In a world of e-mails, texts, Facebook, and Twitter, the temptation to read your partners’ messages is right there — blinking, ringing, vibrating — in front of your face. Think of it as Pandora's inbox.
Some resist. Some snoop for harmless sport. Others snoop for hardcore evidence. What do they find? And how do the snooped-on parties react? Fifteen people discuss.
“I threw her phone out of the car window.”
We were in the park reading the newspaper. She went to get us two coffees. She left her phone there. I had nothing to do, so I started reading her text messages. There were two or three messages from the same man, saying, “Yesterday I dreamed about making love to you.” The next said, “I always knew you were the love of my life.” She had responded with smiley faces. It was her ex-boyfriend. I couldn’t believe what I read. When she arrived, I said, “You’re a fucking bitch. I don’t want to see you. You’re a whore. I looked at your phone …” I had no guilt about violating her privacy. We left the park fighting like crazy and then I threw her phone out of the car window. I never trusted her the same way again. I didn’t find anything that I could really leave her over, so the only result was that I felt like shit. Nothing good comes from snooping. We broke up, but I’ll never snoop on my new girlfriend. You’re just asking for it …
“There were anti-Semitic messages!”
We went out with my boyfriend’s best friend, who was visiting from Greece. I had a bad feeling about this guy. When we got home, my boyfriend was texting with him and smirking to himself. Something felt off about it, so when my boyfriend took a shower that night, I looked at his iPhone. There were anti-Semitic messages between him and his best friend! Like, “Good luck with your Jewish American Princess!” and "Does your brother know you're a Jew-lover now?" I wanted to cry. I immediately confronted my boyfriend and he said I was over-reacting. He twisted the situation and made me feel like a drama queen. Well, two years later, when I couldn't bring myself to convert, religion was the thing that ultimately broke us up.
"Texting with 'Matt Damon' and 'Ben Affleck'"
I was dating two hot guys who I didn't really care about. I had one in my phone as "Matt Damon" and the other as "Ben Affleck." I have no idea why. It was just funny getting flirty texts from "Ben Affleck." Around this time, I met my current boyfriend. I fell in love with him, and got rid of everyone else. Recently, we split a bottle of wine, and were having a great time bonding, and he said, "I have to ask you something ... please don't be mad ... but, I know you were dating some celebrities before we met ... I have no problem with it, but I'm just wondering — aren't they married?" I was like, WTF?! Then it hit me. Before I could even be mad that he'd gone through my phone, I died laughing. It was all so naive and adorable of him. He actually thought that because I'm from that part of Boston, and in acting school, that it was feasible I was dating them. I've since locked my phone ... but it was hilarious and I never really minded that he snooped.
“I would change my password, but it kept happening.”
I met a guy online. Call him Ralph. He wasn’t cute, but he seemed SO nice. He was always online and he seemed smitten with me. It took a few weeks for us to meet up. Meanwhile, he joined the gym and bought an iPod in anticipation. I shared my iTunes password so he could load up his iPod.
After we met in person, we started dating. Weird things happened from the start. He was always jealous and a little psychic. If some guy e-mailed me something, a day later, Ralph would ask if I heard from this same guy. If I bought tickets to some concert with a friend, he would randomly mention that that band was his favorite. He gave me presents that I was surprised he knew I wanted, like a dress I had forwarded to a friend. He played it off as his astute knowledge of my taste.
I felt like I was going crazy. If I sent one small e-mail to a male friend, I would get an enraged e-mail from Ralph telling me what a whore I was. When I changed my password but it didn't stop, I researched spyware. One guy I met and started to like received a vile e-mail about me — from Ralph. I changed my password again. I was shaking. A friend came to look at my computer while I had my locks changed. And then we found it …
In my Gmail settings, my e-mails were programmed to send copies to Ralph’s e-mail.
When I gave Ralph my iTunes password, he had the password for my personal e-mail, too. He had been reading my e-mails for almost a year and a half. He had been reading them before we even met!
“Her legs were spread wide open.”
My boyfriend borrowed my computer to check his e-mail, so the next time I went to check my e-mail, his account came up. I’m a bit of a curious sort, so I searched his ex-girlfriend’s name. Who wouldn’t! What I found were some very graphic, nude pictures. Her legs spread wide open, hardcore masturbation, etc. After showing my three roommates, I immediately logged off. When I confronted him, he said she’s crazy and that he never responded to those images. I stayed with him for about a year more. To my knowledge, he never cheated on me and had been loyal other than receiving those e-mails … which, in all fairness, he never even asked for.
“She called me smelly and ugly.”
I once read an e-mail from my husband’s obese, alcoholic sister to him listing the reasons he should divorce me. The reasons ran from my “white trash” family to the fact that (apparently) I smell and I’m ugly. It was cruel. My husband’s response was basically, like, fuck you. But I never recovered from what I read. It hurt so bad. I despise his sister now. It was a huge eye-opener for me. I guess it’s good to know who your enemies are, but as far as I’m concerned, ignorance is bliss. I never needed to know that shit, but I guess when you snoop, you’re kind of begging for it?
“My boyfriend turned into a maniac.”
My boyfriend of two years took me to his family’s house in the Hamptons for my birthday on a cold winter weekend. We made a fire, drank some wine, and were playing around the computer. I went to show him something on Facebook, and I had a message on Facebook from a male friend – who I am 100 percent only friends with. My boyfriend got jealous fast. He turned into a maniac. By 3 a.m., he kicked me out of the house. I had no money, no way of getting to a train station. I walked to the closest inn I could find, and in the middle of the night, I called my father in Wisconsin to put money in my account so I could get home to New York. The day after, my boyfriend was calling my phone, saying he over-reacted. But I never forgave him for that night. Over nothing! Now I close my Facebook and lock everything, all the time; I don’t want any misunderstandings with my current boyfriend. I have nothing to hide, but men will believe what they want to believe and it’s too much of a risk.
“Our stuffed Nemo.”
Four years into our relationship, I found a text on my ex-boyfriend's phone from a female co-worker suspiciously telling him to kiss our stuffed animal Nemo goodnight for her. How did she know about this stupid stuffed animal we kept on our bed? They dated within days after our relationship ended … which was shortly after me finding that text!
“I uncovered things that still haunt me today.”
I started a Twitter account for my ex-boyfriend’s bar. He didn’t really know how to use Twitter, so I managed the account for him, updating it every few weeks. Eventually, I realized he had a bunch of direct messages. I was excited, assuming they were from fans of his cocktails! I opened the messages and … almost all of them were from women he’d met at the bar. One said something like, “Thank you for the after-hours tour ;)” Another said, “Sorry I couldn’t meet you out … how about a rain check?” I was sick to my stomach. These messages were the beginning of the end. Without mentioning anything to him, I started snooping obsessively on everything — his e-mails and texts — and I uncovered things that still haunt me today. I was cold and detached for those first few days of obsessive snooping ... and then I confronted him. He denied everything and said it was part of his job to be charming. Whatever. It took about one year for me to really walk away, but I just could not trust him again, and it was making me crazy to the point of psychotic. I found so much shady shit while snooping and snooping (something I became an FBI-like expert with), that nothing was ever pure between us again. Leaving him — which I recently did — was the hardest thing I'll ever do. He wants me back, and still denies ever cheating on me.
“It wasn’t so incriminating as it was heartbreaking.”
My girlfriend was in L.A. for work, and I missed her. I was also feeling a little nervous that she would cheat on me with her ex-girlfriend, who lived out there. So I broke into her e-mail. What I found wasn’t so incriminating as it was heartbreaking. She wrote to a mutual friend, “No, I am not going to contact Ellen while I’m here. She was/is the love of my life and it’s not a Band-Aid I’m ready to rip off. I think about her every day…”
We had been dating for six months when I read this. We were in love, or so I thought. I didn’t know how to handle it. I was worried she’d freak out that I read her e-mail. Like, who was the bad guy here? Of course, I couldn’t stay silent. I called her in tears and told her what I read. She wasn’t angry. She apologized again and again. We talked about it for a while. Just because her ex had a place in her heart, it didn’t mean there was no room for me there. We all have our pasts. I regret reading her e-mail. All that came from it was drama and unnecessary pain.
“He e-mailed my father to have a drink with him.”
I always read my boyfriend’s e-mails and texts when he’s in the shower. Everything on there is boring. Recently, I saw that he e-mailed my father to have a drink with him and to “ask a deeply personal question.” I dropped the phone when I read that! I think he’s asking for permission to marry me! I’m glad I now have a little heads-up, but feel bad about sort of ruining the surprise. Now I’m not reading his e-mails so much … I don’t want to take away from the big moment by being a little sneak.
“My boyfriend hid my entire existence.”
My boyfriend flirts with other men, all the time. We have tried open relationships, but after ten years together, we’re basically monogamous. Last month, I read an e-mail from a model he met on a photo shoot, implying that they fooled around behind-the-scenes. The hardest part to … ahem … swallow … was that this model also said, "Are you sure you’re single?" That killed me. My boyfriend can get his dick sucked by strangers now and then, but to hide my entire existence is unacceptable. I freaked out and we’ve been cold and distant ever since. This too shall pass.
“Snooping led to our divorce.”
I had just had our second child, and my husband was acting really strange. I had never snooped before; it never crossed my mind. My therapist actually suggested that I poke around and see what was up. So one day, I asked to borrow his iPhone. I was standing right there so he wouldn’t have one moment to erase anything. He actually tried to say, “One second, babe, let me just finish a few things.” But I was like, “No, NOW.” The second it entered my hands, he got a text from a woman, that read, “See you tomorrow” with a kissing-lips symbol. I demanded he show me everything from her — immediately. And that’s when I found out he’d been cheating on me for a year. I read it all. Right there in front of him. Snooping led to our divorce.
“My ‘straight’ boyfriend had flirty messages with a guy.”
I was really bored one day, and started reading my boyfriend’s Facebook messages. There was a string of e-mails between him and some guy from … such a cliché … the gym. It was basically friendly, but a little flirtatious. It rubbed me the wrong way, but there was no concrete evidence of anything. Plus, I have a wild imagination, so I blamed it on that. I never said anything. We broke up for other reasons, but three years later, guess what? He’s gay.
"My boyfriend read my Facebook and called me crying."
The day after moving in with my boyfriend of six months, I had to leave for L.A. for work. A few days earlier, I had logged onto Facebook, where my ex-boyfriend's best friend had sent me a note, just saying hi. I really liked this friend (who is married with kids), so I was happy to Facebook chat with him for a few minutes. Brainlessly, I also wrote "I hope Thomas is doing well. I hope he knows that I loved him deeply and always will. Please tell him I think of him every day and smile - or cry - with all my heart." Thomas was the love of my life, and we broke up for very complicated reasons, but we had been over for four years. I hadn't seen or spoken to him in three years. It was in the past. So, my current boyfriend goes to use my computer, and there's my Facebook, open and readable. He sees the chat (which he says I left up ... this is questionable, but not the point). He reads those poetic words about my ex, and he calls me in L.A., hysterical. He was so hurt and scared by what he read. I felt terrible. I couldn't blame him for being upset, but I also needed him to trust that this did not affect us, that we were okay! I came home from L.A. early and we worked through it. I hate that I caused him pain, but I'm proud we weathered the storm.