Conflict Resolution Trust

Thinking About Snooping? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Pick Up Their Phone

Imani’s Articles

According to a 1,663-participant survey conducted by BankMyCell, 57.5% of adults aged 18-35 have admitted to snooping on their partner’s phone.

68% of men responded saying they have, compared to 47% of women. (Go women, I suppose, but that’s still 47% more than it should be in my opinion!).

So here’s the thing: I’ve looked in my partner’s phone before, but with permission, prior knowledge, or no secretive intention – like if I need to use it to call someone because I’ve lost my phone (again) or Google something or look at his recent nature pics or whatever the case. I have his passcode and he has mine, and we are totally fine with this sort of usage.

But openness and transparency when it comes to personal devices is different than secretly “snooping” with the purpose of trying to find something. Some couples are comfortable sharing because they trust that neither party has anything to hide. But snooping is when you’re looking to uncover something hidden. It seems to be a controversial issue on the internet, with many different opinions, from if there’s nothing to find, then there should be no problem with me snooping to it is *always* wrong – no ifs, ands, or buts.

Regardless of what your moral stance is on the issue, these 10 questions should help you sort through your current predicament and decide your next move:

Snooping on partner's phone
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile

1. How do I feel right now?

Suspecting? Stressed? Confused? Sad? Curious? Annoyed? Nervous? Mentally drained? Guilty? Angry? 

Whatever it is you feel, make sure to acknowledge it, accept it, and then set it aside as you address the rest of these questions. The goal is to try to answer them as rationally as possible. 

2. Why do I feel the need to spy on my partner right now?

Have they done or said something wrong? Have they cheated on you in the past? Have they cheated on someone else in the past? Have you been cheated on before, but not by them? Have they done nothing at all? Could this suspicion be the result of your own insecurities? Have you cheated on someone in the past?

The point is, there are many reasons why we may feel a lack of trust in our relationships, some stemming directly from the person who is giving you trust issues, others stemming from ourselves or our past – or perhaps both. It will be helpful to identify specifically what is making you feel this lack of trust.

3. Why do I feel like I can’t have a discussion with my partner about how I feel? 

Now that you have acknowledged what is likely causing you to feel like you can’t trust your partner, it’s important to imagine discussing this truth with them.

You may, however, feel like you’ve tried to have the discussion, and it didn’t go over well. Or that you are afraid to know the real truth. Or that you may feel ashamed to share your whole truth. It’s understandable to be hesitant or nervous about a conversation for any of these reasons or others. Still, usually, that feeling of discomfort is the best indication that a discussion needs to be had.

It may also be that you don’t trust your partner to tell you the truth. If this is the case, ask yourself question number 2 again. If you think they are capable and willing to lie to your face, you may also consider skipping down to question number 10.

4. Have my partner and I openly and honestly discussed our physical *and* emotional boundaries for other people?

You may be feeling discomfort, jealousy, insecurity, and/or suspicion simply based on the fact that you and your partner haven’t explicitly established and agreed on your relationship boundaries – i.e., what does or doesn’t constitute as “cheating” and/or inappropriate behavior.

This is an extremely important conversation to have because if you have not explicitly talked about this, and you end up snooping to find your partner flirting with someone else, you may end up feeling not only angry but also confused as to whether your partner is in the “wrong” or not.

Some couples don’t care at all about flirting, while some couples see it as cheating. Figure out what you and your partner think about flirting and other types of interpersonal interactions.

The best part? Having this conversation and knowing you are on the same page may be the key to resolving those feelings of mistrust or suspicion altogether.

5. If I found something on their phone that was evidence of cheating, what would I do?

Let’s say you have already had a (or multiple) boundary-type conversation and still decided to snoop on your partner. Then, you found something that definitely constitutes crossing the boundaries of your relationship. What do you suppose you’d do now?

Would you be able to bring up, confidently and without shame, the fact that you snooped to discover that information in the first place? Or would you now be stuck in a situation where you have found your partner to be guilty but made yourself guilty of crossing a boundary as well?

Now ask yourself: Would it be easier to have that conversation or the discussion related to question number 3?

6. If I found something I didn’t like that wasn’t evidence of cheating, what would I do?

Let’s say he’s not actively having a full-on affair with someone but maybe getting a little too close for comfort…

Now you’re really stuck… you’ve made yourself guilty and can’t even appropriately discuss what you’ve found inappropriate without showing your red hands.

In question 5’s scenario, you may be able to “justify” your behavior with the fact that the evidence you found outweighs it. But you might not be able to do that in this scenario.

And in reality, you are never 100% sure of what you will find when you snoop. So, yet again, it will likely be WAY easier to have conversation number 3 than this conversation.

However, maybe you’ve tried to have that honest discussion about how you’re feeling, and you sensed that they weren’t being completely honest in return, thus decided you need some sort of backup to support your claim through snooping. Perhaps try asking yourself…

7. How would you respond if you found your partner snooping through your phone?

Would you understand, or would you feel hurt, misunderstood, and/or completely violated? What would you have wanted your partner to do instead of looking through your phone with the intent of trying to find something you’re doing wrong? Perhaps have a more direct conversation? Perhaps just trust you? Think about it the other way around, and see what sort of thoughts, feelings, and resolutions potentially arise.

8. How has my partner’s recent behavior impacted our relationship?

These predicaments aren’t always so clear-cut. For most relationship problems – be it cheating, snooping, lying, hiding, etc. – there’s something that causes that behavior, and perhaps something even before that.

You’re not automatically a “bad” person if you’ve thought about snooping or even if you’ve actually done it. You probably were led to wanting to do it because of how your partner was acting.

Again, identification is key. Don’t allow your underlying, unaddressed negative feelings towards your partner to dictate your actions. Your active, present, rational thoughts should.

So, what is it that your partner has done?

It may be something terrible, and you realize – you know what, it’s not even worth it. I shouldn’t be with the person. On the opposite end, you may realize that your partner hasn’t done anything wrong at all, and it may be your own insecurities leading the charge.

In either case, you’ll realize that snooping is likely not going to be the most effective route to resolving the real issue.

9. How might my suspicious behavior be impacting our relationship?

What came first – the chicken or the egg?

If you feel like your partner has been distant, secretive, cold, annoyed, or displaying some other unusual behavior – and all the while you have been suspicious, and perhaps overly-inquisitive, showing your partner how little you trust them – it could be helpful to think back and figure out whether your accusatory behavior might have actually influenced this distancing, thus creating this vicious cycle.

You may not be able to figure this out on your own, which means – you guessed it – have that conversation from question number 3! As you discuss how you’ve been feeling about them, you may be surprised to hear how they’ve been feeling about you – which could be a huge relief.

10. Do I really love, respect, and want to be with my partner?

I’m going to be blunt here: What’s the point of being in a relationship with a person you can’t really trust?

Suppose you have gone through these questions, recognized that the two of you have explicitly discussed and agreed-upon boundaries, understand that these suspicions are not based on your own insecurities, tried having a conversation with your partner to no avail, still feel that your partner is hiding something, and ultimately do not trust your partner.

In that case, instead of getting your hands dirty by invading their privacy, perhaps consider ending the relationship

I know this isn’t simple. I know it’s more complicated if you’re living together, have kids, share assets, and all the rest. But your self-respect, self-value, self-love, and peace of mind should be at the very forefront of your decision-making.

I hope this helped! If you’ve ever snooped and have a different perspective or have additional “questions to ask yourself” ideas, please share in the comments below!

Did this resonate with you? Follow me on Instagram for more tips or apply for a free coaching session to talk through your unique situation.

Loving the old; exploring the new,


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