The original content of this article was published on November 4th, 2014 but remains just as relevant, if not more, in December 2019. There are still millions asking if they should look through their boyfriend or girlfriend’s phone. Find out if you should below.
It has been brought to my attention that 21st century monogamy is plaguing American civil liberties; Namely the right to privacy. This was not always the case, so first we will examine how relationship-induced privacy invasion came to be.
The digital world has opened us to an array of ways to connect with one another (Facebook and texting will be the focus of this article). If you think someone is attractive, all it takes is internet access and thirty seconds to type a brief message to them. On top of that, texting and online messaging now make it easier than ever to frequently communicate.
The beauty of Facebook and texting is that no one will ever know two people are talking unless they choose to make it known. Before the digital age, real-live interactions heavily supplemented phone calls, letter writing, etc. If you wanted to get to know someone, seeing one another in public was usually necessary.
Now, talking to one another in public is a form of recognition on the totem pole. It is easy to reach out to someone behind closed doors with the separation of a screen. Because of this, it has become incredibly easy to have a friendship or relationship that not many people know about. So nowadays if you are parading around town with someone of the opposite sex, that shows a certain level of commitment.
As pathetic as the last statement sounds, it’s true. We have the capacity to be texting/Facebooking multiple people at once. Narrowing your communication down to one person is a big step, and public association typically comes after this.
Because messaging is so immediate, this form of communication has also opened the door to casual hanging out. Gone are the days where you have to call someone’s home phone and arrange a time to get together. Now you can message someone, and they could feasibly be at your door within 15 minutes. It’s not that this wasn’t possible before, but it certainly wasn’t as easy at it is now.
Texting is directly responsible for the rise of non-public hangouts, and nowadays your roommates are truly the only people who will know if you have different people over. We can thank the virtual world for enabling us to have secret friendships, relationships, and everything in between.
All of this being said, the key to any successful relationship is trust. With all of these added ways to connect with one another, the manner in which we go about being able to trust someone has suddenly become very different. Trust is now based on so much more than just someone’s outside actions because we now have the ability connect with endless people when alone without fear of repercussion.
When you start dating someone, you aren’t just trusting them to be physically faithful anymore. We also expect our significant other to refrain from communicating extensively with those of the opposite sex when we aren’t looking. This is a tall order given it is so easy to communicate and never get caught.
The central question to dating nowadays is can you fully trust someone unless you know what they are doing on Facebook or who they are texting? There is definitely no concrete answer, but it is certainly an interesting concept to grapple with.
Every couple has their own protocol for what level of communication is appropriate. I know some couples who hardly question or think about their partner’s texting and online habits. I also know couples who feel the need to know exactly where their partner is and who they are speaking to at all times. These are the couples who are taking down privacy rights all across America, and the capital offense is snooping through one another’s text messages when they are unauthorized to do so.
MailOnline conducted a study surveying 13,132 people in relationships across the US and found some interesting statistics on how prevalent looking through a partner’s phone is. 20% of men and 25% of women admit to checking their partner’s phones. 12% of those surveyed admitted that they checked their partner’s phone to catch them lying, while a 25% of them admitted to snooping because they were nosy. Almost a third of women said they checked their partner’s phone because they were curious. 21% thought their partner was cheating and 12% wanted to see if their partner was lying to them.
Statistics are statistics, but I believe that the root reason people go through one another’s phones is more than “curiosity.” More than half of the men surveyed found evidence of cheating or lying compared to 71% of women. I think this statistic shows that those who feel the need to go through their significant other’s phone are doing so because they aren’t entirely convinced their partner is trustworthy. These hunches seem to be overwhelmingly verified once they go through their partner’s phone.
Regardless of the findings, I think the act of going through your partner’s phone or Facebook is a decision that needs to be analyzed in and of itself. The notion that your partner can be someone completely different in the virtual world is definitely horrifying, but shouldn’t a relationship be based off of an underlying level of trust that is strong enough to stop you from going through their messages?
The unfortunate thing about texting and Facebook is that sometimes fairly innocent conversations can be perceived as far worse than they really are. Say your Ex texts you asking how things are going. You politely answer because you don’t want to be rude to someone who you cared about at one point in your life, so you guys have a conversation about how everything is going. If your current girlfriend or boyfriend opens your phone or Facebook and sees that you have been communicating with your Ex, they have entered into reading your conversation with the preconceived notion that you are doing something absolutely awful- something rivaling cheating.
Furthermore, say you’re talking to your Ex about something going on in your current family life that has relevance to what they knew from your time together. Then say your current girlfriend/boyfriend reads this message and has no idea what you are referring to. You didn’t tell your current partner because it wasn’t something you felt was entirely important, yet you are bringing it up to your Ex because it was relevant to something they knew from the past. Suddenly your current partner has grounds to think you are confiding in your Ex over them, and this paves the way for World War 3.
All in all, my personal opinion is that you have no grounds, no matter what the situation is, to go through your partner’s phone. If you are overwhelmingly suspicious that something is going on between your partner and someone else, should you really be with that person anyways? I’m hoping logic would tell you no. Also as referenced above, there are too many instances in which you would stumble across people and conversations that aren’t actually crossing any lines when it comes down to it. A lot of our texting conversations are best left unseen by our partners because they are harmless, yet perceived as offensive when you aren’t sitting there to give them an explanation.
This leads to my next point, which is that our virtual lives should be kept private. You shouldn’t have to explain why you answered someone’s text or Facebook message. There is an underlying level of rudeness that comes with ignoring a message. I feel as if many of us will have random virtual conversations with people we perhaps shouldn’t be talking to. I also believe that we have these conversations because it’s easier to politely respond for a few texts than to ignore the person and then deal with an awkward public run in. I have come across far too many couples who have gotten into arguments about random texting conversations that meant nothing.
I think invading our partner’s privacy by going through their messages causes far more harm than good. Innocent things cause arguments. If you find that your significant other is lying or cheating, suddenly you are guilty of invading their personal accounts/phone- which isn’t a small offense either. So the next time you consider snooping through your partner’s phone, think about the violation of American civil liberties you are about the commit, and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.