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Snooping: Acceptable in some circumstances or not on?

(129 Posts)
Icelander Sat 22-Nov-14 10:35:50

Greetings Mumsnet, I'm new here and have spent a few days trawling around this site and lurking my way through an unhealthy number of threads on this board. I must say I am fascinated and have really enjoyed getting an inside look at human interaction that is quite different to what I'm used to!

I note that it is viewed as basically normal and acceptable behaviour by posters here for a wife or girlfriend to look through her SOs email, search and page visit history, and text conversations etc in an attempt to confirm certain suspicions that they harbour. I say this because I have encountered reports of this behaviour in many threads and not once have I read a poster having the opinion that this is a serious breach of privacy, disrespectful, or a betrayal of trust. I'm sure some hold this opinion, but I would imagine it is a small minority based on my own impressions of what I've read.

I am genuinely amazed by this and am trying to reach across the gender chasm in hope of being able to better understand where you're coming from. It has really been shocking to me because I have broken it off with two getting-close-to-being-serious women for this exact reason. I thought that there was really something there with the latest one too. But I don't think that I could possibly be in a serious relationship with someone that invades my privacy and disrespects me like that. It would be a deal-breaker for me, but it isn't something I would set out as terms at the beginning of our dating or something like that as it just seems obvious to me that this is relationship ending material and that anyone can see that it's totally unacceptable and would expect things to be over and finished if caught doing that.

Before reading through this site I would have thought that the vast majority of people would have agreed with me, but now I see that I was mistaken. What am I to make of this? Am I being unreasonable? Is it likely that any partner I have, even the mother of my own children, is going to snoop if the chance is open and its unlikely that they will be discovered? I must say this is quite unsettling to me ... deeply disturbing actually, and would very much appreciate any viewpoints or stories about the matter. Thanks in advance.

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sat 22-Nov-14 10:38:16

Why? What have you got to hide?

ImperialBlether Sat 22-Nov-14 10:41:17

grin @ Frau.

It seems crazy to me that someone who is suspicious doesn't try to find out more. However, it seems crazy to me if someone is constantly suspicious with no reason.

There has to be a difference between someone looking at their partner's phone if their partner has withdrawn from the relationship, changed the way they act, goes out more frequently, etc and someone who is just a nosy cow.

Icelander Sat 22-Nov-14 10:44:04

Frau, I wouldn't have anything to hide that she'd be looking for but I will have my own privacy respected or the relationship is over, that's how I see it. For example after catching my partner going through my phone texts I broke up with her after a short row and I was flabbergasted that she thought the relationship could continue after that.

warysara Sat 22-Nov-14 10:45:21

I think it is totally unacceptable, but then I'm a privacy freak and have been from a child. Nothing to hide, but I do not want anyone going through my "things" which these days equates to iPhone/computer/iPad etc..

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sat 22-Nov-14 10:47:34

Well, that's up to you then, isn't it. Make it clear from the outset and what's the problem confused

SelfLoathing Sat 22-Nov-14 10:48:21

Icelander

There are a number of different issues here:

1. level of agreed openness in a "dating" relationship.
2. level of agreed openness in a marriage.
3. non-consensual action taken after suspicion of betrayal arises.

Some people are very open and would give access to a partner to all phone/emails etc because they don't regard it as private and have nothing to hide. "All for one and one for all". That is a personality issue and a personal choice.

Some people aren't like that and want a private zone. In addition, a lot of people for work reasons have formal obligations of confidentiality and could not allow their partner access to their emails even if they were in the openness zone.

Both of those are VERY different from a situation when anyone (man or woman) suspects they are being lied to or their trust broken - it doesn't have to be sexual betrayal, it could be gambling or incurring debt etc.

I don't think many people would condone general snooping or secretly spying on your partner in the abstract. That too is a betrayal of trust. But I think the point is that once you are into a serious betrayal situation and a partner has been confronted and is lying, the snooping is the less of two evils.

For my own part, I wouldn't expect access to my partners phone or emails ever in general terms. I agree with you about a personal zone of privacy. However, I can see that if I were trying to rebuild trust after an affair, it would be essential.

So to answer your question - it's partly personality types (open, private, care, don't care) and partly situationally driven.

farendofafart Sat 22-Nov-14 10:49:29

I don't think it's acceptable to snoop unless there are very good reasons to be suspicious that a partner is being unfaithful (or involved in something dodgy or criminal maybe).

My H snooped on me when he was suspicious I was planning to leave him. He read my texts and emails, and he followed my posts on mumsnet. He found out I'd seen a solicitor and viewed rental properties. I think he should have just asked me to be honest - I would have told him the truth. And it did upset me at the time because I felt it was a violation of my privacy and that I was unable to communicate properly with anyone unless it was face to face. He felt somehow entitled to look at all this stuff and it was one of the final nails in the coffin for our relationship (we are now separated). BUT I can see why he did it. He was scared and wanted some answers, and didn't want me to fob him off or to cause a big row.

So I'm not sure what the right answer is really. I don't like it, I didn't like it when it was done to me, it is basically wrong, but there are some circumstances where it is understandable and possibly even necessary.

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sat 22-Nov-14 10:49:29

Sorry - I don't mean to be abrupt, I just don't get it.

Everyone has their own personal line in the sand. I have mine, you have yours, they're different. And some of them are out of sync with societal norms or even MN norms. That's ok - you're allowed. But so is your partner. If you're not compatible for that or any other reason, then end it. What's the drama?

VanitasVanitatum Sat 22-Nov-14 10:52:24

'I will have my privacy respected or the relationship is over' well you sound like a barrel of laughs. How about one of those weird things called a conversation where you explain how unacceptable that is to you, find out what is worrying her/making her feel insecure, you see if you can set that right for her and she agrees never to look at your private correspondence.

FWIW my correspondence is an open book to my DP, should he be interested. He's not, but I expect if made him insecure or suspicious, he might be.

For some women it's the only way they have been able to establish that they are not mad like their DP kept telling them they were, he was cheating and she did need to leave him. In sure this is true in gender reverse also.

Icelander Sat 22-Nov-14 10:55:54

The reason I am very curious is because, take this girl I was thinking was probably going to develop into something serious, could be the one, who knows? I find out that she as a rule would go through my personal conversations with others and my phone and computer in general.

Turns out her fears were misplaced because I was really keen on her and wasn't planning on straying from the relationship or anything like that. But that ended our relationship, so her decisions brought about the thing that she was afraid of.

I'm worried that this will happen to me in the future and I worry that it will not help to say at the outset 'Oh by the way I expect you to respect my phone/computer and mail etc as private'. Because everyone's going to agree to that and snoopers realise that they are doing something unethical surely, at least that they are acting against their partners wishes when they do it.

SelfLoathing Sat 22-Nov-14 10:58:12

For example after catching my partner going through my phone texts I broke up with her after a short row and I was flabbergasted that she thought the relationship could continue after that.

I don't think it's great she was doing that without asking but to adopt an attitude of "the relationship could not continue" seems very extreme and a bit unreasonable to me. And I err on the privacy side of the line in general terms.

What's wrong with a "this may have been fine in your previous relationship but it's not fine with me" conversation ???

It's all a bit "my way or the high way" which is never a healthy attitude in inter-personal relationships.

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sat 22-Nov-14 10:58:57

Well she wasn't the one. Sounds to me like you had picked her as the one for you and not really giving her the right to say you weren't the one for her

Icelander Sat 22-Nov-14 10:59:43

maybe this is unrealistic on my part, Vanitas, I don't know. I'm just trying to come to grips with how common this behaviour seems to be. I admit that it probably does bother me more than the average joe, and is obviously something I'd never do to my SO, even if I had suspicions of infidelity.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 22-Nov-14 11:00:08

I am a big advocate of privacy within a relationship, but there is a distinction between privacy and secrecy. Once secrecy is suspected and the trust is broken then the relationship is in big trouble. 'Snooping' in thst context is an expression of mistrust and a desire to find out the truth. Understandable, but I think once a relationship is in that murky water, it's probably all over.

There is another type of snooping which has nothing to do with finding out the truth and has not been triggered by untrustworthy behaviour. This type of snooping is the result of insecurity, the mistrust is artificial and the objective is to restrict and control. That kind of behaviour often features in abusive relationships.

It's not a gender thing, therefore, but all about context.

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sat 22-Nov-14 11:00:12

You sound really dictatorial - what's wrong with a chat and some compromise? Listen to your partner, listen to where they're coming from, they listen to you and then you compromise?

well, I don't but I believe that's how it works in normal relationships

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sat 22-Nov-14 11:00:25

Sorry - you BOTH compromise.

SelfLoathing Sat 22-Nov-14 11:01:59

The reason I am very curious is because, take this girl I was thinking was probably going to develop into something serious, could be the one, who knows? . . .Turns out her fears were misplaced because I was really keen on her and wasn't planning on straying from the relationship or anything like that. But that ended our relationship, so her decisions brought about the thing that she was afraid of.

If that's true (that you thought she could be a serious relationship) then you have behaved like a total idiot.

The whole tone of the final sentence "her decisions brought about..." is really quite unpleasant. Cut off your nose to spite your face much?

Icelander Sat 22-Nov-14 11:02:13

SelfLoathing, this is what I realise it now seems like. My way or the Highway, as you put it. I would never have realised that this is how it could be viewed until reading this site as I thought any sane human being would think of this as a betrayal and a sign of a deceptive and untrusting person. I am learning a lot here

SelfLoathing Sat 22-Nov-14 11:04:39

You sound really dictatorial - what's wrong with a chat and some compromise? Listen to your partner, listen to where they're coming from, they listen to you and then you compromise?

+1 to FrauHelga

StellaBrillante Sat 22-Nov-14 11:04:56

frau sorry but are you perhaps being a bit naive? I also think that it's disrespectful and a breach of privacy to snoop but when I did it, it was because I felt some of the things I was being told didn't add up or something didn't quite feel right. I felt terrible as on top of invading somebody else's space (and breaking their trust), I also thought it was beneath me to be acting in such a way. However, I did get the answers that I needed / wanted. Whereas the end result didn't necessarily justify the means, sometimes you feel backed into a corner or pushed to doing things which you normally wouldn't. My view is that honesty and transparency are key to avoid those circumstances, and if even with that, one still feels compelled to snoop then they are just plainly nosy and disrespectful.

kittybiscuits Sat 22-Nov-14 11:05:39

I wouldn't have anything to hide that she'd be looking for

Is other people's mistrust towards you a theme in your relationships?

StellaBrillante Sat 22-Nov-14 11:06:25

oh and I ended up coming across a lot more than I had ever wanted to see. It was VERY unpleasant :-(

Icelander Sat 22-Nov-14 11:06:38

I'd feel like a right knob saying to a woman to keep out of my emails and texts on a first date or something like that. Can you think of a better way to make her paranoid?

SelfLoathing Sat 22-Nov-14 11:06:42

I thought any sane human being would think of this as a betrayal and a sign of a deceptive and untrusting person.

It is a sign of an untrusting person. But it may not be a sign of a deceptive person.

Plenty of good, kind people are untrusting because of past experiences. Plenty of people who find trust difficult develop that in supportive relationships in which they feel secure. That takes time and communication

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