Snooping in a Relationship: What It Is, Why We Snoop & How to Get Through It

Are you always snooping in a relationship? Here’s why you’re feeling insecure about your partner, and why it’s so hard to stop.

snooping in a relationship

Snooping in a relationship is extremely tempting. Can you not resist reading your partner’s mail? Or do you spend hours with their cell phone, in the hope of uncovering an unidentified fingerprint, a secret message, or a photo of some ‘old friend’?

Snooping in a relationship might be exciting, making you feel like a detective cracking a case. But it can also leave your life riddled with insecurities, frustrating moments, jealous tirades, excessive clinging, and game-playing.

All because you need to know everything that’s happening in your partner’s life and mind all the time.

Perhaps, you’re also snooping because you just need to have a bit more drama in your life. But whether you’re sure they’re banging their secretary, or you just want to know what was so great about their exes, be prepared for the consequences of snooping in relationships.

[Read: How to find out if someone is on Tinder and dating you on the side]

What does snooping in a relationship mean?

Snooping in a relationship is when one partner goes through the other partner’s personal belongings, such as their phone, email, or social media accounts, without their permission.

It can also include listening to their phone calls or checking their clothes for signs of suspicious behavior.

In short, snooping in a relationship is any activity that involves checking on your partner without their permission.

You don’t have to be looking for anything specific, or even anything big. Just some kind of information for your suspicions to latch onto.

[Read: Possessive relationship – what it is, 39 signs you’re in one, and how to fix it]

Snooping in a relationship can be a sign of trust issues or insecurity. It can also be a way to try to control or manipulate the other partner.

If you are snooping on your partner, it is important to ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you worried that they are cheating on you? Are you feeling insecure in the relationship? Or is there something deeper at play?

Reasons why people snoop on their partner

There are lots of reasons why people might start snooping in a relationship, but all of them boil down to two simple reasons: insecurity and curiosity.

If you’re insecure, you’re constantly looking for validation. You need to prove that things are good—or bad—to confirm your own opinions about yourself. Snooping is a way to provide yourself with that proof.

On the other hand, if you’re simply curious, you’re also likely to snoop. You might be too young and inexperienced to know better, or you might be too tempted to resist.

So, here are the reasons why people snoop on their partners. They’re all different, but they all lead to the same underlying issues.

1. Low self-esteem

People with low self-esteem may snoop because they are afraid that their partner is going to leave them. Because of their poor self-image, they can’t understand why anybody would actually be happy with them.

So they start trying to find evidence that their partner is finally cheating—just as they thought they would.

[Read: 15 cell phone rules every couple has to follow to build real trust]

If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it is important to remember that you are worthy of love and respect.

You should also try to build healthy relationships with people who make you feel good about yourself. That way, you’ll be less tempted to snoop.

2. The relationship is lacking

Sometimes, people snoop because they feel like something is missing in their relationship. They may feel like they are not getting enough attention from their partner, or like their partner is not being honest with them.

Snooping in a relationship creates drama, which gives the snooper something to focus on and a little bit of excitement.

It also draws their partner’s attention toward them. But one thing’s for sure—snooping will never take your relationship from lacking to crack-a-lackin’.

3. The snoop may want to start cheating

Some people accuse others of something because they secretly want to do it themselves—it’s called projecting.

It happens with snooping too; people start obsessing about cheating because they themselves are thinking about cheating on their partner.

They may snoop to see if their partner is cheating on them first, or they may snoop to find someone else to cheat with. [Read: 38 signs your man is crushing on another woman and has feelings for her]

4. Trust issues

Trust issues can be caused by a number of things, such as past relationships that have ended in infidelity, childhood trauma, or mental health conditions.

People with trust issues may snoop because they are afraid that their partner is going to cheat on them. They can’t rely on others to tell them the truth, so they are trying to find evidence that their partner is lying to them. If they find something, it’ll confirm their worldview.

5. Inability to keep healthy boundaries

If you’re unable to keep healthy boundaries, you’ll feel like you need to know everything about your partner’s life.

Not knowing something means you don’t have complete control. Snooping in a relationship is an easy way for people like this to express dominance over their partners.

Through snooping, they can get information—even on things their partner wanted to hide. That’s information they can use for manipulation and blackmail, too.

6. Communication problems

Communication problems can be a major cause of snooping in a relationship.

If you are not able to communicate openly and honestly with your partner, you may feel the need to snoop in order to find out what they are thinking and feeling. [Read: Is he hiding something? 20 signs he feels guilty for hurting you]

7. Attention seeking

As we’ve said above, snooping is a surefire way to get a partner’s attention—be it positive or negative.

Some people may snoop to get a reaction out of their partner, or even to make their partner feel guilty. It’s a “look what you made me do” type of thing.

If you are seeking attention from your partner, it is important to find healthy ways to get that attention. The attention you get from snooping might be negative, and that’ll only harm your relationship in the long run.

8. Immaturity

Some people snoop because they are immature. They may not understand the importance of privacy, or they may not be able to control their impulses. [Read: Girlfriend texting another guy? 27 ways to talk to her and deal with it]

Immature people might not understand that everyone has the right to privacy, even their partners. They may think that they have a right to know everything about their partner’s life, even if their partner does not want them to know. In their eyes, being in a relationship means they’re entitled to snoop.

These people may also have difficulty controlling their impulses. When they feel the need to snoop, they can’t stop themselves, even if they know it is wrong.

They may not be able to think about the consequences of their actions before they act, either.

9. Psychological problems and mental illness

Snooping can be a sign of a psychological problem, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or a personality disorder like borderline personality disorder (BPD). [Read: Why we need to break down the stigma of mental illness]

People with OCD may feel the need to check their partner’s phone or email repeatedly, even if they know there is nothing to find. It’s a way of soothing themselves and alleviating the anxiety they feel about their partner cheating or treating them badly.

Similarly, people with personality disorders like BPD also struggle to stop themselves from snooping in a relationship.

This is because BPD prevents people from regulating their emotions. So, when they feel suspicious, angry, or tempted to snoop, these people just can’t help themselves.

If you are concerned that your snooping may be a sign of a psychological problem, it is important to talk to a therapist. A therapist can help you to understand the reasons for your behavior and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Why is snooping in relationships so tempting?

How many times have you checked your partner’s cell phone, pockets, and bedside drawers? Is snooping in relationships a part of human nature or are you just looking for a reason to mistrust your partner?

We humans can be really weird at times. When the relationship is topsy-turvy, we whine about the lousy partners we have to put up with.

On the other hand, when love blooms and we feel grand, we just can’t imagine things are actually so perfect. So we try to pick flaws and uncover any dark secrets—no matter how insignificant they might be in reality.

That’s part of the temptation; it’s the excitement. You may be crawling on all fours and trying to reenact an old scene from a crime show in the hope of uncovering any evidence of your partner’s party quickie.

But more than your urge to confront your partner, it’s the temptation to find something out of the ordinary that gets you on the case.

[Read: When a guy starts acting different – what you need to do about it]

What does snooping do to a relationship?

Snooping is like a time bomb in a relationship. Eventually, it’ll cause a lot of damage, even if you don’t find anything at first.

Just the betrayal of trust is a disaster waiting to happen. So, if you’re thinking about snooping on your partner, here’s what it can do to a relationship:

1. Snooping erodes trust

The most important thing a relationship needs to work is trust. It’s the glue that sticks the two of you together and helps you support each other through thick and thin.

If you can’t trust each other, you can’t depend on each other. And if you can’t depend on your partner, it’s not a real functional relationship.

If your partner finds out you’ve been snooping, it’ll break their trust in you. And even if you don’t get caught, it’ll start to eat away at your faith in each other. How can you say you trust your partner if you don’t even believe they’re telling you the truth?

[Read: Snapchat cheating – what it is and the signs your partner is doing it]

This is the biggest effect of snooping in a relationship. If your partner finds out that you have been snooping on them, it can ruin your relationship. They may feel betrayed and violated, and they may find it difficult to trust you again.

2. Snooping can be addictive

Once you get hooked on the excitement of snooping, it can be hard to stop. It’s the thrill of the chase! It gives you a purpose or a mission.

You know what you’re looking for, and you’re like a movie detective, piecing together the evidence to create a full story.

Of course, most snoopers don’t actually find anything. But that actually makes snooping even more addictive. Because what about next time?

Basically, once you start snooping, you can’t stop. And that means you’ll never feel secure in your relationship.

3. It keeps you preoccupied with hidden information

If you’re snooping, you’re not concentrating on the things your partner actually shares with you.

Remember, your partner is the one you chose for all the good qualities they have. Try not to overlook them or take them for granted, just because you’re so obsessed with what they might be hiding.

4. It can make your problems worse

So, your relationship was already struggling. You fought a lot, and couldn’t be in a room without picking at each other.

Or maybe you were already in hot water for being emotionally unstable. Imagine what’ll happen if you add snooping to the mix!

[Read: 21 signs of a clingy girlfriend and how to avoid turning into one]

Rather than helping your relationship, snooping often makes a relationship’s problems worse. Now you have to deal with the betrayal of trust on top of the problems you already had.

5. Snooping can make you feel more insecure

By snooping on your partner, you are essentially invading their personal space. You’re delving into their privacy, reading their private thoughts and communications. This violation of their trust might make you feel guilty or ashamed.

Also, ever heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat?” When you snoop on someone, you might find out things that you didn’t want to know about them.

This could be anything from embarrassing secrets to evidence of infidelity, or worse. Finding these things can make you feel even more insecure.

Is snooping in a relationship ever okay?

Snooping in a relationship might be dangerous, but it can feel good. It gives you reassurance and can be a quick and easy way to instantly ease your mind. [Read: How to tell how your partner feels and learn to read their mind]

What if you believe that spying is a serious invasion of privacy, yet your instincts tell you that your partner has been in the sack with someone else?

And to make things worse, you’ve already confronted them, and they deny everything! Is snooping in a relationship okay then? It could help you back up your intuition with some rock-solid evidence.

Before you do it, always think: would you be happy to walk into your room and find your partner digging through your drawers?

Can snooping cause partners to cheat?

Contrary to what you might think, snooping in a relationship can actually make your partner even more likely to cheat.

In most cases, the ones who stray are the ones who have partners who spy on them all the time. They feel driven away and suffocated by the suspicion. Getting it on with somebody else is a lot more straightforward than dealing with an amateur sleuth.

[Read: 30 sly signs your girlfriend is texting or talking to another guy secretly]

If you’re constantly monitoring your partner, they won’t feel comfortable around you; instead, they’ll start looking for somebody they actually feel good around.

In turn, grilling them about cheating will only put the idea in their head. If they weren’t thinking about straying before, they certainly will be now!

What can you do instead of snooping?

Communication is the key to a happy relationship. If you feel insecure or unappreciated, then tell your partner about it! Or if their late-night habits piss you off, let them know!

If you really, really can’t resist looking through your partner’s cell phone messages, then ask them instead of secretly snooping through their cell.

[Read: Overprotective boyfriend – 26 dominating signs and what to do to fix him]

1. Be honest with your partner

If you’re unhappy and want to see positive changes in your partner, communicate! You need to tell them what you want.

Be honest with your partner about what is worrying you, and what they could do to make everything right. It’s much, much easier than you think.

Also, be sure to mention it to them in a manner that won’t hurt their feelings. Don’t jump in with accusations; that’s just as bad as snooping and will damage your relationship too.

Instead, have a mature, loving conversation. This is much more satisfying and productive than rifling through their old text messages!

2. Be honest with yourself

This is a toughie. Even the strongest people find it difficult to accept their flaws, and nobody likes having to admit they’re the bad guy. It’s probably even harder for a snooper to self-reflect; nobody starts snooping in a relationship unless they’re insecure.

But put your insecurity aside, and spend some time looking at who you are and what brought you to this point in your relationship.

Are you compensating for something? Do you need something you aren’t getting? And what can you do to improve yourself so things like this don’t happen again?

Only by asking yourself tough questions like these—and giving honest answers—can you understand the reasons behind your snooping. But once you understand the reasons, it’ll be much easier to resist.

Can a relationship survive snooping?

Snooping is like opening a Pandora’s box; you never know what you’re going to find. In Greek mythology, Pandora was a woman who was given a box by her husband, Epimetheus.

She was told not to open the box, but she couldn’t resist. When she opened it, all sorts of evils were released into the world. That’s basically a classic case of snooping.

When you snoop, you could find something good, or it could be something bad. But once you’ve opened the box, you can’t close it back up. Once you know something, you can’t unknow it, either. Your relationship might never be the same.

[Read: Being sneaky in a relationship – is it really such a bad thing?]

Can a relationship survive snooping? It depends. If you’re able to talk about your snooping with your partner and come to an understanding, it’s possible to move past it.

However, if your partner feels like they’ve lost trust, it may be more difficult to repair the relationship.

Can snooping in a relationship be forgiven?

So what if your partner has lost trust? The first step is to apologize for snooping. Let them know that you understand why they’re upset, and that you’re committed to rebuilding trust.

What you’ve done has made a big dent in your partner’s bond, and it’s going to take some work to knock it back into shape.

That’s why it’s also important to be patient. It takes time to rebuild trust, and there will be setbacks along the way. You might not ever feel the same as you did before. So be understanding if your partner is still upset or suspicious, even after you’ve apologized and tried to explain yourself.

[Read: Possessive relationship – what it is, 39 signs you’re in one, and how to fix it]

Of course, the best way to avoid having to ask for forgiveness is to not snoop in the first place. But with the right kind of love and attention, there is a possibility that your relationship can heal. Always remember that forgiveness isn’t instant, it has to be earned before it’s given.

How to restore trust after snooping in a relationship

So, you made a mistake… you snooped. It’s OK, we’ve all been there. First of all, you’re not a bad person. Plenty of people have made this mistake before, especially now we all spend half our lives on our phones. However, you now need to work to restore trust.

In a happy relationship, the respect you have for your partner is one of the building blocks that can take your love a long way. If there is no trust between your partner and you, then the relationship is doomed.

But then again, it’s not easy to blindly trust someone, especially if you’ve had a string of bad relationships or a previous episode of mistrust.

So what are the things you need to do to get that trust going again and bring your relationship back on track after snooping? [Read: How to tell when a guy is jealous – 25 hints he just can’t hide]

1. Come clean

If you have snooped on your partner, you need to tell them about it. Don’t try to hide it or make excuses. Be honest and upfront about what you did and why you did it.

It is important to come clean as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to rebuild trust.

If you wait too long, your partner may start to think that you have something to hide. Or worse, they’ll come up with their own answers about why you treated them this way.

So come clean first. But when you do, be prepared for your partner to be upset. They’re likely to be very angry, hurt, and confused.

2. Explain why you snooped

Once you have come clean, you need to explain why you snooped. Were you feeling insecure? Were you suspicious of your partner?

Once you understand the reasons for the snooping, you can start to work on addressing the underlying issue.

It is important to be honest with your partner about why you snooped. Don’t try to make excuses or blame them for your actions. Just be willing to take responsibility for your behavior. You might have to do some soul-searching first to find the real reasoning.

[Read: Karmic relationship – 27 tips on how to heal from the karmic cycle]

3. Take accountability for your actions

Most of the time, the person who was being snooped on never actually did anything wrong. You made the decision to betray their trust, and you need to take responsibility for your actions.

Whatever feelings of hurt and betrayal your partner might be suffering from, you are accountable for those feelings.

You need to understand that snooping is a violation of trust. It shows that you do not trust your partner and that you are willing to go behind their back to find out what they are doing. Be aware of this, and be accountable.

4. Sincerely apologize

We know, apologizing is really hard. But it’s essential if you want to restore trust after snooping in a relationship. Be specific in your apology and let your partner know how sorry you are for what you did.

It won’t seem authentic if it isn’t in your own words, so don’t fall back on cliches and stock phrases.

Your goal here is to communicate to your partner how regretful you are about the whole snooping situation. We know you feel it; you just need to pass on that sentiment to your partner.

5. Determine the root cause of the problem

Why did you feel the need to snoop? Was there something you needed in your relationship that you weren’t getting? Now you know the reasons why people snoop, so try and work out which of these apply best to you.

Once you’ve isolated the reason for your snooping, start to work on it. If you are feeling insecure, you need to talk to your partner about it.

Or if you are suspicious, you need to find out why you are feeling that way. And if you have trust issues, you need to work on overcoming them.

6. Openly communicate

Talk about what happened and why you snooped. Be honest about your feelings and be willing to listen to your partner’s perspective. Open communication is essential for rebuilding trust and healing your relationship.

When you talk to your partner, be honest about your feelings. Think about all the things we said about communication earlier in this feature. If you can fix your relationship problems, you’ll never need to snoop again—sounds awesome, right?

Be willing to listen to their perspective and try to understand why they are upset. You may not agree on everything, but you need to be willing to meet your partner halfway. While you’re listening, keep in mind that you will have to make changes in your own behavior in order to restore trust.

[Read: Instagram flirting – how it’s secretly ruining your relationship]

7. Develop an effective action plan

Finally, you need to develop an effective action plan. This plan should include steps that you and your partner can take to rebuild trust. You’ll need to be specific and realistic in your plan and to be patient and understanding as you work through the process.

Your action plan should include things like boundaries, communication, and demonstrations that you’re trustworthy.

They can be anything from agreeing not to open their mail, to both installing a Find My Friends style app on your phones for reassurance.

All your action plan points should be personal to you as a couple. Make sure they take both of your needs into account and actually address the issues that caused snooping in your relationship in the first place.

Why snooping in a relationship is never the real answer

It is always better to keep your partner aware of what’s going on in your life, and vice versa. Plus, if both of you really do care about this relationship more than anything or anyone else, sharing a few passwords or telling each other about your past escapades won’t really hurt you. In fact, it can even help you.

[Read: 46 secrets to stop being jealous for no reason and learn to live life envy-free]

But all said and done, even if both of you aren’t sharing every intimate detail of your individual lives with each other, think twice before you put on your snooping glasses.

As exciting as snooping may sound, it can actually bring about a rift in your relationship that you wouldn’t have expected.

Ask yourself a question. If your partner always suspects you, however hard you try to make them understand that you’re not a lying cheat, would you really stop yourself when someone really attractive flirts with you, and wants you really bad?

Sometimes, we end up making our own partner fall into an affair in our constant pursuit of loyalty and insecurity.

So think twice before you snoop. After all, are you willing to jeopardize everything in your relationship just because you’re an insecure person?

[Read: What to do with that nagging cheating suspicion]

When you start snooping in a relationship, you will always end up with regrets. If you find something, you’ll regret looking. On the other hand, if you find nothing, you’ll regret betraying your partner’s trust. Instead, communicate with them, and find out the real truth.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...