Is it ever okay to read your partner's emails or texts? Be honest.

The kidnapping-in-Lebanon story is an extreme example of the consequences of email snooping.

When he learned his two children were taken by a group of men at a bus stop on the street, Ali al-Amin’s extreme panic was somewhat mitigated because he knew the mother of his children – Sally Faulkner – was likely behind it.

How did he know this? Because he had logged into her email account, without her permission, and read her emails.

The screen captures he took of Faulkner’s emails, which he had access to until December, showed Faulkner had planned to kidnap her children in Beirut, to bring them back to Australia. Amin’s records helped police identify the suspects involved.

“I had access to Sally’s emails so I knew the plan, but I didn’t think they would be that ballsy,” Amin said.

This is a case where the consequences of email snooping involved the safety of two children, and the exposure of potentially criminal activity.

It’s a little bit different to sussing out the true nature of your partner’s friendship with that work colleague.

But it does beg the question, when is email snooping okay? What are the potential consequences? And is it always worth it?

Sally Faulkner pictured with her children following the alleged child abduction in Beirut, before she was arrested.

It starts with temptation...

You see your partner's phone open.

Just a look. They'll never know. It will put my mind at rest. 

Then, just like that, you've entered the rabbit hole.

All of a sudden, you have at your disposal a smorgasbord of new information and you're overwhelmed (and a little feverish) by the volume of opportunity that is in front of you. I can know everything.


Maybe you find what you're looking for, and your suspicions are proved correct. But, now what? Hey so I was just casually reading your emails, and came across... 

Or maybe you don't find what you're looking for. And you now know a whole slew of information that was really none of your business. Maybe you've found another reason to be ticked off. Maybe you've discovered the real reason those friends from his work stopped coming round for dinner.

Either way. You're still fuming. But are you right?

Email stalking, it seems, is prolific.

A recent study, conducted by a security and surveillance company in the UK, found 1 on 10 Brits have hacked into either their partner's or child's digital correspondence for 'innocent reasons'. While 22% admitted to digital snooping for 'dishonest reasons'.

What counts as 'innocent'? According to those surveyed, it's when you log into your partner's email to reply to something on their behalf and at their request, or when you're trying to locate someone who is missing. Sounds fair enough.

Dishonest reasons are more of a concern. These are the times when you're sussing out a plan for a surprise party or engagement, or – as most of us would predict – you're trying to see if your partner's in the habit of getting their rocks off with somebody else.


The moment I realised my relationship was over. Post continues below video.

The children part, is likely understandable. You do have a duty of care over your children and, in some cases, ensuring their safety or well-being might require a small bout of digital detecting.

'My partner's email, I would never hack. My eldest son's, I definitely do. I will continue to do so until he's 18, just to make sure he's not getting into trouble' - Kate, 32 said.

It's the partner's email that is the hardest to justify. Because your partner is, more than likely, an autonomous, individual, separate-to-you person, with a right to their own privacy.

'With my husband, I trust him so I don't snoop' - Sarah, 35 said.

'I've been snooped on, and it's an awful feeling. When you realise your partner thinks so little of you, that they are checking up on you behind your back, it makes you feel horrible that your actions might have made them suspicious. It also makes you extremely, extremely angry at the violation of privacy that is a result of your partner's trust issues' - Samantha, 27 recalled.


Should you go with your gut?

Certainly, the act of snooping brings into harsh light the insecurities and trust issues of the snooper themselves. But sometimes, those gut feelings are impossible to shake.

'I have snooped on my partner's messages, and it's probably not 'right'. But it was totally worth it because when you're compelled to do it, you're 90% sure there's some bad stuff in there. My gut feeling is always right' - Maddy, 28 said.

'When I was in a long distance relationship with my first boyfriend, I had suspicions he was cheating on me but didn't have any solid proof. At the peak of my paranoia I managed to get into his emails (guessed the password by fluke) and found the evidence. But it was an awful experience and certainly didn't make me feel any better - the payoff wasn't worth the emotional rollercoaster I went through' - Courtney, 26 said.

Warning: the below might give you reason to snoop, even if your gut's not complaining:

'My friend opened her husband's text by accident as it was pinging next to her bed and it was before 6am (her husband had taken an early flight) and there was a pic of  a woman in lingerie. Cliche but true and sad. She had never spied before in 15 years of marriage, but when they went through a divorce and she had joint passwords still she looked at everything' - Jane, 38 said.


Are you an open snooper?

Perhaps there's absolutely nothing wrong with being right across your partner's digital communications. And being open about your snooping with your partner is a sign of an honest, healthy, open relationship.


I think snooping is completely okay! I snoop on my boyfriend's phone ALL the time - but literally to read his texts from his mum etc. because he never keeps me in the loop with anything. And sometimes, when I'm bored, I login to his Facebook just because it's a different newsfeed and I like to see what his friends are talking about. I think I'm just really nosy....but never found anything bad!' - Melissa, 23 said.

'When I do it, I tell him about it after. I can never lie to him!!!' - Jess, 29 explained.

Is it a sign?

There's one thing that most people are in agreement on. If you're itching to snoop, it's likely a reflection of bigger issues within the relationship. Perhaps these are worth talking about, as opposed to stalking on.

'Wanting to snoop = warning bells' - Stacey, 34 said.

'I've done it (previous partner) It was worth (lying cheating bastard). But it wasn't okay. I think if you feel compelled to snoop, that's probably an indication there are trust issues in your relationship, which is a red flag in and of itself' - Jenna, 30 explained.

Side note. It's helpful to speak the same language when you engage in snooping activities. Otherwise things get more complicated, very quickly.

'I have snooped my partner's emails, but he was a native french speaker so I couldn't even understand what was being said. And google translate is terrible. I quickly gave up and haven't had the urge to snoop on anyone since' - Amanda, 25 said.