Why your partner may be deleting their phone content so that you don’t see it

I had a press release land in my inbox last week that I’ve been mulling over for a while now. It was based on a survey of a few thousand people*, asking them whether or not they snoop on their partner via phones or other devices, and if they’ve ever deleted content so that their partner doesn’t see it.

It also asked people whether or not they trusted their partner.

Just that, straight up, do they trust them.

Now you’d hope that this figure would be pretty high – you wouldn’t be in a relationship with someone you didn’t trust would you?

Apparently you would. While 67% of men said they trusted their partners, which honestly felt bad enough to me already, only 28% of women agreed.


Really? Do only just over a quarter of us trust our partners?? I can only pray for a skewed sample otherwise I despair of humanity.

Is my partner checking my phone?

I found it mind boggling, but then perhaps most people are just less naive than me. You could literally tell me anything with a straight face and I would accept it as fact. It hardly ever even OCCURS to me to think that people are lying, and, as my relationship history shows, even when I have pretty clear evidence of my partner lying to me I still want to see the best in them and can be made to believe pretty much anything.

What I found most worrying is that we’re probably right not to trust each other – 55% of women surveyed admitted (so that’s just the honest ones) to deleting content from their devices in case their partner saw it and a massive 72% of men say they do the same.

And so it spirals.

81% of the women surveyed admitted to checking a partners phone, 77% their laptops and even 5% a smartwatch. (How do you even DO that? Isn’t the other person wearing it?) Men aren’t checking phones and apps quite as much, although it’s still a majority, and they make up for it in other areas – 18% of them for example are checking their partner’s whereabouts via GPS and 22% are reading their emails.

It’s a vicious circle isn’t it? A horrible circle of suspicion, of spying and snooping and hiding things until no one trusts anyone anymore. I think I liked the old days where woman would keep secret locks of hair in lockets and a man would just hide tricky letters in his locked desk drawer with his revolver. It sounds like it was much simpler.

The more I’ve thought about it over the last few days, the more I’ve put it in the context of my own relationship history. I read my boyfriend’s email once when I was about 22 because he’d come home from a night out with a black eye and told me he was ‘elbowed in the face while dancing’, which turned out to be bullshit. His emails revealed the truth, but then of course when I confronted him about the lie I lost any moral high ground as soon as I told him how I’d found out. I’ve never done it again because what good does it do you? Anything read out of context is open to misinterpretation and how can you have a decent relationship without trust and, just as importantly, privacy?

I suspect my relationships since then have been one-sided in this though. I know for a fact that one ex read my emails and checked my phone on more than one occasion, and another ended up locking me out of my phone because he guessed the password wrong too many times, although he denied it. Perhaps I should have been more like the 41% of men who have broken up with a partner when they’ve caught them spying?

Suspicion is such a destructive thing – it feeds on itself and can destroy a relationship where there most likely wasn’t any need to even be suspicious in the first place. I’d much rather be too trusting, but live without feeling like I need to be checking on someone just in case.

So what do you think? Do these stats surprise you? Are you shocked maybe that MORE people aren’t tracking their partners via GPS because you do it all the time? Would you break up with someone if you caught them snooping?

Leave a comment and let me know!


*Survey of 2,876 UK adults by Specops. Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash



  1. 4 November, 2019 / 6:34 pm

    My ex-husband was/is a whizz at snooping on me and lying to me. In the end I chucked him out and never looked back!

    Trust? I rarely trust anyone because Ive had so many bad experiences in the past. Like you, I would take what I was told as gospel. Would never enter my head to think “Oh, they are telling me porky pies!”

    If you are in a relationship and you need to spy, is it really an honest relationship? Trust is everything. Break it and it means nothing.

    If you cannot telax and enjoy your relationship then perhaps you are on the wrong relationship!

    Im single 7 years. I never want another relationship. I could not trust the fact that I may end up with another snooper or the untruthful nasty comments I had to live with!

    • Jo Middleton
      5 November, 2019 / 8:27 pm

      I’ve lived on my own (or just with my daughter at least) for over two years now and honestly I’ve never felt so relaxed! I don’t feel like that’s a good reflection on my relationships, but there you go, live and learn. You’re totally right that trust is everything.

  2. Juliet
    4 November, 2019 / 8:14 pm

    Just as you say Jo, without trust you haven’t really got a relationship have you. I trust my husband completely and he trusts me too. I think we may be more sure of this as we have always lived & worked at home together and without trust in that close an environment the relationship wouldn’t have survived. I open all the post, he isn’t interested in it. We each have basic mobiles (no internet) and both use the computer which has access to both sets of emails. No secrets.
    Secrets beget lies.
    Lies beget distrust & doubt.
    A healthy relationship is not able to survive with distrust & doubt.

    • Jo Middleton
      5 November, 2019 / 8:28 pm

      That’s actually really lovely to read Juliet as it gives me hope! I don’t think I have ever had an adult relationship with that level of openness. It sounds great :-)

  3. Sarah Burton
    4 November, 2019 / 8:31 pm

    Isn’t society in a bad way when the majority of us don’t trust our partners. I blame the use of smart phones/laptops and social media. And in your previous discussion about dating apps, I’ve come across lots of profiles who don’t show their pictures. 1 said because he is in a sensitive Westminster job, another because he taught adults and he knew a couple used the site). Come off it, you are in relationships and you don’t want to be outed! No wonder so many people snoop, but if there is no trust how can a relationship survive?

    • Jo Middleton
      5 November, 2019 / 8:24 pm

      It’s really worrying isn’t it? I really hope that these results aren’t accurate across all relationships because that’s such a sad way to live :-(

  4. 5 November, 2019 / 10:40 am

    I am gobsmacked by this.
    I would hope that the only people who signed up for this survey were suspicious and untrusting and the rest of us knew nothing about said survey!!
    Otherwise I have no hope for the future! x

    • Jo Middleton
      5 November, 2019 / 8:23 pm

      Exactly! I really hope it was one of those ‘take this survey is you hate your partner!’ type things – surely that can’t be really representative??

  5. linette ridgeway
    5 November, 2019 / 10:43 am

    I read this with interest; in a coercive relationship you hide anything that might cause an argument or worse cause you to be ignored for hours, browsing in private mode just in case, not using apps on yr phone just in case its checked, deleting photos and emails. Its a destructive way to live.

    • Jo Middleton
      5 November, 2019 / 8:22 pm

      Yep, I totally know this feeling – walking on eggshells, not wanting to do anything ‘wrong’. It’s very destructive.

  6. Ki
    7 November, 2019 / 11:51 am

    Hiya, I was in a relationship with my ex when I heard rumours he was cheating, when I checked his laptop I found emails confirming it, thus the start of my issues trusting. In my marriage, when me and my now husband first met, I knew he smiked and drank but it slowly filtered through that he was taking cocaine on a regular basis aswell. I am TOTLALLY against drugs so I told him he couldn’t have me and keep doing them. He chose me and stupidly I believed him. When was pregnant with our son, we already had a baby daughter he started behaving suspiciously, which was heightened when a drug dealer nearly banged our door down demanding money. I left him and cancelled our engagement and moved back in with my mum. Eventually he won me back, but my terms were that I would regularly check on his phone at any given time and watch his moves closely. We have been together over 10 years now and I did check a lot in early times but now I trust him 99% and check his phone only when he is extremely drunk as his behaviour resonates with times he was high. Trust can be won, but it takes time and effort, when the relationship is worth it its 100% doable.

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