It can be really tempting to want to take a peek into your partner's phone. Since our phones have basically become our digital diaries, you can probably learn everything you could possibly want to know about your partner — what they are thinking, where they are going, who they are talking to, and what they are saying — just by spending some quality time snooping through the various apps. But just because you can, that doesn't mean you should. So, the question becomes, is it OK to look through your partner’s phone? Or do they have have the right to phone privacy?
Growing up, I was taught that it is really important to respect other people's privacy, so I tend to default to not taking a peek in my SO's phone. At the same time, I was also told never to write anything down that you wouldn't want someone else to read, so if you're being messy and you get caught, it's really your own fault. Hey, there were a lot of mixed messages in my household, OK? That said, I've honestly never been totally sure what the actual protocol is around looking in someone else's phone, so I reached out to the experts for their take on whether or not to snoop — and the answer is, surprisingly, that it depends.
First things first: Psychoanalyst Claudia Luiz makes it clear that going through someone's phone without their permission is a violation of their privacy. "Of course it is!" she tells Elite Daily. But it can get a little blurry when you are really intimate with someone, she says. "What’s 'private' when you’re so intimate with someone? Let’s face it, looking through your partner's phone is as common as telling them little white lies to avoid conflict; it’s what people do. Should they stop? Of course."
Laurel House, dating and empowerment expert and host of the Man Whisperer podcast, agrees that going through your partner's phone, in most cases, is not OK. She also says the desire to do so is a sign of deeper issues involving confidence you may be having in the relationship. "Looking at your partner's phone shows distrust and insecurity, and it builds on itself, possibly even becoming an obsession," she tells Elite Daily. “If you’re looking for something inappropriate, you’ll find it. You can twist and mistake words and purposes. You can make assumptions and make up stories,” she warns.
Or maybe the curiosity is actually projection. “Often times, the person who suspects something inappropriate is happening is the one who is actually doing the inappropriate acts. It’s top of their mind because it’s their own actions,” says House. “[If] every time you see them on the phone, you wonder who they are communicating with or what they are looking at,” House says this may be your gut warning you something is wrong, and it’s time to talk to your partner about what you are seeing.
If it isn’t simply a case of projection, and your partner’s behavior isn't sending up red flags, then House says it's time to stop peeking at your partner’s phone. “You have to make the decision to trust. Yes, make the decision. Mutual trust and dedication to the relationship is essential,” she advises.
While both experts agree that going through your partner’s phone is not appropriate, there is one scenario in which it is OK to have a look, and that’s when it’s part of being totally transparent after they have cheated. “The only time it makes sense to look at each other's phones is to get over cheating when complete transparency is the purpose," explains House. "But this has to be communicated, mutually agreed upon, and without resentment or anger. If you are going to get your relationship back on track, you both have to be equally committed, in agreement, honest, and communicative." Basically, no sneakiness.
The ultimate takeaway here is that looking through your SO’s phone without their permission is not OK, and if you are feeling compelled to do so, it's time to take a closer look at the relationship, as it could be a sign that something is seriously off. If it simply turns out to be the case that you’re just a curious person, well then, let your partner know how you’re feeling and it's possible they may even be fine with you having a look. Win-win.