Is It Ever OK to Check My Partner's Phone?

We'll tell you when it's ok and not so ok

Updated 11/08/17

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The only thing worse than "read" receipts on an iPhone? Infidelity receipts—the verified proof that your partner has been texting, snapping, DMing, calling, or, God forbid, FaceTiming another person behind your back and behind his or her lock screen.

Cheating is wrong, but so is invading privacy and betraying trust, right? But if they actually cheated, they betrayed your trust first, so that means you're in the clear! Ooh, but two wrongs don't make a right, and evidence—even if it's undeniably incriminating—that's obtained unlawfully isn't even admissible in court! (Sorry—too much Law and Order lately). Anyway, the takeaway question is: when is it all right for me to snoop through my significant other's cell phone?

Let's start with when it's not okay:

  1. You're in public
  2. You're inebriated
  3. You're trapped for an extended period of time in an inescapable situation
  4. You're prone to violent or disruptive reactions
  5. All of these conditions apply at the exact same time

Here's a true story: An Iranian woman aboard a Qatar Airways Doha to Bali flight on Sunday, November 5, decided to check her husband's phone en route, according to the Times of India. The resourceful wife, who'd consumed multiple alcoholic beverages at this point, managed to position her sleeping spouse's thumb on the scanner of his phone to unlock it. She soon discovered her husband was allegedly having an affair, and woke that playa up to hash things out right then and there. Crew members attempted to intervene, but "the lady passenger (who was intoxicated) misbehaved with crew members inflight," the Central Industrial Security Force official told the Times.

When the confrontation reached peak altitude (ha), the pilot decided on a textmergency landing in Chennai, India, where the husband, wife, and their young child were offloaded so the plane could continue on to Bali. The family later traveled to Kuala Lumpur, to catch a later connecting flight to Doha.

No charges were pressed "due to a lack of criminal activity," and Qatar Airways released a statement to the Times declining to comment "because it would violate the passenger's privacy."

Our lesson here? If you suspect your significant other may be unfaithful, the time to investigate is not two drinks in, confined to an airplane seat 10,000 miles up in the air, and surrounded by strangers and flight attendants who are likely to become victims of your crossfire.

The truth is, if y'all are married or in a seriously committed relationship, it should be okay to check your partner's phone almost all of the time. (Don't do it around the holidays! You'll ruin all your gift surprises!) If you're going to share your lives together, sharing a six-digit lock code ain't that big of a deal (or at least, it shouldn't be).

But in addition, you should be checking your partner's phone to look for text-message directions that his/her mom sent on the way to family dinner, or hilarious photos he took while waiting in line with weirdos at the DMV—not inappropriate correspondences. Ask Elvis: You can't go on together with suspicious minds. If you think extra-relational fooling around is happening in person, in "the cloud," or both, talk about it like mature adults. And if your lover's given you prior reasons to obsessively worry about cheating, to the point of stealing a thumbprint while he/she's unconscious to check for suspect numbers on his phone—maybe his number no longer belongs in yours.

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