Ask Lisa: I peeked at her private e-mails – and now I’m mad.


I have been dating a woman for about 2-3 months, and things are going great.  I feel like I am falling in love and I think it is mutual. However, she recently used my computer and checked her email and forgot to log off. I later opened up gmail to check my mail, and hers was still logged on. Although I knew I shouldn’t have looked, it was bad, but I couldn’t resist looking at a couple of emails. Just simple curiosity. Then I started to look at more, back years. I discovered some things that she has done and things that she has said that are concerning. Some very private things between girlfriends that probably I would never have found out even if I were with her forever and married her.

Now I have a problem. I feel that there is a secret between us, that I want to talk about these things with her to clarify some concerns that I have, but I also feel that I can’t look at her in the same way even if I were to talk to her. It was a great sneak peak into the secrets of her life, but at the same time it is not stuff that I should know in the first place.

What do I do? Am I stuck? I can’t talk to her, as that will cause her to be so angry that things would definitely get ruined! Or do I talk to her?

Lisa’s thoughts…

It sounds like you’ve talked through your options pretty well on your own!  You either come clean and tell her you read her private emails and risk her anger and potential damage to the relationship – or you do nothing and let what you read eat at you.  Clearly you already know that you violated her space and trust by making this choice but the question of , “What next?” remains.

I would consider the ramifications of both routes.

If you tell her, the reality is you are risking the relationship.  And it’s not clear what you would gain from that even if she was able to get past her anger and violation.  You’d want answers about choices she’d made prior to meeting you?  Hmmm…that’s treacherous waters.

If you don’t tell her, you don’t risk the relationship but you are left with dealing with your feelings about what you read.  I realize it’s hard to put something back into a box and forget about it but there is less risk to the relationship.  You might have to suck it up considering you are clear that you made an error in judgment looking at her emails in the first place.

If you can’t do that – be warned that she might not stick around.

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