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Is it okay to peek at your partner’s cellphone?

The Jungle is a column that uses social media to explore the fault lines in adult relationships.

The debate

Is it okay – or at least justifiable, at certain times, for certain reasons – to check out your partner's cellphone? This question won't apply to the kinds of couples who share e-mail accounts, but most Gen-X and Gen-Y-ers are accustomed to having their own phones (and tablets and laptops and desktop computers) and a significant amount of related privacy. As a result, jealousy and suspicion have the potential to become especially relevant relationship issues for couples who live parallel lives through the text messages, e-mails and social media on our smartphones. Would you sneak a peek?

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@RoyalMediaGrp tweeted that it's "a matter of really knowing who you're with and whether they're worthy of your complete trust. I think a little snooping never hurt anyone who wasn't going to get hurt anyway."

@Kategoesboom tweeted that that it's fine, but only sometimes. "If he's texting and I look over to see what's going on that's the same as craning to see the brand of shoes that girls [are] wearing."

@PaoloGreco tweeted, optimistically, that someone who is snooping "could have this great intent," such as planning a surprise party. "Of course I think it can be okay, or justified. Even amazingly sweet perhaps! … I think that all goes with the intent."


The detractors were slightly less complex in their thinking about this issue.

Over a few tweets, @Afis8 writes, "Sneaking looks to search for something specific (often incriminating), denotes a lack of trust and is probably a sign there's a much bigger problem. So ultimately, it's just wrong. If you're supposed to be looking at their phone and accidentally find something incriminating, different story."

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@shannonwc tweeted, "It's wrong. It lacks trust, and breaches privacy. Not to mention, it's tacky. Like reading someone's diary, or journal."

@andrewsteeves tweeted, "All relationships are rooted in trust. Why do you need to sneak a look at their phone?"

Final word

Exactly. Don't do it! I agree with the tweeters who are against taking a look, regardless of the surprise-birthday-party-planning possibilities (or, more likely, the threatening-ex-girlfriend possibilities): it's just wrong. The almost-total infiltration of tech into our personal lives – including our relationships – is difficult in many ways, but you definitely can't overcome that challenge by sneaking around.

Weigh in on the next Jungle debate. Follow Kate Carraway on Twitter: @KateCarraway

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