Is It OK to Snoop on My Partner?

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There has never been an easier time to find out information about another person. In our current age of social media, google searches, and LinkedIn profiles—very little stays hidden away from one or more clever clicks of a keyboard.

Using only a mobile phone, you can gain access to a person’s email conversations, social media messaging, direct message communication, text messages, and so on. This can prove useful or troubling, depending on the circumstances.

In particular, partners have an easy stream of information to tap into. This may be useful should they begin to wonder about what their significant others might be up to. When doubts crop up about secret meetings, financial welfare, or possible flirtations by one partner—simply reaching for a phone can put an end to any curiosities for good.

If you’ve ever considered snooping on your partner’s mobile phone, laptop, iPad, or another device, you’re certainly not alone. A 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 34% of Americans had looked through their current partner’s mobile phone without their knowledge. 

When struggling with jealousy or trust in your relationship, the thought of taking a quick peek into your partner’s digital life may have crossed your mind. The question is, what impact can this have on your relationship?

This guide will examine the different reasons partners snoop in their relationship. It will weigh the significance of this action, plus advice on spying in a relationship.

Why Do Partners Snoop in Relationships?

To answer this question, it’s necessary to break down the process of spying on your partner. First, a partner will entertain doubts about possible distrustful or illegal activities their significant other might be engaged in.

If you feel the urge to snoop on your partner, some of the following may be true about your relationship.

There Is a Lack of Trust

Trust is a non-negotiable element for relationships to thrive. A study of young couples found that trust in relationships not only encouraged faithfulness and vulnerability—it also promoted emotional intimacy.  

When trust is lacking on one or both fronts, doubt may cloud innocent statements or promises made by a partner. Changing behaviors on their front can set off warning signs that spark suspicion.

In these scenarios, reaching for their phones or other devices/means becomes necessary to get to the root of these doubts.

There Are Suspicions of Infidelity

If you observe that your partner is keeping a distance from you, or is more engrossed than normal on their devices—this can be troubling to your mind.

On one hand, there is the chance you are overthinking the possible change in behavior. Because cheating allegations can be dicey, keeping such thoughts inside can seem like the best choice. On the other hand, a simple, confrontation-free way to allay fears is to have a quick look at things for yourself without your partner knowing.

While these are valid, insecurity, doubt, and jealousy fan the flames that encourage spying in relationships. These are not traits of a healthy relationship.

Partners Shy Away From Hard Conversations

When partners struggle with open communication and vulnerability, this leaves room to sidestep these two barriers by any means necessary.

If your partner is unwilling to speak about a disappointment suffered during the week, you’re likely to go in search of their phone for answers. The same goes when looking to make sense of a growing distance from your loved one, etc. 

When partners are unable to speak honestly about their present feelings, there is ample opportunity for negative influences to set in.

Is It OK to Snoop on Your Partner?

When participants in a survey were asked this question, 42% responded that it was never OK to do so. Twenty-eight percent of the men and women respondents, however, believed certain rare situations called for partners to snoop in on their loved one’s affairs. 

Snooping into your partner’s private affairs is a direct breach of their privacy. Unless you and your partner have prior agreements to freely go through the other’s devices—looking through their pictures, messages, email, and other means of communication can count as a breach of trust.

It also doesn’t help that snooping may produce one of three outcomes. First, nothing is found, leaving you saddled with the guilt of invading your partner’s privacy. Second, something is discovered through improper means. This will raise questions about how you learned that information. Third, your partner finds out that you snooped and they feel that their privacy has been violated.

Spying on your partner is likely to bring more harm than good because it encourages secrecy and distrust between partners.

What to Do If You're Considering Snooping

When you feel a persistent urge to look through your partner’s private communications, this can say more about you and your relationship than you realize.

It’s important to ask whether your significant other’s actions warrant this breach of trust. In the event that the answer is yes, the next thing to explore is to bring your concerns to your partner about their behavior.

By speaking kindly through any doubts, worries, or complaints, it's possible you'll be able to work through any of these challenges together before you feel a desire to snoop.

If you or your loved one have looked through the other’s phone, it isn’t too late to speak about what made either you or your partner do so. In a judgment-free setting, take a look at the environment that encouraged doubt and distrust.

To avoid a repeat, agree to proper steps to take if you notice unhealthy behaviors flare up again. Partners may also visit a relationship therapist to help with any issues in the relationship.

A Word From Verywell

Trust in a relationship is a valuable, yet easy-to-break thing. When partners begin to move behind the other’s back, this can spell trouble for the relationship. Partners should respect boundaries and privacy. If insecurities or challenges arise, this can leave room to consider snooping. Partners should have open discussions about these feelings for a healthy relationship to thrive. Loved ones should speak honestly about their emotions and doubts. This will not only strengthen the relationship but can improve honest communication between partners.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pew Research Center. Dating and Relationships in the Digital Age.

  2. Laborde ND, vanDommelen-Gonzalez E, Minnis AM. Trust - that's a big one: intimate partnership values among urban Latino youth. Cult Health Sex. 2014;16(9):1009-1022. doi:10.1080/13691058.2014.921837

By Elizabeth Plumptre
Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences.