Many people know snooping on your partner is a terrible, dreadful, horrible, atrocious, no-good, bad idea. This is not news. But, from a psychological standpoint, why is that so? I think we all have within us a gut feeling about snooping — it makes no one feel good, and it can lead to quite abominable situations. And then, of course, it has to be said: If you're going around super suspicious of your partner, that begs the question of why you feel the way you do to begin with. After all, in a healthy relationship, both partners should trust each other unconditionally, and respect each other's right to privacy, personal space, having a life that extends past the relationship, etc.
In light of all of this, I asked 15 relationship experts about why snooping is such a bad idea in relationships. I also asked them to elucidate the negative effects snooping on your partner might potentially have on a relationship. Hint: The bottom line here is definitely, do not even think about snooping. And if you are a snooper, there are definitely better alternatives to going through your partner's stuff. From what it reveals about the fate of your relationship to how it'll make you feel, here's what else they had to say on snooping in relationships.
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1. If You Snoop, You Don't Trust Yourself
OK, guys, this is deep: "Snooping means you lack trust in yourself," psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. Jedi mind trick alert! But it totally makes sense. "People will say that it is the other person that they do not trust, but in snooping, we are actually feeling like we are not enough," she says. When someone looks through their partner's text messages, emails, notebooks and the like, they're worried that they're not enough (or too much, perhaps), and feel the need to search for validation. Not good.
The answer: Love yourself. "We deserve to be with people that we trust, and we deserve to — if we have intrinsic issues — get therapeutic help to learn to love ourselves more," Paiva says. And work on trusting yourself, while you're at it. "If we don't trust ourselves, we will not trust others," she says. "If we look at everyone else as if they are a villain, we create ourselves to be a victim; a victim is someone who doesn't trust safety in their world, and that is a self-love and self-trust issue."
2. Snooping Is A Gateway Behavior
"Snooping is the gateway behavior to stalking," relationship expert April Masini tells Bustle. Wait, what? Looking through someone's texts leads to stalking? Yes, she says. It might start out with texts, but it can lead elsewhere quickly. "First you’re snooping on [their] cell phone. Then, [their] computer, Next, you’re doing drive-bys on the sly," she says. Whoa. Yeah, definitely don't do any of that. And remember: It's a slippery slope.
3. Snooping Always Brings Pain, Without Fail
There is no such thing as innocent snooping. "The hard truth is that there is never a positive outcome from snooping; it can only hurt," relationship coach Jase Lindgren tells Bustle. When you snoop, there is a "fundamental problem," Lindgren says, which is that you don't trust your partner. Well, clearly, yes. Lindgren says that only two things can happen when you open the Pandora's box of snooping: "One, you find something incriminating." Technically, this is what you were looking for in the first place; but it won't make you feel good, that's for sure.
The second outcome: "You don't find anything, and are left wondering if they just did a good job of hiding it, or [if] you need to look harder — and you're now proving yourself to be the untrustworthy one." Not only do you not trust yourself, as Paiva says, you are proving yourself to be untrustworthy in the process. "When we go looking through someone's private messages, if we look hard enough, we will always find something to be upset about," Lindgren says. "If you value this relationship and want it to continue, snooping will only damage that and likely lead to its end." Don't do it.
4. If You Snoop, You're The Bad Guy
"When you feel compelled to snoop, you’re acting from fear, doubt, insecurity and distrust," Emily Bouchard, a certified money coach, tells Bustle. "These all erode the core foundations of love and trust that support a relationship in being solid." And they lead to an even worse consequence: As Lindgren says, you become the terrible person in this equation. "The moment you snoop, you become untrustworthy," Bouchard says.
Just put the brakes on it, she says. "If you find yourself feeling any of those awful emotions that drive you to feel that snooping is your best option, stop and take stock of your relationship," Bouchard says. Ask yourself to look for signs that let you know you can trust your partner and think about what evidence you've noticed that has you believing you can't trust your significant other, she says. "You don’t need to snoop to get this kind of data — you have lots of it right in front of you."
If you have real reason to believe that your partner is being shady, talk to them directly. But most of the time, this stuff is all made up. "Be in reality and stay out of negative imagination," Bouchard advises. "One thing you need to know is that a confident woman, who is not insecure, is the sexiest woman on the planet." Truth! And your partner can easily become turned off, she adds, if you become insecure, and find yourself delving into doubt. Like Paiva, Bouchard says it's most important to turn the focus on yourself if you feel compelled to snoop. "Rather than snooping, look at ways to make yourself enticing and delightful to be with, so that you get more of what you want," Bouchard says.
5. Snooping Is Actually Rather Stupid
"If you have trust and honesty within your relationship, why check their phone?" Jessica Vance, Lovapp's Lovapp's outreach specialist, asks Bustle. When you're involved in a healthy partnership, snooping is just plain dumb."People will always do what's in their best interest," Vance says. "Trying to stop that is impossible. People need to find strength in themselves and not be defined solely by their relationship."
So your girlfriend texts an ex from time to time or your boyfriend looks at cute girls on the Internet. So what? Don't go through their texts or their Internet history in an attempt to catch them doing something wrong. Just live your life, as Rihanna would say.
6. It Makes You The Untrustworthy One
"If you are snooping around, are you prepared for what you find?" Janet Zinn, a New York City–based couples therapist, asks Bustle. Instead of lurking around like a creeper, go in the front door, she says. "How come you’re not having conversations with your partner about trust and deceit?" she says. And, like other experts, Zinn points out that you become the untrustworthy one when you snoop.
"You are accusing him or her of sneaking something, but you are behaving deceitfully when you snoop," she says. "So you are behaving in the exact manner you are scared he or she is acting." What's worse is that you're hiding this behavior, she says. Vicious cycle — and one best to be avoided altogether.
7. Snooping Is Toxic
"[Snooping is] a sign that you have a serious trust issue that you are not addressing openly and honestly with your partner," psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman tells Bustle. Calling it "a violation of privacy and trust that often results from a belief that a partner is being less than honest and trustworthy," Coleman says that snooping is a serious no-no. Regardless of why you choose to do it, it's always a bad idea. "It can also occur due to toxic jealousy that has no basis is fact," she says. "Either way, it violates trust and is a dysfunctional way to deal with a concern about a partner's fidelity." Be upfront instead.
8. Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
"Violating your partner's privacy (and likely trust as well) is never OK, even if you feel justified in order to prove a lie or to discover that they are hiding something from you," Carlyle Jansen, author of Author, Sex Yourself: The Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms , tells Bustle. "Two wrongs don't make a right," Jansen adds. "Tell them what your gut is saying and ask to go through the emails together." Well, that's a novel idea! Certainly better than doing it without permission.
9. It Leads To Misunderstandings
"[Snooping] breaks the level of trust that is important in relationships," Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife, tells Bustle. "If the tables were reversed, how would you feel if your partner was looking through your information?" Yeah, not good.
"It can lead to misunderstandings. While snooping, you might not read the entire conversation and jump to conclusions; then you would look like an ass once you found out the entire meaning," he says. "I have seen this happen so many times in this type of situation." That actually makes a lot of sense.
"Sometimes things do need to be kept from your eyes," he says. "Maybe your partner is going to try to surprise you for your birthday or a romantic getaway. Snooping and finding those things will ruin a super amazing event in your relationship." He has a great point.
10. It'll Make Your Relationship As Stable As A See-Saw
"It implies you don't trust your partner, so you are taking matters into your own hands to find out dirt that the partner has not willingly disclosed," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Without trust, the relationship has about the same stability as a see-saw." That's … pretty unstable.
Like Masini, Rogers says that snooping is a gateway to worse things. "Snooping is the gateway drug to other trust issues, and once you start, it's hard to stop," Rogers says. "The entire reason relationships work is because there is inherent trust. You have each other's backs. Otherwise, you would just be friends with benefits." You have to let your bae be your bae. "Embrace the fact that you are in a relationship, and abide by the relationship rules," Rogers says. A good rule of thumb.
11. You'll Ultimately Doom Your Relationship
Trust is vital in a relationship, and when you snoop, it goes out the window. "It’s called 'trust'," Marina Sbrochi, IPPY award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life tells Bustle, and if you're snooping around, you don’t have it. "The relationship is doomed," she says.
Plus, it's immature, Sbrochi says. Just go straight to the source. "If you really want to know who called your boyfriend or girlfriend — why don’t you ask them?" she asks. "Or think about it this way: Do you like people invading your privacy? Probably not. So don’t do it. It’s a trust-breaker." Clear as crystal.
12. You'll Put Yourself In A Tenuous Place
"Be careful when you go snooping, because you will probably find what you are looking for," intimacy coach Rebekah Beneteau tells Bustle. "It's easy to misinterpret what you read if you are already expecting a betrayal." Then things get worse: "You have to take responsibility for your own emotional state," she says. "And if you are in a relationship where the only way to find out what your partner is doing, and you have reason to be suspicious, what are you doing with him [or her] anyway?" Exactly. If you're suspicious, you might be in the wrong relationship.
13. Your Partner Will Feel Violated
"Even if you discover that your partner is completely on the up and up, by spying, you have committed a violation of the highest magnitude upon your partner," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle.
By the time needing to snoop comes around, you're already in serious trouble."If you feel that this is the only way you can find out about what your partner is doing, know that the trust is gone; therefore your relationship is in serious trouble," she says.
And if your partner finds out what you did, they will feel awful. "The invaded partner always feels violated to learn that the person he or she is involved with is a possessive person who's practicing espionage of the highest order," she says. This is not the fun kind of TV-style spying; this is just a garden-variety horrible idea. "Regardless of whether your partner is guilty as charged or not, the spying behavior is totally unacceptable," Sansone-Braff says.
There's an easy fix, she adds: "The karmically correct thing to do is to reveal your suspicions to your mate, allowing him or her the opportunity to either dispel your fears or confirm them. If you still feel your mate is not coming clean with his or her indiscretions, and you feel you must begin spying, then it's time to come to grips with the fact that the relationship is in dire trouble, regardless of what your espionage reveals."
14. Snooping Is 'Predicated On A Lack Of Trust'
Obviously, if you're pawing through your partner's underwear drawer, the two of you have a serious problem. "[Snooping] is predicated on a lack of trust," Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist , tells Bustle. "There has to be an implicit trust in an intimate relationship." If you don't have that in place, spying on your partner's personal belongings won't help matters. Without trust, your relationship will be inherently wobbly at best: "You are building the house on a cracked foundation," she says. If you want to be with your partner long-term, find a solution to your suspiciousness that does not involve distrust, and work on building up your trust in your partner.
15. Snooping Can Result In A Breakup
Here's what happens when you snoop, plain and simple: You break your partner's trust in a way that will never be the same, BetterHelp telehealth counselor and psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "You are letting them know that you love them, but do not trust them, and may never," she says. A hallmark of a healthy relationship it is not, she says, and such an action an often lead to the end of a relationship. If you're happy with your partner, re-think things before going through their private stuff.
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