Read *this* before you snoop
Girls' Life magazine|December / January 2021
Why we sleuth—and how to stop.
By Katherine Hammer

PICTURE THIS: You’re at a socially distanced Secret Santa with the squad when a friend hands you her phone to change the playlist (you’re known for having the best holiday music picks).

But here’s the thing: You’ve had on-and-off drama with your girl for weeks—and you can’t help but wonder if she’s talking about you with the rest of the crew. You’re sooo tempted to search your name in her DMs…but should you?

“I once looked through my friend’s messages when I was using her laptop for a group project,” confesses Audrey L., 17. “She had been acting weird, so I searched my name and found out she’d been talking about me with one of our other friends for the past month.”

The information wasn’t uber-incriminating (“just little complaints here and there, like that I was blabbing too much about my crush or making cringey jokes at lunch”) but it certainly made the rest of the interaction, well, awkward. “I felt stung by her comments, but I couldn’t tell her why,” Audrey adds. “I felt like I couldn’t trust her 100%. The funny thing is, I was the one *she* couldn’t trust.”

That’s the problem with snooping. You might discover major news—but can’t ’fess up without admitting you messed up.

“I found out my BF was sending flirty Snapchats to another girl,” explains Kira B., 16. “But since I had found out by sneaking on his account, I couldn’t say anything without looking dishonest. I was heartbroken and guilty at the same time.”

It’s only human to want to know what our friends say about us unfiltered or get concrete confirmation on how our crushes truly feel. And, yeah, snooping sure seems like a solid way to score that info. But before you delve, consider why you’re *so* tempted to pry—and learn the smart way to deal with those frustrating feels.

INSECURE AND UNSURE

There’s a reason you don’t feel an urge to poke through the messages of someone you’ve never met—and why those closest to you can easily become the objects of your curiosity.

“Snooping is usually the result of insecurity,” explains Andrea Lucas, a doctoral candidate and adjunct professor of strategic communications at the University of Manchester in England. “When we feel a lack of confidence in a friendship or relationship, it’s easy to wonder if someone is genuine—or if they’re gossiping or hiding something from us.”

So that rules out a stranger on the street…or your so-sweet camp bestie who wouldn’t say a mean word about anyone. But that girl who always has a casual critique to knock your confidence, then quickly turns around and claims she’s your bestie for life? Or the crush who seems totally into you (as their phone blows up with messages from…someone else)? It’s easy to wonder.

“I was on my BFF’s phone and opened a text she had with another friend of ours,” reveals Hailey J., 15. “Turns out the two of them knew my crush had asked another girl out. I couldn’t believe they were sitting right there with me and hadn’t even told me.”

It’s true: Sometimes, snooping can lead to a discovery you wouldn’t have found otherwise. And sometimes it can lead to, well, nothing at all.

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