Lovers hire 'loyalty testers' as relationship trust crumbles

By Thanh Nga   September 17, 2023 | 05:31 am PT
Nguyen Thu Trang, 20, of Hanoi, broke up with her boyfriend when he scheduled a one-on-one meeting with a female stranger that had been texting him.

The couple started dating in September 2021 during Trang’s freshman year in university. After a year of their relationship, her boyfriend relocated from Hanoi to HCMC and a distance started to develop between the two lovers. Trang began to feel extremely insecure.

Her near obsession prompted her to spend VND300,000 ($12) in August hiring another woman to "test" her boyfriend’s loyalty.

To prepare for their plan as carefully as possible, Trang provided basic information about her boyfriend to the woman she hired. According to Trang, her boyfriend was an introverted man who worked as an Information Technology executive and did not like to talk. Based on these insights, the hired woman faked her identity as a female Information Technology student who was seeking help.

"I felt jealous and disappointed when I saw my boyfriend seemingly enjoying talking to that girl," Trang says.

But Trang’s line in the sand was crossed when her boyfriend told the "female Information Technology student" that he was single and would meet her in person.

Trang then sent her boyfriend the screenshots of the conversation and despite his efforts to save their relationship, she ended it.

Thu Trang, 20, of Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Trang

Thu Trang, 20, of Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Trang

This type of "loyalty check-up" service started gaining recognition on social media platforms at the beginning of the year. Facebook users can find hundreds of accounts offering the service with just a simple search on the platform. More than a half of the providers promoting their services on the site offer to do it for free.

Psychologist Tran Huong Thao, of Hanoi, attributes the popularity of the service to the low level of commitment young people have in their relationships. Technology has made betraying one’s lover easier than ever before, and thus, people have lost trust, she claims.

"If everyone trusts their partners, this type of service would not exist," she says.

Pham Minh Ngoc, 23, of Hanoi, is a "loyalty check-up" service provider. According to her, the "rule" of the business is simple: the "tester" will actively text the "target," sometimes in a flirty manner if needed. The target is considered "baited" when they tell the tester that they are single or when they begin to overtly flirt back in the exchange.

Charging VND200,000 per target and always requiring her customers to pay in advance, Ngoc estimates that she has over 100 people asking for her help every day, mostly people aged between 16 and 25.

As part of her strategy, Ngoc has created various "tester" social media accounts and made them look like real profiles by faking their posts and interactions. Each of her profiles is tailored for a specific preference, ranging from accounts that appear soft to target men that prefer feminine women, to those that seem to belong to an energetic woman aiming for men that like youthful girls. She chooses the profile she uses to approach her targets based on the specific target’s personality.

"There have been cautious targets whom I had to spend up to a few months approaching," Ngoc says.

She adds that her first efforts sometimes fail, but she always retries until the targets either get baited, or until they’ve lasted a certain amount of "tester" time without doing so.

Manh Hung, 27, provides loyalty check-ups in both English and Korean. He can thus approach foreign targets and charges VND500,000 per test.

Based on his experience, "26 out of 30" targets fall for his tricks and traps and thus "betray" their partner in the form of bolder-than-acceptable text messages.

He says the negative energy he absorbs while deceiving his would-be targets and becoming involved in the painful outcomes of his work forces him to take extended breaks from the lucrative hustle.

Many people betray their partners when being actively approached. Photo illustration by Freepik

Many people betray their partners when being actively approached. Photo illustration by Freepik

Indeed, the trade has more than its fair share of negative ingredients.

Many believe that those who seek this type of service are destroying their relationship with their lack of trust.

Thanh Thao, 24, of HCMC, got married a year ago. When she was pregnant, she got worried that her husband might have an extramarital affair. Thao decided to pay for a loyalty check-up.

Though her husband "passed" the test and never found himself "baited," Thao had to deal with the consequences when her husband found out that the woman he had communicated with was hired by Thao to test his loyalty.

"He says he feels offended," Thao explains. "He is not mad anymore, but he does not think that he could recover his trust for me."

Psychologist Vo Minh Thanh, professor at the Department of Psychology at the HCMC University of Education, agrees with this way of thinking as he warns about negative consequences that people may face when they try this service.

According to Thanh, only those that do not trust their partners seek this kind of "help." As such, he argues, if trust is already not present in the relationship, there is a high probability that it’s doomed no matter what, regardless of whether the tested person "betrays" or not.

Psychologist Tran Thanh Nam also points out that passing this type of loyalty test does not necessarily mean one’s partner is truly faithful. Those who pass this type of test may sometimes have already had other affairs, or they may simply not feel compatible with the fake, made-up "person" approaching them, Dr. Nam posits.

"They will not show their true selves," he says. "Especially if they have already heard about this kind of service."

People should carefully consider whether or not they should try the service that may do more harm than good, Nam says.

Tuan Viet, 32, of Hanoi, was once "baited" by a woman hired by his wife when he accepted the woman’s invitation to meet her in real life. Admitting that he was wrong for that, he still got uncomfortable with his wife for hiring a stranger to test him.

"I might be wrong for pushing my wife to use this method," he says.

"But a relationship should be nurtured by both sides, so I think it’s wrong to lure a partner and force them to be the guilty ones."

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