- Carlita Victoria grew suspicious when her boyfriend wouldn’t be in any of her Instagram posts.
- She took it as a sign that he was cheating on her and didn’t want his other partner to find out.
- She aired her suspicions on TikTok, in the hopes that the app would help her find out the truth.
It was February 2021, and Carlita Victoria had just about had it with dating apps.
Exhausted by the lack of face-to-face connection, she decided to tell a man she had been chatting to on Hinge that she was planning to delete the app. He was persistent that he still wanted to get to know her and asked for her number, she said, adding that they then began dating and eventually got into a serious relationship.
Victoria, 38, told Insider she noticed early on that her boyfriend was quite private about their relationship, saying he told her within the first month of dating that he did not want to post a picture of someone he was going out with on social media until he was engaged.
At the time, Victoria, who is based in North Carolina, was compassionate about his preference, assuming that he was being cautious to not prematurely share a relationship with the world if it wasn’t going to work out.
However, 10 months later, around the holiday season, Victoria thought the relationship had grown serious enough that it warranted her posting a picture of them both on social media. To her shock, her boyfriend insisted that he did not want to be featured on her accounts, she said.
His decision led to a series of arguments between the pair, according to Victoria, who said she eventually broke up with him on the suspicion that he might have had ulterior motives for not wanting to go public with their relationship.
Desperate to find out whether her suspicions were correct, Victoria turned to TikTok, asking viewers if anyone knew her ex-boyfriend or had seen him with another woman. Her post went viral, and put the former couple under a microscope of online criticism that hugely eroded their privacy — but still, she believes she took a necessary step to find out the truth about what happened.
Victoria thought her boyfriend’s aversion to going public on social media was a red flag
Although her boyfriend expressed some concern, Victoria eventually did share a montage of photos of them both on TikTok, putting a sticker over his face to protect his privacy. But, according to Victoria, he asked her to take it down because he was worried people would be able to identify him by his tattoos.
Victoria told Insider she began to suspect that her boyfriend was cheating on her after this conversation, believing that he perhaps did not want to be seen with her in a public post because he didn’t want his other partner to find it.
While she said she thinks people are entitled to have preferences about privacy on their own social media accounts, she felt that her partner’s attempts to control what she posted on her own account went a bit far. According to Victoria, he had been posting pictures of himself with friends and family members at the time, and she thought his “rule” of not wanting to be on her social media pages at all was a sign that he was not committed to the relationship.
“He kept saying he wanted to marry me but he wasn’t really taking the steps to really invest in me,” she said, adding, “I kept thinking, ‘there’s no way this rule could be more important than what we have,’ and that’s what made me think there’s got to be someone else in the picture, and she must be important because I don’t know anyone who would sacrifice a relationship with somebody they love for a rule.”
When it came time for the couple to celebrate their one-year anniversary in February, Victoria said she decided to break the relationship up, since her partner still did not want to go public on social media, even though she had met his family and invested a lot of time into the relationship by that point.
She shared the story on TikTok, and her suspicions were confirmed
Victoria knew that TikTok has become a popular way for people to appeal for information about a person or event. Creators often turn to the app with a description of a person or situation, hoping that by going viral through the algorithm, which pushes a message to millions of people, some commenters with relevant information might come forward.
“The internet moves quick,” Victoria told Insider, saying she decided to post a video explaining the story of her relationship to see if anyone knew whether her boyfriend was seeing someone else.
In her video, Victoria shared a picture of her boyfriend’s face, and disclosed his first name, Derwin, in spite of his previous demands for online privacy, in the hopes that someone on TikTok would recognize him.
“At that point, I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose,” she said, adding, “I was livid. I knew that that video would expose him and me to the world, and open up a can of worms, but I felt like it was worth it to find her.”
The post went viral, receiving 12.3 million views, and several prominent creators on the app shared it to spread the word. Victoria told Insider she then received a message from a woman saying her cousin had been seeing the same man for around two years. Victoria said she spoke to the woman’s cousin over the phone, and their conversation confirmed her initial suspicions.
When reached over the phone, Derwin declined to comment. Insider agreed to withhold his last name due to concerns about online harassment. The woman whose cousin Victoria said was dating Derwin did not respond to multiple attempts to reach her for comment.
While Victoria said it was satisfying to hear the woman’s story, her video had consequences
Victoria had no idea what it was like to have millions of people watch one of her TikToks.
While an overwhelming majority of people expressed support for her, she was shocked by how negative some of the comments were — people made remarks about her ex-boyfriend’s appearance in the picture she shared, which she said made her feel uncomfortable, and she had to ask her viewers in a follow-up video not to send hate comments to him or his family or workplace, telling Insider that she thinks sometimes the internet can take things too far and become “a dangerous place.”
Victoria did not find the positive comments as helpful as she initially thought she would either. Where other women who have previously gone viral for divulging the ins and outs of their relationship breakdowns online have told Insider they found the online community and support comforting, Victoria said she ultimately did not find it truly satisfying, particularly in proportion to the pain of heartbreak.
“It does feel good to look at those comments,” she said, “but no one is here in this apartment with me while I’m crying; no one is here to pick me up off the floor or tell me how loved I am. They don’t love me. They might love an aspect of me or the part of me I show online, but no one is here.”
“It’s just me that has to go through this healing process,” she added.
Despite the consequences that going viral had on her and her former boyfriend, Victoria said she thinks posting the video was “worth it” because she believes it helped her to find out the truth.
“I think that what I did was the right thing to do because I had to know, I needed to walk away with clarity,” she told Insider.