She might not trust you as much as you think: 1 in 10 women admit to spying on their husband’s emails and text messages, according to a recent survey of 1,000 married people from One Poll, a research company in the U.K.
In fact, 1 in 20 women have gone as far as downloading secret tracking software to their husbands’ phones.
What’s more, a past study found that 44 percent of the 920 couples surveyed had at least one partner monitoring the other’s behavior, like reading emails and texts. When only one person was doing the snooping, it was significantly more likely to be the wife checking up on the husband.
(Although, to be clear, men are guilty of snooping, too.)
So what if she’s digging through your old texts or browser history? And what should you do about it? Here’s what you need to know.
Why Do People Snoop?
People snoop because they’re suspicious, says marriage and family therapist, Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D.
Yes, that means that your partner probably doesn’t trust you completely.
Losing trust in someone actually puts your body in a state of hyper-awareness that causes you to obsessively check for things that could hurt you emotionally, says Hokemeyer.
“People who snoop look for confirmation that their partner is up to no good,” says Hokemeyer. “Just like a successful prosecutor needs hard evidence to convict a person suspected of a crime, a snooper feels they need more than just their intuition to prove their partner is untrustworthy.”
They could have been shamed in the past for bringing up touchy topics, like infidelity, or someone they trusted hurt them, so they look for evidence to back up suspicious feelings.
What Should You Do If You Catch Your Partner Snooping?
You might be thinking: “It’s not a big deal, because I have nothing to hide.”
But that’s not necessarily true. What she finds (or fails to find) isn’t the problem, says Hokemeyer, because eventually she’s going to come upon something that could be placed out of context.
If you catch her in the act, use this response: “To be honest, I’m pretty devastated you don’t feel you can trust me, and had to go to these lengths to dig up evidence to prove I’m not what I claim to be.”
Then pause and ask calmly: “Why didn’t you just come out and ask me?” suggests Hokemeyer.
Ask her where her feelings of distrust are coming from, says Hokemeyer. All snooping is toxic to a relationship, so state firmly and clearly that it shouldn’t happen again by telling her “This isn’t acceptable.”
If you feel like talking through her feelings isn’t getting you anywhere, you should consider couples therapy, says Hokemeyer. If the snooping gets pervasive and she continues to do it again and again, it will cause never-ending conflict between both of you.
Set a time frame for how long you’re willing to try and work through it, says Hokemeyer. If you can’t rebuild trust and respect between one another within six to nine months, chances are you’re better off ending it than putting up with it.
One caveat: If her snooping caught you cheating, don’t shift the blame on her for doing some digging—and definitely don’t continue to deny it.
Own the truth, says Hokemeyer, then listen to her and respond to her feelings.