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She Reads His E-mails, All the Time

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

March 14, 2010 | 7:35 pm

Shut that web door for once and for all.

Follow AskYourYenta on Twitter

Dear Yenta,

I read my boyfriend’s e-mail. What started innocently enough (he
asked me to check his email for him when he didn’t have access to a
computer) has manifested itself into a daily obsession. Part of me
likes keeping tabs on what he’s up to and who he’s communicating
with when I’m not around. Quite often he tells me a story of an
e-mail he received from so-and-so and I have to pretend like it’s the
first time I’ve heard about this although I’ve already read the
e-mail.

If I read something upsetting about me in one of his e-mails (like him
telling a friend how we got into a fight, etc.) I get pissed off. Of
course I can’t tell him outright that I’ve been reading his e-mails,
so it manifests in some other way.

I know I should stop this ugly behavior, but I can’t. What should I
do?

-Nosy and Out of Hand

Dear NAOOH,

Lady, you need to stop and you need to stop now.

You have taken reading emails to a grand new level. It sounds complicated and intricate, all the information you are gathering, and it reveals a lot about your relationship. You have built dishonesty and evasive behavior, embedded it into the walls between you and your boyfriend. This is a loud screaming red siren if I ever saw one.

What we need to wonder in trying to get you to quit, is why this is so alluring. Sure, reading diaries and looking into the lives of others is fascinating. According to an article by the UK Daily Mail, “One in five couples admit to ’snooping’ by reading each other’s texts and emails.” But you have turned “snooping” into an obsession. This obsession is grounded in a giant power trip, one that hands you a giant emotional upper hand invisible to your man.

What happens if you quit?  What would make discarding this habit so difficult? For one, you would lose the power dynamic you have now, possibly leaving you starving later. What does this show you about you and your boyfriend? Why don’t you trust him? Why is lying so comfy? This habit reveals some deep-seated insecurities that might need to be solved with some time away from your lover.

How to stop? Quit. Cold Turkey.  I presented this problem to a young Chabadnik girl and she suggested hacking into his account and sending an e-mail to him from him saying “you have been hacked.”  This way he will quickly change his password and wedge you out of there.

Also, talk to him. Address your fears and insecurities about your relationship, stop the giant game you are playing. Get him to change his password. This is a big one. Tell him to change his password, that you are tempted to read his mail all the time and that you would rather not have the temptation. That is a little honest and a lot better than always, forever more, having the option to dip back into his pool of information.

You need your ticket confiscated, stat. Evaluating your ties to this bad habit might make quitting easier, that, and you might learn something about what put you in this awful position in the first place. Something about your own personal problems is being glaringly revealed by this scenario.

This sounds like no fun at all. It sounds hard and painful, all that you know each day. The question remains, as with any addict, where does your rock bottom lie? When will the torture of being in a deceptive relationship outweigh the thrill of probing into someone’s every email and then lying to their face while you tell them you love them?

Or, your boyfriend already knows you read his e-mails, and lets you enjoy the pleasure. That changes the power dynamic for sure.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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