Illegal Search and Seizure: Stay Out of His (or Her) Things!

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My last boyfriend was a cheater. I found out and [decided] to stay with him (I was 22- go figure). One day we were having an argument about me checking his facebook inbox, emails, etc and I [told] him that privacy is something he forfeited by choosing to cheat. –  SBM Commenter

I read this comment on our post last Monday that explored why men cheat, and was immediately alarmed. I’ve wanted to write about the whole significant other snooping phenomenon, and this comment finally lit a fire under my arse to elaborate on this troubling trend. Let’s start with my obvious point #1:

Trust Is Lost if You Feel Compelled To Violate your Significant Other’s Privacy

I understood the commenter’s frustration with her boyfriend. He cheated, disregarded the parameters of their relationship, and violated her trust. However, two wrongs don’t make a right. To insinuate that you relinquish your rights to privacy based on past actions gives me the impression that relationships are more dictatorial than democratic. That makes no sense. So every mistake warrants a revocation of your inalienable rights to privacy? The same way that you have a hard time trusting a cheater, they can have doubts about you when you go through personal belongings, email, and phone? Imagine if a police officer or the government told you that they would commence wire taps and surveillance on you because you lied in court about parking tickets. Would you feel contrite because of your past transgressions, or outraged at the disregard for your private business?

If You Have To Search Through Your Significant Other’s Private Things, You Might As Well Break Up

I’m a Scorpio, and an apologetic one at that. I’m not a strict zodiac believer, but I definitely see traits in people of a certain sign. Scorpios can be loyal and passionate, but can also be jealous and extremely vindictive. Having said that, when I am wronged,  it is possible for me to forgive, but not forget. As a Christian, and as a human being, I believe we all should be afforded the chance at forgiveness. That doesn’t mean that I won’t remember what you did and treat you accordingly. When a boyfriend/girlfriend cheats, some people will say that they forgive, but the words don’t match actions. If you truly forgive them, you should be able to build from your relationship difficulties and become stronger. If you forgive with a caveat that when your Spidey Sense tingles, you will morph into Sherlock Holmes, then that’s not forgiveness. You clearly harbor ill feelings towards the person still, and feel that you are justified in reading emails and checking phones because it happened to you before. If you feel that you have to mitigate the risk of further cheating by monitoring their personal and private movements, is that a real relationship? I never want to feel like I have to police my significant other.

That’s not a relationship, that’s a job.

I’d rather cut ties and have a clean slate. This way, you won’t hold their cheating over their heads forever, create an atmosphere of contempt and resentment, and ultimately cause more damage to one another than good.

A wise man once told me that if you look for something, you’ll find something. When you are in a relationship, you share so much, and I’m sure there’s some aspects of your life you’d like to keep to you. Your S/O doesn’t need to know the context of every conversation you have with family and friends. They don’t need to know every single thought in your mind. Where’s the mystery? That’s smothering to me. Searching through someone’s email or phone or personal things is wrong no matter what they’ve done. If you do it, know that you cross a line from where there is no return. I hope the stability of your relationship, whether personal or professional, is worth all the trouble.

How do you feel about a significant other’s privacy? Do you believe that a significant other waives the right to privacy if he or she commits an egregious act? Do you set boundaries upfront in your relationships when it comes search and discovery? Share your thoughts below!

From Our Partners

  • stargazingfrenzy

    Some people think if you don't allow them to go through your things then you have something to hide. WRONG wrong wrong. Crossing the privacy boundary is an automatic deal breaker! It shows early on that a person has trust issues and is looking for a slip up. I'll work through certain issues in a relationship but trust just isn't one of them.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

    I remember a time I accidentally stumbled upon a girl's Facebook (which is why you never ever ever ever check your social networks at boopieces cribs, I'm half convinced that's the reasons smartphone were invented in the first place). I was going to keep it to myself but I couldn't play myself like that. I gave her an easy out, asked her where we stood, she didn't bite. I said that I was talking to someone, didn't bite again (it's crazy how women liars are so much more cold) then I said fuggit and played the Facebook card. She eventually came clean; there was someone else, as she wasn't sure if she can trust me (the irony. the accountability).but when she broke it off to be with me. I broke it off, I wasn't remotely angry, I forgave her but I knew the trust was gone, well it never existed (an insurance ninja, really). I wanted to be oblivious again, secure again, and that couldn't happen with her

  • Smilez_920

    No need to check your partners things . All bad things come to light . If we’re at the point where we need to check each others things , then we don’t need to be together . We clearly don’t trust each other, so why keep playing Warden and inmate .

    If I do find out my S.O. Is cheating on me, I’m not going to stay around, especially if I have to check all of his items to feel secure .

  • Bree

    "I never want to feel like I have to police my significant other.That’s not a relationship, that’s a job." My sentiments exactly Streetz.
    I've never had the time or engery to go looking thru other people's stuff. Everytime I did that with my family as a child I got bad news or found something bad and that stopped me from snooping.

  • Bree

    The times I've found out an ex was lying and/or cheating it was purely by accident. I give people just enough rope to hang themselves and let the chips fall where they may.
    I completely agree with this post and I feel u on everything your saying. I believe that once you get to a point where you feel the need to look through your partners things it's time to have "the talk." If that person denies whatever is happening then it's up to you to stay with them and wait it out and see what happens or walk away based on your intuition and the fact that u don't feel like you can trust them. I know it's not easy, but if u do choose to wait it out know that Everything thats done in the dark, surely "Comes To The Light." EVERYTHING. Sometimes much later than sooner, but eventually, the truth does come out.

  • Magg

    Agreed with the whole article.

    If u decide to forgive, u need to move on!!! If u can't move on and keep on resenting your partner for that thing he/she did, then you need to let that partner go!!! Once trust is gone, the relationship is over!!!

    And for the looking through emails/fbook messages/text messages habit… OH MY GOD, where do you find the time to do that?! 24hrs aren't enough i can't waste it doing that… And am i the only one thinking that there is something insane about this behaviour X_X! People who do that should ask themselves "is everything right with me?" (no… the answer is NO!!!)

  • beautifulsoul

    it's soooooooo not worth it to go through a man's personal things w/ out his permission. That's not love, it's possessive & power hungry. If he cheats move on & do it quickly and make sure is finer than the last.

    I can tell you from experience that Fris ALWAYS the BEST form of revenge. Just get your life.

    • beautifulsoul

      oops, typo's all up in my comment!!!!! lol, what I was tryna say is: make sure the new dude is finer than the cheating dog, also: Tis better to cut your losses than obsess over the details of some dudes life who obviously don't care enough about u to be faithful.

  • BlueSteele

    "If you NEED passwords and unlimited access the damage is done and you're looking at a downhill slope of insecurity. Just leave before you become 'that girl'."

  • Kopa

    I regularly read his text messages. Maybe cause we share a phone at the moment. Maybe not. He doesn't mind at all, probably cause he gets like one message every two days, usually from his brother, saying "ok". I don't do it to snoop, I could care less about his emails or whatever, Im just curious so when I get bored I read whatever is on my phone, including his messages. And my own. I read messages I sent him too. But I wouldn't do this if he didn't approve, I've never tried to hide it. It's one of my weird quirks, if you will.

  • Lili

    As a recovering snooper, yeah, I guess I can agree with this post…now lol. We’d both agreed early on in our 15 yr marriage to share pws, keep everything open, didn’t trip if something was read or seen, that was, until I stumbled upon HIS secret relationships, emotional affairs, and such. Now, he’s a daggone privacy advocate, and the rules have changed! Though he says things are over, and I’ve witnessed him shut some stuff down…trust is still soo fragile, and I have to put it IN to not go back to snooping. No lapses, but sometimes I feel I need more than his “word” to know if all the sneaking and lying has really stopped.

  • Monica

    I have done the snooping thing after I have caught my man with some real deep crap going on. I was devastated and hurt and the more I looked the more I hurt. I had to stop for my sanity. I believe that love is complicated. Respect and trust go hand in hand and it takes care not to destroy it. Bottom line is that I love him and I do not want to leave him. I am trying to understand that he has a past and it is a long one. We are not married but we are getting there by growing together and working through our circumstances. I don't think that society makes it easy when the women give out their numbers like candy and the first text is a naked picture of their body parts. Men and women can be weak for various reasons but they have to want to do right. I stopped snooping and looking. I realized that I cannot exist in my own vacuum and I have to truly re-build trust with him. It is hard. I know I out him through it at first but i have gotten better. I am a Scorpio woman and 100% Scorpio I am jealous once I have a reason and vindictive but i am loyal and loving too. Every relationship has it's problems and many men and women cheat. As long as I don't feel it, see it or hear about it I will never know as I do not want to look for it. If there is another 3 am call and he is sleep and the phone wakes me up, I will answer the call…REAL TALK!