Deep down we know it's wrong but the temptation is often unbearable. Who are they texting? What do they really get up to when we're not around? Could they be hiding something or is it our own insecurities at play? Many of us at some point have wanted to check up on our partners. But why?
Perhaps our reasons are completely justified. Maybe you've noticed that they've been more distracted lately. Maybe you're having more arguments. Maybe they're spending more time at work/the gym? With any sudden changes in behaviour, it's all too easy to suspect that they could be keeping something shady from you.
We might confront them, the accused may evade the issue; become defensive; aggressive or even lie. This often leaves us with a feeling of hopelessness. That they leave us no choice but to play detective...
However there are some thoughts and risks we need to take into account. For example, let's imagine if you do uncover something questionable? What if you are faced with the non negotiable fact that they are cheating? How would this make you feel? Are you emotionally ready to accept an act/repeated acts of indiscretion? Then again, what if you discover nothing, would you feel satisfied or suspect that they must have deleted the evidence/have another account/have another mobile? Also, consider the possibility that you might be caught for spying?
Spying is wrong and damaging, and deep down we know it.
Let's focus on the damage it does to you. The need to snoop on someone is actually causing you more harm because you are giving your time, focus and energy away from yourself and other priorities. Many of us wish for truth, but we want it now and sometimes in the most destructive way possible! Having to go out of your way isn't actually necessary! Knowing whether your partner is hiding something from you is actually a lot easier than you think (much more on that later). You see, busting into your partner's phone /computer only serves as a distraction from you having to deal with your feelings. Instead of experiencing, releasing and moving past the pain, you are actually prolonging the suffering and anxiety for yourself.
Not only is it dis-empowering but a waste of your precious time and energy. That time could be better spent on developing the relationship you have with yourself, your friends, family or even with your significant other. To find the truth, we simply need to be ready for it. Only then will the truth reveal itself without you even needing to lift a finger.
Ironically, spying only serves to create even more distance in a relationship. How we feel about cheating is probably how our partner feels about spying! Both are acts of betrayal in a sense. Now if you happen to stumble across something, that's an entirely different matter. But hacking into their email account is desperate and taking things too far. How would you feel if your partner accused you of cheating and instead of calling it out, decides to snoop instead? I think you get the point. Put yourself in their shoes, guilty or not, how would you wish to be approached?
I know for many, snooping may be justified however it could just drive the two of you further apart. Especially if your partner happens to be innocent!
Spying is morally wrong because we are invading their right to privacy plus the act in itself is in direct opposition to love. Instead of allowing our partners to feel safe to open up to us we are virtually using a crowbar to force entry into their mind and heart. This can cause them to become resentful and seldom motivates them to be truthful anyway. If your partner were ever to find out about your spying ways then there's a chance that they may never forgive you.
Why do we spy?
Lack of trust
We have problems trusting others or even ourselves. Perhaps we've had our fingers burnt before and are now twice shy. Perhaps your partner is displaying a lot of concerning behaviour that causes you to automatically assume the worst. Whatever the case, best to acknowledge the way you are feeling but don't act out on the urge to snoop (more tips on that later).
We feel that we are entitled to the truth in order to protect ourselves. I agree that we must take measures to protect ourselves however there are other ways to deal with the problem other than spying. Spying is actually a sign of losing control!
Vulnerability and insecurities
Love is the strongest force however it can also make us feel vulnerable and insecure. We are afraid of losing our partners and being rejected by them. We feel hurt, powerless and angry. The feelings become so uncomfortable that we feel the need to transfer these emotions onto our partner, even in an indirect way.
Every time you snoop on your partner you are demonstrating that even if you gave them the opportunity to speak up, you wouldn't trust them anyway. Depending on how connected your partner is to your emotions, they may or may not pick up on this unrest from you on a subconscious level. Often times a partner can sense changes in your behaviour too!
So if spying isn't the ideal solution, what can I do instead?
Investigate the triggers for your suspicions. What alarmed you? Was it something they said or done. Or was it a mere gut feeling? Regardless, it is important to honour but not obey your unpleasant feelings. We are emotional beings after all and trying to deny your pain just causes more pain in the end. When we suppress our unpleasant emotions we are actually damaging ourselves. We are not allowing ourselves to be authentic, we are betraying our own heart. What bubbles to the surface, needs to be released otherwise it will just be a matter of time before we get those creepy feelings again. Don't try to defer your feelings. Don't try to buy yourself time. It's likely that what you are experiencing is a deep rooted concern, inflicted on you well before this relationship. Hence, it is healthy to explore, express and release any negative emotions to bring you closer to your own personal sense of power, serenity and truth.
Stage 1: Confront your demons
I'll need you to put your rational mind to one side for the time being. This is an emotional issue which is best dealt with emotionally. Find a safe and private place to allow the sense of betrayal and anguish to wash over you. Scream into a pillow, attack a punchbag and cry if you must. If you find yourself feeling as though you are in a childlike state then you are on the right path! Try to get in touch with the real cause of your feelings. What is beneath all the anger and pain? Is it a deep sense of unworthiness; inadequacy; fear or hopelessness? Write it all down. Take responsibility for your own emotions. Please refrain from projecting your suspicions onto your partner (we will deal with them at a later point). No one can make you feel bad unless you let them. And if you feel bad, don't judge yourself but allow it to pass through you. Each time you release the heavy feelings, you will emerge lighter and stronger. Once you feel ready to accept the possibility that they are having an affair, proceed to the next stage.
Stage 2: Speak to your partner
Once you've spent some time processing your thoughts and feelings, now is the perfect time to approach your significant other. You may choose to do this face to face or via Email/Letter. Pick whichever makes you comfortable. Be brave and express your concerns. Try not to attack or accuse them, rather just ask (calmly) whether they are having an affair. Explain that it is important to you and that you can deal with the truth.
What if they are guilty?
Respect the fact that they have come clean. If you still feel hurt and angry then you will probably need to revisit Stage 1. Give yourself enough time to fully process everything. Your guilty partner needs to understand that what they've done is selfish and damaging to the relationship. Ask them to explore the reasons why they felt the need to have an affair. Both of you will need to take some time apart to reflect on everything. If both parties still have love for one another then it's a high probability that they will overcome this. However if your partner shows little remorse or motivation to deal with the problem, consider whether you want to continue a lifetime of being treated badly?
No matter how much we love another person, we cannot make them love us back.
And what if they are in the clear?
Trust your gut. If you feel they are lying or withholding information, put it to one side for the time being. All I can recommend is that you consider them innocent until proven guilty. Ensure that their words and actions add up. A person who has a tendency to act in opposition to their words shouldn't be trusted anyway. In which case, this poses an even greater issue (more on this in another post).
On the other hand, if you are blessed with a loyal partner then rejoice! However it may be beneficial to work through any residual feelings so that this wont cause any problems between the two of you somewhere down the line.
If you wish to explore this personal matter further, please see me for a friendly personal consultation.
Love, Life and Destiny Guru
Dating, Relationship and emotional wellbeing Advisor
Heavy tea drinker
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