We’ve all been there — texts coming in at odd hours, leaving the room to take secret calls.
Maybe you have a feeling someone’s sliding into your partner’s direct messages (DMs), but you can’t be sure.
Is it ever okay to invade your partner’s privacy and look at their phone?
And if you do take that bold step, are you prepared for what you might find?
Katie and Joan recently took our Communication Style quiz to try and settle this dispute.
Joan says it’s fine — if her partner doesn’t have anything to hide, what’s the harm?
On the other side, Katie feels Joan’s behavior is a breach of privacy and indicates a lack of trust.
Is It Healthy to Look at Your Partner’s Phone?
So, when is it healthy for you and your partner to look at each other’s phones?
From our work at the Gay Couples Institute, we’ve learned that couples who have been together a long time are conscious of mind-reading.
Mind-reading is when your partner suspects you’re cheating and projects this mistrust onto you.
Joan projects her suspicions onto her partner, which puts Katie on the defensive.
It is emotionally draining for Katie and has put an immense strain on their relationship.
Have you ever felt tired of defending yourself against your partner’s allegations — even when you haven’t done anything to justify them?
How Can You Ease Your Partner’s Anxiety?
Joan is concerned Katie has met someone else based on her actions over the past few weeks.
She thinks the easiest way through this is for her to look at Katie’s phone.
Katie says all Joan needs to do is ask — but what if the answer doesn’t give Joan peace of mind?
A pointless discussion.
At the Gay Couples Institute, we’ve worked with many successful couples.
Through our work, we’ve found that forever-couples react differently.
For instance, Joan should say to Katie:
“I’m worried about the late-night texts and meetings. Is something going on?”
Katie would then dispel her fears by saying:
“I hear you, why don’t you come with me to the meetings and have a look at my phone when the texts come through?”
In most cases, this transparency will quell your partner’s anxiety — but what if doesn’t?
It might feel as though your partner is trying to sabotage the relationship, perhaps because of unresolved issues from their past.
Maybe they’re fresh out of a relationship where their partner cheated on them.
On the other hand, they might just have a jealous streak.
So, how can the two of you move forward together?
How to Build Trust
Aside from the fact that reading your partner’s texts is a federal offense, it just feels wrong.
If you are considering hiring a hacker so you can see what your partner is up to, is your relationship even tenable?
Total transparency in a long-term relationship is perfectly fine. Many couples who have been together a long time have each other’s social media passwords, bank details — you name it.
But what if you’ve only been together a few months? A partner who wants immediate, unbridled access to your private dealings with no rational basis is a giant red flag.
So, how can you deal with a suspicious partner and build that all-important trust?
It is essential to remember that trust is earned.
If you’re dating someone with trust issues, it will take a little more effort to win their confidence.
If you’re the one having a hard time trusting a new partner, try not to compare them to your previous ones.
Your gut will always tell you how much mind-reading you are projecting.
Look for patterns that trigger your mistrust and go with your instinct.
Most importantly, be prepared to deal with the potential consequences before you start snooping —
you might find something you don’t want to know.
Katie’s secret texts and late-night meetings were surprise birthday plans for Joan.
Joan had better be ready to act shocked on the day!
Discretion — How Much Is Too Much?
In this age of social media, it is possible to know too much about a person.
Talk to your partner and explain your position.
Allow them to show you who they really are, and you will then feel confident about where you stand.
A partner who shares in your vulnerability is a keeper.
The first step is to learn something about yourself by taking our Communication Style Quiz.
Especially if you’re the “Guardian” Communication Style, you can discover how to work on your trust issues in a way that makes your relationship stronger in the long term.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org