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Why I Stopped Going Through His Phone

If you need to go through your partner’s phone, there’s a problem.

Roughly two years ago, I found myself in the greatest relationship of my life. This man was certainly my Prince Charming, but no matter how great things were, it wasn’t enough to make me trust him.

Because John and I met on an anonymous confessions app called Whisper, I didn’t trust him. We were both incredibly transparent from day one, and honestly admitted that we’d been talking to dozens of people at the same time in search of some kind of thrill.

Us meeting was a product of attraction, not because of some deeply tenuous connection we’d formed speaking online. All of the closeness between us only grew after we’d met. We grew to love each other with speed that I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, and I became his girlfriend after less than a month of knowing each other.

I knew that this was love, real love, but I was still scared because of what I’d recently been through with my former partner. John was recently divorced, and I wondered if his time of freedom from relationships was going to eventually be more remarkable than his time with me. (My ex was always reminiscing about being single while we were together). I wondered if he was secretly deeply attached to his ex-wife, and if she’d begin contacting me. (I’d had the distinct pleasure of ex-girlfriends stalking me on Facebook and Instagram, leaving me vague messages because they were still chasing my ex).

All of this fear ultimately led to me picking up his phone and scrolling through messages, photos, and more. I found nothing and immediately felt guilty but also the paranoid and intrusive idea that maybe he was just great at hiding things. And so I continued to do this over and over again on a daily or weekly basis for months, never finding anything. He must be such a good liar, I thought.

It wasn’t as though John didn’t do the same thing to me, too. I had a checkered past of cheating and frivolity that had made him a little bit nervous, too. One day I woke up and all of my messages with my best friend were deleted, his contact information erased and blocked. John had assumed that my gay, male best friend was some kind of hookup buddy I’d stayed attached to, and jealously deleted him from my phone.

John and I laughed these things off, but after a while I knew that these shenanigans needed to end. How were we ever supposed to build trust if I was going through his phone and he was going through my MacBook on the regular? Oftentimes, we’d both believe that we’d “found” something and interrogate the other about it rigorously. This always led to a lot of nothing. The only thing that these interactions bred was a great deal of stress and distrust.

When I told my therapist about our mutual behavior, she was appalled. She wondered out loud whether or not this was the right relationship for me, and spoke to my feelings of fear when she asked the very real question of what would happen if I did find something I didn’t like.

“I don’t get it,” she said, “you guys sound so happy. You sound perfect. I can’t believe that you’re doing this to each other, let alone this often. If a relationship is right, you shouldn’t need to go through each other’s devices and invade each other’s privacy. You can ‘share everything’ and still maintain a sense of privacy.”

Little by little, I began taking my therapist’s advice. I knew that she meant it when she said that this behavior was unhealthy, unstable, and said too much about the fact that I was dwelling on my past of betrayal. “You need to live in the present.”

I stopped going through my boyfriend’s phone a long time ago and cannot stress how much of a better partner and person it’s made me. I used to feel as though I was at the mercy of my fear to keep going in my relationship, but now I’ve learned to build trust.

Searching for something bad doesn’t make bad things appear, but it does make a person’s analysis of things pretty cloudy. When you’re constantly looking for something to trigger you, non-issues become big problems. Every time I saw a typical female name on his contact list, I immediately assumed the worst and began bawling just to hear the truth that the name I was seeing was the name of a cousin or an aunt.

For the first few weeks that I stopped going through his phone, I was shaking. My panic button had been set off, and I was convinced that I was missing out on potentially valuable information. I could be being deceived right now, I thought, and now I’ll never know! But as time went by, the sense of trust that I built with my partner led to a sounder, happier relationship where I wasn’t afraid of losing him every night because I wasn’t good enough. Those intense, traumatic thoughts about my past experiences with a horrible ex slowly tapered away and stopped tampering with my very beautiful and very happy life of “now”.

I know that trust is difficult, especially if you live with a condition like PTSD as I do. Do you ever have a nightmare about being cheated on and then wake up and peer over at your partner angrily as though they actually hurt you? I know I do. The mind is a deceiving place and trust will never be infallible. There will always be some doubt to cloud faith.

Choosing trust has never been an easy path, but it’s definitely made my life better and made my relationship stronger than ever. I hope that you can feel the freedom of trust with someone you love today, and that like me you can continue to get the help that you need to get the devil off of your shoulder.

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I write about all kinds of human experiences big and small.

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