Self

I Used My Friend To Spy On My Ex

Photo: Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB / Shutterstock
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"She’s everything I’ve ever wanted, " he told me about his new relationship as he ended ours. “No other woman has ever come close.”

I'd like to say he didn't realize how much he was hurting me with his words and that if he had, he would have shown some empathy, but he was never that mindful of other people's feelings. He was self-centered, and everything was always about him.

I'm not sure if what we had could be labeled as a relationship — it was an almost relationship that had started on social media and would end there as well.

I was obsessed with him, and he enjoyed the attention. When we started, he’d been through a painful divorce and needed me to build his confidence. He never made me any promises of a future, and while we didn't have anything official, it still came as a shock when he ended things.

If I’d been honest with myself at the time, I would have seen that it was his lifestyle as a successful artist that I wanted — not the man. 

I convinced myself he’d be a good person to have in my life as a mentor or a collaborator, and we returned to being virtual friends, but that meant not confronting him about how he'd treated me.

We no longer texted or saw each other. I’d offered him emotional support in the past, but now that he'd found the love of his life, he didn't need to get his emotional supply from me.

RELATED: How To Find Out Everything About Your Ex Online — Without Getting Caught

A few months later, he made a social media request for a house to rent or a house swap. He and his girlfriend were looking for a place to stay in Chicago. He wanted something nice in a trendy neighborhood that he could get for cheap.

I came up with a great idea for a house swap. One of my best friends lived in Chicago, and we were due for a visit.

If we scheduled the visit right, my ex and his girlfriend could stay in her apartment in Chicago, and my friend could stay at his Beverly Hills home.

I could snoop around with my friend, staying in my ex’s house like a real-time cyberstalker. I wasn’t planning on going through his drawers, or opening locked boxes, but if something was out in the open, why not take a look at it? He’d always been so secretive, and I was sure if I solved the mystery of his life, I’d finally have closure.

I was honest about my motives with my friend — I wanted to see her, and I wanted to see what my ex's life was like with his chosen woman.

When I suggested the swap to him, he was thrilled. 

The first complication came when we found out that my friend wouldn't be staying at his house but at his girlfriend's  place.

It wouldn't be a deep dive, but I hoped I'd be able to learn something about their life together. When my friend arrived at the girlfriend's apartment, she discovered a note listing her house-swapping duties, including walking the girlfriend's elderly and incontinent dog at least three times a day, watering plants, and feeding all the pets, which included the dog, two birds, a hamster, and a cat.

RELATED: I Hired A Private Investigator To Spy On My Ex's New Girlfriend

Funny, a swap usually entails things of equal value — why did my friend need to earn her stay? I offered to help her out as much as possible.

The unexpected dog walking duties completely ruined my friend's plans as she knew she couldn't be away from the dog for too long or there would be an accident. We canceled excursions to Magic Mountain and Disneyland, and my friend's vacation became an unpaid internship.

We spent a lot of time at the girlfriend's house since the dog couldn't be left alone for long. I was surprised at how colorless the house seemed without any art on the walls or cozy touches.

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I did a light search to see if I could uncover any juicy pieces of information about my ex.

There weren't many signs of him, but he was obviously living there part-time. My suspicions were confirmed by a note to the housekeeper from him, an unmailed change of address card on the kitchen counter, and funny love notes between the two of them on the refrigerator.

The more I looked at these small pieces of their lives, the more I felt like the intruder I was. Their life wasn't any of my business, and I gave up on investigative work and finally allowed myself to grieve the loss of this almost relationship.

I was so caught up in my own inner drama I'd neglected my friend, who had sacrificed her vacation so I could find evidence of the fact that my ex not only didn't love me, but he probably never had.

RELATED: When Your Ex Moves On From The Relationship Before You

Meanwhile, at the Chicago apartment, my friend's cats disliked the visiting couple. I don't know if my ex and his GF hadn't cleaned the litter box or were too loud, but the cats pooped on the bed and peed on their suitcases.

Our phones blew up with calls and texts complaining about the cats, questions about the nearest laundries, and where the cleaning supplies were kept.

We finally managed to calm them down, and things quieted down. We didn't know that the couple had their own ideas on retribution.

My friend would come home to find that the visiting couple had left the soiled bedding on a cloth chair, ruining it forever, a sink full of dirty dishes, and worst of all, pools of old vomit on the bathroom sink and dried on the bedside table. 

My friend lived in a beautiful condo, not a fraternity house. I wondered if my ex and his GF had a reputation for trashing the places they stayed, and that's why they hadn't gotten an Airbnb in the first place.

Again, there were no apologies or explanations from my ex for his behavior. 

When my friend complained to him, he sent her a check to cover all the excessive dog-walking but not the professional cleaning crew she had to hire.

I can't say he's the only one who behaved badly here because if shame is being handed out, my hands are open wide to receive my share. I took advantage of my friend for what? What was I hoping to accomplish? Was I looking for proof that they had a dysfunctional relationship or that he was missing me?

All I found was that, like how he ended things with me, the two of them were so in love that they were oblivious to how their actions affected others. They were self-indulgent and thoughtless in their love and how they treated other people and their property.

The house-swapping incident ended my obsession but greatly strained my relationship with my friend. She’d been so generous to allow her apartment to be used, and I’d been so obsessed with finding out about my ex’s life that I didn’t stop to think about how she felt.

My friend and I were able to save our relationship, but the false friendship between my ex didn't, which is the best thing that could have happened. 

After the house swap, I knew that my ex was right; his girlfriend was the perfect woman for him. 

RELATED: What To Do When Your Ex Moves On Before You

Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango but is choosing to remain anonymous.

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