To snoop or not to snoop July 16, 2009 9:59 AM   Subscribe

This question seems to be getting a bit derailed by whether or not it's justified to snoop in your partner's email. We've had this discussion before in RelationshipFilter and rather than derailing the next relevant question, I thought we could discuss it here.
posted by desjardins to Etiquette/Policy at 9:59 AM (78 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Ok, I'll start: it's probably something of a moral grey-area, so this discussion seems appropriate to have here.
posted by owtytrof at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2009


You should probably leave a link in the thread to this call out.

Also, it wasn't snooping.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2009


I know I shouldn't have, but I snooped.

Also, it wasn't snooping.

One of these is not like the other.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:15 AM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You should probably leave a link in the thread to this call out.

Also, it was snooping.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2009


Now that this discussion is in the grey, does that mean we can resort to childish name calling and off topic rants?
posted by JeffK at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2009


You people with your right and wrong drive me crazy. Sometimes you just gotta do shit.
posted by ND¢ at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2009 [25 favorites]


It's fair to say that snooping is a shoddy basis on which to build a relationship.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait - what exactly is everybody hiding in their emails from their significant others that justifies the no-snooping rule? It seems the no-snooping rule is only needed when the open-and-honest-about-everything rule is violated.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:19 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


jabberjaw nailed it. Thread closed.
posted by JeffK at 10:19 AM on July 16, 2009


It seems the no-snooping rule is only needed when the open-and-honest-about-everything rule is violated.

That's what Bush said.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's not snooping if I do it and it turns out be justified.

Now that this discussion is in the grey, does that mean we can resort to childish name calling and off topic rants?

No.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2009


It seems like *why* she was snooping could be relevant. Like, did he have a history of infidelity that she was checking up on? (Relevant) Or is she just a snoop? (Bad, but not relevant)
posted by DU at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2009


That's what Bush said.

And this is why I don't date the federal government.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:21 AM on July 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't understand having the discussion in the thread when the act has already taken place. Most of the time, the asker has already done the snooping, discovered their partner's sketchy behavior, and it doesn't make sense to say s/he shouldn't have snooped when the cat is already out of the bag.
posted by desjardins at 10:22 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not snooping if I do it and it turns out be justified.

I think we should considering spouse-contacting other MeFites, honey-dew.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2009


If the question were "should I snoop on my partner?" then have at it with guns blazing.
posted by desjardins at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2009


what exactly is everybody hiding in their emails from their significant others that justifies the no-snooping rule

I've inadvertently spoiled surprises by seeing confirmation emails for ticket purchases.
posted by elfgirl at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not snooping if I do it and it turns out be justified.

Yes it is. If you [slap, kiss, hug, snoop on, piss on] someone just in case they deserve it, and it turns out they deserve it, that doesn't mean you didn't [slap, kiss, hug, snoop on, piss on] them. It just means they deserved it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:24 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh yay! Now I get to post this, which I was tempted to post in the thread but stopped because of just such a derail. Sometimes just at the last POST COMMENT minute I think better of things, but now I don't have to!

The risk of infidelity (emotional or physical) is inherent in voluntary relationships. You minimize it via honesty, communication, and situational awareness. Someone else's evil behavior does not justify evil behavior on your part. The species can't advance with such an unevolved approach.

But it does-- both societies and individuals do advance with such an un-evolved approach--in a way, this is the OP, advancing. Perfect morality doesn't make for a perfect universe or unyielding advances as a species. If OP had not snooped, she'd still be in the relationship. She wouldn't know he was a cad, and wouldn't learn anything.

Legal or moral perfection isn't the same as wisdom, and 'evil' is an awfully strong word for the little failings of character that we all experience.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:24 AM on July 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


You leave your green around me
Your green gonna get lit up
You leave your drink around me
Believe your drink gonna get drunk up
You leave your girl around me
And she bet she gonna get stuffed
You leave your e-mail open around me
Your e-mail gonna get read
posted by ND¢ at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


THIS has been a guilty pleasure of mine for about a decade now.

What I invariably see each week is someone getting busted on with cameras. They have private detectives following the suspected cheater, and sometimes even put cameras in the home to catch the cheater (if the buster party lives with the busted party).

When caught:

The busted party says "you had no right to do this".
The buster party says "you had no right to cheat on me".

The busted party says "why didn't you just talk to me?"
The buster party says "you know about your own affair before I did...why didn't you just talk to me?".

In the end, I think "hmmm...if the buster didn't employ these snooping tactics, they might STILL be wondering if there is infidelity in their relationship."

Whether it is right or wrong to snoop...I don't know. But boy do I get excited when they bust 'em.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait - what exactly is everybody hiding in their emails from their significant others that justifies the no-snooping rule? It seems the no-snooping rule is only needed when the open-and-honest-about-everything rule is violated.

Email isn't just one sided. While I may not care what my theoretical partner sees in my inbox, the other participants in the conversation may not want her to invade their privacy by snooping.

It's also pretty classless.
posted by Loto at 10:27 AM on July 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


If the question were "should I snoop on my partner?" then have at it with guns blazing.

Maybe I'm not reading the same question you're reading, but she asked if she did the right thing. What are we missing here?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:28 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Snooping for the sake of snooping is probably wrong. Snooping for the sake of investigating a funny feeling probably indicates trust issues within the relationship and I think could be justified as right or wrong depending on individual circumstances.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:29 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am totally pro-snooping, within reason.

Every time there is one of those threads I am loath to read the comments, inevitably multiple people say something idiotic like "SNOOPING IS JUST AS BAD AS CHEATING ON YOU WITH YOUR SISTER SO NOW YOUR EVEN!!!! EVIL SNOOPER!!!!!"

Just stupid.
posted by kathrineg at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It seems the no-snooping rule is only needed when the open-and-honest-about-everything rule is violated.

In this case she did probably have a right to know that he was emailing his ex, but not everything that could be found while snooping would be as justified. Just because two people expect to be honest with each other in their own conversations doesn't mean it makes sense for one of them to spy on other conversations that don't involve them.

And at the risk of sounding like a two-faced jerk, honesty is overrated sometimes. Not telling someone something isn't always about deception, sometimes it's just because sharing absolutely everything isn't very conducive to relationships. If you think your SO's hobby art projects are terrible, for example, it's usually not a good idea to tell them.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is often missing from the "open and honest policy" is context. My husband doesn't have any of my passwords - he doesn't even know my mefi or twitter username. If he asked, I'd give it to him, but I'd want to make sure that everything he read had the appropriate context. If he just saw emails between Brandon Blatcher and I discussing his enspousenation of me (and everyone else), that wouldn't make any sense to him and it could cause some totally unnecessary consternation.
posted by desjardins at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2009


Is there any difference between reading someone's email to snoop on them, and logging into a chat network as that person and pretending to be them in order to snoop? I've discovered (former) friends of mine playing odd games with chat, and have pretty much just disowned them at that point.

Because by that point, they're not only sowing the seeds of distrust and underhandedness between themselves, they're pulling outsiders into their sick game. And I just don't have time for that.
posted by hippybear at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2009


If you [slap, kiss, hug, snoop on, piss on] someone just in case they deserve it, and it turns out they deserve it, that doesn't mean you didn't [slap, kiss, hug, snoop on, piss on] them. It just means they deserved it.

Yay, we've reached the analogies stage, even though analogies never compare 100%!

I think we should considering spouse-contacting other MeFites, honey-dew.

Ok, lets do it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2009


Maybe I'm not reading the same question you're reading, but she asked if she did the right thing.

She didn't ask if it was right to snoop. She said: Anyway, my question was about the emotional infidelity. Did I overreact? Am I being too idealistic in my expectations of a partner? Was this grounds for a breakup? Or did I throw away a good thing...
posted by desjardins at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2009


There should be no concept of "snooping" in a genuinely committed relationship. If the individuals are honestly committed to building and nurturing a real, lasting partnership then there should be no "mine" and "yours", only "ours". If you ask me, this cultural obsession with privacy (extending even into our close relationships) is the leading cause of the high divorce rate in this country.
posted by JeffK at 10:37 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


what exactly is everybody hiding in their emails from their significant others that justifies the no-snooping rule?

What the hell? Does an open and honest relationship mean each person has to do away completely with boundaries? There are passwords attached to email accounts for a reason.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Whether or not it is in general WRONG to snoop, in the particular case of this AskMe it seems like she helped cause a problem in that relationship due to her insecurity, which lead to her snooping, and so commenting in that thread about how she should mind her own biz isn't necessarily a useless judgment--it might just be good advice.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:41 AM on July 16, 2009


If the individuals are honestly committed to building and nurturing a real, lasting partnership then there should be no "mine" and "yours", only "ours".

He can keep his porn collection to himself, tyvm. [not-pornist]
posted by desjardins at 10:41 AM on July 16, 2009


then there should be no "mine" and "yours", only "ours".

Man do I ever disagree with that. I will always have a "me" and I will always have my own correspondence with -- within reason -- whomever I please. This does not give me the right to wax lovey dubby with my exes and slag my partner, but the notion that true love and respect requires a complete breakdown of all personal barriers is, to my mind, completely insane. I will always want confidants in my life, and I will always expect privacy with them. This has never inhibited, but only ever enhanced my relationships with lovers and with friends.
posted by kosem at 10:45 AM on July 16, 2009 [26 favorites]


There should be no concept of "snooping" in a genuinely committed relationship. If the individuals are honestly committed to building and nurturing a real, lasting partnership then there should be no "mine" and "yours", only "ours". If you ask me, this cultural obsession with privacy (extending even into our close relationships) is the leading cause of the high divorce rate in this country.

Sorry, but that's crazy. A relationship where the two people become the same person is no longer a relationship. A private realm is central to (or perhaps even defines) the selfhood that the other person was attracted to and fell in love with in the first place. Denying the possibility of that independent self is the real recipe for marriage problems.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:47 AM on July 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


Are you allowed to have private discussions with close friends? Maybe hashing out the best way to approach some problem with your significant other? That right there seems like a good enough reason that your e-mail box should be private.

Also:

If the individuals are honestly committed to building and nurturing a real, lasting partnership then there should be no "mine" and "yours", only "ours".

Sure, but even if I buy that, if a particular relationship has not yet reached that stage, is it acceptable for one party to the relationship to try to force it to go there unilaterally?

I think the concept of total openness in a relationship goes both ways on this. If a person feels they have the right to read their partner's e-mail, they should be open about that and discuss it with their partner. Not just go ahead and do it.
posted by FishBike at 10:49 AM on July 16, 2009


She didn't ask if it was right to snoop. She said: Anyway, my question was about the emotional infidelity. Did I overreact? Am I being too idealistic in my expectations of a partner? Was this grounds for a breakup? Or did I throw away a good thing...

If she's just commiserating with us about her break-up, then the question is chatty and should be deleted.

If she's trying to find out what went wrong — and she's asking that, by all appearances — so that a future relationship can be more successful, then it's perfectly reasonable to call out the snooping.

Eavesdropping is a sign of bad communication skills and an unwillingness to give trust. If she has to resort to snooping then there's something else wrong about how she conducts a romantic relationship with another person that she may want to address. In other words, snooping is a symptom of larger issues. Unless she wants to deal with the larger issues, she'll be snooping on an unfaithful partner once more.

And if the question doesn't get deleted, if the question is not chatfilter, then anyone is perfectly reasonable in pointing out that elephant in the room.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I may have engaged in a bit of hyperbole, but my point is still valid. You have to give up some privacy if you want to build a successful long term relationship. This is very different from giving up one's sense of self. But the "my stuff", "my money", "me, me, me" attitude a lot of people have going into a relationship will doom it from the outset.
posted by JeffK at 10:56 AM on July 16, 2009


...and you're right, FishBike. It has to be two-way street. If it isn't, run like hell.
posted by JeffK at 10:58 AM on July 16, 2009


I was a friend's home once, about to go online to check out something, and he mentions I shouldn't login anywhere with a personal account, because he had keylogging installed on his machine. I found talking with his then girlfriend afterwords to always be difficult. Even before he'd mentioned this, I'd kind of suspected her of being less than fully faithful to him, but really didn't want to be in a position of knowing about the breakdown in trust that was unfolding betwixt them.

It's always uncomfortable when people I know want me to debug some problem on their PC that requires opening their email program or internet browsing history. I wonder if they really understand how much I'll see without even trying/wanting to.
posted by nomisxid at 10:58 AM on July 16, 2009


If there's a preponderance of evidence pointing to infidelity already and a person has an overwhelming urge to know with 100% certainty that they have been deceived and that drives them to do this, I understand. I can sit here and say that I wouldn't in that situation, but I'm not in that situation, and it's such a hard situation to be in. Betrayal and jealousy can seriously fuck with you.

That said, I'm another who would offer a girlfriend my passwords if she was going through something that was causing her doubt about my fidelity. Shit, I seriously get like two emails a week, on average, anyway.
posted by The Straightener at 10:58 AM on July 16, 2009


But the "my stuff", "my money", "me, me, me" attitude a lot of people have going into a relationship will doom it from the outset.

These sort of declarations are silly. What works for you may not work for someone else. That's ok, the universe won't implode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2009


Are you sure it won't? Are you really sure...?
posted by JeffK at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2009


I may have engaged in a bit of hyperbole

Damn you and your reasonableness. This is Metatalk!
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:15 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If a person feels they have the right to read their partner's e-mail, they should be open about that and discuss it with their partner. Not just go ahead and do it.

This. I mean, seriously.

If the trust is already so far gone in a relationship that you cannot sit down with the other person and have a talk about fears and doubts and frustrations in the hope of finding a middle space of safety and warmth created by each other, then it's not really much of a relationship.

Any sneaking around behind someone's back to find out information about that person is not a sign of a healthy relationship. Period. Whether partners have fully blended their lives to the point where they use the same toothbrush at the same time (to save on water, obviously), or whether they have separate, locking his and hers offices in the house does not matter. If you're sneaking, you are demonstrating a profound lack of trust.
posted by hippybear at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay, we've reached the analogies stage, even though analogies never compare 100%!

Actually, my analogies were all a 100% comparison match! Yay!

You claimed that if you did something and it turned out to be justified that you hadn't actually done that thing. Which is 100% wrong for actually any analogy I can think of off the top of my head. Justification is not a time machine. It doesn't magically undo anything. The statement "It's not snooping if I do it and it turns out be justified" is patently false. You're claiming "if a = b, then a != a." If you want to claim that snooping is not wrong if it turns out to be justified, that's a valid argument. But to claim that snooping isn't even snooping if it turns out to be justified - that's, well, unjustifiable.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you think your SO's hobby art projects are terrible, for example, it's usually not a good idea to tell them.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:33 AM on July 16 [+] [!]


Uh, hello, MeFi account?

I MADE THAT SHIP IN A BOTTLE FOR YOU!!!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2009


You claimed that if you did something and it turned out to be justified that you hadn't actually done that thing. Which is 100% wrong for actually any analogy I can think of off the top of my head.

Analogies are like baseball, unless it doesn't turn out that by comparing two similar things, you take your base.
posted by kosem at 11:32 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You claimed that if you did something and it turned out to be justified that you hadn't actually done that thing.

I'm poking fun at the "need" for this callout and the argument. That specific statement was poking fun at justifications for doing things usually considered wrong.

To be completely clear, I have my own thoughts on the issue, none of which matter to anyone in this thread and nor should they matter because I'm not in long term real relationship with any of ya'll. People could argue about snooping, but it doesn't really matter what we individually think 'cause we're not dating each other. If some of you are in relationship with each other, ya'll should probably work this out amongst yourselves.

Otherwise, IMO, this thread is now officially a snark party and everyone should have at it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2009


Opinion here... dishonesty is the biggest infidelity.

If someone gets infatuated outside a relationship, it's probably easier to deal with if it's brought right out there in the open and recognized, before it turns into an illicit affair.

I think this is the biggest worry in younger minds... the threat to the relationship. How do you deal with that? Lie to yourself as well as your mate, or recognize that nature plays tricks on our hearts and team up to manage threats? Gotta think the latter is a better choice.

I have found my wife's diary/private writings open to view many times in the past. I would never consider looking it over. I close it with not so much as a glance, and tell her later.
I don't open her mail unless directed to.

I've had reason to do so before with my prior, deceased wife. Did not then, either.

I write stuff all the time as a means of figuring it out for myself. Composition aids in self-analysis for me, and I can vent to the high heavens, and usually keep what I write to document to myself how I was feeling at certain points. I'd never share some of the stuff I write, because it may not be true, it may be indicative of my state of mind at a specific point, it may be exploratory, ill-conceived, mean, shallow, full of misinterpretation. All of these things are of interest to me and useful to me, but may be damaging to a casual reader. These are the things that I write, and the types of things that are best kept private until they ripen to a form that is useful or are abandoned. Diaries have been used this way for centuries.

That's one illustration of why privacy has some value and shouldn't be casually violated. In a relationship, one does give up privacy, but the process of building a relationship is the gradual easing of boundaries over time, not a snatching entitlement to someone's inner self. That is rape. We don't permit it in the physical realm, or advocate it, do we? Why would we permit it in the thought realm? I don't have an inherent legal right to take my mate's body from her. Why should I be given a pass for violating her mind's sanctity?

What if she had found nothing? Her acts would still be heinous. I think it stands alone as an example of bad behavior, regardless of how it stacks up to boyfriend's crimes.

This is beyond OPs question, for sure, but it is the elephant in the room, as Blazecock Pileon says. Her mate was not being forthcoming. She snooped. I find both unattractive behaviors.
posted by FauxScot at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm not in long term real relationship with any of ya'll

That's not what your contacts page says :(
posted by little e at 11:46 AM on July 16, 2009


I think we need another subsite: judgement.metafilter.com. All questions such as these, with moral grey areas and high-stakes personal outcomes can go there. The name's a little long for the banner icon, though, so we'll shorten it to"JudgeMe" for that.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:47 AM on July 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


No stabbing? Fuck that. I'm going to be stabbing my fucking face off. Or yours. Whichever makes more sense.
posted by Loto at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have found my wife's diary/private writings open to view many times in the past. I would never consider looking it over. I close it with not so much as a glance, and tell her later.
I don't open her mail unless directed to.


Not speaking as a snooper, but I recognize that respect like this owes partly to the person refusing to cross those lines but also to the existing security of the relationship. You don't get to take credit for it yourself, unless, in a far different position with someone who presented you repeatedly with clues that they cannot be trusted, you would shut your eyes to all of it. And more the fool you if you do, if perhaps a principled one.

Clearly, it's difficult to line draw in a way that advocates "justified if true and unjustified if not" because a person doesn't know if it's justified until (or rather unless) they act. One might imagine someone who simply betrays trust and, entirely clueless until then, stumbles on evidence of indidelity or other betrayal by their partner. That person might be blameworthy regardless. But it gets to be awfully hard to blame the person who, faced with suspicions grounded in what eventually proves to be reality, acts on them.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:58 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm poking fun

Fair enough.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:59 AM on July 16, 2009


Let's see what Immanuel Kant has to say. (Warning: ham-fisted moral philosophy to follow.)

The Situation: Partner A suspects Partner B is engaging in some sort of infidelity, so Partner A browses Partner B's email in search of evidence.

The Maxim: "I will snoop in my partner's email to see if they're cheating on me."

Universalize It: If everyone did this, pretty soon people would learn not to leave evidence of their infidelity in their email accounts.

Contradiction?: Yes. We are simultaneously willing that people A) leave evidence of infidelity in their email, and B) not leave evidence of infidelity in their email.

Thus, the maxim cannot be universalized and is therefore morally impermissible according to Kant.

Did I do this right? Apologies to MeFi's moral philosophers if not.
posted by aheckler at 12:13 PM on July 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is why you should only have relations with robots.

Until you check your email and collapse the eigenstate, said robot is neither cheating nor not-cheating on you, but merely engaging in gratuitous lubrication.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:25 PM on July 16, 2009


Paging Snoop Dogg to the thread.
posted by davejay at 12:28 PM on July 16, 2009


You know, I absolutely have the knowledge and means to snoop in my wife's mail and whatnot. As it happens, she can do the same in mine. The day I feel justified in snooping is the day that I decide I have enough external evidence to call her on it. Otherwise I'm just being snoopy.

and now i shall fly away on my sopwith camel
posted by davejay at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2009


Snooping is indulging a weakness at the partner's expense -- curiosity trumping respect for the partner's privacy. I see how that could be analogized to some kinds of cheating, and I could certainly see repeated snooping as a sign of a character flaw that would make me break up with someone. But I don't see how it affects the decision-making process that follows the snooping. Does it mean you need to accept whatever you find there? Does it mean you deserve to be in a relationship with someone you've discovered doesn't really like you all that much (which is pretty much what she discovered)?

Unless all the anti-snooping people were just there to shake their fingers at her -- "Shaaaaaame."
posted by palliser at 12:31 PM on July 16, 2009


I'm a natural snooper (I think because I'm a little sister?)

Mr. WanKenobi is the type of person who highly, highly values his privacy.

Because I respect him, and know his attitudes about this sort of thing, I don't snoop anymore. Don't want to hurt him, you know? I think that's fair. Sometimes I think that snooping is understandable. Usually I think it's caused by your own insecurities or boredness or whatever. Even if I'm not sure that snooping is inherently evil, I still don't snoop on him. I value him more than my curiosity.

In other words, what Brandon said.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:06 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am an insatiably curious person, and yet I have not read my girlfriend's notebooks of her high school writing, even though I've made it clear that she's welcome to look through mine. (This is in part because I think she and I have different views on the suffering of bad writing—she believes that my reading her bad writing would embarrass her, thus making her suffer. I believe that her reading my bad writing would make her suffer, by virtue of reading my terrible high school writing.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:15 PM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am strong on the side of the right to privacy. I also don't generally believe in the concepts of "accident" or "coincidence". The OP said she, "unexpectedly found his email open". I think in this instance, given what she said about her partner's personality, it's within the realm of possibility that he either deliberately or subconsciously left the e-mail open in order for her to find what she found.

Sometimes people in situations they can't figure out how to resolve create circumstances that lead to a crisis or blow up. Then they "force" the situation to get addressed because of the reactions of the other person/people involved. It's a passive-aggressive move but it can be effective as long as the other person/people don't respond in a similarly passive-aggressive way.

I think the major problem in this poster's situation is that she seems to be inclined to assume more of the blame (because of her snooping) when her partner is at least equally at fault for allowing evidence of his infidelity (or leaning toward it) to be so easily discovered. Again, I think he or his guilty conscience may have set her up to find out. She should perhaps be thankful the truth was revealed, regardless of how the revelation came to be.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:52 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This whole argument seems ridiculous to me. Of course snooping into your partner's email without asking them first or having an agreement with them about such things. And of course some things are worse than others, and discussing plans to leave your partner with another woman you're attracted to and saying that you'd leave her in a heartbeat is an order of magnitude worse than snooping into email.

This is not to say that snooping is justified—but we get very distracted from the central point if we start wondering which is more evil or which person is the worse person. It's not about guilt or fault; it's about impact on the relationship. The impact that conspiring to run off with somebody else has on a relationship is a good deal worse than the impact that peeking at emails has.
posted by koeselitz at 2:03 PM on July 16, 2009


We've had this discussion before in RelationshipFilter and rather than derailing the next relevant question

those questions are absolutely entwined and they were so by the OP. she used information gained via snooping as an excuse to end a relationship she was already over. it's part of the plot and now she wants a moral judgement call. there is absolutely no way to honestly discuss the matter without speaking to both issues and it is not a derail.
posted by krautland at 3:17 PM on July 16, 2009


there is absolutely no way to honestly discuss the matter without speaking to both issues and it is not a derail.

You so crazy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2009


then there should be no "mine" and "yours", only "ours".

Virginia Woolf thinks you're an idiot.
posted by rodgerd at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


That's why we're afraid of her.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:21 PM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


*commenting so i can snoop on this thread*
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:49 PM on July 16, 2009


When I was a kid I used to get my dad's wheelbarrow and fill it with water and sit in it and play with Matchbox cars that I pretended were like that car in that James Bond movie that turned into a submarine. Also these cars could fly.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:35 PM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Plus I've been trying to sneeze for like ten minutes now.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:36 PM on July 16, 2009


Whoop, there it goes.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:36 PM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." At the beginning of any new personal relationship, I make it clear that I agree with Stimson on this point, and with his willingness to use the atomic bomb against enemies. Privacy is basic to civilized behavior and discourse, and the invasion of privacy has been, and is, cause for conflict.
posted by paulsc at 3:17 AM on July 17, 2009


Sheesh this is getting to be as bad as church -- forgive me for I have had impure thoughts.

Judge people on their actions, not what they type to someone in an email. That doesn't mean squat! He didn't jump on a bus. Who knows if he had any intention of doing so.

The most important thing in a relationship isn't honesty. It's kindness.

And NOT SNOOPING!
posted by Flying Squirrel at 8:48 AM on July 17, 2009


I think once you have the urge to snoop on your partner, it's time to address that with them - let them know you're feeling distrustful. When you are in a trusting relationship, the urge to check on someone is just nonexistent.
posted by mdn at 10:07 AM on July 17, 2009


forgive me for I have had impure thoughts. Judge people on their actions, not what they type to someone in an email. That doesn't mean squat! He didn't jump on a bus.

I posit that sending sexually explicit emails to other women is not a thought-crime, nor a thought-infidelity as it were. Expressions of romantic love to other women is infidelity. I don't believe the line between fidelity and infidelity is simply whether or not people fucked.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:14 PM on July 17, 2009


Virginia Woolf thinks you're an idiot.

Maybe she outta stay in her room.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:09 PM on July 17, 2009


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