Whether you're sure they're shagging their secretary or you just want to know what their ex looked like, make sure you're prepared for the consequences of snooping.
You're left alone in your partner's bedroom and they've left their mobile behind. They've been acting a little distant lately. You have your suspicions. A text message bleeps its arrival on their phone. This could be your chance to discover what is really going on. What do you do?
It's tempting to snoop. Most of us are curious when it comes to our partner's innermost feelings, especially if they aren't open about their emotions and we are feeling insecure.
And there are so many methods to tempt us: mobiles, texts, calls register and voicemail hacking; email you can even mark mail unread after you've opened it; as well as diaries, post and pockets.
What, if anything, stops you?
Respect, trust and intimacy
These are all crucial to a successful relationship. We have to balance our wish to share and know everything with respecting each other's right to personal space and privacy. Often trust and intimacy can create the perfect snooping environment like being left alone in your partner's bedroom. Are you willing to jeopardise these aspects of your relationship? You may also want to think about how you would feel if you discovered your partner had been through your things.
Think before you decide to cross the boundary and snoop.
Invasion or Intuition?
What if you accept that snooping is a serious invasion of privacy, but you strongly suspect your partner of cheating, you've confronted them and they've denied any wrongdoing? You want firm evidence. Is snooping a smart move to back up intuition?
Katie, 21, is a serial snooper. Her boyfriend kept going AWOL for several nights in a row and she didn't believe his explanations, so the next time she stayed over with him, she rifled through his drawer. "I knew I'd find something. Sure enough, I discovered a receipt for dinner for two at a swanky restaurant on the night he'd told me he'd been 'out with the boys'," she says. "When I showed him the receipt, he denied it. He seemed so sincere that I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Six months later, he left me for someone else."
Snooping rule No.1: You will find something you wished you hadn't
Katie often snooped on partners and she nearly always found something to alarm her, from a wig in a box on top of a cupboard to an extreme porn mag under the bed. Her lack of trust was reciprocated by her boyfriends who often cheated on her.
Even if the discovery is relatively harmless, it can still hurt. Ben, 17, found an old diary of his newish girlfriend and felt queasy reading about her love and crushes on other guys. "I knew that this was how she felt before she met me, but it still hurt. I wish I'd never looked. I still feel jealous when I think about it. "
Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Confess or suffer?
Say you have a weak moment and snoop. You find something that upsets you, like an admiring text from someone you know has the hots for your partner. It's on your mind. If you mention it, you'll have to confess to snooping. Not easy.
Although hanging on to the information and pretending nothing is wrong can be really hard, it might be preferable to revealing your invasion of your partner's privacy.
If you are a serial snoop, like Katie, you may be using snooping as a way of avoiding real communication and discussion of issues of trust. When the first temptation to snoop arises, use it as a warning sign in your relationship and ask yourself some questions:
- Do I trust them?
- Do I ever feel safe with a partner?
- Do I often feel the need to snoop?
- Do I feel safe to talk to my partner about my feelings of insecurity?
A discussion of these issues either with your partner or with a close friend can remove the need to snoop. If you are too nervous to raise any these issues in case you receive an unfavourable reaction, it's likely that you are putting off the inevitable for fear of ending up on your own. Be brave - ask yourself the questions (and be honest about the answers).
If your partner is not communicating with you or reveals the bare minimum about themselves, you may want to resort to underhand methods to discover more about them and their feelings for you. Although this may satisfy your immediate need, it is a short-term solution. It can be easier to focus on what you find rather than address the real issues in the relationship: how you communicate and whether you feel secure.
Finally, don't get caught
If the urge overwhelms you and you find yourself rummaging in places you shouldn't, make sure the coast is clear and that you cover your tracks.
In an episode of Sex & The City, Carrie meets a sexy man who seems to be too good to be true. Unable to believe her luck, she scours his flat while he's out. The sexy man returns unexpectedly to find her forcing the lock on a box. He takes the box from her and opens it to reveal some scout badges. Then he dumps her.
Written by Emma Gold
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