Welcome to dating in the digital age! It sucks, doesn’t it? Ugh, it sucks so much. There’s DMing, swiping, ghosting, and a carousel of more ridiculous terms. Raise your hand if you wish we could go back to a time before phones and social media, when you never second-guessed your partner’s phone dinging late at night and didn’t start fights about your S.O. liking someone else’s pictures on Instagram. Technology has f*cked up everything created a whole new realm of controversial dating dilemmas, like going through your partner’s phone. Personally, I’ve never gone through a partner’s phone, because one, I like to dodge red flags like I’m in The Matrix, and two, because I like to think that I’m not a total paranoid psycho. (Just like, half of one.) Regardless of what I could have potentially found or not found on their phone, there’s really no coming back from snooping. So you have to ask yourself, what’s more important, the trust or the receipts? When contemplating if all is fair in love and technology, you have to seriously consider what is “legal” in love. To help us navigate relationships in the digital age, I consulted with dating expert Judge Lauren Lake, of Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, to answer all of my controversial dating and technology questions. So go ahead, drop his phone right now and let’s figure this sh*t out.
To Snoop Or Not To Snoop?
To go through their phone or not to go through their phone? That is the question. I get it; you’re quarantined and their phone is right there, but don’t do it. Hear me? Walk away from the iPhone—and if it’s an Android, then just run.
When it comes to going through some else’s personal property in a relationship, what should you do? According to Judge Lauren Lake, “It is never okay to go through your partner’s phone. Once you feel the need to check your partner’s phone, it’s time to have a serious conversation to discuss where the disconnect lies.” Going off of Lake’s advice, you should never violate someone else’s privacy—just think how insanely pissed you’d be if they went through your phone. I have never had a passcode on my phone, mainly because I don’t believe drunk me will remember the code, but if I caught a boyfriend snooping through my easily accessible phone, I would throw a fit so big that I would be instantly cast as a Real Housewife.
But is there ever an acceptable reason to go through your partner’s phone? Lake says, “Never! I highly recommend that you resist the urge to go through your significant other’s phone. It’s a lose/lose situation and most likely your partner will feel violated whether they are hiding something in their phone or not.” She adds, “If they are hiding something, it will come out eventually.” Think of it this way: if someone’s acting shady, they’re not going to be able to keep it a secret forever. Going through their phone is only going to make you look bad and overshadow the fact that they were in the wrong.
Then again, it’s not always so easy to resist the urge to snoop. Imagine this: Your boyfriend’s phone just dinged, you glance at it innocently, and you see a text from their ex-girlfriend—what do you do? A) Go through their texts? B) Pretend like you didn’t see it? C) Talk to them about it? If you guessed C, then congratulations, you contain the basic communication skills necessary for a stable and healthy relationship! Lake advises, “Communication is key when you don’t feel comfortable with something like this and you want an immediate end. If your partner has nothing to hide, they will share the message and the reason for the text with you. If they can’t share the message, then you have your answer.” You may not be able to read the texts, but you can for damn sure read between the lines.
Are Passwords Inherently Sketch?
Judge Lake rules that it is totally legal in love to have private passwords. So no need to completely lose it if you start dating someone who has a passcode on their phone. Red flags are generally pretty obvious, so if something feels suspect, then trust your gut. For instance, if they’re driving and you want to open their Spotify to play some Bieber (solid choice) and you ask what their code is, and they totally freak the f*ck out and refuse to tell you… that should raise a red flag or two. To be clear, a passcode doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re hiding evidence of raunchy DMs and suspiciously long FaceTime calls. However, you should be alarmed if they’re treating those six digits like they’re the goddamn nuclear codes, or if they suddenly start using a passcode after two years of dating. In that case, you may want to reevaluate your so-called mutual trust.
If it comes down to you debating whether or not you should check their texts, then they’re either doing some sketchy sh*t or you don’t trust them—either way it’s not an ideal situation. The irresistible urge to snoop can indicate a complete breakdown of trust in the relationship, which obviously isn’t good for either one of you. So how can you tell the difference between being paranoid and having a valid cause for concern? Lake informs us that, “Paranoia comes from hurt and pain from previous relationships. Valid concern comes from real situations and issues that have manifested in your relationship that need to be addressed.” Really stressing the low-key annoying fact that communication is key in all scenarios, because it’s like they say: paranoia will destroy ya.
Are They Being Shady Or Are You Being Paranoid?
Technology has become completely intertwined with relationships, and with that comes a whole new set of relationship red flags and dealbreakers. Lake outlines these new guidelines by stating that, “Respect is key in a relationship as there should be an understanding of what’s appropriate and what’s not. If a person crosses those boundaries once, it’s a red flag. If they consistently cross those boundaries, that should be a deal breaker.” Now that you are familiar with the rules, let’s play!
Hypothetical Fight #1: They won’t post photos of the two of you on Instagram. Red flag or deal breaker?
Judge Lake’s Ruling: Deal breaker. “Some people like to keep their personal/dating lives private. If you don’t like it, address it with your partner. It could mean that they aren’t truly committed or mean they just don’t want to showcase that part of their life. If that makes you feel insecure, you have to re-evaluate whether this is the person for you.”
Hypothetical Fight #2: You notice borderline flirty comments left on your S.O.’s Instagram posts.
Judge Lake’s Ruling: Red Flag. “If it’s from a person they know or an ex, that’s a red flag. If it’s from a random person and there is no other connection between them, it’s not that big of a deal. If it makes you that uncomfortable, discuss it.”
Hypothetical Fight #3: They won’t share their passcode with you.
Judge Lake’s Ruling: Deal Breaker. “You are not entitled to control someone else’s property, but if you’re in a committed relationship and your S.O. won’t share their password with you, you already know what the deal is.”
Hypothetical Fight #4: They’ve admitted going through a partner’s phone in past relationships.
Judge Lake’s Ruling: Deal Breaker. “If they did it once, they will probably do it again.”
Bottom line: If you feel the need to snoop through your partner’s phone, regardless if you find anything incriminating or not, your relationship is probably doomed, and if not doomed, it’s at least heading down the wrong direction on a one-way street. Solid relationships with established trust don’t have room for paranoia; if you and your partner treat each other with respect and trust each other completely then there is no need to spy on each other.
Images: Manthan Gupta / Unsplash
For betches, the dating world can be a scary place. Between creepy guys who seem normal at first to funny guys who are secretly poor, it’s sometimes hard to spot the keepers from the unfaithful Wall Street pros on our journey to find love and not do work. But even scarier than the prospect of contracting chlamydia from your date in an age without Planned Parenthood is the silent relationship killer’s dreaded arrival: Awkward Texting Dynamic (ATD).
Given that literally every app now offers a messaging service, ATD can strike anywhere: Tinder, iMessage, Snapchat, that weird encrypted messaging app you use to buy weed. The bro with ATD might even be normal IRL but you’ll never know that if, after less than week of talking to him via the written word, you realize he’s a pretty shitty texter—and by virtue of that, a shitty person. This will inevitably become a dealbreaker as he’s fucked up your chief form of communication. Honestly, in many cases I’d prefer a guy send me an unsolicited dick pic than slide into my DMs with the wrong form of “your.” Let’s break down the ways that a guy can fuck up his prospects with you via his ATD.
1. You’re both too sarcastic to make a real conversation work
Making first impressions on dating apps can create a lot of problems. One major issue is when, in an attempt by both of you to show off how clever and insightful you are, you both are trying to one-up each other with sarcastic comments ranging from the weather to the reasons why Taylor Swift is the reason Trump won. Eventually the need to consistently outdo each other leads to such an intense breakdown of communication that you eventually have no idea what the fuck this guy is talking about.
Him: Well I’d meet you at that bar but I’m pretty sure they won’t let in people with as amazing a haircut as mine
You: Haha well you can try giving the bouncer one of your famous hugs
Him: But really, should we put all our eggs in one basket?
At this point, no one knows what the fuck is going on. Is this bro coming to meet you or not? Should you answer this weird message or hope he follows up clarifying what his actual plan is? Too much sarcasm spoils the broth. Best to just move on to your next match and say something straightforward like, “Let’s hook up and never talk again.”
2. You can’t tell if he hates you or he’s trying to be funny
This happens when a guy responds so awkwardly to a seemingly easy enough message that you’re not sure if he doesn’t give a shit or if he’s just making a bad joke.
You: Kk have a good night
Him: Haha ‘good’
At this point you’re thinking like what the fuck does THAT mean?? Fucking asshole. This weirdness almost forces you to ask him to clarify, which under normal circumstances you’d never actually do. Or you can obvi play the higher card and simply ignore.
3. One of you is sarcastic and the other one has no concept of sarcasm
You: Good thing I always wake up early on Sundays after drinking
Him: Haha really? Usually I sleep forever!
At this point you’re not sure if you should just go with it and double down with an even more sarcastic response, or do the even more awkward thing and clarify what you’re talking about. Really, though, you shouldn’t date the stupid because you’re not running a charity. If he can’t get your snarky, mean-spirited texts he’ll never get you.
4. The drifter who “never checks his apps”
This guy has been up your ass asking about how your day is going and your schedule for the next three weeks like he’s your personal assistant intern. He’s sent you messages on Insta, Snapchat, Twitter and GroupMe, which you didn’t even know you had. Then, when you finally reply asking about his plans for Blackout Wednesday, he drops off the face of the fucking earth. You’ve just about written this guy off as dead to you when out of nowhere you get a fire emoji in response to an Instagram selfie you posted two days before. Where the fuck have you been, bro? He’ll inevitably tell you something like “Oh I never check my DMs,” but it’s like, if that’s true then why are you all over my feed rn? You’re telling me you can ignore the little icon telling you you have one unread message? That’s only okay when we do it.
5. The Bad Speller
hey whatr u up 2 latr?”
Ugh, while some people can be desperate enough to write this one off as the guy being simply too cool to care that his spelling and grammar is as good as as a first semester ESL student’s, most betches will write this laziness off as a deal breaker. With spell check and autocorrect, sounding like a moderately intelligent human has never been easier, so any man with multiple typos in his dating profile is clearly either stupid AF or making a statement, neither of which anybody wants to deal with. It’s not 2006 anymore. If you can’t be bothered to write all the letters contained in the word “later” there’s no shot you’re going to meet me later.
6. The Overly Friendly / Maybe Gay Bro
You: How’s your Saturday going? Still hungover?
Him: Nope! Just walking my dog around the park! He loves playing with the other puppies! So excited for brunch later!!!!! 🙂 😉
This guy tells you about his upcoming Saturday dentist appointment with more enthusiasm than a Make-A-Wish kid at Disney World. His over-enthusiasm to see you is nothing short of uncomfortable. Chill the fuck out bro, I can guarantee your fucking dog taking a shit is not that exciting. If I wanted to hang out with an overeager 12-year-old girl I’d go to a Justin Bieber concert. You may think that this bro reserves his enthusiasm for you, but just a casual look at his social media profiles will show you that this guy is excited about everything. He Instagrams every lunch and tweets out every moment of his life with #squadgoals. Honestly, he kind of sounds a lot like you, and there’s only room for one you in a relationship. Don’t be surprised if you meet up with this bro and he has extremely effeminate mannerisms and you spend the whole time questioning his sexuality.
7. The busy/potentially huge asshole bro
On the other end of the spectrum lies the bro who’s too cool for school. On the one hand you’re impressed that this bro has cooler things to do than try to see you at your earliest possible convenience, but on the other hand, you can’t be sure if he’s too fucking lazy to be worth your time. This is the guy that asks you to hang out with two hours notice and who makes his plans with you seem about as casual as brushing his teeth. Like, put some effort in if you want to see me, asshole. This is a date with ME you’re planning, not lunch at the Cheesecake Factory; one more cancellation and you’re fucking blacklisted. Also like, location services say that you’re at Buffalo Wild Wings, so unless your grandma is a spicy wing, I know you’re not last minute visiting her at the nursing home rn.
So remember, communicating via your phone’s keyboard is an art and if a bro sucks at it, it will be a sign of huge frustrations for months to come. Hugh Hefner has 15 girlfriends for a reason and that reason is probably is that he’s too old to use a fucking iPhone.