Snooping: Butting into Other People’s Business
Butting into someone else’s business is an art some people master over time. Whether we eavesdrop on phone calls and conversations, rummage through trouser pockets, address books, and scroll through cell phone call and message boxes, we zone out into that anxious but excitable state we call snooping. Snooping is addicting because it promises to give us the pleasure of knowing something we don’t know about our loved ones. However, snoopers eventually get caught at some point. The question is what do we do when we are caught red handed?
Why we snoop
Psychotherapists say that one feeling is particularly central to our urge to snoop: suspicion. Once suspicion in a relationship arises, whether between spouses, parents and children, and lovers, the ties that bind us become susceptible to breaking. But snooping is often borne out of clues that our loved ones leave behind: an anonymous phone number, emotional messages with double-meaning words, clandestine calls… the list goes on. But what is really happening when we see these questionable facts?
Suspicion is a double edged sword. It’s a 50/50 chance whether we hit the truth of not. But when we snoop, we always get into trouble despite the truthfulness of the accusation because snooping reveals an underlying issue with trust.
In any intimate relationship, trust is essential. When trust is smeared by suspicion, we feel betrayed, ashamed and angry. Suspicion and not knowing what our loved ones are up to kills our patience, which forces us to act and snoop around their items. Often, the clues we find when we snoop become facts in our eyes because we are influenced by bad experiences in the past. But the fact that the unspoken trust and right to privacy is broken means that we are calling into question the sincerity of our relationship.
Putting out the fire
Snooping eventually stops at some point. This is because either snoopers get caught or feel guilty over betraying the trust of their loved ones. We often don’t have a choice but to confront our loved ones when we get caught. But if we aren’t, suspicion keeps on battling with conscience. Is it truly within our rights to break into someone’s private belongings just to satisfy our suspicions? A lot of people would say yes because intimate relationships demand that there should be no secrets. But when we think about it, snooping is done in secret and looks aggressive in the eyes of those who are snooped.
Should we admit to snooping into our loved one’s possessions? It’s good to think about it in terms of getting caught. When our loved ones catch us suspecting their sincerity, they will also feel anger and resentment towards us. But if we let it out in the open and be sincere, they may be more willing to forgive us.
How to rebuild the relationship
Communication is central to rebuilding a relationship ruined by suspicion and snooping. How can we learn what we want to know about our loved ones if we choose to keep our thoughts to ourselves? Silence and our penchant to avoid talking about our feelings are often what fuel our suspicions in the first place.
It is true that not everyone is interested in talking about feelings. Most people will be defensive and avoid confrontation altogether. But persistence and sincerity can break this wall, and allow us to penetrate into our loved one’s heart. The strategies we can use to patch things up depend a lot on how slowly we are forgiven. But time is an ally we should use with care.
We can also ask help from our loved ones or instruct them to do things to prevent us from harbouring suspicions. Couples often give their lovers access to their passwords in a bid to be transparent. Certain limits in privacy should also be set to allow loved ones just enough room to check up on us but not too much to trespass on our lives. Sharing information like this should be balanced on both sides so that fairness will rule.
A happy ending
Suspicion can destroy lives and families, but quitting early and giving a sincere apology may patch things up. Apologies are also a great precursor to an honest and open relationship, one that we will cherish for life. Once this is given and received, the couple or family must be more candid in how they should keep their affairs accessible. People just need enough clarity to kill the seeds of suspicion, and we should all help our loved ones to maintain this openness if we want to help ourselves.
Have you or your loved one been caught snooping? How has it affected your relationship? What steps did you take to mend the relationship? Leave your thoughts and comments below!