Why one ELLE edi­tor can’t stop snoop­ing on her hus­band.

Carli Whitwell comes clean about curb­ing her snoop­ing.

ELLE (Canada) - - Contents - By Carli Whitwell

I FOUND OUT THAT MY HUS­BAND was cheat­ing when I read our iPad In­ter­net his­tory. “It’s against the rules to Google clues to The New York Times Satur­day Crossword,” I grum­bled, shocked that Tim—who has a vo­cab­u­lary that Rory Gil­more would be jeal­ous of—had re­sorted to such treach­ery. He was sheep­ish but not sur­prised that I had found him out—this wasn’t the first time my snoop­ing had un­earthed a se­cret in our re­la­tion­ship. And the time be­fore, it was some­thing far more se­ri­ous than “What’s a four-let­ter word for new pop of 1924?” (Nehi, if you’re won­der­ing.)

Five years ago, my all-con­sum­ing cu­rios­ity ru­ined the sur­prise mar­riage pro­posal Tim had planned for a week­end get­away in Mon­treal. It started in­no­cently enough. A few weeks prior, we had been de­bat­ing the age dif­fer­ence be­tween then cou­ple Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly. (Don’t ask.) I bor­rowed his phone to look for the an­swer, and when I opened the browser, a win­dow with a search for en­gage­ment rings popped up. Most peo­ple would hand back the phone calmly while in­ter­nally com­bust­ing, get their nails done and then hun­ker down to wait out a pro­posal. But I couldn’t let it go.

At the first op­por­tu­nity, I searched the Web his­tory of our com­puter. And I found links to rings! So many sparkly rings! From Tif­fany’s! And Birks! Then I did what no per­son should ever do: I read his email (I know his pass­word, which, ac­cord­ing to a 2014 study by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., is com­mon—about two-thirds of cou­ples share this info) and saw a note from my best friend that con­tained a hearty “Good luck, Tim!” Jack­pot. I knew, and be­cause I’m a rot­ten liar and pan­icked ev­ery time he knelt down to tie his shoe or reached into his pocket for his wal­let, he knew that I knew. Af­ter a day of sight­see­ing and too much pou­tine, he ended up propos­ing while we were sit­ting on the bed in our ho­tel room eat­ing Toot­sie Rolls. He held out his hand, mum­bling with a re­signed air some­thing about how I prob­a­bly knew this was com­ing, and I’ll al­ways re­gret rob­bing him of the mo­ment that should have been.

You’d think I’d learn my les­son, but I snoop more than ever now. I reg­u­larly creep Tim’s email in­box and read his text mes­sages. I don’t even know what I’m look­ing for. And I’m not a so­ciopath—I know I shouldn’t do it, and I do feel badly about it. It’s a vi­o­la­tion of his trust and the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada, and I would be livid if he ever did the same to me. I’m not the only one do­ing this, though. Ac­cord­ing to a h

2013 sur­vey by a U.K. mo­bile-phone com­pany, 62 per­cent of men and 34 per­cent of women have scrolled through a part­ner’s phone. So why do we do it? Jen­nifer Pink, a Ph.D. can­di­date in clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at Simon Fraser Univer­sity who has stud­ied snoop­ing and its ef­fect on re­la­tion­ships, says that one of the most com­mon rea­sons is also the most ob­vi­ous: trust—or a lack thereof.

A 2012 study pub­lished in Col­lege Stu­dent Jour­nal found that 66 per­cent of col­lege stu­dents felt that it was okay to snoop when they were cu­ri­ous or sus­pi­cious about the ac­tions of some­one they were dat­ing. Tech­nol­ogy has made it so much eas­ier: If you’re wor­ried your BF is be­ing un­faith­ful, you are far less likely to get caught read­ing a phone than ri­fling through his desk for re­ceipts and sniff­ing his coat for per­fume as if you’d stepped onto the set of Days of Our Lives.

I wasn’t spy­ing be­cause I was wor­ried that Tim was hav­ing an af­fair—he’s no Noah Sol­loway. In fact, he prob­a­bly hasn’t talked to a wo­man out­side our cir­cle of friends since 2007. On the other hand, he’s not overly emo­tional or ex­pres­sive—I’ve seen him cry only twice in 10 years, and once was while watch­ing Field of Dreams— so it can be tough to know what he’s think­ing. He also some­times for­gets to tell me things, big things, like when he got a bonus at work or the day that a bunch of peo­ple got fired from his com­pany. Maybe that’s where my urge to check up on him comes in.

Pink agrees. “If you’re feel­ing like your part­ner isn’t as open as you’d like him or her to be, that can lead to un­cer­tainty about ‘What is my part­ner think­ing and feel­ing about this is­sue?’ or ‘What’s the fu­ture of our re­la­tion­ship?’ So that snoop­ing can re­ally be an effort to seek re­as­sur­ance.”

For me, it was also a ques­tion of self-con­trol: Once I’d started, it was hard to stop. “You’ve taught your­self ‘If I just in­dulge, I can soothe this cu­rios­ity,’” ex­plains Shya­mala Kiru, a mar­riage ther­a­pist based in New­mar­ket, Ont., who notes that this be­hav­iour is com­mon. If you read that text and don’t find the ev­i­dence you were look­ing for, you feel re­lieved. Maybe you’ll jus­tify your teensy trans­gres­sion be­cause your wor­ries were as­suaged, and next time you’ll feel more in­clined to peek. And on it con­tin­ues.

As of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle, I’ve been snoop-free for three months. Here’s why. Two things hap­pened the last time I checked Tim’s phone—in this case to read a text mes­sage from his cousin to see what he was up to. Tim (fi­nally) vented his frus­tra­tions with my bad habit, which started a fight but (even­tu­ally) got us com­mu­ni­cat­ing about topics and is­sues we were reg­u­larly gloss­ing over.

I also re­al­ized that I don’t re­ally want to know ev­ery­thing he’s do­ing. Hav­ing some non-re­la­tion­ship-dam­ag­ing se­crets from your spouse is to­tally nor­mal. I haven’t told Tim how much my Mansur Gavriel bag re­ally cost or where I hide the good cheese in the fridge. He shouldn’t have to bare all ei­ther. “Pri­vacy and au­ton­omy are equally as im­por­tant as in­ti­macy and con­nec­tion,” says Kiru. “The health­i­est re­la­tion­ships that I’ve seen are the ones where the cou­ple is able to bal­ance that sep­a­rate­ness with that to­geth­er­ness, and pri­vacy al­lows us to foster that sep­a­rate­ness.” Even if that means let­ting go of the odd crossword cheat now and then.

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