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Two Sense: Is My Partner Hiding Something On His iPhone?

Long story short, my boyfriend and I have two different versions of the iPhone, and on a recent road trip, his battery died and I had the only car charger that would work for it as he left his charger at home. My phone was fully charged, and we were keeping up with each other on the highway, so I offered to switch phones with him for an hour, charge his up, and then pull off the road and switch back. He thought about it a second, then said, "No, that's okay. Just signal me if you want to pull off for a restroom stop." I don't think there's anything on his phone that would hurt our relationship, but something made him loathe to hand it to me without editing it first. I don't want to bring it up and make a mountain out of a molehill, but—well I guess I just want some opinions on this situation from others. Wouldn't you hand over your phone for an hour if there was nothing sketchy on it?

She Said: Okay, for the sake of moral exploration, I took a look at my phone and asked myself if I’d want anyone else to see it without warning. Here’s what I had open: Facebook of course; a blog on politics; a photo of my dog (among 800 photos going back years); an email with my best friend discussing our current challenges; and a couple of URLs on workout programs and cleanses that only interest me in January. My list of texts included catty jokes with two friends about an arrogant mutual acquaintance and my never-deleted voicemail included the name of my ex though we haven’t spoken for months.

Would I want to hand this over to someone without warning? Not really, if only for the email with my best friend, which was highly personal, and the texts, which were frankly a little mean. More and more, our phones (and computers) are becoming detailed snapshots of our minds. We can’t do much about the spying done by the NSA or the various corporations looking to make a buck by scanning our emails and click histories, but still, I’d venture to say that most of us consider our cell phone one of our more private possessions. I don’t think your boyfriend has anything to hide other than the inside of his mind: a text or email from a friendly ex, a conversation with his buddy divulging one of your character weaknesses, perhaps a porn download or two—nothing to write home about.

He Said: We get variations on this theme all the time. People use smart phones and social media to enjoy affection from people other than their primary partners but also to snoop on their partners' private conversations, an endless, pointless, loop. Sometimes it's even the same person on both ends of the stick! 

Your boyfriend should not have to explain why he does not want you to use his phone. That's his prerogative. Even people in intimate relationships need their own space. It is not a commentary on you, and your ego should be strong enough not to interpret it as such. For your own mental health, work on not automatically going to a place of doubt and the la-la land of assumptions. Once you have established a relationship of trust—and mutual agreement on the issue of monogamy—you'll be able to concentrate on the road again.