’s harsher realities. Plus, smartphones and tablets hadn’t even come out yet, so the concept of tracking and location services wasn’t much of a thing.
But that was then and this is now. And now is a hell of a lot different than then. And although today’s tracking applications have certainly saved lives (think locating those injured in a car crash who can’t call for help, or finding missing individuals who can’t reach out), both men and women today are using it for purposes it probably wasn’t originally intended for (guilty as charged!).
Like the guy who needs to dominate his power and control over his alleged property and know where she is at all times, or the person using it to create jealousy and insecurity in a relationship, as my ex-boyfriend did. Warning: If you plan on misusing this app, be prepared for it to backfire.
What started out as something I thought might bring us closer together and keep us better connected ultimately turned out to be a colossal mistake. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is one of the causes of our breakup. In the beginning, though, there was definitely something comforting about knowing each other’s location 24/7. It made us both feel more secure and possibly more committed than we actually were.
And although I didn’t think much of it when he asked to add me to his contacts so I could share my whereabouts—he was already tracking his 14-year-old daughter around town after all—I really wish I had considered the consequences before handing it over without question. I had nothing to hide at the time, though, so I quickly agreed. I was even able to pinpoint exactly where he was standing one morning when he called and asked for help after finding an injured bird on the street. Unfortunately, our feathered friend didn’t make it, which I should have seen as a sign of what was to come for us.
Let the unhealthy tracking begin
This particular relationship didn’t start out in your typical way, and the romance always felt more like an ongoing bribe or a debate he was trying to win, with me being the shiny prize. We skipped the honeymoon phase altogether and moved directly to a toxic and codependent situationship in a matter of months.
And whatever his original reasons were for wanting to track my comings and goings (maybe trust?), he started abusing the app and turning it into his own personal playground, watching my every move.
He often tricked me into thinking he was somewhere other than where he actually was, in order to make me jealous. One night he parked his car directly outside of STK, a restaurant where we often hung out, put on his blinkers, ran upstairs, ordered a soda, and sat at the bar to make it seem like he was having drinks with another woman. He was hoping I’d be checking up on him, which of course I was. His ruse got the reaction he was hoping for, and I immediately texted him saying “I thought you were staying home tonight?”
After I accused him of cheating, he eventually came clean and admitted that his intent was just to upset me; for him it seemed jealousy equalled love. “I was in and out in about seven minutes, Karen. I’m sorry. It was really immature,” he said.
Another night when he said he was having a drink with a friend, he posted a picture to his Insta Story of him and a drop-dead gorgeous blond having what looked like a drink together. I immediately saw the post and tracked him to d|Bar. When I called him out on it, he came clean and let me know that she was just the DJ sitting at the table next to him on her break. It was at this moment that I realized my boyfriend was a 65-year-old man-child who was now playing dirty in the sandbox.
On another occasion, after returning home from an out-of-town visit, I called him up and asked if we could see each other. But after complaining that I didn’t sound “enthusiastic” enough to him, he declined my invitation, saying that he was spending the night with his daughter. Feeling a little blown off, I ended up meeting a mutual guy friend of ours instead (admittedly someone he felt threatened by) in the lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel for drinks.
After tracking my location and seeing exactly where I was, he jumped out of bed, quickly got dressed, and left his sleeping child in his condo alone to drive to STK at 1:00 a.m., making sure to send me a nasty text on the way. “I hope you and Max are having fun tonight; I’m out and about too,” he messaged me. By now this sort of thing was happening quite often, and the whole keeping constant tabs on me (and vice versa) was damaging our relationship. What was cute at first was quickly becoming a very different beast.
Are you sure you want to delete this contact?
After breaking up and getting back together about a half dozen times over the course of a year, we were finally in somewhat of a healthy place where we were hanging out and having sex regularly.
And although I hadn’t given him back his “boyfriend” title just yet (he still needed to earn it), for all intents and purposes we were back together. So much so that we were about to hop on a plane for a mini vacay to South Beach. It was a final attempt at a fresh start for us, after a year of on-and-off dating. But a week before we were scheduled to leave, he let it slip that a woman he’d met at Starbucks while we were on one of our “Ross and Rachel” so-called breaks had invited him to the symphony.
I expressed my disapproval, but quickly dropped it thinking there was no way he’d actually go on the date and jeopardize our relationship. But a few days later he mentioned it again, saying he was obligated to go because she had already purchased the seats. “There’s no way you’re going out on a date with another woman while we’re together,” I scoffed. He said nothing, but I wasn’t convinced that he was going to respect my wishes (the fact that I didn’t trust him should have been a clue that the relationship was doomed). What followed was certainly not my finest hour.
On the night of the symphony he was allegedly not attending, I called the box office to do some digging. What I found out was that HE was the one who purchased the tickets, not her, having ordered them online using his own name and credit card through his personal email account (so much for privacy protection right? The box office had no problem revealing the information when I told them I was his girlfriend).
It was confirmed then—he was officially cheating on me and had lied to my face about taking another woman out. And this was five days before our scheduled vacation! Nice. Why he would risk it knowing I always had access to his location I will never understand.
Later that same evening while having a martini with my friend Jax, I made one final check to confirm that he was, without a doubt, at the concert hall enjoying the symphony. The algorithm showed that he was indeed enjoying some harmony, though it certainly wasn’t with me. Now I was officially done. Curtain closed. I immediately stopped sharing my location and deleted him and the app from my phone entirely.
And since I wasn’t about to forgo the trip to Florida that he and I had planned, I booked a revenge flight (think Eat Pray Love, but the opposite) to the same destination with one of my girlfriends instead. And although my whereabouts were now “unknown,” you can be damn sure that I went. It was far too late to repair our relationship at this point; the damage was done. What started out as a cute way for us to stay in touch through GPS had ultimately led us to a completely different place, shutting us down and ending our communication for good.
While I was done using the tracking app to monitor the location of my ex, I’m thankful it opened my eyes to the location our relationship was headed, which was clearly Nowheresville. Bye, boi.