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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,

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.

Image Source: Getty
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margokhal margokhal 6 years
Um, did you really need A GRAD STUDENT to tell you that? I mean come on. Why you're STILL in the relationship is beyond me. It's obviously not working if you have to snoop on him and you're finding things that bother you - LEAVE. Gah, people make their own situations difficult.
margokhal margokhal 6 years
Um, did you really need A GRAD STUDENT to tell you that? I mean come on. Why you're STILL in the relationship is beyond me. It's obviously not working if you have to snoop on him and you're finding things that bother you - LEAVE. Gah, people make their own situations difficult.
cotedazur cotedazur 6 years
Even if you ARE "just a naturally suspicious (and insecure) person," snooping would quickly lose its appeal if there were nothing to find. I think the fact that you can't trust him after two years is a bad sign.
MissJules5x MissJules5x 6 years
why are you still snooping? you found out what you wanted. this guy is clearly cheating and doing things to make you feel insecure and turning it around to make you feel like youre the one with the problem so you feel bad and stay and put up with his bs. any healthy relationship is a relationship where you never have a reason to snoop. the fact that you saw all this and continue to stay with him is ridiculous. youre wasting your time snooping on this loser. drop him on his ass and move on.
sham28 sham28 6 years
dump him and go to therapy for your trust issues-so yeah, what mamasitama/ everyone else said
sham28 sham28 6 years
dump him and go to therapy for your trust issues -so yeah, what mamasitama/ everyone else said
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 6 years
grow up and break up with him, and then go see a shrink before you get involved with another guy.
appolgurl appolgurl 6 years
oh honey, he is bad news. trust me. end it. and don't bring this attitude to your next relationship, either. become secure before meeting new guys.
appolgurl appolgurl 6 years
oh honey, he is bad news. trust me. end it. and don't bring this attitude to your next relationship, either. become secure before meeting new guys.
seraphmaiden seraphmaiden 6 years
I don't know if you were crazy jealous to start with or his douchebaggery led you there. Either way, this relationship will never be healthy.
cakeshinigami cakeshinigami 6 years
You should probably stop snooping for the sake of your own happiness. It sounds like this is driving you crazy.
TinaDenali TinaDenali 6 years
I agree with zabrow - neither of you sound like this relationship is working for you. Wouldn't you like to be with a guy who adores you and loves you (and only you!)??? You can't find that guy if you're with this cheater. Move on.
c4rolin3 c4rolin3 6 years
if either of you are even slightly wise- he'll either dump you because you don't trust him. or you should dump him because you don't think he can be trusted.
zabrow zabrow 6 years
this relationship sounds miserable for both of you.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 6 years
Wow, psycho. Either calm the heck down or break up with him.
Chrstne Chrstne 6 years
Honestly, if you feel you have to snoop on someone, your relationship might as well be over. If someone has given you no reason to be suspicious and you go and check up on their every move anyway, that is completely insecure. I wish women would stop thinking actions are damning. My BF and I are not friends on facebook. Granted, he uses it like, once a month, but still. I am very comfortable not giving a sh*t who he talks to -- and if you have to be someone's facebook friend to feel validated and safe, then you have issues. It seems like the person who asked used the updates as a way to find out if her boyfriend was doing something behind her back. If you feel your BF is wronging you and lying to you, do you really need to snoop to find out? If you're smart, if you feel cheated, why not go?Why snoop if you already know he is a jerk off? What the hell else are you looking for? If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a damn duck. I would work on yourself and your security, so that maybe one day, the place of pseudo-relationships wouldn't be what throws you off the edge. Maybe you won't have the need to know every little thing your partner does because maybe, just maybe, you will have found someone who never gave you a reason to be anything but accepting and okay with it.
Chrstne Chrstne 6 years
Honestly, if you feel you have to snoop on someone, your relationship might as well be over. If someone has given you no reason to be suspicious and you go and check up on their every move anyway, that is completely insecure. I wish women would stop thinking actions are damning. My BF and I are not friends on facebook. Granted, he uses it like, once a month, but still. I am very comfortable not giving a sh*t who he talks to -- and if you have to be someone's facebook friend to feel validated and safe, then you have issues. It seems like the person who asked used the updates as a way to find out if her boyfriend was doing something behind her back. If you feel your BF is wronging you and lying to you, do you really need to snoop to find out? If you're smart, if you feel cheated, why not go? Why snoop if you already know he is a jerk off? What the hell else are you looking for? If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it's a damn duck. I would work on yourself and your security, so that maybe one day, the place of pseudo-relationships wouldn't be what throws you off the edge. Maybe you won't have the need to know every little thing your partner does because maybe, just maybe, you will have found someone who never gave you a reason to be anything but accepting and okay with it.
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