Does Their Digital Footprint Mean They’re Cheating

Question:Who keeps an active online dating profile while in a committed relationship?

Answer: Someone who was never in a committed relationship in the first place


This was a topic that came up at our recent Online Dating Profile Writing & Review Workshop and it was a theme that a series of dating bloggers wrote about recently.

Here’s my first bone with this whole skulking around the Facebook page and various online dating sites in order to check up on the person you’re dating:

Just because it says “Active in X hours/Days” doesn’t mean the user was actually active. One of the guys who attended our workshop this weekend was telling people that more than one dating website inflates their active user numbers and have employees logging in to people’s accounts just so their profile will show up as active. Therefore, you really have no idea if the person had actually recently logged on. 

I deleted my Match account months ago. But my friends or readers still send me profiles to review.  My cookies are set so that I’m never logged out of So if I click that link, guess what? I’m “active.” I’m not contacting anyone, I’m not looking through profiles for personal use. I just happen to be on the site.

I have NO DOUBT that there are people who are in exclusive relationships who cheat online. However, I don’t agree that just because someone shows up on a dating site as being active in the recent past means they were up to no good. If I were to guess, I’d say it’s at best a 50/50 chance that your partner is cheating. STILL sends me emails almost every other day telling me so and so wants to connect with me. Out of curiosity, I’ll log in. I’m not actively using the website.  It’s absolutely, totally possible to be involved with someone and be committed and still be curious.

If you do decide to monitor the online activity of someone you’re dating (hello, first sign something is up either with you or the relationship) be prepared to find out something you don’t want to know.This is why I hate, hate, HATE the whole Twitter/Facebook/Online Dating stalking idea. You’re going to find something that is going to create suspicion. Then you’re faced with having to tell the person you were monitoring that you were checking up on them. Now you’re looking a little crazy.

This works both ways, too. If you’re someone who likes to announce every thought you have on Twitter or Facebook or your blog, and you know the person you’re dating can easily find all your social media connections, expect that behavior to be used against you. Bottom line, at least for women….if you’re someone who likes to publicly vent, participate/thrive off of drama or actively seek attention online….few men with their shit together will want to engage you beyond casual sex. The ones who do engage you, more than likely, are also attention seeking drama queens. At best these men will be amused by you, but they’ll rarely take you seriously.  By being one of those people, you’re basically tattooing I NEED A LOT OF ATTENTION across your back.  Very, VERY few men are going to risk being your next victim or be used as fodder so people can “like” your status updates.

If you’re a guy who likes to use these platforms to flirt with women, listen up. While I would never tell a man what to do, if I saw that he was regularly flirting with women via Facebook or Twitter, I’d think twice about whether or not he’s ready for a real relationship and if I’ll always have to watch him to some degree. If you have a girlfriend, a boyfriend or a spouse and you frequently engage single people online, you’re suspect in my eyes. It’s a quick jump from Facebook Flirting to web camming.

Let’s say you’re not up to no good. If the person you’re dating is someone who is inclined to monitor your digital footprint, you could be in for an uphill battle. Everything you say will be put under a microscope. It starts with Facebook and soon they’re snooping in your phone and telling you they “happened” to see something questionable. Sorry, you don’t “happen” to see a text on someone’s phone, even if the phone is lying there on the table. You choose to look. This is where all the scars we accrue from past relationships rear their heads. If you’ve dated a series of players, douchebags or golddiggers, then that’s about you. No need to make every other person that comes after pay for that. Deal with your crap and don’t try to poison everyone else’s experience.

Oh..and before you check to see if they’re “cheating” make sure you’re actually exclusive. It’s odd to me that someone could be in an exclusive relationship and their  partner is so clueless that they’re letting the other people they’re dating post their cutesy, flirty banter on in their Facebook Wall. One, how stupid do they think you are? Two, how do they have so much time to be exclusive with you and courting all these other people? Before you start playing Nancy Drew, be sure you know where you stand and the relationship isn’t all in your head. Want to know where you stand? Ask them. Don’t use their online behavior as “proof.” Especially if you have a habit of dating sketchy people.

If it’s not explicitly stated that you and someone else are not seeing or sleeping with anyone else, I don’t care what label they give you or what you think is the case, you both are still free agents. Never assume you’re exclusive. Want exclusivity? Ask for it. Don’t gather ammunition to use against them and try to guilt them in to loving you.

Something else that we brought up in the workshop was that a lot of people don’t bother to delete, shut down, privatize their dating profiles or change their relationship status on Facebook. It didn’t even occur to me until a few weeks ago to make my profile invisible to searches. I just don’t think about those things. I think it’s dangerous to assume that someone should just know to do this. Some people just don’t give it much thought.

The big question that arose at the workshop was when to have The Talk. No, not that talk. The Talk where you discuss taking down your profiles. So now we’ve added yet another conversation we have to have with people we’re dating?

Have any of you had this conversation with someone you were dating? How did it go?


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20 Responses to “Does Their Digital Footprint Mean They’re Cheating”

  1. Vox Says:

    I started seeing someone in early December, and hid my profile about 6 weeks later. When I decided to hide my profile, I did so because I had no intention of going out with anyone who contacted me, so I thought there was no need in wasting anyone’s time. To this date I have no idea whether the guy I am seeing still has an active profile; in fact I have never even bothered to check nor have I asked. I hid my profile because I decided it was the right thing for me to do, not because I want him to do the same. We have never discussed this issue as I have never thought to bring it up (and it appears that he hasn’t either). Even as I type this, I don’t care if his profile is active or not.

    I do not e-stalk people ever; I know anything I see will be subject to my own interpretation based on incomplete information. I’m on facebook but do not do the cryptic message thing that people do with people they are dating, nor am I keen to muck around with my relationship status. He added me and I accepted, but I don’t do fb drama. (I like reading other people’s dramatic breakdowns though!)

  2. Trouble Says:

    I’ve been dating my guy for 3 years, and his profile is still up on and shows him as being “active.” He isn’t. He reactivated his profile when I asked him to copy it for me so I could send it to Moxie by e-mail, because I thought it was a cute ad. He’s forgotten to turn it off again, and I haven’t bugged him about it because I just don’t care.

    I personally believe that Match inflates user numbers by making it more complicated than it needs to be to hide your profile, AND by showing people as currently active when they haven’t been active in years.

    As far as visible facebook/twitter flirting, that would be a no-go for me. But, what is flirting? Is it flirting when I comment on the profile of my (now married) former boyfriend from college? Or when he comments on mine? We’re both happily in relationships, but I still enjoy him as a person. We wouldn’t have dated as long as we did if we didn’t have some things in common. One person’s flirting is another person’s friendship.

    I probably couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who was super insecure, because I do maintain those relationships. Not because I want to revisit them, but because these are people I’ve known for years and still enjoy as people.

  3. Been Here! Says:

    Does this hit close to home! Going to relay this from a gender neutral perspective. I believe both sexes can have members who are equally dicks & douche bags. I was in a relationship with a person who I thought we were exclusive, as the writer suggested ASK!

    I knew the person still had the dating profile on the site we met through. I assumed & hoped it would disappear after the 30/60 & then 90 day period, no such luck. This was red flag #1, (R/F#_). Next up were emails I would get from yahoo personals, featuring their photo & telling me when they were last active, R/F#2. Then there was a dinner on a cafe patio where she had to get up & take a phone call about 50 feet away from the table, R/F#3. The last one generated a conversation with me asking where we were in the relationship. I was assured that we were exclusive. All well & good but I was seeing something that looked, walked & quacked like a duck. At this point I did pull a page from Ronald Regan’s play book: Trust But Verify. I gave them a week or so to wind things up. I then logged into the site we met through, (as another person of course). I was crestfallen to discover that her profile was still there & had been recently accessed. This is where I got cloak & dagger. I had created a profile that was written in a manner that would appeal to them. I then sent them a very simple & brief email with a comment about their profile & “my alter ego” profile’s similarities. I also asked that they “let me know if you’re interested.” I was so sure I would get a thanks but no thanks… That is not how it all turned out. As it turned out they were very interested to know more about my alter ego & did I share! I played this to the point that I, as alter ego made an offer for a date/meet & greet on a day that we had tentative plans to do something. Mind you I also had friends sending this person drafted emails when we were together, (from my alter ego’s email account, nothing like a wing person to cover your back side). Amazingly I played it with a straight face when I was asked as I left them after an otherwise awesome weekend, “Hey, what are we doing on Thursday, are we still going to…?” I just looked at them & said, “Oh yea as long as the weather is good.” That was 7am Monday morning. I arrived at work 25 minutes later to have an email from them in alter ego’s in box apologizing that Thursday was a no-go due to plans with their children, which was true…they just left out the rest of the story.

    In the end I actually learned much about this person & dating in general. I learned that they could lie with a straight face, they did lies by omission, they were materialistic; first email alter ego had with them 1st question was, “what kind of car do you drive?” I never clued them in as to what I did, reason: why make them smarter as they went about deceit in the future. While I did stay around for a while, I never trusted them. It was a shame because I did love this person. Eventually we parted ways & there will be someone else for me.

    • Vox Says:

      Your behavior seems crazy to me…contacting her with a fake profile was bad enough, but then you had your friends do it too? Seems to me you were just looking to prove that she was the bad guy, in order to avoid facing the fact that she wasn’t really all that into you in the first place.

  4. saywhat Says:

    With me, it has happened instantly and not so instantly. One guy, (younger) I finally just came out and said what I thought about how much time we were spending and how it was confusing to me that he kept his profile up. I asked him to make sense of it for me.. :)

    I used a rhetorical approach and rather than having that conversation, he just took it down. I think how you approach the subject matters. You can either come across insecure and crazy or make them look stupid. I chose the latter.

    In light of this experience it taught me of the maturity level I needed from a man because I truly believe when two people are mature and want a serious relationship they won’t risk it and that includes leaving your mug up on a dating site for others to communicate with you. I think anyone can get a feel for a person they are dating as to where they are at in their head relationship wise and how they feel about being on that site tells a lot. Common sense would tell me if a guy tells me how much he hates those sites, yet after a month of us talking he still doesn’t remove it, then something is a little off. We all have our own timing we see fit for ourselves and it’s important to pay attention to that. To me a guy taking it off to soon could say desperate but taking it off to late could say shady. So it comes down to knowing your guy/girl, knowing what YOU want and not to get to caught up in a comfort zone.

    Dating sites pose as an advantage to the commitment phobes. It gives them more opportunity to test the waters and trigger insecurities of their victims. It allows these men and women to play a game even if they claim they are not looking “to play games”. Its a way they can test how far you can be pushed to tell if you would be the physcho, clingy type, and they actually convince themselves in the process they are doing what they should to streamlining the ‘best’ person for themselves.

  5. JustPlaneNuts Says:

    Ah, good post today. But I’m calling you out on logging into Match “out of curiosity” to see “so and so” who wants to connect with you. I get those emails too. Unless I’m looking to upgrade my man (er, if I had one), there’s no reason to log in. Just my humble opinion. As for when to have the talk, my last fella changed his FB status without consulting me to in a relationship. Suddenly his family started sending me friend requests. I was essentially pressured into being “in a relationship.” As you can guess, that didn’t last long.

  6. andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

    JustPlaneNuts :

    Ah, good post today. But I’m calling you out on logging into Match “out of curiosity” to see “so and so” who wants to connect with you.

    The whole point of those emails is to get inactive to people to log on. It’s a marketing tactic. It’s written in a way to encourage people log back in and hopefully rejoin. Even people perfectly content with their mates still flirt and look. It means nothing.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “Even people perfectly content with their mates still flirt and look. It means nothing.”

      A person who is genuinely committed to someone else would certainly think twice before logging on to a dating site because they would, at a minimum, be concerned how it would appear if someone saw them on there or their partner found out. Just as they might think twice about “flirting” or “looking.” They might simply “take a pass” on that opportunity to gossip about that really cool profile that their friend suggested they look at. Even when I’m not in a comitted relationship, I’m very conscious of my online dating activity and how it may be interpreted (I don’t log in right after a date, etc.) If you care, you can’t just pretend that “it’s all good,” if other people — inlcuding your partner — might think otherwise.

  7. dimplz Says:

    Vox :
    Your behavior seems crazy to me…contacting her with a fake profile was bad enough, but then you had your friends do it too? Seems to me you were just looking to prove that she was the bad guy, in order to avoid facing the fact that she wasn’t really all that into you in the first place.

    I wouldn’t say it’s crazy as much as a colossal waste of time. You didn’t seem to trust this person from the start, been there seems to have not trusted her from the start. Perhaps all you needed to do is go by your gut and save the drama that ensued.

    • Been Here! Says:

      I agree with you 100% that it was a waste of time & I should have followed my gut. I was in a different time & place that was 5 years ago. Older & wiser now :)!

      On a foot note they had a pet who was not well cared for & un-loved. I offered to take the pet off their hands, (most people at this point would have spit in your face). I was told that it was an expensive animal & a request of $450 was made! I declined the offer.

      • dimplz Says:

        Been Here! :
        I agree with you 100% that it was a waste of time & I should have followed my gut. I was in a different time & place that was 5 years ago. Older & wiser now !
        On a foot note they had a pet who was not well cared for & un-loved. I offered to take the pet off their hands, (most people at this point would have spit in your face). I was told that it was an expensive animal & a request of $450 was made! I declined the offer.

        At least you learned from it. Too bad about the animal.

  8. singlegirlie Says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. It is tempting to stalk, but I just don’t do it. It’s nearly the same as following someone around in your car – it’s just easier to do it on your computer while sitting on your butt at home.

    You might find some “information” but it mostly likely won’t tell the whole story, so you fill in the blanks with your own wild imagination. Or you have to ask your partner to find out, and you will look insecure.

    Much better to just step away from the monitor and enjoy your relationship.

    • D Says:

      I just had it happen to me, but he created two profiles. I got yelled at big time about the whole honesty thing and having a profile up. I really had never done it before and was curious.
      He came clean about one profile, but not the other. Last night, I was innocently trying to upload a photo of my daughter and her deceased father onto facebbok from his computer. i had his permission. I saw the picture of a guy who had messaged me on a site. It was different than the other one guy he p[retended to be.Is this even legal?
      I also found pictures of a girl we both know saved in various states of undress all over his photos.
      I wasn’t snooping they were right there where I saved the photos from a recent trip we took.
      I also finally got him to admit he was on a dating site before as well. Judging by the pics he uploaded it looked more like a porno site to me.
      I was pretty hurt, especially after all he put me through. he even went so far as to make up a fake story about how him and his buddies had found it while looking at my profile on facebook at a party all because I liked an app. on my home page.

      Not as stupid as he thought.

  9. Diablo Says:

    Does keep female profiles up even after the member cancels their membership? My girlfriend and I of 4 months met through match. Both of us did not renew our membership when the expiration came up. She tells me she’s still getting emails from match that someone is interested in her or has sent her a message. After reading this article, I went to but did not log in. I just searched on each of our usernames. Mine came up as no user found. Her complete profile came up but said it hasn’t been active in over 3 weeks. Now I don’t suspect she lied about canceling her membership at all (she told me the questions she got asked when canceling and they were the same as what I got). But does match not remove female profiles to inflate their numbers/trick guys in to thinking there are more women on the site than there actually are, and some of these profiles just don’t even really exist anymore?

    Just seems ironic that is all about helping people find relationships. And then when they do, keeps sending them messages about other members who are interested in them to get them to log back in and meet someone else.

  10. Really Rosie Says:

    When your husband’s “friend” posts on Twitter “It always amazes me when the actuality is better than the anticipation” when you happen to be out of town on business, there is no stalking involved. When this “friend’s” profile pic on FB is her and your husband, there is no stalking. Sometimes people just want to be caught.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I don’t think anything in these posts or the article would fault you for finding out something so clear cut in part through on line information. Don’t take it personally. I am sorry for your pain.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I left my profile alone when I fell in love. .. but it was still sitting there. Later on when we were having a disagreement about something else she brought up that I still had it and that I was therefore not engaged in the relationship. Like the author I just hadn’t given it much thought.

    I had had the profile online for years. After I got over a breakup (I have had about one girlfriend each year or year and and a half the last 6 years lasting between 2-3 months and 15 months) I would update it after a while and start using it, then I would meet someone and forget about it. After that discussion I deleted it, but the seeds of mistrust were planted, at least in her mind. I don’t know if mistrust is what killed the relationship in the end but it probably contributed. :-(

    It is news to me that employees, or probably computers, log into people’s accounts to make them look “active.” I wonder if she saw that going on. We did not get that specific. Anyway, it is the past, and now I completely purge my profile when I am not looking.

  12. Saj Says:

    I’d figure the taking down profiles talk would come around the same time as the exclusivity talk. Outside of verifying if someone you are interested in is not already married or in a relationship stalking online is pointless and fodder for the insecure to get themselves all worked up.

  13. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    “The big question that arose at the workshop was when to have The Talk. No, not that talk. The Talk where you discuss taking down your profiles. So now we’ve added yet another conversation we have to have with people we’re dating?”

    I vote for not having the talk. Along the lines of what Vox wrote, if you are 100% happy with the person you’re dating, and don’t want to meet other people (or have the opportunity to do so) then either take down your profile or stop logging on. You don’t need to demand that your boyfriend/girlfriend do the same as a condition. Just do it. It doesn’t need to to be some sort of discussion or bargain or a compromise. It’s not enforceable anyway. So, let them do what they want. You do what you want. If you happen to want the same thing, then you’re golden.

    Anyway, as I said, you can’t force someone to FEEL a committment. Either a person IS committed or they’re not. If they’re logging on to a dating site, it most likely means they are not committed. No matter how much you really, really wish they were. They’re not.

    As for not viewing facebook, or checking on people, I don’t worry about that at all. Like I said, if the person I’m dating is on a dating site, that’s pretty useful information that I’d want to know– not something I would blind myself too.

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