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You Asked: Her Jealousy vs His Privacy

DearSugar --

I have the problem that my girlfriend cannot refrain from snooping through my computer, and more importantly, through my internet browser history. She is incredibly devious about it, and given half the chance - ie, my pc is on and left unlocked and unattended, she will jump at the chance to see if I've been "looking at porn".

Just yesterday I was looking for software and drivers for her cellphone. It took me to a 'warez' site, which as most people know tend have some adult content on them. Most people will also know that these such sites bring up several popup windows advertising almost exclusively porn and gambling sites. I do not know whether I clicked a banner accidentally or if it was the popup itself but somehow I had three porn sites added to my history - (which I never check but you-know-who does).

So this morning I open up google and I'm about to search for something and the previous searches that have been entered come up, clearly from my g/f. The first one I saw was "My boyfriend looks at porn" and others along the same lines. I check the history, and clearly she had dredged up those ad sites and then gone onto google to search for some sort of advice.

So now rather confront me about it and ask me straight out, she has been distant and difficult and now I know why. I can't even begin to try and explain about pop-ups and how these things happen without her saying "uh-huh, sure", and to be honest I don't see why I should have to in the first place. This is a direct result of her being unable to respect my privacy - she was snooping through my computer and found things that would make her unhappy, but through no fault of mine.

I'm a big boy and I can't help feeling where I go and what I look at is my business and nobody else's - not even hers. I take it a chronic breach of trust that I cannot leave my pc unattended without her having to check up on me all the time. The current status? We're not talking about it. But I know that as soon as I go shopping later she will go through my history again and more than likely read this letter.

I can't go on like this. Please please, any help or advice would be welcome. I love her lots but I cannot handle the duplicity and deceit any longer. -- Suspected Steve

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Suspected Steve --

I'm not sure by your note if the two of you have ever talked about this issue. I've read it a few times over, and I'm going to advise you as if that's the case . . . no discussion yet, just snooping and frustration.

For this issue to get resolved sensibly, you're both going to have to sit down and have a conversation about sexuality (feelings about porn, even if you don't look at it), boundaries and privacy, jealousy and insecurity, fear and appropriate emotional risk-taking. I'm sorry she hasn't shown the courage or maturity to discuss this you, but since you are a couple, it falls to you to put the issue on the table.

One distinction has to be made right away:

It is important to differentiate "normal" from "delusional" jealousy. Normal jealousy has its basis in a real threat to the relationship; delusional jealousy persists despite the absence of any real or even probable threat.

Your girlfriend will need to accept some amount of risk and believe in you, based on her actual experiences with you and not on her fears and insecurities. Jealousy and insecurity are powerfully rooted feelings, so this will be difficult but possible. If she can't do it, you both will be missing a crucial level of intimacy, rest and friendship in the relationship. I can hear in your note the ways in which you feel defensive and trespassed; this will only grow if you can't initiate an exploration of the underlying issues.

If you love her, feel committed to the relationship, and want to participate in getting through this together, I can recommend an article to read. It's about 8 pages long and offers couples a series of exercises aimed at helping both parties regain some dignity, insight and balance around these challenges. The steps both of you will follow are no walk in the park: she will need to uncover what's really at the heart of her jealousy (a sensitivity to a subject or a perceived threat to the relationship), and you will need to be rigorously honest about your experience of her mistrust. Have the conversation soon, Steve; I wish you both courage and change.

Ladies: This is a big issue, and many of us are familiar with it and from both points of view. Please weigh in with your own thoughts, as ever!


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