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Is it Bad to go through your partner’s phone when they’re not looking

When your partner’s phone is just lying there—unlocked, unattended, and practically calling your name—it can be tempting to quickly pick it up and start scrolling. After all, a few taps can reveal who they’re talking to, what they’re saying, and maybe some secrets you feel entitled to know.

And no, you’re not a bad person if you’ve had the urge to snoop: A lot of people consider sneaking a peek at their significant other’s private texts, photos, emails, internet search history, and so on, Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, PhD, a New York City–based psychologist and advisor for the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. Maybe your partner wronged you in the past and you think skimming their Instagram DMs will help you trust them again. Or you may have no reason to doubt them and it’s just good ol’ curiosity getting the best of you—and what harm could one little look do, right? (To answer that question: a lot, actually.)

First of all, you’re probably not going to feel any more reassured, validated, or secure, Dr. Lira de la Rosa says. At best, you won’t find anything incriminating on their device, and then you’ll feel like a guilty jerk. Or, if you do stumble across any eyebrow-raising activity (even something minor like a text from an unknown number, say, or their Instagram search history revealing they’ve been admiring a hot celebrity), you’re likely going to be annoyed, anxious, and possibly even more tempted to check their accounts again and again (and again)—until you’re basically an obsessive detective.

Plus, secretly surveilling your partner is bound to sabotage your romance, Dr. Lira de la Rosa points out. That’s because all healthy relationships need boundaries that give each person space and independence. “It’s normal to want to keep some things private,” he says (such as group chats with pals or awkward selfies)—which is why “a reluctance to give up their phone or password doesn’t automatically mean your partner is hiding something,” he adds. And even if they’ve given you a reason to be suspicious (perhaps they cheated once, or previously lied about their whereabouts), constantly keeping tabs on them and second-guessing their intentions won’t bring you two any closer.

“Trust is so important for any relationship to thrive, and if you breach it by going behind their back, your partner will understandably feel upset, frustrated, or disappointed,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa explains. And because you didn’t have faith in them, they probably won’t trust you either: Your SO can’t know for sure that you won’t continue to snoop, which, Dr. Lira de la Rosa says, can make them less likely to open up in the future. And next thing you know, that emotional distance may kill your spark. (Even research suggests that digital snooping can lead to a breakup by increasing feelings of anxiety and distrust.)

So instead of giving in to the temptation to helicopter over them, Dr. Lira de la Rosa suggests asking yourself what, exactly, is behind your urge to invade their privacy. Are you insecure and paranoid that your partner isn’t into you? Do you still have lingering uncertainties after they emotionally cheated on you last year? Once you get a better idea of what’s triggering your doubt, you can then have a meaningful discussion with your partner about your concerns.

“You can say, ‘I know this may sound extreme, but I sometimes feel anxious about how good our relationship is, and I worry that you may leave me,’” Dr. Lira de la Rosa suggests. Or, “I know you’ve been more open with me lately, but I’m still having trouble letting go of the worry that you might flirt with your coworker again.” Ideally, the two of you can then work together to find healthier ways to move forward.

This can look like requesting extra emotional support during these anxious moments or, if you’re rebuilding broken trust, coming up with more reasonable compromises. (With the example above: Your significant other may not be totally comfortable with you scrolling through all their Slack DMs. However, they could agree to limit contact with the colleague who’s making you so paranoid outside of the office instead.)

Ultimately, what you really need probably isn’t access to their phone—it’s reassurance and trust. And a heart-to-heart is much more likely to give you that than combing through their call history when they’re in the shower.

The original article can be found on SELF US.

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