How to deal with a snooping, nosy partner

By • Jul 21st, 2008 • Category: For Couples

In this age of technology, with cell phones, computers, emailing, iming, and texting, privacy (or lack thereof) has become an important topic in modern relationships.  It is far easier to communicate than ever, but also far easier to have your communications be read by another person. So what role does privacy have in relationships? How much privacy are you entitled to? Is there any reason for your partner to look through your things?

I personally have had to deal with these issues in my relationships and I know many others who have as well.  I have had girlfriends who went through my journal and hacked into all of email and myspace passwords, etc. I have also been guilty of reading a lover’s journal in a very early relationship years ago, when I was much more inexperienced and immature.  I have been on both sides of the coin.

First, just remember, you are ALWAYS entitled to your privacy, even if you are married for 50 years. You are entitled to your private thoughts, hopes, and dreams and no one can take that away from you.  Just because you are in a relationship with someone does not mean that you are suddenly dissolving into them and have no individuality of your own.

The reason somebody decides to actively violate your privacy can be boiled down to one issue: INSECURITY. Only insecure people read journals and emails that they are not supposed to read. If you discover what has been going on, they may try to throw it back at you and say they thought they had reason to be concerned, they thought you were cheating, you were acting differently, etc.  All of that is rationalization. It all boils down to trust, lack of respect and being unable to understand appropriate parameters and boundaries. Most importantly, the key element missing here is TRUST.

Now you may have done something to violate your lover’s trust or you may have not. Either way, your partner is insecure and mistrustful. These two things have to be there in order for the privacy violation to occur. Either way, it is still wrong to read someone else’s personal things. The fact that your partner feels it is ok to go through your personal things is a big sign that there’s serious problems in the relationship. The appropriate course of action would be for the nosy partner to express their concerns, insecurities and mistrust to their partner and communicate openly about it. Subterfuge, sneaking around, and breaking privacy is not an appropriate response and only serves to harm the relationship with more mistrust, more sneakiness, and less direct communication. Chances are also, that the snooping violator will probably not find what they are looking for, but may find something else that they won’t like, because, after all, most journals contain dark thoughts and emotions that are not for public consumption.

In summary, the offending snooper is ALWAYS insecure, or else they would never snoop. Also, they are generally MISTRUSTFUL, possibly with or without cause. However, regardless, the only proper response for the wanna-be snooper is to engage their partner in honest dialogue, rather than create more mistrust by doing wrong things themselves. Also, most of the time, the snooper will find something that will set them off even more, simply because they are trying to find something.  And often, the snooper’s feelings of “mistrust” are just caused by their own insecurity, rather than something that is actually happening.

Just remember, it is NEVER right for someone to violate your privacy, regardless of what they tell you or what rationalizations they throw at you to defend themselves. There is only one appropriate response from the violator- asking for forgiveness.

Once someone has violated your privacy, they will continue to escalate and continue to deprive you of your own right to your own thoughts in more and more controlling ways. First, it’s a journal, then phone, then email, then having you followed, etc, etc.

The way to handle a snooper is to be firm and set clear parameters. Once you have discovered the violation, confront the offender and make sure they understand that they wronged you. Never defend yourself unless you really have something to be guilty about like adultery or doing something illegal, but never defend yourself for having your own personal inner life. Make sure the violator is the one apologizing. Make it clear in no uncertain terms that you will not be accepting such behavior in the future and if they violate your trust and privacy again you will have to reassess the relationship.  Don’t be mean or callous, but be firm and back up your words with actions.

After that, it is up to the violator to regain your trust. See if their behavior changes and if they go out of their way to regain your trust and make you feel more comfortable.  Forgive, but don’t forget, and if they do it again, you may just have to move on.


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