No Snooping, Please!
Barrington H. Brennen, February 17, 2021
During the past two decades, there has been a
noticeable increase of infidelity being found out by one partner snooping into another partnerís phone. What the
snooping partner finds causes shock, disbelief, vicious
arguments, fights, and at times the ending of a
Since the invention of the smart phone,
which makes texting and sexing so easy, the question of
privacy and secrecy has become a serious debate between
couples. Should someone snoop in her/his partnerís text
messages or emails? Should passwords be shared? Should
couples have secrets between them?
Let us first establish a key point. There
is to be absolutely no secrets in a relationship. Note
however, that secrecy and privacy are two different things.
For example, I do not go into my wifeís purse because that
will be invading her privacy. However, I am not kept from
going into it. I am free to go into it, but I do not
violate that privilege of privacy. If she forbids me to go
into her purse, then that could rise the concept of
secrecy. My wife has passwords on all of her gadgets and
emails. I do not know the passwords and have no need to
ask. She does not have the passwords to prevent me from
going into them. It is just about security. The sweet
thing is that she tells me the passwords when she asks me to
check something for her.
Here is another point to consider when it
comes to snooping. There might be times a partner needs to
snoop into the phone/emails of his/her partner. One wife
said after being brutally wounded by her husbandís
unfaithfulness, that she wished she had at least snooped one
time into his phone when she first suspected. She said it
might have reduced the development of the secret affair.
On the other hand, my research reveals that
many spouses regret that they snooped into their partnerís
phone. Why? Because they greatly misunderstood what they
saw and it gradually evaded the trust and increased
suspicion. The husband was totally innocent. The truth is,
when you snoop you will find what you are looking for and it
will not be what you are thinking it is.
Here is what marriage and family therapist,
Kelsey Borresen, states in the article ďIs it Ever OK To
Check Your Partnerís Phone?Ē ďThe long and short of it: No,
itís generally not OK. Itís a violation of your partnerís
privacy and a breach of trust ― not to mention, itís often
unproductive: You might find nothing and then feel like a
jerk for snooping. You might find something small and
innocent and blow it out of proportion. Or you might
actually find something incriminating, but then you have to
ask yourself: Was this really the most honorable way of
getting the information? ďIt is an invasion of privacy and
property. To check a phone without consent shows that
there is a communication breakdown. Looking for something on
your partnerís phone without permission immediately breaks
trust to fulfill your own needs. It leads to suspicions and
assumptions that trigger insecurities and upset.Ē
Here is another perspective. Many of my
clients were not snooping when they found incriminating
information in her/his partnerís phone. The partner might
have been using the phone (with permission) and the
information popped up. Strangely, I found that some
unfaithful partners actually feel relieved that they got
caught. Why? Because although they walked freely into the
clandestine relationship, at some point they felt it was
wrong and could not get out because the other partner was
blackmailing them. One man told me that he had
his best sleep in years on the night he got caught.
Before You Decide to Snoop
. . .
Is there anytime one can "snoop" into his or her partner's
phone? Before deciding to snoop consider these
Your partner displays suspicious
behavior that you have questioned over time and refuses to
acknowledge or change and it is causing the deterioration of
the relationship. For example, coming home very
late or not letting you know where he or she went, condoms
found in his pocket and you both do not use them. Or
your partner might be hiding the phone or refuse to
let to use it or see his texts when you request to
see them, because of your suspicion, etc..
Your partner questions your trust in him or her as a
defense tool when you point out your suspicions.
If you answered affirmatively to these two points, then with
caution, and an open mind, you can choose to check your
partner's phone. Some partners higher a private
detective to investigate before confronting the partner.
Before doing so, remember you are going to open the flood
gates of anger that might lead to rage, bitterness, intense
and ridiculous questioning, self doubt, sleepless nights,
and reckless behavior.
Here are a few of my points and tips for the faithful
See "I cannot get these images out of my head." ]
Keep your dignity.
Avoid allowing the situation to be about you or suck you
in to self-pity and depression. Note that not all
affairs are due to poor marital relationships. Some are
just about living out fantasies, not being aware of
one's vulnerability, or plane stupidity. It is not
necessarily about you.
Do not snoop again.
No matter how you feel, avoid going back and checking
the phone/emails. Why? Constantly reviewing the text
messages stifles healing and increases bitterness. As
said earlier, you will "find" what you are looking for
and it would not be true. You can have, for a short
time, an agreement between you both that you will
randomly check the phone/emails from the perspective of
accountability, but that is for a short time and must
not continue indefinitely.
The guilty partner could be mourning just like the
innocent one is mourning.
The guilty partner is regretting what he or she did,
even if it was a choice at first. They are sad that
they have cost so much pain. Regret, depression,
confusion, despair, and even disgust with
himself/herself could be natural at this time.
Avoid repeating questions.
Avoid asking everyday "Why did you do this?" Remember,
many times the guilty partner really may not even know
why he/she had the affair. Avoid the constant dripping
of questions like: "What color was her panties?" "What
hotel room did you take her to?" "Were the lights on?"
Etc. Believe it or not, the guilty partner may not
even know the answer to these questions because that was
not the focus. There are many partners who cannot even
give a clear answer to "Why did you do this?" What is
more important is that your partner acknowledges that he
or she was wrong and is willing to change.
Establish clear boundaries and guidelines.
If you both are thinking about staying together or have
already decided to remain as a couple, it is imperative
to establish simple, yet clear boundaries. This may
include but not limited to: (a) The use of the phone or
email. (b) Sharing passwords or not having them at
all. (c) Time coming home at night. (d) Sharing
information. (e) Association with friends.
Remember, no snooping.
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and
family therapist. Send your questions and comments to
or call 242-347-1980.