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Sex Therapist Says: Go Ahead and Snoop on Him

In an ideal world, says sex therapist and relationship counselor Dr. Ian Kerner, partners in committed relationships wouldn't hide anything from each other nor be suspicious of the other's activities. But Internet infidelity is such a problem these days, he argues, that sometimes you are justified in snooping on your partner's online activity.

You might not find out that your partner's cheating on you in the real world, Dr. Kerner says, but he might be committing emotional infidelity — that is, confiding in someone of the opposite sex, flirting with her, or even sending sexual messages. Research has shown that men don't think about emotional infidelity the same way that women do (most of them think it's not as bad as sexual infidelity), but it is a drain on the relationship nevertheless. If you've ever been with someone who checked out from the relationship and was investing romantic attention elsewhere without technically cheating, you'll know what he's talking about!

So when should you take this taboo leap into treating the person you're supposedly closest to like a crime suspect? I'll tell you after the jump, but you tell me — do you think it's worth taking this step, or are suspicions sign enough that it's time to bail? To see Dr. Kerner's list of signs you might need to start snooping,

  • Does he spend too much time on the computer or other digital devices?
  • Is he comfortable leaving Facebook pages or emails open when he's not at the computer?
  • Does he keep in touch with exes or members of the opposite sex on social networking sites like Facebook? Does it make you feel uncomfortable, or do you feel like you should know more and you don't?
  • Does your partner give you other reasons to not trust him — like flirting with others a lot when you are out together?
  • Has the frequency with which you have sex decreased?
  • Does your gut tell you something's wrong?
Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
sarasonne sarasonne 7 years
I made a point not to snoop and to trust him, and told that little voice in my head it was nothing. Boy, was that a mistake. The not listening to my gut part. Not sure about the not snooping part. I'm still figuring that out.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
Sure does. Good luck with that.
sparklestar sparklestar 7 years
Nah, my guy would never ask me because he's not like that. I already said I was insecure - doesn't that cover the rest of your reply?
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
Sparklestar, it seems that if your guy cared about knowing what was going on in your life, he would just ask you. You're basically saying his snooping is just him showing that he cares, which I find strange. The comment "I would hate it if I was able to get away with something because he just wasn't bothered about finding out" is just bizarre. Maybe he doesn't check to see if you are getting away with anything because he trusts you, not because he doesn't care...ever think of that? But then, people are different...I like my privacy and to be trusted, and I want my guy to feel the same.
sparklestar sparklestar 7 years
Well, I'm of the other persuasion - I think it's OK to snoop! Nobody is PERFECT and we all have our moments when we doubt and sometimes we just need to reassure ourselves. I might go in, find he's not done anything worthy of me being paranoid and then close the computer again. I wouldn't care if he did the same to me. It would mean he cared about knowing what is going on in my life. I would hate it if I was able to get away with something because he just wasn't bothered about finding out. I don't snoop regularly or anything but I like to know things. :p I *am* insecure but hey, so what.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
If you really have reason to believe that something fishy is going, I think in a healthy relationship you should feel comfortable enough to be upfront about it, and not have to spy and snoop. "Hey, I'm kind of concerned..."
Spacekatdude Spacekatdude 7 years
Follow-on to myself. A guy can really act secretive - and that might seem suspicious. But if a guy gives some lame excuse (honey, really, I was just reading about 1960's Corvettes and not watching porn for the last three hours) - it's very possible that he was actually reading about 1960's Corvettes for three hours. I've done that. A seemingly bizarre excuse is very possible - guys aren't that imaginative in making up stuff. I think suspicion can be really bad in a relationship - consuming for both parties. I knew someone (a girl) in high school, who, because of her general life unhappiness, spent hours banging a tennis ball against a wall. When her mom asked her what she'd been doing, and she said, banging a tennis ball against a wall for four hours, her mom didn't believe her and accused her of doing all sorts of bad things.
bubblebuttguy2 bubblebuttguy2 7 years
Does your gut tell you something's wrong?..............if your gut is's because you are eating more.....b/c your worried about your spouse cheating on yes, an expanding gut is a big clue that there is cheating going on.
Spacekatdude Spacekatdude 7 years
I agree with spacekatgal (and not because I'm legally obligated to!) - you have to be able to trust the other person. This guy's perspective is this: That said - I think a lot of guys don't cheat- but ACT like they're cheating, because they're doing something that they're spouses/gfs might not approve of. For example? You think you're guy's snuck off to meet some floozy on the side? Chances off he's actually snuck off to watch a football game, esp. if you disapprove of football watching in the house. But - if a dude really digs football (or baseball or sports cars or movies about killer robots or 60's music or whatever) and the gf/wife won't let him experience that in the house, he'll get antsy and unhappy and will sneak off to do that. That's just what guys do. But... it looks like he's sneaking off to have an affair. I suppose it's possible he's having an affair - but it's also possible he's just sitting in the car with his laptop watching a movie he knows you won't like. Sometimes a guy just needs to check out for a while.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I'm not condoning an ex parte emotional relationship with a 3rd party but I've heard that most experts agree that it is healthy for a couples sex life to fantasize about other people. I remember my last partner having a huge problem with this. With out going into the details he put up a really big stink about it. I stopped what I was doing and what do you know our sex life went ca-puts and the relationship soon followed.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
Wow... her list of reasons why you should start snooping are horrible... Does he spend too much time on the computer or other digital devices? My boyfriend and I both do. I play a lot of video games and I'm a computer science major (and working on getting A+ certified to repair computers) and am a bit of an internet addict at times. He's constantly playing with his iPod touch and writes for an ESPN MMA blog, that and he's a media whore and a bit of a geek at times... Neither of us spending a lot of time on the computer is a sign of infidelity. Is he comfortable leaving Facebook pages or emails open when he's not at the computer? He closes his most of the time, logs out, clears his cookies and history. He's just protecting his computer, not hiding something (and what's wrong with wanting privacy in the first place). I keep my stuff open because I'm careless. Does he keep in touch with exes or members of the opposite sex on social networking sites like Facebook? Does it make you feel uncomfortable, or do you feel like you should know more and you don't? My boyfriend and I have friends that mostly are of the opposite sex, and we are both good/best friends with our exes. I see nothing wrong with this. Does your partner give you other reasons to not trust him — like flirting with others a lot when you are out together? This one I can kinda see, but some people just have flirty personalities. Don't mean ANYTHING by flirting, but just are naturally playful. Has the frequency with which you have sex decreased? I think this happens with all couples. When we started dating, it was like every night, but we've been dating for a year and a half now, he has 4 jobs, I have one, we both have a lot of class work... and every night is just excessive in general. Does your gut tell you something's wrong? My gut tells me there are zombies invading my street, that my house is haunted, and that there's a serial killer with a butcher knife standing behind me sometimes. Gut's aren't always very smart.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
There would have to be strong signs of detachment on my partners part for me to think something is up. But I don't think I would snoop anyway because the problem has already presented it self in the detachment. The focus should be a discussion about the relationship holistically not a pointed prosecution of one act. Regardless of what he's doing he detached for a reason and that is the information I/we need to heal the relationship if indeed that is what we want.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
LMAO fuzzles!!!
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
*the sound of an air horn* Wrong answer. Thanks for playing.
nikecold nikecold 7 years
I disagree, I mean I guess snooping is understandable, I know I'd probably be a mild snooper, but like Chrstne said that just creates more insecurity. I don't think its healthy if you feel the NEED to go about snooping all over his stuff. I had a friend who would constantly sneak into her boyfriend's email and myspace, fb, etc. and all she ever IMed me about was how she found a 'suspicious' something, and then she'd ask me if I thought it was weird. The whole time I'm trying to hold back telling her that the fact that she's going trough emails he received long before they were together and then looking up the girls who sent those emails and finally sending me pics of them (and probably other people on her contact list) is a WAY bigger problem than anything he might be doing behind her back. Seriously it became an addiction for her, if you somehow manage to get to that extreme the relationship isnt worth it. Either his untrustworthy or you're too insecure, in both cases you should probably just give up.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I agree -- without trust, we would have nothing. I would never snoop on my husband. Besides, we're very close. If he was ever cheating on me, I would find out naturally -- no snooping necessary.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
...and, snooping can breed even more insecurity. Do you really want to read the conversation with his best friend via IM when he was mad at you and said something like "she pisses me off so much sometimes that I wish I could just call off the wedding". or something like that. God, even a "hi" to another girl can drive some people batsh*t crazy. Snooping is just stupid. Just because people are private does not mean that they are hiding something. If you really are THAT insecure about privacy, then you probably need to ditch the relationship and find a way to heal yourself. Even if you have been scorned in the past -- not everyone is out to hurt you, not everyone is a cheater, and not everyone has something to hide.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
If you are insecure and distrustful enough to even think about snooping, your relationship is over anyway.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
ahhh, fantastic. now insecure, needy women can say "well, a sex therapist SAID" to justify their nuttiness. I agree with Christine -- without trust you have nothing.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
If you can't trust your partner, you have nothing. My BF never leaves his computer open when he is not around. It's habit, because he has some serious personal info on other people's SSN's, addresses, phone numbers, emails, bank account numbers, etc. He is also intensely paranoid, so I am okay with it. I think people need to take into consideration why people do things. It could be out of habit. They could not have anything to hide and just be private people -- I am. I don't use Facebook or anything, but I always close email windows or my own blog or something, just because I'd like to keep it to myself...and there is nothing going on. And really, I don't see how people get so upset over tech stuff. I like to be on the computer, my BF's job is in computers, and he likes to play video games when he gets home. We are not on the rocks, he is not cheating, nor am I. I guess if you feel that he is hiding something, go find out. I am not for snooping when it comes to jealousy or being insecure. But if you honestly, to the depths of your soul believe something is wrong, then investigate it.
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