How Can I Know If My Partner Is Interacting With Webcam Girls?

I usually dislike getting involved in other people’s affairs, especially when it comes to their consumption of online adult content. As long as your hobbies aren’t illegal, super creepy, or otherwise harm other people, you can do whatever you want.

Now that I’ve said that, Lifehacker reader Cass wrote me the following question for Tech 911 :

My husband says he has never been to Chaturbate, but it’s always his story and he blames the pornhub ads for it. So today I clicked on his open tabs on chrome and it was chaturbate and there was a girl on the screen masturbating. Does he have to log in with a profile to see this, or is it visible in the ad? Is there a way to find out which sites he has profiles on, even if he uses fictitious names and email addresses?

You probably don’t need to spy much

Of course, it’s possible that Chaturbate has popped up as a separate tab, but it’s unlikely. I go through all sorts of weird shit on the net and I really don’t get new tabs full of pornography – unless I clicked on a link that mistakenly leads me to this site. So of course it is possible. And perhaps you are viewing the Chaturbate ad instead of the main Chaturbate site itself, or one of the live feeds it contains.

You don’t need a profile to watch porn online, and you don’t need a profile to watch people do something on Chaturbate. So this logic is missing. However, you need to register with the site in order to interact with web users, so this is probably where your concerns arise.

I suppose you could look at your husband’s email or credit card statements to see if he’s signed up for the site (or any other). You can also view his browser history; this will be obvious when he spends more than 20 minutes over the course of a few days browsing everything he can find on Chaturbate, although that doesn’t necessarily tell you if he has an account on the site or not.

You should easily see if he’s logged into the site if and when you visit the site yourself in his main browser. You can then look at his history (I suppose) to see if he is paying for the service – and, as part of that, probably roll over models or request more private interactions. If he’s smart in his habits and logs out every time, chances are good that his username and password are being saved in his browser.

It is the same with other sites that he may visit. Browser history triplets, email receipts, and credit card statements should be enough to get answers. Otherwise, the place where he stores his username and passwords could be a gold mine for capturing his traces of digital life. If you only know one or a few logins for some sites, you can also try using them on any other sites you find in his search history to see if he has active accounts. Unfortunately, most people are lazy to use unique logins for different sites.

In doing so, he could hide his activities using a secret email address, which he only gains access through a specific service or browser, and not through his main browser or email service. Or, if he’s okay, he can just remember the alternate login details for clandestine stuff and never save it anywhere.

People can go to great lengths to hide what they do online, but I bet most people are not very tech savvy and probably just subscribe to everything using their regular email addresses. A Gmail search for “invoice”, “account”, “password”, the last four digits of his credit cards, or even something like label:^smartlabel_receipt is probably all you need to do.

Searching your browser history should help you figure out if it’s using a different email service to completely hide its tracks. You just need to dig in. (Searching for keywords like “Hotmail”, “Yahoo”, or “Gmail” doesn’t really work because there are many email services out there.)

Otherwise, it is a matter of time. If he is good at hiding what he does, you just have to wait until he is wrong. This will require you to constantly monitor his computer and / or phone. The former is much easier to do than the latter if you don’t know its PIN, but this is likely to cause you a lot more anxiety than just getting it up front.

Should you spy at all?

Look: keeping track of your partner’s bills is not an ideal situation. While he may provide temporary answers to an urgent question or problem, he will establish a pattern that will be difficult to break. Later, you may wonder if what you’ve found is really all there is to find, and you’ll immediately return to a deeper study of your husband’s digital life. And with each answer you receive, you’ll find yourself asking more and more questions, which will lead to even more tracking and just … well, a terrible, self-fulfilling circle of mistrust.

As renowned sex advice expert Dan Savage wrote in a 2018 response to a self-proclaimed “serial spy”:

… No long term relationship is completely free of surveillance, blah blah blah, just like no long term relationship can be completely free of lies, without porn or thoughts of-fucking-someone-while-fucking -you . And although tracking can sometimes be justified ex post facto, that is, when the tracking detects something that it urgently needs / the right to know, tracking is always risky, it is always a violation (of the partner’s confidentiality and his right to some autonomy). and this can undermine the necessary trust (and zone of autonomy) that makes the relationship possible. My example of justified tracking after the fact is that the seeker found out he was doing something that put his health at risk, for example, a directly identified married man contacts men and anonymously takes loads behind his wife’s back. …

To be honest, I don’t think there is a technical solution to this problem – at least one that won’t satisfy you. I’m guessing that you and your partner are pretty open about sexual things online, considering that he told you that this Chaturbate stuff surfaced while he was already looking at Pornhub. I guess, then, that the problem is not to look at adults doing adult business on the net; it is a potential shift from passive viewing of pornography to a more active role, when a person requests or otherwise interacts with a live, online model in some way that is much more personal than you would ever get by clicking the Play button.

I can not tell; I am not you. I would be much more worried about my partner’s pornographic habits if they entered dangerous, illegal or “extreme” territory that pushed the boundaries of what we already have. If your partner is watching child porn, sending nude photos to friends, or otherwise doing something that really destroys your comfort zone, this is very different from what the situation is like. And these scenarios certainly seem like an excuse for surveillance, if not outright rage.

I think your situation deserves a talk (or a series of talks). And if this seems too difficult for your husband, you may be able to find a professional to help you navigate these waters openly and honestly. It is more useful and practical to find out the source of your husband’s online behavior, which may be related to serious issues such as unhappiness, depression or sexual frustration, or simply from boredom on the Internet combined with stereotypical male behavior when you click on attractive bodies to stimulate things. Maybe normal porn is boring, and web models are the new normal; if so, it is worth discussing, understanding and restoring boundaries (if necessary).

I wouldn’t dig digitally for more unless there is an obvious and / or fearsome reason.


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