Relationship Advice: "I Can't Stop Spying
on my Partner!"
By Susie and Otto Collins
Your spying on your partner might have started out
Perhaps you stumbled upon some information about your mate
that triggered concern within you.
It might have been a call on his or her cell phone that you
answered because your partner was out of the room and asked
you to. But the person on the other end of the line hung up
when it was your voice and not your mate's who said "Hello."
After this, a gnawing doubt could have formed in your
stomach. You just couldn't seem to let go of the questions
in your mind about why a person calling your partner would
hang up when you answered.
Maybe to allay your worries you secretly checked your
partner's record of received phone calls to see if a phone
number you do not know shows up frequently.
From there, you might have started to log into your
partner's personal e-mail account...just to make sure
there's nobody threatening your relationship.
Pretty soon, spying becomes a regular part of your daily
activities. You may tell yourself that you will stop once
you are totally sure nothing suspicious is going on, but you
never do cease the spying.
At a certain point, the stories in your mind of what could
be happening are so strong, you fear what will happen if you
don't keep checking up on your partner by spying.
Spying can be a truly habit-forming activity. It can
become an obsession and even an addiction.
The Costs of Spying
While spying may seem "innocent," like a good idea or even
an action that is justified, it can end up hurting you and
Spying can be mentally and emotionally draining. When you
feel strongly compelled to keep spying, you probably spend
much of your time planning out when and how you will spy.
Yes, there might even be a certain thrill or adrenaline rush
to spying-- will you get caught this time or can you get
away with a particular act of spying?
But the cost to you is high. The cost is your well-being and
After all, is this how you pictured your love relationship
or marriage would be? Is this really how you want to spend
your time and energy?
Another cost of spying is certainly the detrimental effects
on your relationship.
When you spy, you might obtain information-- but is it
accurate and are you getting a complete account of a
When you rely on information that is obtained secretively,
you are often forced to fill in blanks with your own
This is dangerous and can make matters worse than they
Chances are, your fears will cause you to fill in blanks
with stories to match those anxieties.
If your partner discovers that you have been spying-- and
it's quite likely that he or she will-- any trust that still
exists in your relationship will be severely damaged and
The distance between the two of you will undoubtedly grow
Get Support and Help
When your compulsion to spy is so big that you feel upset
and panicked when you think about stopping the spying, it's
time to seek out help.
You might have a friend or family member who can take a less
biased approach to your situation.
Choose to confide in someone you can trust and try to rely
on a person who is not struggling with his or her own
relationship problems (especially infidelity).
Be clear about the kind of support you'd like from this
For example, the two of you might set up a system in which
you call him or her when you feel like you have to spy.
Before taking any further
action, you call or meet this support person and talk about
what's going on.
There are many professionals available to help and support
you as well. A counselor or coach can teach you skills and
techniques to use when you feel like you have to spy.
This professional can also help you figure out how to
communicate with your partner more effectively so that you
can possibly begin to rebuild trust in your relationship.
Together with your support person-- whether it's a
professional or a trusted friend or family member-- develop
a list of ways you can interrupt your spying habit.
These are actions that will literally interrupt your usual
way of reacting to your fears and worries.
The interruption offers you a chance to make a more
about your next action.
These might include such things as: calling a trusted
support person (as mentioned above), taking a walk, going
for a drive, having a cold
glass of water, questioning the stories you are telling
yourself, writing, meditating or taking a deep breath.
Ultimately, you need to figure out what will help you ease
your fears and truly bring you a sense of relief.