Recently on The Mindy Project, our hero Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) details those big moments of a new relationship: the first time you kiss, the first time you have sex, the first time you snoop through his stuff, the first big fight, and the first make up sex. Until then I hadn't thought much about the act of snooping; I'm naïve enough to believe that most women avoid that sort of behavior (editor's note: HA!). Thankfully, in many guy's cases it's boring – my medicine cabinet, for example, is just toothpaste and shaving cream. But that's just the surface level snoop.
Snooping doesn't have to be limited to the nightstand table and bathroom search these days. Guys know full well that if they go on a date with a woman she has or is going to Google the hell out of them. The Google search is the modern day medicine cabinet; generally pretty harmless, with occasional skeletons found. For most women they know they might find weird foot cream in his apartment, but would rather know that the guy they're seeing had a small part in a Depends commercial or used to write for a communist blog.
The Internet search seems to be socially acceptable but I'm hoping that will change. Most of the men I talk to don't think to do it, until they hear that the women they are seeing did it to them. For us guys it's more of a tit-for-tat act than anything else. Even then we tend to spend little time on this invasive procedure. I am glad to see that reluctance in my guy friends, because I think it's better to learn about someone through time and human-to-human interaction. I encourage both men and women to let your partner reveal themselves at a rate they feel comfortable with, instead of ransacking their past online for potential pitfalls and secrets.
Which brings me to the main point—stop snooping on your guy! You don't want a guy going through your stuff, do you? What if he comes to that vibrator and all of a sudden he's voicing all sorts of uncertainty about whether he sexually satisfies you in bed? No fun. So whether it's searching in his drawers or his search history, let us men have our secrets. Here's the primary things you might find hidden away:
- gifts for you
- other drugs
- sexy stuff that he wants to bring to bed at the appropriate time
- something leftover from an ex (likely forgot he had on person or on Facebook)
Do you really need to see any of that before he's ready to show it? When you're in a comfortable relationship with someone, you can reveal all of the above to your partner, in good time. I don't know a guy out there that would really hide from his spouse that he watches porn from time-to-time or might puff some weed. Talking about these things is part of a healthy relationship.
Here's the exception to the rule: if you think your man has broken your trust already, you might get a pass. One woman I know is sleeping with this guy regularly, but is unsure if they are exclusive. What does she do? She counts the condoms in his nightstand. If more are missing than what the two of them have used she will know it right away. I have to credit her ingenuity, but having "the talk" on whether you're seeing other people is a more straight-forward route.
Another example for the women in monogamous relationships: you believe your boyfriend is cheating on you and you see a pic from a girl pop up on his phone when he's in the bathroom. You could be forgiven for checking that out. But in this scenario your relationship is already on thin ice. You should be prepared for serious talks ahead; even if he's not cheating, there are trust and communication issues there that need to be resolved through conversation.
Both men and women feel the need to snoop on their partner when they sense there is something that the other person is hiding. There's basic curiosity (I'm going on a blind date maybe I should Google this guy and make sure he's not out on probation) then there's "I feel like I can't address this question I have with this person so I need to resolve it on my own."
When you have that thought, there are two options. The first is to ransack your partner's apartment, lifting up the mattress and going through the sock drawer. The other is to sit down and ask the damn question that's on your mind. If you aren't even sure what you're searching for you can open with, "Tell me something about yourself I don't know yet." Don't be surprised if your spouse leads with stories from childhood before getting into juicier topics.
If you have a sense of what you want to explore you can get specific: "What porn sites do you regularly visit?" My friend Elizabeth told me that she once searched an ex's porn site history, and jokingly said, "If it's not 30 year-old white women with fat asses that he's searching I knew I'd be pissed." She could say this with a sense of humor because she knows that what she was really searching for was his fantasies. Could she have said to her partner at the time, "I want to know what you fantasize about?" Sure, but this seemed easier.
We all know, in our bones, that there are no shortcuts in relationships. We need to do the hard work, which often means communicating with our spouse. Snooping will only weaken trust and communication. Instead of snooping, ask the tough questions that you have been biting your tongue about—you may find your relationship grows stronger as a result.
Lodro Rinzler is the author of "Walk Like a Buddha: Even if Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex is Torturing You, and You're Hungover Again" and the founder of the Institute for Compassionate Leadership.