Why Does My Partner Keep Hiding Their Phone?
They’re nearly perfect, but their habit of hiding their phone from me is eroding trust in our relationship.
Question: I’m dating someone who’s near perfect in my eyes. ONE THING, though: they hide their phone from me. They delete messages to their boss or ex and then lie about it to me after I’ve seen them. They also go on their phone at night and then when I wake up pretend to be sleeping and try to put the phone down quietly. It has gotten to the point where they no longer leave their phone anywhere for me to be able to even access. This really hurts. Why would someone do this? They asked me to move in and I’m having some really hard mental challenges with this phone thing. I’m trying to think that they’re innocent, but who hides their phone like that? But they are so perfect in so many other ways. Please give me your advice. I have nicely tried to talk about this, and it’s to the point where I now hide my phone. It even makes me want to ‘talk to other people’ just so that I have a reason to hide my phone.
Before we begin to answer the question, ‘Why would someone do this?’ There’s something we need to acknowledge first: When we tell ourselves this story that someone is perfect, or nearly perfect, it allows us to justify or minimize what can be massive red flags.
“They were so perfect, BUT…” is usually a story we tell ourselves instead of dealing with the real issue. Somewhere along the line, someone taught you it’s okay to excuse this little thing because they’re presenting other good qualities. And I have real compassion for anyone in this situation because it sucks to feel disappointed by someone you love.
So, why would someone hide their phone? We don’t really know why and it’s hard to make assumptions. Sure, it’s a form of privacy. Does your partner need to read your phone? Probably not. But why would someone feel the need to hide it? I personally have no problem with my partner picking up my phone and scrolling through it. They could read any message or post because I’m secure in the knowledge that I haven’t done anything wrong. When we feel the need to hide, it’s usually because we know we’re in the wrong, or we’re doing something kinda shady, or we’re afraid of what people will think of us or our behaviour. Even now, I’m trying to think of a rational reason why someone would hide their phone, and can’t come up with one. Maybe they were wronged in the past by an intrusive or jealous ex who wouldn’t respect their boundaries? But even so, it’s hard to justify hiding your phone, staying up late texting, and then deleting messages, pretending like it never happened.
Instead of dealing with all of that — your partner hiding their phone, staying up late, deleting messages, etc. — you start to mimic their behaviour: hiding your own phone, wanting to ‘talk to other people’ just to have something to hide. It’s important to notice and recognize when we start to step out of our own integrity, or step out of alignment, and try to create the same hurt back — all because we feel hurt (that’s why they say ‘hurt people hurt people’). Instead of dealing with the issue, we make excuses or minimize their actions, all while mimicking and becoming just like the person who hurt us.
Part of my Dating 101 course teaches that we never ever leave our hearts. We do not step out of alignment with ourselves for anything or anyone. We stay in the truth of who we are. We cannot deviate from our path in order to accommodate other people’s lack of integrity or truth. When that happens, it’s the moment where we get curious and ask, “When did I start to accommodate deception? When did I start to accommodate a lack of integrity? Where did I learn this? When do I start to chameleon myself to keep a connection going?”
In this specific instance, the person already tried to discuss the issue of why they hide their phone. If you haven’t already brought it up, you can start by saying, “I want to establish a baseline of trust with you, and when you hide your phone it makes me feel like something is going on that you don’t want me to know about, so I’m curious why you hide your phone.”
How do they respond? Are they open to having a conversation? Or do they gaslight you and say things like, “You need to relax. Take it easy. Mind your own business. I have a right to my privacy. Blah blah blah.”
It can be easy to fall into the trap of potentially narcissistic partners in such cases because there’s evidence of their wrongdoing but they’re charming and presenting other qualities that keep us around. It’s like that Shaggy song, where he sings how his partner caught him with the girl next door, but he pleads, “It wasn’t me.”
You could have all the evidence in the world and still meet resistance from this other person, or manufacture reasons to excuse their behaviour. But there’s a huge intuitive red flag here, telling you to get curious and understand why this is happening. Why would someone do this? And why am I continuing to excuse it?
You owe it to yourself and your relationship to have the conversation. That’s one of the promises I made to myself in my twenties: Have every hard conversation, especially the ones I didn’t want to have. If you’re thinking of sharing your life with someone, or moving in together, you’re going to come up against conflict. Figuring out how to do that in a healthy way is key. You can’t move in with someone when there’s no baseline of trust here. And in the long run, it’s not worth it to step out of your own integrity and your own truth to accommodate someone else’s lack of integrity and truth.