The couple started dating in September 2021 during Trang’s first year of college. After a year of dating, her boyfriend moved from Hanoi to HCMC and a distance began to develop between the two lovers. Trang began to feel extremely unsure.
Her near-obsession led her to spend 300,000 VND ($12) in August to hire another woman to “test” her boyfriend’s loyalty.
In order to prepare 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 manager and didn’t like to talk. Based on this information, the hired woman faked her identity as an information technology student seeking help.
“I felt jealous and disappointed when I saw my boyfriend apparently liking talking to this girl,” Trang says.
But Trang’s line was crossed when her boyfriend told the “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 her efforts to save their relationship, she ended it.
Thu Trang, 20, from Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Trang
This type of “loyalty check-up” service began gaining popularity on social media platforms earlier this year. Facebook users can find hundreds of accounts offering the service with a simple search on the platform. More than half of the providers promoting their services on the site offer to do so for free.
Psychologist Tran Huong Thao from Hanoi attributes the service’s popularity to young people’s low level of commitment to relationships. Technology has made it easier than ever to betray your lover and so people have lost trust, she says.
“If everyone trusted their partner, this type of service would not exist,” she says.
Pham Minh Ngoc, 23, from Hanoi, is a “loyalty check” service provider. According to her, the “rule” of the job is simple: the “tester” will actively send SMS messages to the “target”, sometimes in an affectionate manner if necessary. The target is considered “baited” when they tell the tester that they are single or when they begin openly flirting in the exchange.
Charging VND200,000 per target and always requiring his clients to pay in advance, Ngoc estimates that more than 100 people ask him for help every day, mostly people aged 16 to 25.
As part of its strategy, Ngoc created various “tester” social media accounts and made them look like real profiles by simulating their posts and interactions. Each of its profiles is tailored to a specific preference, ranging from accounts that appear gentle targeting men who prefer feminine women, to those that appear to belong to an energetic woman targeting men who like young girls. She chooses the profile she uses to approach her targets based on each target’s personality.
“There were some cautious targets that I had to spend up to a few months approaching,” says Ngoc.
She adds that her first efforts sometimes fail, but she always tries again until the targets are baited, or until they have spent a certain amount of “testing” time without doing so.
Manh Hung, 27, offers loyalty checks in English and Korean. He can thus approach foreign targets and charges 500,000 VND per test.
In his experience, “26 out of 30 targets” fall for his tricks and traps and thus “betray” their partner in the form of text messages that are more daring than acceptable.
He says the negative energy he absorbs by deceiving his potential targets and involving himself in the painful results of his work forces him to take extended breaks from his lucrative business.
Many people betray their partners when they are actively approached. Photo illustration by Freepik
Indeed, commerce has more than its fair share of negative ingredients.
Many believe that those who seek this type of service destroy their relationship because of their lack of trust.
Thanh Thao, 24, from HCMC, got married a year ago. When she was pregnant, she feared that her husband was having an extramarital affair. Thao decided to pay for a loyalty check-up.
Although her husband “passed” the test and never found himself “baited”, Thao had to face the consequences when her husband discovered that the woman he had been communicating with had been hired by Thao to test his loyalty.
“He says he feels offended,” says Thao. “He’s not angry anymore, but he doesn’t think he can regain his trust in me.”
Psychologist Vo Minh Thanh, professor at the Department of Psychology at HCMC University of Education, agrees with this way of thinking and warns of the negative consequences people may face when trying this service .
According to Thanh, only those who don’t trust their partner seek this kind of “help.” As such, he asserts, if trust is already not present in the relationship, there is a high probability that it will be doomed to failure no matter what, that the person being tested ” betray” or not.
Psychologist Tran Thanh Nam also points out that passing this type of loyalty test does not necessarily mean that your partner is truly faithful. Those who pass this type of test may sometimes have had other affairs, or may simply not feel compatible with the fake, made-up “person” approaching them, says Dr. Nam.
“They won’t really show up,” he says. “Especially if they’ve heard of this kind of service before.”
People should carefully consider whether or not to try the service which could do more harm than good, Nam says.
Tuan Viet, 32, from 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 he was wrong, he still felt uncomfortable with his wife hiring a stranger to test him.
“Maybe I’m wrong to push my wife to use this method,” he says.
“But a relationship needs to be nurtured by both parties, so I think it’s not right to lure a partner and force them to be guilty.”