Author: Danielle Forshee, Psy.D, LCSW
If you have caught your partner snooping through your belongings and electronics, or suspect that your partner may be, there are a few things you should know about the psychology of snooping. These insights may save your relationship- and your sanity.
Those who sneakily sift through their partner’s belongings are usually experiencing a lot of uncertainty about the relationship, which is likely the driving force behind the snooping behavior. Uncertainty almost always leads to anxiety, and it is human nature to want to relieve anxiety as quickly as possible- which is where the behavior of snooping comes into play.
In general, those who are snooping likely have uncertainty and anxiety about one or more of the following in their relationship:
1) Lack of partner disclosure
2) Uncertainty about what the partner is thinking
3) Curiosity about the partner’s life (lying, cheating)
All of these 4 reasons are ‘perceived’ uncertainties. This means that even though you believe that you have given your partner no reason to be uncertain about you or the relationship, your partner’s point of view (perception) is different than yours. It is important to remember that everything in life is a matter of perception. Perceptions are very strong, come from life experiences, and direct how we view others, the behavior of others, and the world.
Research tells us that snooping is nearly twice as likely to make the relationship worse (Derby, David & Easterling, 2012); no matter what the outcome. So, even if your partner found nothing suspicious in your belongings or electronics, the relationship is still likely to be worse overall. Let the research help motivate you toward healthier ways of communicating in your relationship. There may still be hope for your relationship if the lines of communication are opened, and you allow each other to be heard and understood.