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Dear Christine, Snooping in Southfield

| July 2, 2018

Dear Christine,  I think my girlfriend is cheating on me. We have been together for 4 months, and everything is going well. But sometimes when I’m on her computer, girls message her about the great time that they had the night before, when it was supposed to be our apart night. I can’t help but see the messages because they pop right on the screen. The other day, I was sending an e-mail from her computer, and I accidentally stumbled on a hot and steamy e-mail from another girl, and I recognized her e-mail from the messages. I want to confront her but I’m afraid that she will think that I am snooping, and/or that I am over reacting. What do you think? Should I call her on it? How can I without her thinking I’m a snoop? Am I a Snoop?

Dear Snooping in Southfield, This is all about boundaries. Has your girlfriend given you permission to go on her computer, and is she aware that when you or anyone does, these messages from other people pop up? If she has given her permission and is aware, then you are not a snoop and you have a legitimate right to question her about her virtual friendships. If she is unaware of these pop ups and unaware that you are using her computer, you’re on dangerous territory, and a snoop is what you are. Perhaps snooping in innocence, wanting to send her an email via her own computer, but a snoop still.
Secondly, have you both agreed to a monogamous relationship, excluding even virtual relationships and steamy chats and emails with other people? If so, then your girlfriend may have violated an agreed upon boundary in your relationship. If she didn’t give you permission to go on her computer, then you may have violated another boundary in the relationship
Regardless of how this came about, your trust in your girlfriend is shaken. To have a healthy relationship, trust, honesty and respect are foundational values. If those values are shaken, then having a conversation to clarify what is going on between both of you, and when you are apart from each other is needed. Your girlfriend may well feel you have snooped, and that may shake her trust in you. However, if she is violating your trust in her with steamy virtual chats, then both of you have crossed boundaries. If some of these boundaries have been assumed, and not clearly delineated, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Sometimes we are vague about setting boundaries, saying “so we’ll only see each other” but not specify what that means about Internet relationships. Keep the conversation of boundaries going, as they may change as the relationship continues and deepens.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

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