Thursday, 8 November 2012

I Spy a Problem…

I’ve just finished reading a magazine article that advocates spying on your partner. Yikes. They made it sound so normal! Almost as if anyone who doesn’t spy on her other half is a fool.

Now, I have to admit that I have done a tiny bit of spying in the past. My first long-term partner cheated on me. He wouldn’t admit it until years after we split up, but I knew. And once I knew it had either happened or was in the offing, I snooped, just a little bit. I took the opportunity to check his texts (nothing) and checked his pockets (I was doing the washing so I was kind of justified, but still). In his pocket I found a receipt for a present he hadn’t given to me. I asked him about it, he made up an excuse, but I knew what it was and who it was for. We stayed together for quite a while after that, but I didn’t snoop again. I didn’t feel the need to. I knew what had happened despite his protestations, I decided to stay, I knew when it had finished and I don’t believe it ever happened again.

Although my husband (not the man in the story above) and I separated, I never felt the need to snoop on him as such. I had some concerns, I knew he wasn’t cheating but I also knew he wasn’t happy. Although he didn’t talk about how he felt, he also didn’t hide anything – he’d happily leave his facebook account logged in, leave his emails or messenger chats open on the computer we both used, and would sometimes ask me to check a text for him on his phone. I’ll admit, if he left an email open I would occasionally glance at it, but I never actively accessed his email or his private correspondence.

With my current partner, I’ve never so much as glanced in his wallet without asking him first. Partly because I don’t have any reason at all to suspect him of unscrupulous behaviour, and partly because I trust him.

And that’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day. Trust. If you love someone, you should be able to trust them. And if you trust them, then why check up on them? If you trust them, really trust them, then if you did find some ‘evidence’ lying around, would you believe their explanations? If not, then how can you say you really trust them? And if you would believe them, what good would snooping serve?

If you don’t trust your partner, then you make a choice. Leave, or stay despite the risk of betrayal. I chose to stay with my first partner. If he had cheated again, would I have stayed? That’s a question I can’t answer. Now, no, I wouldn’t, but then? Maybe. I can’t be sure.

I guess the question is, if I suspected my current partner of cheating, would I spy on him? No. I’d ask him outright. I’d decide whether I believed him. I’d choose whether to stay or go.

Sure, if I was presented with evidence that he’d cheated, I’d be mad as hell. But I wouldn’t go actively looking for it, because not only do I trust him but he trusts me. He trusts me not to cheat, but he also trusts me not to go through his things, hack into his emails, or read his letters. If I snooped and found something I’d feel bad, but if I snooped and didn’t find something, I think I’d feel worse. I would have betrayed his trust for nothing.

Maybe I’m being naïve but what if we turn it around? How would you feel if you discovered your partner trusted you so little they had read your private letters and texts, read your facebook messages, even followed you? Wouldn’t you be devastated that they thought so little of you? I think I might even be a little nervous that someone I cared about could be so controlling.

I don’t want to censor messages to friends. I am a member of a couple of private websites where we rant and rave and complain about everything that bothers us, including our partners. Some days I need somewhere safe to moan about my partner dropping clothes on the floor or snoring, I just need to get it out of my system so I can calm down and carry on with my day. My partner knows about the sites, he’s happy I have somewhere to shed my bile! But he doesn’t go on them. If he did, I’d feel violated, as if someone had read my diary. That’s my personal space. So are my emails, my texts, my letters. I don’t want to stop before I send an email and worry if something I’ve said about my partner could be misconstrued by him. I don’t want to edit my texts. I don’t want to feel the need to hide things.

I have nothing to hide. If my partner asked if he could read my emails, I’d probably say yes. But that’s the difference: if he asked, I wouldn’t particularly care. If he just looked, I’d be livid.

If I expect him to trust me, then I should trust him. And if anyone feels a need to check up on their partner all the time, then maybe they need to ask themselves if they are with the wrong person – or whether they have trust issues that they themselves need to deal with. Just a thought.

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