Going through a partner’s phone can sometimes make a relationship stronger

Some relationships that ended over phone-snooping simply weren’t strong enough or built on a solid enough foundation to survive to begin with.

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A quick read through your partner’s texts and a dash through their emails seems like relationship suicide. While this breach of trust certainly ends many couples’ relationships for good, the couples that survive actually come out with a stronger connection between them, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Lisbon recruited 102 online study participants from Europe, Canada, and the U.S., and asked them to write down an experience about a time they went through someone else’s phone or found someone snooping on theirs. Forty-six people said this happened within a romantic relationship, and within that group, 21 broke up, leaving 25 couples intact.


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“In cases where the relationship ended, it was either because the phone owner felt their trust was betrayed, or the relationship was also experiencing difficulties,” said study author Ivan Seschastnikh, a professor at UBC, in a release.

Some relationships that ended over phone-snooping simply weren’t strong enough or built on a solid enough foundation to survive to begin with, “as was the case with two work friends where one stole valuable contact information from the other’s cellphone,” said Beschastnikh.

Snoopers listed a few different reasons to do the snooping into their partners’ phones, including jealousy, and a desire to control their relationships. Some said they wanted to prank the owner of the phone or to use the information they stole from it for financial gain.

But if the relationship made it past the phone hack, it was because the union was already built on a solid foundation, and the victim considered the friendship or relationship important enough to look past the breach. In the grand scheme of their relationship and everything else they’ve been through, phone-snooping is something that can be forgiven.

“In such cases, the victim explained away the snooping by considering it as a sign that they should reassure their romantic partner about their commitment to the relationship,” said Seschastnikh. “They end up excusing the behavior and, in some cases, continued to give the other person access to their phone.”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.