ARE you tempted to check his or her phone, email or Facebook account?

If you are thinking about it, or doing it, the relationship is already in trouble. You are tempted to do this because you have strong feelings the partner is keeping secrets and telling lies.

Is it okay to check your partner’s contact platforms and what will you do, or decide to do, with the information you find? Well, what do you think, is it okay or not?

Trust is one of the three most important pillars of a healthy relationship, the other two being sharing life’s personal challenges (vulnerabilities) and having dreams about the future together – for each other and as a couple. If you do look at your partner’s phone it means you have trust issues and looking means you also now have a secret to hold – or not. You will also feel bad about yourself for looking it, as well.

Holding secrets is as damaging to the person doing it as it is to the person cheated of the truth.

John and Bob have been together for eight years and their sex life has collapsed. John spends two hours at the gym and Bob is suspicious about that. John has been texting people on Grindr but has not met anyone and enjoys the pure fantasy of flirting. John has coffee after the gym with someone he trains with but doesn’t want to tell Bob, as he knows he will get jealous. He has decided to keep this a secret and feels he is entitled to a private life of some sort. Bob agonises over whether to go through John’s phone for weeks and finally does so, finding a text about meeting someone for coffee after gym. He confronts John who denies anything is going on but Bob is ready to leave the relationship.

So is John entitled to hold some secrets from Bob and is it okay for Bob to go through his phone? We all hold some secrets from the world. We don’t express our personal fears to everyone we meet but on the other hand, keeping secrets keeps us apart from the ones we love. You have to be brave to be honest but in doing so respect is shown for the relationship and each other.

What if John had firstly discussed their failing sex life and how it impacted their relationship? What if John had discussed his feelings for wanting some sort of sex fantasy and the need to have different relationships with new people, like his gym buddy? What if Bob had spoken to John about his feelings of wanting to go through his phone and his suspicions about the two hours at the gym?

Getting it all out in the open at the beginning would not have lead to what now is a major threat to their ongoing relationship: the keeping of secrets. I ask many couples to check in with each other often and ask: “How is our relationship going, do you think?”

Another way of discussing relationship questions is to have a jar in the house where you write down a topic for discussion and at a set time go over it. We all have busy lives and domestic habits so bringing up matters that need clarification can be easily swept under the carpet. The question jar can bring to a head what has been placed there for too long. It also lightens the activity of asking important questions.

What do you think, should partners check each other phone or other contact platforms? Do they have a right to?

Gerry North is a gay couple counsellor and treats depression, anxiety, panic attacks and addictions. He tweets under @gerry_north and can be emailed here  and found online here.

 

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