This morning, I was reading this article on Cracked.com. I'm a pretty big fan of Cracked; it generally has amusing, well-written articles that can be surprisingly informative. I can't say that this article was particularly informative, but it did get me thinking.
About a year ago, I was in Italy and had a large amount of spare time. I was also making next to no money. Unfortunately for me, my Italian was nowhere near good enough to get an actual additional job in town, so I looked online to see if I couldn't find a way to make a little extra cash.
As it happens, I did. I started writing articles for some man's online column. I guess the idea here was that I would write them so he wouldn't have to, and I would get paid a flat rate per article. I'm sure he made a large amount more from advertising and things of that nature, but it was actual money, paid via PayPal, so I didn't feel like being overly picky.
The articles that I wrote were generally relationship-themed. Most of the subjects were iffy, borderline to completely unethical. For example, one article was about the various softwares a person can use to determine whether a spouse or significant other is being unfaithful.
Now, there are plenty of software options to find out if your spouse or lover is cheating. That's not the issue. The issue is that pretty much everything these sorts of software can do is completely illegal and extremely unethical. Accessing online bank records without authorization? Illegal. Accessing e-mail without permission? Illegal. Viewing downloaded files and things of that nature may not be illegal (although it might be, I don't actually know), but it's still extremely sketchy. Also, I feel like if a person is so paranoid about a cheating lover that he or she is willing to purchase expensive software to watch their computer activity, there is probably something wrong with the relationship. The solution may in fact be for these people to look inward and ask themselves "Am I completely insane?" rather than hacking into their significant others bank records.
I always tried to put a disclaimer somewhere within my articles, something to the effect of "Some of these things constitutes fraud and identity theft. Don't do it unless finding out whether your spouse is faithful is worth legal trouble." It made me feel a little better, although I somewhat suspected that the guy I was writing for didn't really like that I did that. So, after a while, I stopped writing for him and felt significantly better about myself.
I would also like to point out a couple of things: If you are honestly concerned that your spouse is cheating, there is a serious problem in your relationship, even if it isn't infidelity. Secondly, spying on your spouse or significant other will pretty much guarantee the end of your relationship if s/he finds out. I had to write articles discussing the pros and cons of hiring a private investigator. Do not send a private investigator after your significant other if you want your relationship to a) last and b) not be based on lies. Feeling deceived does not justify deception on your part.
For some reason, almost none of the articles I was asked to write were positive. They were all "How to Find Out if My Spouse is Cheating" or "Seven Signs that My Marriage is Ending." Which, I would like to state for the record, I am in no way qualified to write. I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a councilor. At that point, I wasn't even married. When my parents separated, I was like eleven and had no idea what was happening. There is nothing in my background or personal history that would make me remotely qualified to give any kind of advice on that front. If it had been something like "Dating In College," I probably could have done that and not based all of my information on stuff that I found on About.com. It wasn't. It seemed like all of the articles I wrote were targeted at rich, old, vindictive people in crappy relationships who didn't have any friends to ask for advice.
I feel like most normal, well-adjusted people, when questioning a significant other's faithfulness, would probably just discuss it with some friends and keep their eyes open for foreign underwear. Or they could, I don't know, talk about it with their significant other. I feel like it's much more likely to get to the root of a relationship problem by talking about it with all parties involved than by hacking their computers and hiring a man in a trench coat to follow them around. I don't know. Again, I'm not a trained relationship councilor. But that's what common sense says.