This is a guest article by Michelle F. from lovingfromadistance.com.
Is checking your boyfriend or girlfriend’s email okay?
In a word, NO.
I would never give my boyfriend the password to my email address and he would never give me his. Is it because we don’t trust each other? No. We value our privacy and respect each other’s privacy. We trust each other completely.
Why is sharing your passwords with your boyfriend or girlfriend not the smartest thing to do?
A boyfriend innocently gives his girlfriend his password to his email so she can check something for him when he can’t get on a computer to get online. He doesn’t bother to change the password after, and the girlfriend remembers her boyfriend’s quirky password.
Somewhere down the road, she gets a little suspicion that he may be flirting with another girl. So what is the first thing she does? Checks his email of course. She may even try out the password on some of his other online accounts. She may find nothing, but ever since she first snooped, she begins to habitually check his email and becomes obsessive; addicted even. She knows it’s wrong but can’t help to use this to her “advantage” to keep an eye on her boyfriend. If her boyfriend found out she’d feel ashamed and embarrassed, but she can’t help but feel tempted to check her boyfriend’s email – and in a way she feels that as long as he doesn’t know she is checking his email, it’s “okay.”
Should she really be in this relationship if she can’t trust her boyfriend?
The above scenario happens all the time.
Frank and I give long distance relationship advice both on and off our site. We have come across quite a few snoopers along the way. Most snoopers are good people that acquired their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s password innocently. If your boyfriend ever gave you his password, might you not feel tempted to go back and read his emails? Even if you had no reason to feel suspicious? For most habitual snoopers, once they start, they can’t stop.
That is why I advise people to not share their passwords with anyone, not even a boyfriend or girlfriend.
But what if you are a snooper, and you stumbled across something that indicates your boyfriend wasn’t truthful, or is talking to someone he shouldn’t be, or even cheating?
We say, confront him or her.
If you found evidence of his/her wrongdoings, let him/her know you know rather than keeping silent to avoid admitting that you’re a snoop.
Your relationship has problems: you have no trust and he/she is dishonest. Get everything out in the clear if you expect to salvage the relationship. A relationship cannot survive if there is secrecy, distrust, and dishonesty. You both did something wrong and now is the chance to make things right and get things out in the open.
Want to quit the snooping addiction?
Even if you haven’t dug up any dirt when you’ve snooped, you have to quit snooping. However, it can be hard to stop when you still know your boyfriend/girlfriend’s password – especially if something comes up that gives you the urge. If you’re snooping, you have trust issues and now is a better time than never to work on learning how to trust again.
As with any sort of addicting behavior, the only way to begin to overcome the addiction is to remove the source of temptation. Nip this in the bud as early as possible – you have to let them know about your snooping so they can change their password(s) to get rid of that temptation. As long as you know their password, you will always have that temptation there.
If they had nothing to hide, they will either take it well or they will be really upset that you didn’t trust them. However, like you, they’ll want you to be able to trust them and will be more keen to working with you on your trust issues.
Haven’t snooped yet?
If you haven’t snooped and are reading this because you are wondering if snooping is okay, or justifiable, the answer is an obvious no. If you ever want to find something out – if you have those sneaking suspicions your boyfriend or girlfriend is up to no good – then the only right way to handle the situation is to simply ASK.
Snooping is a symptom of a relationship with poor communication and trust issues.
When people come to us for long distance relationship advice, their problem is always related to poor communication. Couples tend to avoid talking about their individual concerns because they are afraid of rocking the boat: they are scared to ask questions that haunt their thoughts (eg. “Are you cheating on me?”). They resort to snooping to find out the truth, but how good is this evidence if you cannot use it against your partner because you do not want to let them know you are a snoop?
The best thing you can do is bring up your issues, talk them out, ask the questions you want to ask. Your relationship will benefit from it more than you will benefit from being quiet and letting the problems eat away at your relationship without a word.