Should You Allow Your Partner to Look at Your Phone?

three people sits in waiting room using mobile phone
by Vance Larson

So you’re dating. It’s been about 7 months. It’s late in the evening and you just came back from a good night of dinner and drinks. You causally ask where this relationship is going? They slowly lean into you and whisper “I’ll show you mine. If you show me yours.” It’s on, and you think it’s going to be a good night. They say “Wait. I’ll show you my cell phone, if you show me yours.” On no!

What is the Right Phone Etiquette?

This by far is one of the quickest ways to gauge where your relationship is going. I see it all the time with my clients. They end up in my office because of trust issues. One, or both of them begins to feel uneasy, because the other is secretive or otherwise acting sketchy with their phone. So what is the right cell phone etiquette? I think there are different contributing factors to dictate what is appropriate.

For me, there isn’t anything that I wouldn’t share with my wife. She has access to every area in my life, and my cell phone isn’t any different. But more importantly, over a decade and a half later, I have never given her a reason to not trust me. Does that mean all husbands and wives should share their cell phones? Not at all. But, I’ve never understood why someone with clean hands would have a problem if their partner asked them. If it meant keeping the peace in the relationship, and putting their mind at ease, why would this be a problem?

I think the cell phone is more a symbol of absolute trust. It’s funny as we can have children together, own a house together and share the finances together. But the minute one of us say’s “Can I see your phone?”, many of us get defensive and sometimes outright belligerent. What is that all about?

I have many times used this metaphor in past articles regarding this very subject. We all know of daytime television where a couple goes onto a show, because they suspect their partner is cheating. Trust me when I say after working 33 years in mental health, that by the time you get to the show, or if you feel you need to go to get answers, there already is a problem.(Even if they’re cheating or not). The show itself will not repair, bring together or teach new relationship skills. The show itself may confirm suspicions. But even if it does, how does that get the relationship back on track? Something is inherently off, and without changed behavior and trust building strategies, these insecurities will continue to surface over and over again.

So what is my point? It is personal decision within every relationship where the boundary is. What is right for one couple will not necessarily be right for the other. But, if you don’t have this conversation early on in your relationship. If you’re unsure where it is headed. All you need to do is set boundaries and treat others as you would like to be treated. Come to a mutual agreement based on love and respect. 

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