Sunday, December 17, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Snooping spells trouble

Snooping in girlfriend's email raises questions about trust

Q: I recently snooped in my girlfriend's email and discovered she has, on at least one occasion, contacted an ex-boyfriend who is a known sore spot in our relationship.

What contact there was doesn't really amount to much, and I don't think she is trying to rekindle anything.

I am at a loss, though, to understand why she would write to him, even in a nonromantic way, when she knows the hurt it could cause me and the damage it could cause our relationship.

Also, I am reluctant to say anything to her, in part because of my own illicit action, but more so because I don't know that it will do any good. As odd as this sounds in light of both of our recent actions, I do trust her. I also have no doubt she loves me. I just don't want her talking to this guy on any level.

So what, if anything, should I do? And, what am I doing wrong? Thanks.

Snoop

A: Snooping, obviously. Serious boundary violation — which you must confess, yes?

What else you're "doing wrong" depends on your reason for drawing an I-don't-want-you-contacting-him line where a pragmatic soul — and one who has any business saying "I do trust her" — would stand back and let trust do its job.

It's like not airbrushing a photograph; the result isn't as tidy, but you see what you're getting. When you do that, of course, you then get to decide whether you stay with her based on what you see.

You didn't choose that path, obviously; you're trying to wipe out blotches. So I ask again, why?

A few possibilities of many: Maybe there's a past cheating incident driving your no-contact request; maybe you know too much about this guy's ethics (or lack thereof) to want him anywhere near you or a loved one; maybe you just have a bad feeling about this guy.

Whatever it is, you need to know your motives. No rationalizing.

Then you need to be sure you actually have standing to draw lines. By that I mean, does your interest in keeping this man out of your orbit — do your feelings — trump her right to associate with anyone she pleases?

I see these exceptions as extremely rare. Associating with a past lover doesn't cut it, for example, but associating with the person she cheated on you with does. Asking her not to hang out with a morally suspect friend doesn't cut it, but asking her not to hang with someone whose suspect morals directly harmed you or someone you love? That does.

And when a partner chooses to ignore this kind of valid request, then you break up. You don't start ordering off the dysfunction menu of snooping, punishing, arguing, accusing, trapping, and lying in wait for the perfect told-you-so op.

I spell this out even though I'm at a loss, too — to understand why you're so exercised by this guy, and why banishing him has become your preferred measure of your girlfriend's affection for you, a measure you'll trash your integrity to take.

Even if your reason is among those few valid, noncontrolling ones, there's still this: People show their affection most persuasively when you let them choose how to show it. Do you trust yourself enough for that?

Comments

Tell Me About It: Thrown off by sudden, no-gift Christmas

Thrown off by sudden, no-gift ChristmasI am meeting part of my family for an early Christmas celebration. Five days out, my cousin e-mails everyone to say she will only be giving a present to her mom and our grandparents. She is skipping our aunt, my...
Published: 12/14/17
Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Superstar Katy Perry: In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you’re Katy Perry. When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which arrives i...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

NEW HOPE: Star Wars partiesWith the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the force of fan excitement is strong, so of course there are Star Wars parties this weekend. The giant movie complex Riverview 14 GDX is having celebration with characters from...
Published: 12/13/17
5 things to do under $5: Gasparilla Bowl beach day, Hanukkah on Ice, boat parades

5 things to do under $5: Gasparilla Bowl beach day, Hanukkah on Ice, boat parades

1 Battle at the Beach: The Gasparilla Bowl is coming to Tropicana Field on Dec. 21, but before that the bands, cheerleaders and dance teams from Florida International University and Temple University will have a day of beach-related games and competi...
Published: 12/13/17
6 gift ideas for grandparents and grandchildren to spend more time together

6 gift ideas for grandparents and grandchildren to spend more time together

A grandparent can be a tough person to buy a Christmas gift for. Likewise, many grandparents are stumped on what to get the kids besides some cash. Why not make your Christmas gift something you both want more of: more time together making memories. ...
Published: 12/13/17

Tell Me About It: Leave gender out of division of housework

Leave gender out of division of houseworkWhy is it that when a woman cares about the division of labor at home ó like her home being a decent level of clean ó she is considered to be overreacting?OK, Iíll get down from my soap box now. (Iíll also bre...
Published: 12/13/17

Tell Me About It: Overwhelmed parent weighs out options

Overwhelmed parent weighs out optionsQ: Since my kids were born, my job basically covered the cost of day care. The kids came home overtired and overstimulated.As they became preschool age, I restructured my work to freelance so I could drop off and ...
Published: 12/12/17

Tell Me About It: Identity of biological father is revealed

Identity of biological father is revealedQ: When I was 18, my mother revealed that the father I grew up with was not my biological father. She claimed she didnít even know my bio father, and never contacted him again after their brief weekend fling a...
Published: 12/11/17

Tell Me About It: Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepy

Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepyQ: My daughter, 11, has three friends from school. One girlís parents are generous hosts. "Emma" is an only child and has a pool, fun toys, great snacks.The problem is that Emmaís parents donít let Emma be a gu...
Published: 12/10/17
Top things to do for the week of Dec. 11-17

Top things to do for the week of Dec. 11-17

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75). amaliearena.com. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday, bringing fun celebrations including Hanukkah in the City at the Sundial St. ...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/12/17