The one time I ever snooped on a significant other was when I was a teenager and I read my boyfriend’s diary. The worst thing I found – before the guilt overwhelmed me and I carefully put it back where I’d found it – was a post about how terrible I was when I was PMSing.
“Girls on their periods are unbearable,” he wrote. “They should all be locked away from everyone else until it’s over.”
Now, before my fellow feminists get up in arms about how periods are natural and shouldn’t be vilified, let me remind you that we were 15 and my boyfriend didn’t have any sisters. This was really his first time dealing with periods and, in his defense, the upswing of my already terrible teenage hormones right before my period every month made me a terror.
I never snooped again after that but I have to admit, I’ve been tempted. When I invaded my boyfriend’s privacy in high school, we were still in the age where talking to your boo meant risking their parents picking up the phone and asking you awkward questions or, if you were lucky enough to have a dial-up connection at home, you could chat for hours on AIM. The only reason I even had anything to snoop on was because my boyfriend and I were classic angsty punk rockers so of course he kept a journal.
These days, however, there are a million different snoopable gadgets and accounts just lying around all over the place. All you need to know is your hon’s PIN to get into their phone and immediately have access to everything. And it’s not like a PIN is hard to get – just glance over during one of the 8 million times per day that they open their phone and you’ll get it eventually.
But the fact that we have access to all of these ways to snoop doesn’t mean that we should. As Dan Savage likes to say, “A relationship is not a deposition,” and just because you share your bed with someone doesn’t mean you have a right to know everything about them, at all times.
I have to admit that this is something I struggle with, a lot. I’m a very open person who never quite learned the concept of privacy growing up in a giant family in a giant house that always had open doors. Everything was out on the table all the time and, as a result, grown up me sometimes feels like my boyfriend is hiding things when really he’s just being a normal level of private.
Thing to remember: just because you have no boundaries doesn’t mean that other people don’t, McGowan.
However, my lack of boundaries does not extend as far as actually breaking into his devices and reading his personal messages. He’s a private person and I know that violating his privacy would be a major, major breach of trust for him. I’m just not going to do that, as much as my crazy boundary-less brain might want to sometimes.
A recent survey from email provider MyMail found that I’m not alone in my struggle to keep my damn hands and eyes to myself. They found that one in three Americans (based on a sample size of 600) had snooped on their significant other’s emails and that 12% do it whenever they possibly can.
While that stat is hella depressing, please also note that more than 50% said they’ve never snooped. Thumbs up to all my fellow respecters of privacy!
If you want to know more about the snoopy habits of your fellow Americans (and maybe your significant other?) check out the infographic from MyMail below and when you’re done, make a promise to yourself that you’ll help that 53% get higher.