Question:

My partner is always on the phone. She’s always talking, texting, on IG, Tik Tok, whatever. I started to wonder if there was someone else, so I went through her phone when she left it out where I can see it. There was nothing there. Now my brother is giving me a hard time about it, saying it was wrong to go through her phone, but I feel a lot better and I know I’ve been much more chill with her since I took a look. So, really, wasn’t it good for our relationship, in the big picture, if you know what I mean? I know people say you aren’t supposed to look at your partner’s phone, but nobody is perfect and I don’t think it is the big deal my brother says it is. What do you think?

Answer:

You already know what you did was not okay, but it sounds like you are weighing out just how bad it really was. I’m going to give you some things to think about, that really all of us in relationship should always be thinking about. Please read this a few times, and maybe come back to it.

First, you know you did not have her consent to look at her communications. What is going on?

You had an idea that you fabricated based on suspicions you created and then you acted on them, violating the trust and boundaries in the relationship.

You might say you were just feeling too insecure, but let’s keep looking.

Your actions were not a result of insecurity, but of ownership and entitlement. You gave yourself permission to investigate your partner and while she may not know you did this, you have broken the relationship agreements by invading her privacy. You have also disrespected her individuality and autonomy.

This behavior is based on an abusive value of superiority where you believe you had the right, that you are entitled to do what you want when you believe there is just cause. Your just cause here was your suspicion and discomfort. Now, why did you put your actions of seeking your own comfort above the trust in the relationship?

Trust without control is REALLY uncomfortable when you are not used to it, because you are open to being hurt. But risking being hurt is what real emotional vulnerability is about.

Take a deeper look—whose phone do you give yourself permission to look at? Your brother’s? No. People bring a lot of ownership to romantic partnerships. It has to be undone. Your partner is a partner, not your thing to own or monitor. You must operate from a place of trust and not ownership because if you don’t practice that, the value of superiority, which tells you, I get to break the rules when I am uncomfortable, will be present in all your relationship thinking and behavior and that will eventually destroy your intimate relationships.

There are respectful ways to voice your concerns and vulnerability without blaming or hurting the relationship. These are founded in values and beliefs that are based on true equality, not ownership.

Try instead saying you feel anxious and worried and insecure about your relationship and that is your issue, not hers, but you wanted her to know. See how that goes instead of violating her trust and disrespecting her boundaries.