September 30, 2010

A guy catches his girlfriend/wife cheating because he installs key-logging software on the computer. In my opinion, it’s a toss-up between which is worse. A lot of people seem to think cheating is the worse. To be fair, there are situation-specific details that can tilt the balance one way or the other. But in slightly more generic terms, it boils down to a violation of trust in the relationship.

Yes, cheating is terrible. I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with me on that. There can be all sorts of reasons why your relationship isn’t working out and why people seek out additional relations. But if cheating is an option, so is getting out of the relationship. I’m sure that’s easier said than done though. There are financial considerations, especially if one person is dependent on the other’s income. There are emotional considerations, in cases where you love the other person but they’re gone all the time or are emotionally more distant. And in those situations, cheating might seem like the “better” option. Just to reiterate – so no one gets confused – I am not condoning cheating.

And on the other side, key-logging is also terrible. It’s an invasion of privacy – like reading someone else’s emails or recording their phone calls. I guess the argument can be made that few people would go through the trouble of such personal investigation without extreme suspicion. To which I would say if you can’t ask your significant other and trust her answer, the problems with your relationship go beyond possible cheating.

The biggest difference I see between key-logging and cheating is that the latter probably spurs the former. And if hard evidence is found for the cheating – well, maybe that can justify the means to obtain that proof. Or in other words, your terrible actions are just evened out because of someone else’s terrible actions. I’m not all for that reasoning. It means you’re doing something that may or may not be bad, but you won’t know until after it’s done. That should mean you shouldn’t do it!



  1. I don’t know… I feel like I would be much more willing to forgive my significant other for keylogging/spying on me, then if she cheated on me.

    For example, let’s say I’ve been married 25 years. I probably wouldn’t file for divorce just because my wife went crazy jealous one month and installed a keylogger. It’d throw up a bunch of red flags about our relationship… but it’s not nearly as big of a “that’s it, we’re done” like cheating is.

    • But I would say cheating often doesn’t lead to breaking up right away. How many cheaters use the “it’ll never happen again” line? And how many significant others want to believe that and then are paranoid because they constantly think the other is cheating? Same with key-logging. If you found out your girlfriend was spying on you once – wouldn’t you always kinda wonder if she’s doing it again (only better because you don’t know). It would drive me crazy.

      • Well, I think the difference for me is what can be done in order to fix the relationship. In the case of her spying on me, if I become more trustworthy, then there is no reason for her to spy on me again. Whereas in the case of her cheating on me, I can only trust she won’t do it again.

        I can control the former, but not the latter. Which in my mind makes it easier to fix.

        (This is all assuming, of course, that she is a normal person who doesn’t spy on people she trusts.)

      • But is either really in your control? I mean, she chooses to spy on you because she suspects you of cheating (or whatever). But you’re really not. What exactly are you going to do to become more trustworthy when you already are? If you’re worried enough to spy, I kinda feel like you wouldn’t quit until you did find something. And cheating – there’s probably a reason behind the cheating that you could fix.

      • Right. I mean if she’s spying because she’s obsessed or paranoid or whatever, then the relationship is probably over.

        But for a normal healthy person, I feel like spying is not something you just randomly decide to do on the spur. The other person must have triggered it by doing something.

        That might also be true for cheating, but definitely not always. Even if the relationship is going great, she might’ve simply just met someone she’s more attracted to. I think the uncertainty makes it harder, because how do you know she’s not blaming you just to cover it up?

        So I guess it also has to do with motivation. Someone spies because they’re worried about the relationship. Where as someone cheats because they’re selfish.

      • I guess you’re right – about the motivation. But now that you’ve pointed it out, that’s a huge factor in what bothers me. I understand doing something for selfish reasons. Again – cheating is awful, but I can comprehend why you’re doing it. I can’t explain spying on a boyfriend with anything other than being crazy/paranoid. If you’re at the point where you’re so worried that you can’t trust him to answer a straightforward question, when do you decide to trust him? Do you spy for a week, a month, a year? So it doesn’t seem selfish, but it is. Getting proof is purely something for your own peace of mind. It does nothing for the other person except possibly hurt them.

      • Yeah.. I don’t know, it doesn’t seems like a smart thing to do. You just put yourself in a lose-lose situation.

        I guess it’s more an act of desperation? I mean people have committed murder over stuff like that. It doesn’t really justify anything, but love makes people do stupid things.

  2. unlike Min, I’d say losing trust in the significant other is worse than cheating. The essence in “sharing life” with someone is complete trust of this person, with our very personal thoughts, emotions and vulnerabilities. If trust is lost, we might as well pack up and get out, and leave carnal pleasure behind. Besides, trust cannot be re-established by key-logging and finding nothing.

    • Exactly. Trust is what it comes down to – for cheating or spying. Your last sentence almost makes me think key-logging is worse. Because you’re doing something terrible without any guaranteed validation. At least when you choose to cheat, you’re most definitely getting something out of it.

    • I think you misread what I said… I agree with you. Losing trust is worst than cheating. Except that wasn’t the question.

      The question was: Which is a bigger breach of trust? Having someone cheat on you? Or having someone keylog you? And which one are you more likely to recover from?

      • Ah, yes, I did not read carefully enough. I’m still torn.

  3. I think it depends on why the key-logging is taking place. Perhaps I’m unfairly adding to the scenario, but let’s say the guy confronts the woman about cheating and she denies it – perhaps even brazenly challenges him to find proof. At that time what can he do to remedy his reasons for losing trust? Hire a PI, install tracking software, follow her, put a covert GPS unit in her car. All are breaches of trust, but how else can he put his mind to ease?

    • But that’s exactly my point in my last response to Min – when is your mind going to be at ease if you’re at the point of wanting to spy on her? What if I just have a habit of clearing my internet history every day or deleting sent emails/deleted emails every day – two things that most people don’t do and could easily be interpreted as being secretive, but could also just be some weird-ass habit you have for keeping your email space down or because you accidentally changed your default settings in your browser.

      See, I can imagine being in a situation where you would be tempted to cheat (again, it’s not a good decision to make – but I can imagine the consideration). I cannot imagine ever thinking “I need to read my boyfriend’s email” or “I need to follow my boyfriend to see what he’s doing at night” – and this is from the perspective that I live two time zones away from him and don’t know what he’s doing unless he tells me. So it seems weird to me that something that’s easily considerable in my mind is worse than something that’s not even a question.

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