Shine On

Spying on your sweetie is the depressing new normal

A new survey has found people don't mind snooping their partner's texts and e-mails. (Thinkstock)A new survey from the dating website OurTime.com has revealed a truth about our modern lives that might depress many but surprise few: we are a generation of distrusting spies. Perhaps that's a tad melodramatic, but the survey of some 2000 American users found that a high proportion had no issues with the idea of spying on their significant others via text messages, voice mails and e-mails.

More than a third of respondents said that suspicious behaviour merits snooping, and women were far more comfortable with spying than men: 37 per cent of the ladies said spying was OK if "bad behaviour" was suspected, while only 29 per cent of men agreed with that statement. Younger participants were also more comfortable with snooping than the older crowd: 36 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 were OK with electronic snooping, while only 26 per cent of those over 55 agreed that it was acceptable.

Shannon Tebb, a Toronto dating consultant, says that while catching a cheater carries with it a certain satisfaction, it's best not to snoop unless your partner has cheated in the past and you suspect they may be at it again.

"Relationships are built on trust, and without trust the relationship will never continue to flourish," says Tebb. "Snooping breaks that trust and can also be a deal breaker for most guys. No man or woman wants to feel like they have to take their phone with them to the bathroom when they leave the room."

[See also: New ways to get over an ex]

So why have we become so sneaky and distrustful? One reason may be the vast sea of personal information now available at the touch of a finger. Back in the day, a suspicious partner would pretty much have to catch their loved one in the act. That, or read their diary. Today, an affair can leave an electronic trail just begging to be peeked at. The Internet is awash with tips on how to read other people's texts, and there are heaps of ads for spyware that will do the snooping for you. Services like Hiretohack.net, an e-mail password cracking service, can charge $150 to deliver Hotmail or Gmail account passwords.

And then there's AshleyMadison.com, the notorious Toronto-based online dating service for spouses looking to have affairs. The site is so blatantly pro-cheat that in 2009 it submitted a series of ads to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) that would have seen the catchphrase "Life is short, have an affair" emblazoned on the sides of streetcars. Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman even went so far as to suggest that his company sponsor a particular streetcar route that would be dubbed "the affair line." The TTC refused, but it's just one example of how out-in-the-open the desire to cheat has become.

If you're feeling the temptation to snoop, even though your partner hasn't given you any real reason to be suspicious, Tebb has some advice.

"You can avoid snooping by being fully confident within the relationship and trusting your partner," she says. "Any feelings of doubt need to be communicated, and make sure you give your partner a chance to explain his or her behaviour, rather then turning into Inspector Gadget."

Check out the video below to hear some shocking stories of catching a cheater.

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