Dear Dategirl, I just recently found out that my girlfriend frequently goes through my cell-phone text messages. I have nothing to hide, but it still makes me upset that she does this behind my back. I've been told on several occasions—by both her friends and mine—that she will grab my phone off the counter while it's charging and look through it. I haven't confronted her about it because she doesn't know I know yet, and before I say anything I wanted to get an outside opinion. Am I right to be upset about this or should I just come to accept it? Thank you for your help.Snooped Dogg
Before I heap scorn upon your girlfriend (and I promise you, that's coming), I must shamefacedly admit that I too have given into the temptation. It has been a rare occurrence, often driven by extenuating circumstances, but over the course of my dating life I have read text messages, looked through pockets, and hacked into e-mails. I am not particularly proud of this, but hey, I'm only human and it's hardly a habit. There are many different reasons people snoop, and they can pretty much be broken down into three categories: The Verifiers. Say your girlfriend is always taking her phone into the bathroom and making hushed calls to "wrong numbers." She comes home with a mark on her neck that looks suspiciously hickey-ish, but she swears it's a burn from her curling iron. Wouldn't you take a gander through her cell? If not, are you made of steel? Because most of us would. Perhaps it's all innocent, but maybe not—and as we all know, cheaters don't generally cop to cheating. So are you a liar or a cheat? If so, I'd say her snooping is warranted. In fact, this is probably the only case when surreptitious surveillance is 100% acceptable. But as you say you've got nothing to hide, we'll just assume your GF isn't a Verifier. The Paranoid Freak. This type is so worried they're going to be screwed over that they're unable to trust the weather, let alone another human being. TPF will do everything they can to make sure they know what you're doing and with whom at all times. I had a boyfriend like this—if I didn't answer my work phone he'd immediately assume it was because I was off having sex with someone else. Er, no. How about taking a pee? Or not being the one closest to the phone? Being in a relationship with this type is not unlike being trapped in the middle of a giant tape ball, wrapped up so tight that your circulation gets cut off and you die. However, you didn't mention anything about your GF being a lunatic, so this probably isn't her either. Which brings us to... Plain Old Nosey. Though this happened many years ago, I can still practically taste the utter and abject horror I felt upon learning that my mother had read selected bits of my journal aloud—to my entire family. Nice, right? My mom defended herself by insisting that if I had written it down, it was meant to be read. Actually, no—it doesn't mean that at all. The kind of people who feel compelled to go through your medicine cabinet or open your mail or check your text messages have a sense of entitlement that I can't really fathom. This is what it sounds like your girlfriend (and in turn, you) is suffering from. After all, this is something she does in front of your friends! Though she hasn't told you she does it, she's obviously not terribly ashamed of herself. If you haven't already, you need to sit your girlfriend down and lay it on the line. Start off by asking her if you've done anything to cause her to mistrust you. When she says no, tell her you're onto her little snooping games and it needs to stop immediately. I don't care if you've been dating for two weeks or married for two decades—everyone deserves a little privacy. Your girlfriend needs to quit it or you need to quit her. Judy McGuire is the author of How Not to Date. Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org.