Trust is often a trouble spot in relationships with the clients I work with. When you think your partner is doing something they shouldn’t be, and asking them about it gets you nowhere, it’s pretty normal to want to figure out what’s really going on. This is when people take matters into their own hands, whether by spying on their partner’s text messages, hacking an email or Facebook account, or even hiring a private investigator.
Here’s my take on this: if you don’t trust what your partner is doing or saying, and attempts to get them to ‘come clean’ don’t go anywhere, be careful about what you do next. If you are seeking proof so that you have the information you need to feel good about leaving the relationship, that’s one thing. However, if you are hoping to get proof that you can use to confront your partner so they’ll stop, I encourage you to think again. Spying on your partner comes at a significant cost: it creates an issue around privacy in the relationship. If you really think your partner is doing something wrong, and they won’t admit it, it’s a good time to seek therapy before more problems develop. If your partner refuses to go to therapy or says they don’t need it, you have to ask yourself how much of a ‘partner’ you have.
Taking matters into your own hands is not only a bad relationship move, but it may also be problematic from a legal perspective. Bartholomew & Wasznicky, a Sacramento-area family law firm, posted an article about this on their site recently in which they discuss this. Here’s what they had to say about spyware:
“Installing spy software involves murky legal issues, particularly where a computer is jointly owned property. Installing spyware on a computer belonging to someone else is illegal, but when it comes to family computers, the issue of ownership is often blurry. What one spouse considers private property may legally be marital property owned by the spouses in common and vice versa.”
Yes, feeling like ‘something is going on’ and not having the data to back it up is frustrating, and can make you feel crazy – just be careful about what actions you take to address the problem.