Snooping? Common/Good idea/Bad idea?

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Post by Izmuth on Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:31 am

I have been reading the topic about the guy watching porn while he said he wouldn't, and I thought the discussion about snooping might merit a new thread.

How common do you think it is? Did you ever do it yourself? Did you break off the relationship even if you found nothing?

TW: Cartoon pedofilia
Spoiler:

My feelings on snooping are complicated. On one hand, if someone stumbles upon my porn stash, I need to know about it because without context it's going to look, really, really bad. On the other hand, since I know people will object to it, it feels like I'm lying by omission about it, and it feels like they're kind of right about snooping. On the third hand, having a discussion about the porn at all will endanger me, while I truly feel like I'm doing nothing wrong (except, apparently, in Australia: http://www.theage.com.au/national/simpsons-cartoon-ripoff-is-child-porn-judge-20081208-6tmk.html )
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Post by kleenestar on Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:25 am

In the first year of our relationship, I used to read my now-husband's email. I wasn't looking for anything bad - I just wanted to know whether he really liked me. I can't recall when or why I stopped, but I haven't done that for at least fifteen years, probably more, and I never did it in any of my other relationships. (And yes, I told him about it pretty early on. He said that it would have bugged him if I'd deliberately logged in to his email, but since I only did it when he was careless and left himself logged in on my computer it was understandable.)

My partner has never looked at my email or phone when I wasn't around, but he has the habit of screen-hovering when I'm using the computer. This actually bugs me way more than if he looked when I wasn't around - but since I'm right there I just tell him not to. He's working on breaking the habit, but it's the flip side of him being interested in everything I do so it isn't entirely simple to just break that one piece of it.

Helpful?
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Post by LadyIkaros on Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:34 am

Never did it myself, don't know how common it is - hopefully not very. It's something I'm not tolerant of.
I think I'd have an easier time forgiving a partner for cheating on me than for violating my trust and boundaries by snooping into private things I didn't invite him to look at.
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Post by WJMorris3 on Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:20 pm

If I was in a relationship with a woman, it would be her right to look at things like that. I have no expectations of privacy in a relationship - that's reserved for the lady.
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Post by eselle28 on Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:23 pm

It's not that I'm pro-snooping or think it's a good idea, but I've done it once myself and think it's excusable in certain circumstances. I used to feel very much the opposite and was an advocate of ending any relationship where there wasn't absolute trust. But then I dated someone who cheated on me and who gaslighted me about it. I also saw relationships that went through periods where one or both partners didn't trust each other, often for good reason, and were able to work through their problems and rebuild something healthier. Based on both of those experiences, I changed my mind.

If a relatively new partner is already been acting in untrustworthy ways, then sure, lack of trust is a great reason to end a relationship. But if someone's spouse of 25 years has told a couple of vague lies about their whereabouts and been getting some oddly timed phone calls and denies anything is going on, would we really support their partner for shrugging and saying that they don't trust their partner anymore, so now it's time to rent an apartment, hire a lawyer, and take the teenage kids to a counselor to work out where they'll want to live from now on? We generally expect people in serious relationships to be thoughtful about ending them, and many couples who have experienced cheating want to and are to some degree expected to attempt to work things out. It's hard for me to reconcile the "if you don't trust your partner, it's already over," attitude with everything else society says about relationships.

Which isn't to say constant surveillance is a good tactic or that a relationship that merits one-time snooping is healthy, just that we tend to put people who have some reason to distrust their partners in a very difficult place where there aren't many responses besides turning a blind eye to whatever is going on that won't be condemned in some way. And, if someone snoops and finds nothing, that person has a lot to think about, both in terms of why they suspected they'd find something and whether whatever made them distrust their partner is objectionable in its own right.
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Post by The Wisp on Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:30 pm

Snooping to me is really bad, and if I had a partner do that to me I'd give them a good yelling at and probably break up with them. Snooping gives the other person power over you. Even if there is nothing to find, you'll have to censor yourself in your private communications and internet browsing just in case out of fear that what isn't bad might look bad.

ETA: Well, I hope I'd excoriate them, but I probably wouldn't as I'm a pretty meek person in actuality despite my desires.
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Post by readertorider on Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:11 pm

If there's a bookshelf in a room I've been invited into I will look at the spines and maybe ask if I can take a few books out and read the back cover. I've changed people's backgrounds/chrome extensions/themes before when friends have left me alone with their computer and people have changed my facebook status and such when I was negligent, but for the most part these are college pranks and I think we've all been pretty good about knowing where to draw the line to keep people from getting hurt and would actively avoid porn folders or email accounts or diaries or what have you.

I am rather private--part of the reason I broke up with one boyfriend was he came into my bedroom completely uninvited. I usually have at least one background game of 2048 or email account open in a tab that I switch to if I sense someone close by. I think I allow other people the same privacy.

In my experience if you don't want something to be found you do need to hide it well or really trust the people in your life, however, just because there do seem to be plenty of innocuous ways for people to find things--"oh, yeah, I think that thing you want is in the third drawer down on my dresser--I'm kinda busy right now, but you can look for it... I meant the right hand side... would you believe that's a picture of my sister?", "oh look my computer is trying to recover all my files and find the essay... yeah, that's my unfinished fanfic from 10 years ago..." Wink
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Post by LadyIkaros on Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:45 pm

eselle28 wrote:It's not that I'm pro-snooping or think it's a good idea, but I've done it once myself and think it's excusable in certain circumstances.

Yeah, I'm not saying anyone who ever snooped is a monster. I may feel like I'd never do it, but if I were in a situation where I felt lied to, and gaslighted and like I was going crazy, who knows?
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Post by reboot on Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:00 pm

To me, as a general principle, snooping is wrong, just like lying is wrong. However, both snooping and lying are situationally acceptable if the consequences of not snooping or lying are high. For example, if someone is trying to gather the resources to leave an abusive relationship, lying about where you spent common money or where high value item X is, is acceptable. In a different situation, lying about where you spent common money would not be acceptable. Snooping is OK if the situation has high enough stakes and direct discussion is not working.
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Post by kleenestar on Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:05 pm

For me it was "oh, man, it's right here, and he never asked me not to, and if he really cared he wouldn't leave the account open on my computer." I talked myself into thinking it wasn't a big deal, and thank heavens I was right. He'd have been totally within his rights to be thoroughly pissed at me.
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Post by Enail on Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:22 pm

(I'm going to stick to non-abusive, non-gaslighty or otherwise harmful relationships, b/c I think those are a whole different matter)  I'm a pretty private person so I'm not a fan of snooping, but as a general rule I'd find lying much worse.

Snooping to me seems like more of a blurry line, there are a lot of innocuous ways a bit of snooping happens here and there when you live very overlapping lives. Looking a little too long at the other person's monitor while you're passing by, accidentally seeing something you weren't looking for while on their computer or in their space (with their okay), everyday "oh, I wonder what book that is," kind of things where you look at something before realizing maybe it's private, whereas lying - and especially lying about something your partner asked you to do or not do - is more black-and-white. It's not something that can 'just happen' out of insufficient care, you have to choose to tell them something you know not to be true.

A pattern of snooping to me becomes more on the same level as a pattern of lying, because then it becomes an issue of your ability to be a separate human being with a separate life.
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Sun Mar 01, 2015 4:18 pm

I don't know where I personally stand on this, because I've never faced having to answer the question of how I would feel if someone did this to me.

However, both my boyfriend and my closest male friend are both of the opinion that a romantic partner (or friend) snooping through their email, even if it was a case of Gmail accidentally storing their password on somebody else's device, is absolutely wrong and a total violation of trust, and something they would end relationships over if they found out.

I don't know why my friend is so adamant about this, but I know for my boyfriend he comes from a culture where if you're caught snitching, you're going to be dragged to a back alley and not nice things are going to happen to you (I only wish I was joking...), so privacy is something you do not violate.

For me personally, never having needed to answer this question, I think peeking at what windows I have open, or the email I'm writing if my computer is open would be something I would chalk up to human curiosity, but going through the files on my computer or my browsing history would be a different deal--actions like that would suggest to me that the person had a questionable understanding of the boundaries of others, and make me wary.

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Post by The Wisp on Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:33 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:For me personally, never having needed to answer this question, I think peeking at what windows I have open, or the email I'm writing if my computer is open would be something I would chalk up to human curiosity, but going through the files on my computer or my browsing history would be a different deal--actions like that would suggest to me that the person had a questionable understanding of the boundaries of others, and make me wary.

I agree with this, and I should clarify that my emphatic thoughts on snooping only include the latter stuff. Normal human curiosity would probably be fine most of the time, though perhaps uncomfortable in certain situations, but that wouldn't make me mad at somebody.
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Post by Wondering on Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:53 pm

I haven't snooped or felt the need to snoop on my husband, nor has he on me. The casual sort of stuff — looking over someone's shoulder while they're on the computer — sure, that happens. But we're both pretty private, and respectful of each other's privacy. We don't share our email passwords with each other or anything like that, but we also don't password lock our personal computers at home. Could I pick up his phone and look through all his email and texts and photos? Yeah. Easily. I don't feel any need or desire to.

Now, if he did this to me, deliberately? Wow, that would be some massive violation of trust. I'm not exactly sure how I would react to it, but I'm pretty sure trust would be broken and our relationship altered significantly.

I don't invision this happening, though. I tried to give him a password to one of my social media accounts once "in case something happens to me," and he was all, "What? I don't want that. And I have too many passwords of my own to remember already." LoL.

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Post by Enail on Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:57 pm

Yeah, Wondering, I find it really hard to imagine too. I know my wife's password and I think she knows mine, and on occasion we've each had the other go into our email for something, but I would consider snooping totally on purpose in her email or vice versa a pretty big betrayal.
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Post by reboundstudent on Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:10 pm

I'm not necessarily pro-snooping either, and most of my thoughts fall very in line with how Eselle puts it. I also find this very interesting because I myself live in a world of almost anti-privacy.

I assume that anything and everything I put online or even touch online can be traced to me. On the Internet or on my phone, I have this mindset that I'm never going to be able to hide, so I might as well not hide. Sure, I don't post extremely private things to FB, or send emails to my employers with my history. But I work under the assumption that if anyone really wanted to get the information, they could, so I should never put anything online that I wouldn't be willing to stand beside. Before almost anything I post, I ask myself "How would I feel if my mother saw this? My employer? My partner?" If it's something I'd be mortified to tell them in a real-life conversation, I don't say it, even in one-on-one email correspondence.

Ironically, I'm a lot more private about offline stuff. I keep a journal, and have told my partner repeatedly he can have my passwords, my browser history, and my phone, but he cannot look in that journal.

Thus a partner wandering around my phone doesn't bother me. It does bother me if my partner reads chat conversations between myself and friends, as the friend might be revealing something private that's meant only for me. So chats are maybe a little more off-limits. But otherwise, I try to be a very open book everywhere.

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Post by Guest on Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:08 pm

I'm not particularly fond of the idea of snooping, but certain contexts may mean it's not the worst idea. It's less a 'is it worse than lying?' question than a 'is there actually valid reason for me to be snooping in the first place?' question.

But I'm pretty heavy duty with privacy thanks to upbringing and work. A lot of what I do I can't tell anyone about, so I wouldn't appreciate people snooping around work related material at all. I have a zero tolerance policy for snooping that involves work as a result, unless the status of work itself is the issue (eg. people faking the fact they have jobs in the first place).

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Post by Conreezy on Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:43 pm

WJMorris3 wrote:If I was in a relationship with a woman, it would be her right to look at things like that. I have no expectations of privacy in a relationship - that's reserved for the lady.

Why would your partner have privacy but not you?

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Post by WJMorris3 on Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:47 pm

Conreezy wrote:
WJMorris3 wrote:If I was in a relationship with a woman, it would be her right to look at things like that. I have no expectations of privacy in a relationship - that's reserved for the lady.

Why would your partner have privacy but not you?

I wouldn't dare snoop on my girlfriend/fiancee/wife, because I don't think it's right to do. Same as I don't think it's right for me to do a lot of things to a woman. As to her, though... I don't really have any expectations of privacy, and I have nothing to hide.

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Post by InkAndComb on Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:46 am

I'm a super, super curious person by nature, and as such snooping urges tend to be strong.  It's rare that I'll pick up SO's phone or something for anything other than youtube, etc. but if he left open a text I might scan over it, just because it's there.  I don't mean to be invasive, but if it's left open or visible to the public/general internet, then I assume it's ok for me to look at (I tend to take the attitude that reboundstudent stated in offline versus online).

That said, I don't really go out of my way to look at stuff (history, forum messages, emails, etc) and I don't feel very inclined to.  The temptation is mostly if it's like...right there.  That and college pranking Smile

I take a strong policy on if I get caught though; snooping isn't evil but it isn't kind either.  And nobody responds well when they're put in a position to justify actions they never thought others would witness (defensiveness and such). Confessing that you did wrong and explaining your reasons feels crucial to me. That person should know why, so they don't have to wonder (especially if it was because you THOUGHT something but it turned out to be false)
Offline, I would never read my SO's journal (if I stumbled across it) unless I had a very real fear for their safety or my own.  I have no issues violating trust for personal wellness concerns; thankfully this has only come up once.
 
I might be more mad if my MOM found my items than my SO or friends though, haha.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:51 am

I'm guessing (based on almost no evidence) that it's fairly common, but that there are probably also still a lot of people out there who won't snoop under most circumstances. And I too draw a very thick line between accidentally/briefly/etc glancing at someone's screen and deliberately going through another person's files/history. I've definitely done the former without meaning to—even learned a few passwords that way—but I've never used a person's password without their permission, or used a device that someone else forgot to lock, and I never intend to do so. I am also generally pretty uncomfortable with other people reading my email headers or using my phone to look at anything other than the specific thing on it that I was trying to show them. There isn't even anything there that would make anyone think less of me. I mean, there's stuff I might be mildly embarrassed about, and there's information people could get at that I may not want them to know about, but most of the time the stuff I'm uncomfortable with people seeing isn't remotely surprising or scandalous; it's just separate from any business I have with that person, or they with me.

I have previously entertained the idea of writing keyloggers for my own devices, so I can see if anyone does try snooping and see what they're snooping on. But it's a lot of effort, and feels kind of like snooping also (even though it's only snooping on someone else's snooping).

Then again, I'm not really in a position to do anything about it when someone does decide to "snoop" in my life. So I can't say it is necessarily a bad idea for them.
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Post by kath on Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:59 pm

I think I fall pretty much with other people here on snooping. It's not something

Also, living with someone, your lives get so entwined that in some ways, physically snooping through their stuff becomes like ... not a thing? Like, if I'm cleaning up the basement (or my hsuband is cleaning up the basement), I'm gonna be going through my husband's stuff (and vice versa), and I've been looking for things or putting things away and opened his nightstand drawers (I have a bad habit of leaving my nightstand drawers open). I've never accidentally stumbled on something surprising I didn't know about. We give each other our computer passwords when we need to access them - I tend to forget his, and I've had to give him instructions over the phone to access texts through my computer when I forgot a phone number I needed (and other stuff like that).

I also agree about intentional snooping, and particularly with a suspicion or intent of finding something "bad" ... particularly if I knew I had done nothing to merit the lack of trust. I have no idea how I would feel about beings snooped if I were actively gaslighting someone*. Probably still angry, but not for the same reason. I'm also not sure how I would feel if there WAS something I wanted to hide, either reasonably (not sure what an example would be, but let's say a surprise that I was trying to execute) or not, and I also think it would make me feel different if I were hiding something to subvert controlling behavior.

At work, if people leave cool stuff on their desks (mostly, the results of brainstorms actually ... we do a lot of brainstorms at work, and the results are often pretty cool), I will check out that as I pass / drop things off, but I try not to read private or sensitive looking things.

*I am not planning on adding gaslighting to my emotional playbook, just to be clear.
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Post by PintsizeBro on Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:31 pm

reboot wrote:To me, as a general principle, snooping is wrong, just like lying is wrong. However, both snooping and lying are situationally acceptable if the consequences of not snooping or lying are high. For example, if someone is trying to gather the resources to leave an abusive relationship, lying about where you spent common money or where high value item X is, is acceptable. In a different situation, lying about where you spent common money would not be acceptable. Snooping is OK if the situation has high enough stakes and direct discussion is not working.
I think this bears being quoted, not least because it's exactly how I feel about the situation.

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Post by InkAndComb on Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:38 pm

It's nice to see everyone seems to understand their boundaries and exceptions on this issue. I think it's one of those behaviors that doesn't necessarily get covered verbally; I mean I know I had feelings about it growing up, but nobody explicitly told me not to check my SO's browser history, etc. I bet it's a generational issue in that regard, since I can't think of any time this much documentation and information was available on individuals.

Here's a question; how do people handle people who discover a tumblr or other account of yours that you never intended offline aquaintences to encounter? Blogging isn't as big now but applies.
Mostly with fandom items and such, I find some people don't ' get it' and am reluctant to exchange this stuff ( i also have social issues commentary and stuff, and I don't bother censoring myself as much as I would on Facebook since its anonymous)
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Post by Xexyz on Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:44 pm

I put snooping into two categories: Snooping because you're curious, and snooping because you mistrust someone. I'm a very private person, so in general, the former would bother me a lot more than the latter. Then again, that's because I tend not to form very intimate bonds with people; I can understand someone not trusting me because we're just not that close, while at the same time if someone with whom I'm not that intimate tried to go snooping in order to find out more about me I'd be very upset.

Conversely, with someone whom I have a long, intimate relationship snooping due to mistrust would hurt a lot more than snooping due to curiosity.

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