Violation of Trust
By David Wygant

When you’re dating somebody, what are the boundaries?

Recently a woman I know had an “intuition” that “something was up” with her boyfriend, and that intuition led her to check her boyfriend’s email without his knowledge or consent. What she did was basically read through all of his emails until she found some information she didn’t like.

What constitutes a violation of someone’s privacy? When, if ever, are you justified in violating someone’s privacy?

If you have an “intuition” about something, does that give you the right to start digging through someone’s drawers? To start reading through their email? To start listening to their voicemail messages?

I mean, think about this. Someone has an email account which they use for both work and personal messages. By going into that account, you are violating the trust that person has with all of his business clients, business associates, friends and family members . . . all because you had some kind of “intuition” that he was doing something wrong.

Beyond violating the trust of all those people, investigating an “intuition” by reading someone’s emails or listening to their voicemail messages can be misleading because you are only getting about 20% of the story. Your perception of what you read or hear is all wrong.

Relationships are really hard. We’re all out there looking to meet somebody. Once we find somebody, though, where and how do we draw the line about privacy and trust?

Of course lying is not good. I’ve been guilty of it. We’ve all been guilty of it. We have all lied in certain situations to avoid hurting someone or to avoid talking about something we think may hurt someone. So although we lie to protect someone, when the lie is exposed (which it almost always inevitably is) we end up digging a deeper hole.

I’ve come to believe that although it is sometimes really hard to say, the truth is always better than a lie. It has been my experience that every time I tell a “little white lie” to someone because I was afraid to tell them what was really happening to avoid hurting them, that I always end up getting caught. Then when I do get caught, not only do you end up hurting that person anyway but you end up hurting yourself even more.

In life, what you fear will actually manifest – but it will manifest at an even higher level than what you feared. So whatever you were trying to protect the other person from by lying to them will seem worse than if you had just been open and honest about it from the get-go, because you will have to dig yourself out of the “lying” hole.

So lying in a relationship is something you should never do. It’s a tough thing. Sometimes we think we’re protecting somebody and we’re not.

Something equally bad you should never do in a relationship is violate the other person’s privacy. To violate someone’s privacy is to violate their trust.

You should NEVER dig through someone’s personal emails, look through someone’s wallet or listen to someone’s voicemail messages . . . ESPECIALLY if you’ve done it before and you promised never to do it again. If someone has decided to trust you even after you’ve broken their trust once, and then you you break their trust again and again, then you have a relationship that either cannot survive or at a minimum will need significant repair.

So even if you have some type of “intuition” that somebody is doing something wrong, it is better to confront that person openly about it and slug it out with them than to violate their privacy and their trust searching for answers behind their back. Even if that person doesn’t respond to your attempts to talk about it the first, second or third time, chances are that you will get to talk about it.

Consider that the other person may be struggling with something deep or something very emotional, and that may be the reason they have been hesitant to discuss something with you. Whatever the reason is that has caused their hesitation, you need to be prepared to be open to what they have to say.

So many of us definitely have communication issues in our relationships. A lot of us feel things we’ve never felt before with somebody, so we get scared.

When you’re scared in this way, you feel tense and you retreat to what’s safe instead of facing that fear openly with the other person. For some that fear may manifest itself by snooping in the other person’s private things, while for others it may manifest itself by lying to the other person. Neither one is right.

The best thing to do in a relationship is to try and keep your communication open as much as possible. We’ve all got issues. We’ve all got baggage. What you need to do is work through that baggage on your own and openly with your partner. Violating someone’s trust will never take a relationship to a better place.