You Snoop You Loose
September 22, 2009
Yesterday I was on MSNBC.com and I was surprised when I read the headline for one of their news stories on Relationships written by someone who not only has a PH.D but who is a Sex Therapist, Relationship Counselor and a TODAYShow.com contributor. The title of the article was “Why you should snoop on your spouse online.” Thinking that maybe the articles message was something possibly deeper or smarter than the headline, I read further. Turns out the article itself lacked just as much relationship sense as the title did. Sex therapist Ian Kerner believes that when it comes to couples issues “Internet Infidelity” is the biggest.
He says, “The internet is still a relatively new technology and there isn’t a clear relationship rule book on how to use it. In many situations, snooping isn’t a pleasant choice, but it’s the right choice.”
After reading that line I scanned the top of the article and was shocked that this was the kind of advice a relationship counselor was giving people. It reminded me that just because someone has a degree or the job title doesn’t mean that all the advice they give is right or should be followed. The premise upon which ones truths are based upon will affect the format of the message. Because of that, it is always important to remember that common sense comes before the book, and in this case, the “expert.”
Looking through your partners things without their permission with hope of an infidelity sighting points to a bigger issue, a lack of trust. Snooping reflects a gap filled with insecurity possibly induced by your spouse’s behavior, not knowing your spouse well enough, or your own inability to not project from your past issues. Whatever the case may be, if you “suspect” or feel “paranoid” about your relationship, the first step is communicating that with your spouse. No matter how silly or uncomfortable it may be, a healthy relationship is about being able to be open, blunt, blatant, and transparently vulnerable.
Mr. Kerner says that he has one password for all of his various emails account, but that he suspects his wife does not use it, but is welcomed to “sift through my e-mails anytime she likes.” He continues, “That’s what trust is all about; having nothing to hide and being able to respect each other’s privacy. One can’t exist without the other.”
I agree with his statement that trust is about not hiding things and being respective towards one’s privacy. But he can’t fully believe that people should respect people’s privacy and at the same time say that there are moments when you can disrespect that privacy by snooping. That’s a contradictory statement within itself. You either respect ones privacy or you don’t. If you feel the need to snoop then you’re definitely in an unhealthy state in your relationship and need to communicate that to your partner. Although there are many “relatively new technologies” out there that Mr. Kerner says don’t have a “clear relationship rule book,” a couple who has their own rule book and a strong foundation will not have a major issue in distinguishing appropriate from inappropriate. Someone who is bound to cheat will cheat whether that is by means of the internet or some other tool and someone who is honest will be honest, no matter the tool that comes their way.
Mr. Kerner has a list of questions to ask yourself before you “snoop” or “dig around” but the list is composed of questions that I’d hope one would have answered before one married someone. And if you did not know these things about your partner, it is not concrete proof that your partner is cheating, but maybe more proof that you need to get to know each other better so your both aware of each other’s sensitive’s thus enabling both of you to develop a foundation for mutual respect and boundaries.
On the other hand if your partner is flirting, being evasive, disrespectful or anything not within the realm of what a loving partner should be and is not willing to ardently work towards change, than you need to ask yourself if this is the kind of person you should be spending forever with.
One of the questions Mr. Kerner says, one should ask themselves before snooping is, “Has your sex life changed as of late (as in you’re having less of it)?” The problem with this question is, there may be so many reasons not having to do with cheating that one’s sex life could change. So say you do snoop, and you find out that your partner is not cheating, what then? You still have a problem and it’s not being talked about. So by snooping you have worsened your trust issues and put yourself in a demeaning position whereupon your desperation for answers caused a breach of respect.
Mr. Kerner says, “Depending upon how you answered these questions, it might be time to snoop, especially if you’ve tried to talk about your concerns with your partner but have been stonewalled. Hopefully there will be nothing to discover and you’ll be able to breathe more easily and more coolly examine why you had suspicions and where you might be able to improve your relationship.”
I don’t see how Mr. Kerner could say that snooping is the next to best thing after being stonewalled. If you are dating or married to a “stonewaller” than that is a HUGE issue within itself. You will never be able to sort your problems out because your partner will constantly be putting a block up any time an issue arises. You shouldn’t be in a relationship that relies upon snooping over talking.
Another question the article addressed was about dating someone who is friends with their ex. If that makes you uncomfortable for whatever the reasons, this needs to be put out in the open before you put the ban of gold on. And if you are married and your partner is friends with their ex and you don’t feel comfortable, than it is important that both sides are honest about the situation and come to a compromise. It is not fair to date someone who stonewalls your questions and in the same turn it is not fair to have to deal with someone who is projecting their past relationships upon your own.
The bottom line is this, if you take your time in finding the right partner and in communicating and creating a joint foundation and rule book it doesn’t matter what tool (internet) comes your way, you will always come through triumphant. I’m not saying there won’t be difficulties and that sometimes it won’t get hard, but betrayal of trust in any way (snooping) will only lead you down a dark rabbit hole. According to the article, “A 2008 study in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy explored how men and women perceive online and offline sexual and emotional infidelity. The results showed that men felt sexual infidelity was more upsetting and women felt emotional infidelity was more upsetting.”
Would you eat a fruit that had five spoiled bruises over another that had six? Or would you just choose neither? The point is cheating is cheating, whether it is sexual or emotional, they are both rancid things to do. If you are truly IN LOVE with someone, respect them, care for them, and are living in the realm of conscious love, you will do neither.
In the words of the character Jess from the great 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, “Marriages don’t break up on account of infidelity. It’s just a symptom that something else is wrong.”