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Ask a Grad Student: Should I Stop Snooping On My Boyfriend?

Conventional Wisdom is a different kind of advice column. Your questions will be answered by people from all walks of life rather than by advice experts. Today, a graduate student will offer her common sense advice. You can submit questions here.

Today's Question:

Dear Grad Student,

I've been going out with this guy for almost two years. He actually blocked me on Facebook once because he claimed that I was asking too much about his updates (like his exes writing to him) so he removed me. I created an alias and became friends with him and this girl so I could see what he was saying. What I saw made me so angry, I confronted him. I always ended up apologizing because I was the one who had to admit I invaded his privacy. I deleted that account.

One day at my place, he left his account signed in on my computer so I checked his inbox and saw that he was still flirting with his ex f•ckbuddy and he was telling her things like his loins burn for her and they missed each other. He was also inviting girls for coffee and dates. I again confronted him, and he told me that some of the things I'd read he'd said during the month we had broken up. In any case, he changed his password.

Now I am using Gmail where Facebook notifications are sent, and there are still things there that drive me crazy. I don't want to be a jealous, insecure bitch, so I want to know if someone thinks I should go on snooping, or will I go to hell if I keep it up?

To find out what the graduate student has to say, read more

Dear Snoopy,

As I write this, I picture you sitting in your car outside your boyfriend’s apartment in a hat, sunglasses, and a glued-on mustache waiting to catch him red-handed with one of his paramours. I say this not to be mean or make light of what you’re going through, but to get you to think about what you have been reduced to in this relationship: you are a desperate private investigator instead of a girlfriend.

Before I address what you’ve found out, I want to say a little something about trust. It’s a cliché but it’s true: trust is the foundation of a relationship, and without it, you really have nothing. You don’t say anything in your question about what your two-year relationship was like leading up to your Facebook and Gmail investigations. Was it great, and then something he did made you suspicious? Or are you just a naturally suspicious (and insecure) person, who, during the course of her investigations, found out the boyfriend was flirting with exes and making coffee dates with other women?

In any case — here we are. You are two years into a relationship with a man who sends other women sexual messages and invitations for coffee and who has blocked you on Facebook, and you seem to be spending all of your time trying to catch him saying something incriminating. Is this really the kind of relationship you want?

If you believe your boyfriend when he says that he did this flirting when you were broken up, you need to sit down with him and have a frank conversation about your fears and doubts. And then stop snooping on him. It’s not that you’ll go to hell for continuing to snoop or even that it’s ethically messed up — although it is. You should stop snooping for your own psychological health. It sounds like you’re addicted to invading your boyfriend’s privacy in the hopes you’ll find something that will hurt you so that you can feel bad about yourself both for being potentially cheated on and also for being a "jealous insecure bitch."

If you really think this guy is stepping out on you, why not just break up with him and heal your own hurt? Your problems here are bigger than his Facebook updates. You need to feel secure within yourself before you can trust that you can be in a relationship without having to snoop to feel safe. A healthy relationship involves being with someone you trust — until he has done something to betray that trust. Then, you have to make a healthy decision either to walk out or try to make it work.

Take off your private investigator hat and investigate your own motivations and behaviors and learn what a solid, healthy relationship looks like. (Maybe with the help of a therapist?) Then you'll be able to make the right decision.

Source: Getty
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