I normally don’t like to wade into other peoples’ business, especially when it relates to their consumption of adult material on the web. As long as your hobbies aren’t illegal, super-creepy, or otherwise hurting other people, you’re free to do as you like.
Now that I’ve said that, Lifehacker reader Cass wrote to me with the following question for this week’s tech column:
My husband says he has never been on chaturbate however it’s always on his history and he blames it on the ads on pornhub. Well today I clicked on his open tabs on chrome and on was chaturbate and there was a girl up on the screen masturbating. Did he have to log on with a profile to see that or do ads show that? Is there any way I can find out what sites he has profiles on even if he uses fake names and emails?
You probably don’t need to do much snooping
It’s certainly possible that Chaturbate “popped up” as a separate tab, but unlikely. I browse all kinds of weird shit around the web, and I don’t really get new tabs full of porn — not unless I’ve clicked on a link that takes me to that site mistakenly. So, sure, that’s possible. And it’s possible you were viewing an ad for Chaturbate instead of the main Chaturbate site itself, or one of the live feeds it contains.
You don’t need a profile to view porn on the web, nor do you need a profile to watch people do all sorts of things on Chaturbate. So, that logic is out. You do need to sign up for the site to interact with cammers, however, which is where your concerns likely come from.
I suppose you could snoop through your husband’s email or credit card statements to see if he’s signed up for the site (or any others). You could also run through his browser history; it’ll be obvious when he’s spent more than 20 minutes across several days clicking through everything he can find on Chaturbate, though that won’t necessarily tell you if he has an account on the site or not.
You should easily be able to see if he’s logged into the site if, or when, you visit the site yourself on his primary browser. You can then root through its history (I assume) to see if he’s paying for the service — and, as part of that, likely tipping models or requesting more private interactions. If he’s smart about his habits and logs out each time, odds are good that his user name and password are saved in his browser
As for other sites he might frequent, it’s the same deal. The trifecta of browser history, email receipts, and credit cards statements should be enough to get you some answers. Otherwise, wherever he stores his user name and passwords can be a gold mine for capturing the footsteps of his digital life. If you only know one, or a few logins for some sites, you can also try using those on any other sites you find in his search history to see if he has active accounts. Most people, sadly, are lazy about using unique logins for different websites.
That all said, he could hide his activity using a clandestine email address that he only accesses via a particular service or browser — not his primary browser nor email service. Or, if he’s good, he could just memorise the details of an alternate account login for clandestine stuff and never save that anywhere.
People can go to all kinds of great lengths to conceal what they do on the internet, but I wager that most people aren’t very technologically savvy and probably just sign up for whatever using their normal email addresses. Searching through Gmail for “invoice,” “account,” “password,” the last four digits of his credit cards, or even something like
label:^smartlabel_receipt is probably all you’ll need to do.
A browser history search should be able to clue you in to whether he’s using another email service entirely to conceal his tracks. You’ll just have to do some digging. (Searching for keywords like “Hotmail,” “Yahoo,” or “Gmail” doesn’t really work, since there are many, many email services out there.)
Other than that, it’s a question of time. If he’s very good about hiding what he does, you’ll just have to wait for him to slip up. That’ll require you to monitor his computer and/or phone quite a bit. The former is a lot easier to do than the latter, unless you know his PIN, but it will probably cause you a lot more anxiety than simply addressing the issue up-front.
Should you even snoop at all?
Look: Snooping through a partner’s accounts isn’t an ideal situation. While it might provide temporary answers for an immediate question or problem, it’s going to establish a pattern that will prove hard to break. You might find yourself later wondering if what you found is all there is to find, and you’ll be right back to digging deeper into your husband’s digital life. And with each answer you get, you’ll find yourself asking more and more questions, leading to more snooping, and just…well, a terrible, self-fulfilling circle of mistrust.
As famed sex-advice expert Dan Savage wrote it in a 2018 response to a self-proclaimed “serial snooper:”
…No longterm relationship is entirely snoop-free, blah blah blah, just as no long-term relationship is entirely lie-free, porn-free, or thinking-about-fucking-someone-else-while-fucking-you free. And while snooping can sometimes be justified after-the-fact, i.e. when the snooper discovered something they had an urgent need/right to know, snooping is always risky, it’s always a violation (of a partner’s privacy and their right to some autonomy), and it can erode the necessary trust (and zone of autonomy) that makes a relationship possible. My go-to example of after-the-fact justifiable snooping: The snooper learned that the snoopee was doing something that put the snooper’s health at risk, e.g. the straight-identified married man hooking up with men and taking anon loads behind his wife’s back.
I honestly don’t think this problem has a technical solution — at least, not one that will satisfy you. I’m assuming that you and your partner are fairly open about sexy internet things, given that he told you that this Chaturbate stuff popped up when he was already looking at Pornhub. I’m guessing, then, that the issue of looking at adults doing adult things online isn’t the problem; it’s the potential transition of the passive viewing of pornography to a more active role, one where a person is making requests of a live, online model or otherwise engaging with them in some way that’s much more personal than you’ll ever get from clicking a “play” button.
I can’t say; I’m not you. I’d be much more concerned about my partner’s porn habits if they were treading into dangerous, illegal, or “extreme” territory that pushed the boundaries of whatever understanding we already have. If your partner is looking at child porn, sending nudes to friends, or otherwise doing something that really shatters your comfort zone, that’s a lot different than what this situation feels like. And these scenarios certainly feel like justification for snooping, if not outright rage.
I think your situation is worth a conversation (or a series of conversations). And if that feels too difficult to initiate with your husband, perhaps you can find a professional to help you navigate these waters in an open and honest way. It’s more useful and practical to find out the source of your husband’s online behaviour — which can stem from serious issues, like unhappiness, depression, or sexual frustration, or just simple internet boredom combined with the stereotypical male behaviour of clicking on attractive bodies doing stimulating things. Maybe normal porn is boring, and cam models are the new normal; if so, that’s worth a discussion, an understanding, and reestablished boundaries (if needed).
I wouldn’t go digitally digging for more unless there’s an obvious and/or concerning reason to do so.
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