September 16th, 2011

The Blackbelt: My Girlfriend, the Text Inspector

Hey Blackbelt,

I have a problem with my girlfriend and wanted advice from someone who is not close to the situation. We have been together for over 2 years and are moving in together next week. Everything is great. Except there is an argument that constantly comes up and always gets very heated. She believes that she should be allowed to go through my cell phone and see who/what I am talking about with my friends. My response is always that this is my personal property and I am not trying to go through her phone and see what she is up to. I feel that this is a trust issue. At the same time, I am not hiding anything from her on my phone. I just feel strongly that it is not her business to know what is in my phone. Her friends obviously feel that she is right for being allowed to go in my phone and mine feel that no way is she allowed.What do you think about this?


All right MLC,

The short answer

You’re right. If you don’t want her looking through your cell phone, you don’t have to let her. It’s your property, and no means no. But clearly, there are some major deficits of communication going on in your relationship that have led her to think she has to patrol your private communication like an NSA agent scrutinizing suspicious email exchanges.

A few words say it all

Those who seek The Blackbelt’s advice often sum up the essence of their entire paragraph-long problem with one small sentence or phrase within the question. In your case, this line could not be more clear:

“I feel that this is a trust issue.”

Look at how you put it. You stated the most critical element of the matter — that it is a trust issue — as your exclusive take! That means there is a good chance that you two have not even been able to agree on the simple fact that this is a matter of trust. Bring this up to her. Ask her what you’re doing that’s making her think she needs to go through your correspondence. The Blackbelt can’t even imagine what reasons she would cite for wanting to look at your phone outside of trust.

She has to understand that this is a matter that only concerns you and her. Neither your or her friends’ opinions matter. Tell her that you do not care if her friends think that you’re hiding something from her in your texts. The only thing that should matter to you is her trust. Look her straight in the eye, tell her to ignore her nosy friends, and assure her that she has nothing to worry about.

The framing is as important as the portrait

You will make plenty of progress with her on this issue if you are able frame your side of it properly. Don’t make it about you vs. her – make it about you two trying to work through this problem together.

Put it to her something like this: “So you have enough faith in me as a partner to share a living space with me, but not enough to let my private interactions with others remain private?” Remind her of the times when you have overcome bigger hurdles than this in the past that helped you get to where you are today as a strong couple.

Make her believe that her acceptance of your wishes (her staying our of your cell phone) would mean positive progress for the relationship. The longer she dwells on this petty issue, the harder it will be for you to continue to grow as a couple in what is probably about to become a pretty cramped NYC apartment.

About the Author

The Blackbelt
For years now, young people have turned to The Blackbelt for advice and support for their relationship questions. Known for his breadth of knowledge, soothing way with words, and genuine interest in the problems of his anonymous readers, The Blackbelt is proud to be a member of the Socialtik family, and looks forward to helping you through your difficult love-related decisions.



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