When Emily Gold* logged onto her husband's email with dread pooling in stomach, she was hoping for the best. Instead, she was met with a rude awakening: clear cut evidence of her husband's affair scattered throughout his emails. Love notes, song lyrics, photos of the two of them together, but that wasn't all. The worst was a pro/con list, written by her husband, on whether or not he should leave her. "It was the worst thing I have ever seen with my eyes," Gold said.
She's not alone: according to a 2011 study, 41-percent of women have snooped through their man's phone or emails. Modern technology offers a whole new variety of ways to spy on your partner. Looking through drawers and checking for lipstick on the collar is a thing of the past. According to a January 2013 poll by the Daily Mail, going through your partner's cell phone is now the top reason why cheating and affairs are exposed.
But why do we snoop? When Hannah Rolf's* boyfriend left his cell phone at her house, the temptation was too much to resist. "Of course what girl would not wanna look at everything that was on there?" she told MC. Of course, giving into temptation can have some drastic consequences. When Rolf was reading through his phone one night while they were in bed, she saw that he had been texting quite a few other girls, which led her to end the relationship. All this sneaking around raises a big question: Is it wrong to read your man's texts or emails if you end up learning he's been hiding things from you, or does snooping bring you down to his level?
Snooping may be a breach of trust, but it can also expose some untrustworthy behavior. The most common of this is evidence of cheating. Steamy emails, declarations of love, notifications from dating sites, and worse. Jessica Lee* found naked photos of other women when reading through her boyfriend's text messages.
Sometimes, you just have a sixth sense, a feeling that something is up. When your senses are tingling and a phone is ready for snatching, controlling the urge to snoop isn't easy. Such was the case for Allison Brady*, who became wary of her boyfriend's relationship with his ex. After hearing him refuse to say her name and bitterly reminisce about their time together, she knew he wasn't quite over her yet. When he started mentioning her more-and-more, warning signs went off. Brady's snooping started innocently enough: looking through his Facebook to see if he had added her again. As her lurking continued, she discovered that they had been talking again and were planning on meeting up for coffee. She broke up with him soon after.
While her snooping was instrumental in the demise of her relationship, Brady feels that snooping is sometimes necessary to find out the information you deserve. "I would snoop again only if I felt something was off," she said. "Otherwise, I understand boundaries. I'm not that interested in what my boyfriend talks about with his friends."
It's not always infidelity that women catch when they snoop around. Sometimes, you learn that they've been doing the same thing to you. When Lindsay Young's* boyfriend gave her his email password, she started reading his emails. The snooping didn't end there: When he borrowed her laptop and forgot to logout, she was able to search through his Facebook, as well. She discovered that he had subscribed to her check-ins in order to receive notifications about her whereabouts. Young stressed the fact that if you're going to snoop, you need to prepare yourself for what you may find. "I guess when you're looking for something, you'll find it," Young said.
When women find incriminating information through snooping, as you might expect, they oftentimes won't stand for it, and they act out. Such was the case for Donna Crane*. Crane had a bad feeling about the man she had been seeing. One night after he had fallen asleep, she grabbed his phone and quickly scrolled through his text messages. Turns out her intuition had been right—there were texts from three different women in his inbox.
Instead of confronting him, she quickly wrote back to the other women in his phone, telling them that he was ending it with them, and he was getting serious with another girl. She then proceeded to delete all of his contacts—her own number included. Maybe it's true what they say—hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
But perhaps the best way to satisfy your curiosity is simply to ask. Men with nothing to hide may be more willing to share the contents of their phone or email with you. "The easiest way to find out if your boyfriend is hiding something is to simply ask him if you can look through his phone and if he says no, well then there's your answer," Rolf said.
*Name has been changed.
I'm an Associate Editor at the Business of Fashion, where I edit and write stories about the fashion and beauty industries. Previously, I was the brand editor at Adweek, where I was the lead editor for Adweek's brand and retail coverage. Before my switch to business journalism, I was a writer/reporter at PEOPLE.com, where I wrote news posts, galleries and articles for PEOPLE magazine's website. My work has been published on TheAtlantic.com, ELLE.com, MarieClaire.com, PEOPLE.com, GoodHousekeeping.com and in Every Day with Rachael Ray. It has been syndicated by Cosmopolitan.com, TIME.com, TravelandLeisure.com and GoodHousekeeping.com, among other publications. Previously, I've worked at VOGUE.com, ELLE.com, and MarieClaire.com.
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