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There are few things more personal (to us) than our cell phone. Not only is it home to messages, photos, and other intimate details about your life, it's essentially a connection to the world when you need to search for answers to your burning questions or, say, need to social media stalk ex-lovers.
It's natural to be anxious about someone using your phone and having access to your personal world, even if it is your partner, who usually knows to stay away from using your phone unless you give him or her permission or unlock it first.
So, that begs the question: When, if ever, is it OK to check your partner's phone or DMs without them knowing?
Here are the four, and only four, reasons experts say you can give yourself access to your partner’s cell phone without asking them beforehand.
1. They Keep Their Phone Locked
If your partner is extra protective about their device, practically hugging it tightly all throughout the night and locking it with a password they refuse to share with you, Natalie Nesbitt, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in couples counseling, says that’s a reason why you might want to take a look.
“Ultimately you don’t want to be with a person who hides things from you, whatever the reason may be. This either means your communication needs working on or they are keeping things from you,” says Nesbitt. “This behavior can be a sign you both need to work on the relationship or get out.”
2. They Might Not Be Doing Well
When your partner is acting anything but like themselves, you might start to worry that something is seriously up with them. That’s why Nesbitt says if you believe your partner is a harm to themselves or others, looking at their phone might help you help them.
“Sometimes we enter into a relationship not knowing what we are getting into. We fall in love with someone who may be addicted to substances or has severe depression. In these cases, it is OK to dig a little deeper if you think they are in trouble; it may save their life,” adds Nesbitt.
3. They Wouldn’t Freak out About It
If you and your partner are on the same page — like The Real Housewives of Potomac's Monique Samuels and her husband — and can find a little humor in you going on their phone doing something small, then Celia Schweyer, dating expert at DatingScout.com, says it's fair game.
“So, for example, your partner took a (really!) terrible photo of you and refuses to delete it just to fool with you? Well if it's just that, and the two of you share a good sense of humor, he or she might not get angry when you secretly take their phone just to delete this photo,” says Schweyer. “However, you should tell them afterwards and not make this a huge secret. Fooling with a partner's trust isn't funny.”
4. They are a Cheater and You Want Evidence
When you have a strong gut feeling that they are cheating on you, Schweyer says that heading to their phone for evidence is OK.
“Checking your partner's phone with the intent of finding messages from others is a really insecure move, especially when your relationship is perfectly healthy,” explains Schweyer. “In fact, when you feel the urge to secretly read his inbox, something's already wrong with your relationship or maybe just with yourself.”
Schweyer says when you’re sure that your partner is cheating on you and you want to get some evidence, it can be a relief to check that phone and find suspicious or obvious messages.
“But when there are none, it doesn't make your situation much better: It's clear that you don't trust your partner and that your partner obviously can't trust you with their privacy,” says Schweyer. “If you want to keep that relationship going, you need to put some hard work into it.”
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