Relationship Blues: To Snoop or Not to Snoop?

Picture this.  You’re sitting in your boo’s dorm room on a Thursday night studying.  It’s a chill scene, just the two of you hanging out in your Wheaton shirts and black soccer shorts quizzing each other for the next day’s Spanish test.  Your partner tells you they need a shower break, and leave you to keep working.  Five minutes later, their phone vibrates on the desk and a little red light starts to flash at the corner of the phone. You ignore the sound, thinking nothing of it, but as the phone vibrates again, you’re hungry to know what’s on the other side of the vibrating monster. It would be wrong to look through your partner’s phone.  Or would it?  Turns out this is a topic of controversy between couples, in some cases to the point of tearing them apart.

A key component to any successful relationship is trust, and when trust is violated, it can be one of the hardest things to regain.  Knowing how important trust is between you and your partner, think about that urge you have to look through their phone.  Do you really want to do it?  How could this affect your relationship?  On one hand, there’s a chance that you may find something that justifies your probing.  There could be something on your partner’s phone that they haven’t been honest about and by snooping, you may feel like you’ve justified your insecurity.    But, consider what you have to lose. When you snoop through your partner’s phone, there’s a chance that they will catch you. The probability of them losing their trust for you is just about as high as your guilt level will be. If they don’t catch you, your relationship may be just as affected because you know you’ve been untruthful, potentially causing tension towards your partner. If you have been dishonest about one thing, they may start to wonder what else you have been hiding, raising the question, “If you can lie to me about one thing, how do I know if you’re lying about another?”  These doubts can turn into communication barriers and materialize into tedious fights that weigh down your relationship.

You may be asking yourself the question, “If my partner and I are in a stable and trusting relationship they shouldn’t have anything to hide in the first place, so why would I even want to look through their phone?”  This is true.  If you really were in a committed relationship you probably wouldn’t care about the vibrating phone in the first place and would go about your business.  So what does cause somebody to make the decision to invade his or her partner’s privacy?   Chances are it probably stems deeper than just wanting to know why somebody is trying so hard to get their attention.  Sometimes insecurity can exist in a relationship.  If one person in the relationship starts to feel suspicious about their partner’s behavior, they may feel like snooping is the only way to get the truth, rather than having an actual conversation. However, communication is right up there with trust when it comes to good relationships.  The value of having a conversation with your partner is much greater than the value of looking through their phone behind their back—even if you are trying to find out if something you have heard about your partner has any truth to it.  The better your communication, the less strain there will be in your relationship.     

I was interested in hearing what other Wheaton students had to say about the topic.  I assumed that the opinions between genders would differ greatly, but the general consensus is pretty much the same all around: snooping is never cool.  The biggest reason students have a problem with it stems back to trust: if you’re secretly going through your partner’s phone, you don’t have a very trusting relationship to begin with.  One male senior says, “If I ever caught my girl reading my text messages, what’s in my inbox would be the last thing on my mind.  She obviously doesn’t trust me, and that’s most concerning.”   But not everybody is so one-sided; other students say that there is no problem with a little snooping, as long as you’ve been dating for a while. One girl tried to put it into perspective saying, “If we've been dating for a while, I could honestly care less if a guy read my text messages, but if it had been like...two weeks…I’d be like who are you, what are you doing?  It's all about the level of your relationship."  For some, how long you’ve been in the relationship seems to justify how much you snoop.

Think back once more to the vibrating phone on the desk, which continues to buzz as your boyfriend returns from the shower.  Whether or not you answer it comes down to your personal beliefs and values. If you decide to snoop remember what you may lose.  Take a look at the person who just walked through the door and ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”