Meet the women who take NO chances with a man who wants a relationship03/30/2021
Would you spy on your on your partner… before you’d even dated? From combing through financial records to grilling relatives and searching their phones, meet the women who take NO chances with any man who wants a relationship
Office manager Clare Clark considers herself an organised, efficient person. Holidays and important purchases are always researched, with little left to chance.
So when she was presented with potentially the most important and risky investment of her life, naturally, she made sure she was as factually equipped as possible. From extensive trawls of online reviews to good old-fashioned word-of-mouth, she devoted three months to gathering as much information as she could find before committing. No stone was left unturned.
And her potential ‘purchase’? Micky, now her partner of eight years, and father of her three-year-old daughter.
She doesn’t consider herself sinister, obsessive or an anti-romantic — just sensible in today’s modern world.
Clare and Micky: She examined social media and even checked at Companies House
‘Mum had always taught me growing up to only do to others what you don’t mind being done to you. I genuinely wouldn’t have had a problem with it if I had found out Micky wanted to verify who I was, too.
‘To me, it says I like this person enough to want to devote my time and energy to checking them out properly, and being certain that we really do have a future together.
‘What could be more romantic and, yes, responsible than that?’
That is why Clare — and probably most women on the modern-day dating circuit — found the Duchess of Sussex’s protestations last month, during her Oprah interview, that she didn’t research Prince Harry or his family at all after they met rather a stretch.
‘I watched the interview and found it hard to believe she hadn’t done her research about Harry and his family.’
After all, Prince Harry’s family background is hardly difficult to find out.
From investigating Companies House records to interrogating the in-laws and demanding full disclosure on credit card statements in order to comb through finances, increasing numbers of women see nothing wrong in such behaviour. One survey suggested that a third of couples invade each others’ privacy less than six months into dating. Another found that while one in five men secretly check a partner’s phone, that figure increases to one in four women.
Clare, 36, from Peterborough, says social media was her first, and most obvious, port of call when she met Micky, 34, in a bar.
‘I went through his friends list and discovered we had mutual acquaintances. I called them and asked how long they’d known him and ascertained what kind of guy he was. I scanned through his social media history, too. Inappropriate posts would have put me off because I am very judgmental and if I found anything offensive, it would have been a no-no.’
She then turned her attention to his work life to ensure he was an upstanding member of his professional community.
Micky runs his own carpentry business and, once more, his online footprint was thoroughly filleted.
‘I went through Companies House to ascertain how long he’d been trading for and whether there were any issues with the business. Any late filing or companies dissolved would have been a red flag for me. I wouldn’t put myself through financial insecurity.
‘I also checked his website and professional Facebook page, going through customer comments and tracking them down to see if those people really existed. They did. Ditto reviews of his work on Trustpilot. Clearly he wasn’t a cowboy builder type — he was honest, good at what he did and people liked him.’
Clare admits that being ‘burned’ in a previous relationship had made her insecure.
‘It took me three months to complete all those checks and to finally feel comfortable and confident about committing fully to a relationship with him. It coincided with Christmas and it was only then that I felt I knew him well enough to tell him I loved him and welcome him into my family.’
Clare adds: ‘He didn’t know what the reason was for us entering the next phase of our relationship. I didn’t tell him for a good three years that I’d submitted him to those checks either. But by then we’d had our daughter and we were parents!’
Ask Micky how it feels to have had his life — online and off — forensically inspected and he is surprisingly sanguine about it.
Their men were thoroughly investigated beforehand: Laura and Ags, above
‘I don’t mind at all. I know Clare had her reasons and I completely understand,’ he says. ‘Thankfully, I passed all the ‘tests’ because I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. We’re such a good couple and bring out the best in each other.
‘Clare is thorough with her work, thoughtful with her family and has great attention to detail so I should have known that was something she would do.’
But some women go that bit further in painstakingly investigating if their potential partner is just who he says he is. Indeed, some, such as 40-year-old computer programmer Bridget Zyka, could give the world’s leading psychological profilers a run for their money.
‘In 2015, I was out with my girlfriends in a London bar when Aldo approached me,’ says Bridget, who is from North-West London. ‘How to describe Aldo? A tall, dark, handsome man from Albania.
‘I’m open-minded and have lived all over the world, but many of my friends were convinced I was being used for a visa.’
Bridget, who is currently on maternity leave, says that within a month of seeing Aldo, who works in the construction industry, she started to make contact with his relatives in the UK and meet them in person — with his blessing.
‘They told me about his past relationships and were happy to answer all of my queries. I asked why they thought he was interested in me. If he was genuine and was pursuing a relationship for the right reasons.
‘His relatives were really open and honest with me. They didn’t beat around the bush. Aldo had fallen in love with me — it was that simple.’
Bridget says these checks are something she had never done before, only ever ‘mini-stalking’ potential boyfriends on Facebook.
‘But this was a unique situation and I thought I should do a bit of research. I was egged on by my girlfriends who wanted to make sure Aldo was invested in us for the right reasons.
‘On reflection, there was probably a bit of envy involved because Aldo is handsome and younger than me.’
To continue her investigations, Bridget took Aldo’s phone, which she says took her an hour to go through. She then inspected his bank and credit card statements.
‘I went through his financial history to ensure there was no debt I was about to assume, and even looked through his credit card statements. It took me two to three months to satisfy myself that there wasn’t an ulterior motive.’
When Bridget’s investigation was complete she asked Aldo to move in with her. Six months after they first met, Aldo, now 36, proposed and they were married within the year. Their son, Mateo, is eight months old.
‘I know people raised their eyebrows at first. But I’m safe in the knowledge that we’re together for the right reasons. I satisfied myself that Aldo loves me for me and not for my passport.
‘Friends now ask me for advice in checking out their potential Mr Rights. If a guy objects then it’s probably because he has something to hide. That’s why I’m sure Meghan did look up Harry’s details online. At some point everyone likes to satisfy themselves about their future partner’s financial potential, don’t they?’
Yet some relationship counsellors warn that a partnership founded on mistrust is not a healthy place to start. Erika Ettin, relationship coach and founder of dating site A Little Nudge, says if you have trust problems with a partner because of your previous relationships then, rather than snooping, you’d be better off working through those issues with a therapist or counsellor.
‘If you’ve had prior experiences of putting trust in someone who has subsequently broken it, then you’re more inclined to project that distrust on to a new partner. No one should have to pay — in this case by you snooping — for your prior negative experiences.’
But with research showing that as many as 39 per cent of relationships now start online, and the rise of dating fraud, is it any wonder people are making checks on each other before committing?
Nail technician Laura Myers is one such woman who, eight years ago, uploaded her profile on a popular dating website and got chatting to Ags Gavrielides, 38, whose family come from Cyprus.
Bridget and Aldo
‘I’d left my previous relationship three years earlier and decided I was ready to meet someone else. When Ags got in touch with me I was flattered.
‘My profile had been online for seven months and I’d had lots of unsuitable types get in touch. But he looked way too young for me and when we finally exchanged numbers and talked, he sounded a lot younger than he said he was. There was no question of meeting him straight away. I only had a picture to go by, his text messages and, after a couple of weeks, phone conversations with him.
‘Yes, he was chatty and charming. But who was he — really? I made it my business to find out.’
Laura, 40, from Barking in Essex, made Ags wait an astonishing six months before meeting him face-to-face. In the meantime, she set about making sure there were zero skeletons in Ags’s cupboard.
‘Dating sites are so hit and miss, women like me are vulnerable on them and I just wasn’t prepared to take any chances.
‘It might sound like a long time, but I needed to have all the pieces of the puzzle together.
‘We all know people use fake images online. So as we got chatting, I went on to his Facebook page and discovered slowly that he was who he said he was.
‘I’d been in a volatile relationship before and I didn’t want that again. So I monitored the account for a couple of months. I wanted to see how he behaved when he went out with his friends.
‘Was he a gent or did he transform into a drunken lout? Fortunately, according to the pictures posted by him and his friends, he always behaved impeccably.
‘I also checked his name on Google to see if he’d ever been involved in any kind of crime or anything controversial. I had my list of no-nos and that was one of them.
‘At the time, it was just me and my sons, Lewis and Samuel — I had to be extremely careful about who I was inviting into their lives. After six months we did see one another and were a good match. But I still held back from fully committing to us as a couple.
‘One of the first things I did was ask to meet his mum and clarify with her what he’d told me about his life. I think I drove her mad with all of my questions! I also went through his phone and checked who was who in his contacts.
‘I want to stress that I’m not a jealous person. This wasn’t about analysing his previous relationships, this was me checking out he was genuine and not hiding anything. I wanted to make sure he was a nice, reliable person.
‘I didn’t want to invest my emotions in a relationship only to have nasty surprises further down the line.
Today, the couple have been together for seven years and live with Laura’s sons and their four-year-old daughter, Sophia-Mae. Laura has zero regrets about her previous actions.
‘I genuinely believe that every woman with her head screwed on does this. The resources are there; just as employers check references, women should check potential life partners’ backgrounds.’
As for Ags, Laura says he is fine with her online interrogation.
‘He knows I’ve done this. Ags was sympathetic. I’d lost my father when we met and wanted to ensure I wasn’t in a vulnerable situation.
‘Today we both have access to each other’s phone and have a shared Facebook page. We have nothing to hide from one another and there are no secrets between us.’
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