Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

I received quite a few comments on my recent breakup post, but one really stuck with me. A friend of mine had recently gone through a breakup herself, and the story behind it was so horrible my immediate response was, “Wow, you win. What a !@#?@.”

I feel pretty comfortable saying, not only as her friend but as a human being, that the way she was treated was pretty darn shoddy. There was one fine point, however, that she herself admitted. The impetus behind the breakup was an email he had sent, which she found at a later date and couldn’t ignore.

I’ve always sat on my ethical high horse on this subject – looking through a significant other’s email, phone, mail, etc. I’ve never really been tempted to peek, and always felt that if you want to look in the first place, there’s a larger problem in the relationship. A fundamental lack of trust. Perhaps your instincts warning you that this person is not to be trusted.

But now I look back at my last relationship and wonder if I shouldn’t be so naïve. Maybe I shouldn’t view it as “invasion of privacy” and instead think of it as “being proactive in using self-protective measures”. How’s that for a euphemism?

Eh. Personally, I just don’t think I’m comfortable snooping. I’ve got too much Indian/Hindu/karma guilt going on. But from the conversations that ensued on the topic, I get the impression that it’s actually fairly common for people to check cell phone logs, sneak a peek at email accounts and rifle through the mail of their significant others.

Is this ever ok? Ever the ethical thing to do? The easy answer is no, it’s never the right thing to do. But I’d love to hear feedback from those of you who have done it, and if you feel that it was an exception to the ethical rule.

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