Do you read your partner’s emails?

I am something of a paradox when it comes to trust. In general, I tend to believe if not quite that all men are lying, cheating bastards,  that they all at least have the capacity to be deceitful, and are quite likely to stray should the opportunity present itself.

I can’t help this and I apologise to all the men who have never ever lied to their partners.

However, whilst my world view may be a little depressing, I still have a bizarre naivety when it comes to individual relationships, and will basically believe anything anyone tells me. You’d think you’d have to be an idiot to accept  any one of the following lies, yet in previous relationships, accept them I have, without, at the time, doubting them at all:

“Oh this black eye? Oh yes, I got that dancing over-enthusiastically.”

“Yes it is weird that it took me two and a half hours to get home from work even though it’s only ten minutes away. Yeah, the traffic was a bit bad.”

“My wife?? No, I’m definitely not having sex with her.”

You get my drift.

The thing is that I really want to trust people, and just can’t help but see the best in someone and give them the benefit of the doubt. I also believe that a relationship has to be built on trust. Whatever my opinion of men in general might be, I have to believe that my partner is different, otherwise what’s the point?

I was reading today about a recent study that revealed that a quarter of men have a secret email account that their partner doesn’t know about. A quarter of men! My first reaction was shock, but then I was confused. Why do people need a separate account? Aren’t emails private and personal anyway? I would never read a partner’s email, just like I would never open their post, so why the need to be secretive?

It’s not that I wouldn’t want a partner to read my emails, but it just wouldn’t occur to me to share. It would be a bit like being on the phone and someone picking up the other line to listen in. Just weird.

The survey also discovered that:

  • One in ten men deliberately set up a separate account because they wanted to hide an affair or money problems
  • One in twenty men have a second secret mobile phone
  • Nearly 20% of men store pictures of an ex-partner
  • 77% of men delete text messages in case their partners look at them
  • A quarter of men had emails they said they wouldn’t want their partner to see and a third of these said they had flirty emails stored secretly.

It kind of cancels out the joy of Santa and his stuck beard doesn’t it?

What I want to know though, all this man-hating aside, is do you read your partner’s emails and/or text messages? If so, do they know about it, or do you do it in secret? Am I the unusual one in not openly sharing emails or at least sneaking a peek behind my partner’s back?

Or, if you’re a man, do you do any of the things in this survey? I’d love to know…



  1. 22 November, 2012 / 8:29 am

    mine and my husbands e-mail accounts are linked, if i go into hotmail I can pop across to his and read them if I so wish. Occasionally I do if I am looking for an e-mail. The paypal and e-bay accounts are linked to mine and the freecycle is linked to his so yes I do.
    Funnily enough we dont have a problem with each others mail either, whoever picks it up from the mat generally opens it….never anything comes in that both of us dont know about – including debts and bills.
    If a text message comes in I have read some, or at least who they are from, not because I dont trust him but because neither of us have anything to hide and therefore why should we not.
    Maybe I am too trusting, I dont know but if neither of you have anything to hide it makes for a much more relaxed relationship imo.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:23 am

      That does sound rather lovely Elaine! What about though if you do have something you really do want to keep secret, like buying him a gift? Can you do that without him being able to see email confirmations or amounts leaving your bank account?

      • 22 November, 2012 / 12:07 pm

        I have this issue, we only have our join bank accounts, buying secret gifts is like mission impossible!

  2. 22 November, 2012 / 8:39 am

    Even if I suspected my hubby of being up to something extra-marital, I wouldn’t read his emails or texts unless he offered to show them to me, which in all fairness he often does. I just couldn’t bring myself to cross that line. As much as we’re open with each other, we do need our own space and a sense of privacy. Trust is a big thing isn’t it?

    I was on the receiving end once – a partner suspected me of having an affair and on several occasions I caught him red-handed prying into my texts, emails and Skype messages. I was totally innocent and the feeling of betrayal when I thought he knew me and trusted me was overwhelming. It finished us to be honest.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:25 am

      Good point Mandy – I’ve been on the receiving end too and it isn’t nice. I had a partner once who was DEFINITELY checking my phone, to the point where I put a passowrd on it and he ended up locking me out with too many wrong guesses, but he STILL maintained he wasn’t touching it!!

  3. Arabella Bazley
    22 November, 2012 / 8:40 am

    Deep thoughts in this festive period…. I’d open any regular post unless it was obviously hand written/personal or came from a bank. Emails I would not read unless invited to do so. Both my parents believed another persons mail and private papers were inviolate and no-one should read them so that is how I prefer to treat the matter.

    And I was always taught that people who listen at doors seldom hear good of themselves and the odd comments about attire or the size of another woman’s bust made to his friends would probably, collectively, irk me so I don’t mind not knowing. Having a little mystery in a relationship is a good thing (they think it is a mystery but we know it is where men store their saucy postcards and nude or scantily clad images).

    They say instinct is a good indication of infidelity, so if you are pretty sure check their mail and confront.

    And there are more good ones than bad ones…. perhaps you were just fishing in the wrong gene pool, there are a lot of us with poor navigation skills.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:22 am

      It’s to balance out all the sweets and sherry I’ve already consumed Arabella :-)

      You know I can’t actually remember how my parents dealt with things like post, but I’ve just always had in my mind that there has to be some part of your life that is private and about you. Privacy I think is very different to secrecy though isn’t it? But I think you’re right, and it works the same way – I want to feel I can make a semi-serious comment about someone in private to someone else without fear of it being overheard/read and misinterpreted.

  4. Tim Payne
    22 November, 2012 / 9:15 am

    Ha, ha, great post, it makes me feel a little bit smug. Simply because my wife can look at my phone anytime, check my emails, rifle through my laptop, look at my bank statements….anything. It doesn’t matter because I have nothing to hide and wouldn’t, in my wildest dreams, even think about having stuff to hide. I must be one of the lucky ones. Would hate to have to live my life like that!

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:19 am

      OK, apologies to you then Tim :-)

      You make a good point though – it must be really stressful to always be hiding things mustn’t it? I find it hard enough remembering passwords for the things I have now, if I had to remember a whole other secret set I’d be screwed.

  5. 22 November, 2012 / 9:21 am

    I’ve never really thought too much about this tbh! I open some post, and others I don’t … I guess if it looks interesting (as in, important and would probably concern us both) but In all honesty he usually opens mail around me anyways and would always say so.. and i’m so nosey I usually ask when I see it’s from work anyways!.. I never purposely go through his text, but it’s a work phone and he doesn’t have his own mobile (so wouldn’t be able to use it to be deceitful anyways!) but he does have a close relationship with my BIL and I will tend to read txts to him, only cos he tends to arrange for them to visit and stay and tells me last minute! LOL

    he often uses my phone for internet or to look at pictures of our daughter. . and i have nothing to hide so im not fussed……………….Though I do delete message when i’m moaning about his mother to my friends…. LOL

    Unfortunately despite being burned many a time I am far too trusting- and usually suspicious of the wrong people…

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:38 am

      Haha! Now I have a picture in my mind of you picking through the post and keeping the fun looking things for yourself! (I know this isn’t what you said, it’s just the image it conjured up for me).

      I love that you check for potential visitors too – sounds like an excellent plan to me!

      • 22 November, 2012 / 12:13 pm

        oh yeah, I leave the bills for him >_< ..
        I should point out we share the same (and only) bank account. . I feel I can hand on heart say that Joe is a good guy. .. plus he's rubbish at lying and doesn't understand the meaning of devious……. if he even tried to forge a relationship else where I'd crack him in under a minute! lol He's a very committed father and partner. x

        ……..if anything I probably don't appreciate him as much as I should.
        Don't tell him I said that…………

        I'm quite secretive about my spending though…………..I don't hide it, but Im not upfront! lol

  6. rinsimpson
    22 November, 2012 / 9:23 am

    I wouldn’t open anyone else’s post / email etc as a matter of courtesy. But if I suspected something was up with my partner, and I’d tried talking about it first but still felt concerned, I probably would have a sneaky look. After all, if there’s something to find, then my snooping is going to be the lesser of the crimes, right?

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:28 am

      Well yes, in theory, it would be the lesser of two crimes, but…

      I have to confess that I have done this ONCE, over ten years ago, when I was suspicious about a particular lie, and it backfired, as he ended up somehow making me reading his emails as a much bigger crime than his! How he managed to claim the moral highground I don’t know, but then I was a little easier to manipulate back then!

  7. 22 November, 2012 / 9:24 am

    Okay, well as a man I feel the need to defend us menfolk. Let me start by going for the jugular; women are quite capable of lying, cheating, being deceitful and can stray when the opportunity presents itself!

    Several years ago I got together with someone and she checked the messages on my mobile phone. It featured old messages from a few women I’d dated that I hadn’t got around to deleting. It also featured one message from a man that was signed off with a kiss.

    She ignored the messages from the women but, on the strength of the one message from the man, took me to one side and asked if I was bisexual. This kicked off a huge row because it was from my (much) younger brother who writes texts like a teenager! She learned her lesson and never checked my messages again.

    Where is the scandal of a man keeping pictures of an old partner? If they have been in a really serious relationship (maybe divorced or have kids with an ex) I’d say it’s quite acceptable, even normal, to keep pictures. I can appreciate some people may not feel so confident going through old pictures with a new partner or might keep them to themselves out f respect for the new relationship. It doesn’t have to be scandalous.

    As for email addresses, it turns out I have seven. I didn’t realise I had this many until I read your article and thought I’d better count them. My wife doesn’t know about them all but as we both use the same ipad she’s perfectly at liberty to check them at any time.

    To be honest, I’m unimpressed with this survey. We all know men are more capable of infidelity than women. A survey like this just stokes up paranoia where it doesn’t need to exist.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:35 am

      You are of course totally right about women and opportunity is the key word here. Apparently the % of women having affairs has risen over the last fifty or so years in proportion with the % of women in the workplace, so that pretty much speaks for itself doesn’t it?

      I’m gald you picked up on the photos one too, as I put that one in as a test, as I don’t really see a problem with that either. A previous partner is a part of your life, so why should you get rid of every reminder of them, if that means having to delete bits of your past?

      However, that said, it’s probably about the pictures isn’t it? I would feel uncomfortable if I thought a partner was keeping naked pictures of an ex on his computer or phone for example, but then I wouldn’t like them keeping naked pictures of ANYONE apart from me. That would feel weird.

      I think generally you’re right, that these sort of surveys just make everyone want to rush out and check their partner’s email, but tbh I was more intrigued by the other issues it raised for me – how people manage email and texts within relationships. I find it fascinating that so many people can have such different approaches to things like this.

      • 22 November, 2012 / 9:48 am

        Oh, NAKED pictures of an ex? They fall into a totally different category. No no no no, wrong, just wrong!

        Glad to see we agree on this one. I thought 50% of the human race was getting a major kicking there.

        • 22 November, 2012 / 9:51 am

          OK good, I’m glad that’s not OK!

          I was just being deliberately provocative to get men to comment. And it worked! Tada! Us women are so manipulative :-)

          • 22 November, 2012 / 10:55 am

            That just makes me feel used and slightly dirty.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 9:40 am

      Also, meant to say about the message from your brother… talk about putting your foot in it! I bet she felt stupid after that! It justs goes to show though doesn’t it how you can read what you like into things. That’s why reading emails and texts like that out of context can be so dangerous.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 12:16 pm

      I’d be heartbroken to find pictures of my partners ex’s stored somewhere away. I can always appreciate that past serious relationships are still an important part of their lives and not to be written off, or refused to discuss.. but I’d be so very upset if I found old pictures….

      I’d also be furious is someone had any of me, but thankfully..Im not that silly! lol

          • 27 November, 2012 / 8:15 am

            Haha! Yes, a big picture in a frame of an ex over the bed might be a bit odd :-)

  8. 22 November, 2012 / 12:25 pm

    I refused to let my OH read my emails the other day and he got arsey
    But then he opens my post -which annoys me
    I don’t think its about keeping secrets its just about having privacy!


    • 27 November, 2012 / 8:16 am

      I couldn’t agree more – there is a big difference between keeping secrets and just wanting some things to remain private. Why did he get arsey do you think? Does he let you read his emails?

  9. honeybee
    22 November, 2012 / 7:25 pm

    I’ll admit to being an insecure madam and always wanting to read through my past boyfriends’ messages; text, bbm, facebook or email – i want to see the lot!

    I know that I’m trustworthy myself, but I’ll be damned if I’ll trust a fella… If I don’t want to check and see any of his messages, it means I don’t really like him.

    And, tbh, those figures seem a little low for the men I know…more often than not, they have a ‘secret’ phone or sim card; 95% text msgs are rapidly deleted unless they want them to be discovered, and, around 80% have ‘secret’ facebook accounts.

    Trust and fidelity is the stuff of fairytales…and I am not one for kissing frogs!

    • 27 November, 2012 / 8:17 am

      Blimey, it sounds like you’ve had your fair share of frogs! Also, if you know that most of the men you know have secret phones and facebook accounts they can’t be doing a great job of keeping them secret ;-)

  10. Matthew
    14 January, 2013 / 10:23 am

    I personally think reading your other halfs emails, texts etc without their knowledge is completely wrong. You are lying to them, keeping secrets from them and if found out will either force them away or to a lesser extent at least hurt their trust in you.

    If you can’t trust them then why push them away? It’s not like you’re doing it for curiosities sake. It’s more like you’re looking for an argument.

    I faced my partner last month with this issue. I have lost a lot of respect for her. Did she find anything? No. Has she caused a problem that didn’t exist before? Definately.

    You can do what you wish but please understand what you are doing is immoral. Talk first if you suspect something. Talk first if you need to know something. Do not abuse your partners trust because you want gossip or are insecure.

    From one hurt man to the ladies that think this is ok, more like their right. Partners are friends, treat them that way…

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