Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My girlfriend has an annoying habit of answering my phone and reading my text messages when they pop up on the screen. It’s not like I’m hiding anything. I’m loyal like a golden retriever, and I’m pretty much an open book about how I spend my time and who I’m talking to. I would be totally honest if she just asked, “Who was that?” or “What did you talk about?”
But she doesn’t usually ask and meanwhile if my phone rings near her, she answers it. And if it pings with a message and she notices, she will pick it up and read it. I think this is rude and invasive.
I know she’s been cheated on before and has talked about having trust issues, but she shouldn’t punish me for that. Any tips on getting her to stop? Or am I wrong to ask that?
Well, her behavior is certainly unusual and you’re justified to feel your privacy is infringed upon, especially since you’ve proven yourself so far to be trustworthy and forthright. This isn’t the house landline ringing. It’s your private device and that boundary should be respected.
You could go on offense and set up a password, hide your text previews, set your ringer to silent and try to keep the phone in your pocket at all times. Or you could try again with direct communication.
Explain to her that it isn’t a matter of her being aware of the nature of your social and professional contacts; instead, it’s about her overstepping because she thinks this is the best way to get accurate information when in reality the best way is to just ask you.
The irony here is that she’s the one who can’t be trusted. Today she’s reading your texts and answering your phone. How long before she gets your passwords and is logging into your email and social media? Or making sure you’re where you say you are — at work, with friends, going to the gym or running errands? Or auditing your credit card activity to see if everything adds up?
Whether it’s a trust issue, a possessive issue, an insecurity issue or the trifecta, this situation is serious and should be addressed immediately. Everyone deserves a level of privacy they feel is appropriate, even those in a long-term and serious relationship. Everyone also deserves a level of respect, and this is downright disrespectful. You don’t have to be a jerk about it, but you can’t let this slide. Have a heart-to-heart and tell her that she cannot act like this anymore.
Hopefully she sees the big picture of her actions here, wants this relationship to work, appreciates your perspective and promises to change. Maybe she’ll even use the conversation to open up about why she does this and you’ll become closer and understand one another better. But just know that there is a chance that her past is so devastating or her hurt is so deep that she simply can’t allow herself to truly trust anyone, which will likely lead to a seriously defensive reaction and claims that this is proof that she can’t trust you.
Best of luck.
[Miss Manners: My husband keeps taking photos of me and sending them to people without my consent]
[Miss Manners: I’m starting to think my girlfriend’s frequent business trips are really vacations without me]
[My girlfriend is great but her incessant goal-setting is driving me crazy. Am I overreacting?]