How do I stop snooping?
September 19, 2012 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Please help me stop snooping.

My mother lies and gaslights regularly, and always has, about pretty much everything. She's lied about having life threatening diseases, about maintaining a relationship with someone who sexually abused me, big stuff like that. She's rarely been faithful or honest in any of her romantic relationships, or with family or friends. I grew up not ever trusting her, and for my own protection have always resorted to researching, finding stuff out on my own, verifying with other people, and snooping. Over the years, snooping has become a way of life for me - I don't trust anyone and I check everything. I hate it, because it's an invasion of privacy and it's dishonest, and because so often I find I have good reason for my lack of trust.

In the years we've been together, especially in the beginning, my boyfriend told me some lies of omission and did some serious bending of the truth. In past relationships he did some cheat-y type stuff. He's a terrible liar and usually confesses some time after, though not necessarily with all the facts. By then I usually already know more than he confesses, he's just filling in the details. I've always snooped pretty aggressively with him and he knows it (I told him), though I know he isn't aware of the extent. I've called him on some of the stuff I've found out, near as I can tell, he's been extremely straight-arrow with me for several months. Of course I don't entirely trust that and I'm always keeping an eye out for weasely shit. It makes me feel bad because I truly believe he has been true, honest and faithful to me for some time now, and while I have dialed it back, I can't seem to totally stop. (Especially since I've also found out some things about him - good and bad - that I know he would never tell me, but that I am glad to know.)

I've cheated in past relationships too - and because of my upbringing I'm a good liar and I cover my tracks well and I've never been found out. I am completely ashamed of this and am always trying to consciously avoid situations where I might have opportunity or reason to cheat or lie or damage any of my relationships (friends, family, romantic, etc), and when something happens I try to immediately be honest and upfront, even if I know it'll hurt. The snooping is the only place I can't seem to maintain control or be honest, and I realize it's as damaging as anything else I could do.

The internet nowadays makes it just about impossible to keep myself in check, there are so many ways and opportunities to keep tabs on pretty much anyone. I monitor my own boyfriend and family almost relentlessly. I know all kinds of things I shouldn't know about all kinds of people. I haven't mentioned it in therapy because I've done it to my therapist too.

A lot of things in my life are going really, really well, but I'm miserable with this. How do I stop doing this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't mentioned it in therapy because I've done it to my therapist too.

Your therapist will almost certainly not get mad that you internet-stalked them. Unless you hired a PI to follow them around I'm pretty sure you're good on that count. Actually I think it's pretty typical to do this with anyone you're hiring to do a job. I know I googled my therapist.

It sounds like some of your behaviors are out of line, and some of them are totally normal, and you don't know how to tell the difference because of your past. This is a textbook example of the sort of thing you ought to tell a therapist.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:39 AM on September 19, 2012 [24 favorites]

Has it ever occurred to you that you ought to be in a line of work in which your "snooping" is valued? I think that part of addiction to snooping is the rush that you get from discovering previously unknown or hidden things, and that's the same kind of rush you get when you do serious research and critical analysis in a lot of scholarly fields.
posted by mareli at 7:43 AM on September 19, 2012 [8 favorites]

"This is part of the reason people suggest against snooping. It's not just invasive, It's addicting. It's a powerful feeling of imbalance that can be so hard to give up.

You'll never trust someone you are policing."

Quoting myself from another thread.

You need to talk to your therapist about this. It's an addiction.
If you were drunk during therapy would you not talk about a drinking problem?

You don't trust anyone so you're looking for some way to fill that hole with suspicion and facts. BUT Trust is an act of faith not evidence

Evidence will never fill that hole your mom punched in your life. only Faith in others will.

Therapy is a good place to start.
posted by French Fry at 7:50 AM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]

Snooping is a bad habit. I know that sounds like stating the obvious, but you need to treat it like a breakable habit, not an ethical failing.

I have a bad habit of snooping as well. I break bad habits by replacing them with a different/good habit and keeping track of how long I have gone without doing X. Try that, or another technique for breaking bad habits. Treat it like other bad habits, like eating junk food or falling asleep with makeup on.
posted by peacrow at 7:51 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Snooping isn't your problem. You're like someone who scratches an itch who thinks scratching is the problem. It may cause problems on its own, but you need to deal with the itch. In your case, I imagine that it involves knowing when and if to trust people (if ever) and your own need to conceal. Since you're in therapy, I would start by thinking about whether and how much you trust your therapist. Then see how much of this you can discuss with your therapist.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:05 AM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

Snooping is paradoxical because it seems like you are learning more about the person, but it actually drives a wedge between you. There are things you know that you can't talk about, and eventually everything becomes implicated so there is very little you can talk about openly. That's a consequence, but in a weird way I think it is part of the attraction. Like you, I grew up in a chaotic home. Everyone in my family does a lot of snooping, gossiping and projecting; everyone's always talking about how untrustworthy that other person is. Now I come to think of it, almost everything we do appears to have a goal of greater knowledge or closeness, but in fact creates greater distance. On some level, the distance is probably more comfortable to us-- or at least feels more normal than actual honesty.

To break the cycle? I think at bottom, it's hard to trust people if you don't feel that you, yourself, are trustworthy. When you say, "I'm always keeping an eye out for weasely shit," are you talking about yourself to some extent? (Forgive me; it's the only harsh language in your post and really jumped out at me.) I think if you get yourself to the point where you are fairly confident in your own trustworthiness, other people will take care of themselves in that regard.
posted by BibiRose at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

BibiRose makes an excellent point. Snooping to find dishonest and sneaky behavior, IS dishonest and sneaky behavior.
posted by French Fry at 8:24 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been a snooper in my relationships and have always found out that my boyfriends were either outright cheating or emotionally cheating. All of them, which is a lot. And these guys were mostly nice, normal guys. What I have come to learn is that no one is going to live up to my expectations because they are human, and all humans have faults. Looking for someone's faults is like looking for trees in a forest. It always used to bug me that some people do not seem to care about finding the *truth*, that they are happy to be *ignorant*. I ** those words because they are relative terms. Since people are so complex, truth is murky. Just because someone writes a flirty email, or has a wandering eye sometimes does not mean that they do not truly love me. And because someone is ignorant that their spouse is flirty, or even cheating, it does not make them stupid. I ask myself is it better to always be right, to be as completely informed as possible (to the point of snooping, because that is a necessary part of knowing more about someone than they are willing to offer on their ow), or is it better to be happy and have my own path in life, one that is not dependent so much on the activity of others. If a partner cheats or lies, that sucks but it needs to be taken in context. It can't stand on it's own as a reason to not have a relationship with someone because eventually you will cut everyone out of your life for some *good* reason or another. Of course you can have your standards but remember that people are pretty fallible, so you may just be better off not knowing everything about them. If you stay on your own path, focus on your talents and foibles instead of other people's, you may be more forgiving of their mistakes.
posted by waving at 8:25 AM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm sorry you're struggling with this. Sounds really rough.

I agree with what's been said so far. Honestly, at this point (and I'm not saying this to be mean) you're lucky your boyfriend hasn't left. It doesn't sound like a healthy dynamic for the relationship, or for any future relationships. Being able to trust your partner and feel safe is one of the true joys of monogamous partnership, and you're missing out on it.

But its not too late. This doesn't define you. The issue here is that you have a hard time trusting others. And thanks to your mother's gaslighting, you also probably have a hard time trusting yourself.

You seem to be aware of the causes of all this, which is a good start. You need to bring this up in therapy ASAP, and start working on it. Do full disclosure with the therapist. Do this because a) it won't be a big deal, promise b) they need to know the extent of the problem to be able to help you, and c) you really need to start practicing being honest with people. Therapy is a safe space to do that.

I know habits are hard to break, but this is totally breakable. It will take work and persistence. But you can do it. I heard something the other day that might help you: The reason habits are so strong is because when we do something repeatedly, our brains form new neural pathways associated with the behaviour (or the recurring input). Kind of like a desktop shortcut. This make us expect it and makes the behaviour almost feel involuntary. But the good news there is that we can form new neural pathways and thus new habits. The brain changes itself. So can you. It doesn't feel so scary when you tell yourself "This can change, I just need to help my brain form new pathways, then it will get easier", does it?

Can you commit to not snooping at all for 30 days? Just 30 days. What supports can you put in place that you can reach out to when you are tempted to snoop? Can you talk to your bf, and say "I desperately want to stop doing this. For me and for us. Can I come to you when I feel tempted?"? Do you have a best friend who you can turn to? Your support system should be people you know won't judge you if you slip up. If you want to MeMail me when you're tempted to snoop, please do. This is only a first step, because even if the behaviour stops, you still need to work on trusting people.

Best of luck. I know you can do it.
posted by dry white toast at 8:27 AM on September 19, 2012

The snooping is the only place I can't seem to maintain control or be honest

It sounds more like this is the way you maintain some kind of control, by eliminating unknowns in relationships. Plus let's face it, it can be rewarding to find things out and it can be fun to chase down info. And maybe it makes you feel you have more power in a relationship, and makes you feel better when you are dishonest (well, yeah, I did x, but look at how he did y and z and never told me!").

Put aside your history with your mom and your bf, and consider that you are actively engaging in an activity that doesn't make you feel good, makes you feel as if you are risking good things in your life, and makes you miserable. You need to talk to your therapist about why you do it, and you need to fess up to all of it to her. You can keep this in check and stop doing it, but you need to take the steps to cut it out, and to address the underlying causes.

Just get started with stopping (I think you're doing that with this question, even). It sounds like you will feel better.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:30 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with snooping: trust is something that needs to be earned, not freely given, and people who trust others based on zero empirical evidence are naive at best and usually end up getting taken advantage of at some point. Using a "faith-based methodology" to make important decisions is for chumps.

That said, reasonable people tend to use past experiences as indicators of future behavior. In other words:

1) Each time you investigate somebody's claim and you discover that they have been lying to you, your suspicion should grow and that specific person's claims ought to require more intense scrutiny in the future.

2) Likewise, each time your independant fact-finding verifies that they are telling the truth, your trust in them ought to grow and you should fact-check less and less until you reach a point where it doesn't seem worth the bother.

If you are getting suspicious of your friends/boyfriend because condition 1 is happening, then that is perfectly logical and the solution is not for you to change, but to simply DTMFA and make new friends/relationships that you can depend upon. On the other hand, if condition 2 is occuring, but for some reason you still don't find yourself trusting said individuals more, then that is unreasonable and you need to examine the reasons why you are still mistrustful of them in the face of direct logical evidence to refute that.

I don't know which specific scenario is occuring (or maybe even a mixture of both), but unpacking this problem and dividing it into legitimate and illegitimate reasons for mistrust may help you make better progress with identifying what behaviors constitute healthy skepticism and what behaviors may be a problem that you need to work on.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:37 AM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

1. Everyone has things they omit and things they'd prefer not to share with various others in their lives. I flirt like a motherfucker but once I'm in a relationship, I'm faithful as all get-out. The point is that something which would be harmless in a normal relationship would probably seem like a red flag to someone who's always on the lookout for weasely shit, as you say. The trouble with hypervigilance is that it is a constant search for reward, and that itch will be scratched by anything that even kind of resembles the reward. If you're in the middle of a fear-based action and looking for sketchy business, you will find it, whether it's there or not.

2. If someone's gonna cheat on you, they're gonna cheat on you. That's just how it is. The only reason anyone should ever be in a relationship is because they want to be. When you start monitoring their behavior, you impose a set of controls. I mean, really, think about this - "He was going to cheat on me but I CAUGHT him planning it! Now he's not going to cheat and we talked about it and we all had a good cry and I'm watching him to make sure he doesn't." See, the thing is, the circumstances you're describing - you're not his girlfriend, you're his sheepdog. Do you want to be a sheepdog? I don't. Not with someone I claim to love.

3. Sometimes I used to do some light snooping. Here is the crux of how I stopped: I realized that there were only two possible outcomes - either I would find something, even something small, and I'd get that sort of prickly sensation in my chest and be upset and I'd feel like shit; or I would find nothing, and kind of hate myself for snooping, and I'd feel like shit. So: No matter what happened, if I snooped, I felt like shit. They say knowledge is power, but consider your nerves.

4. By snooping you're reinforcing patterns in your life where you can only get close to people through manipulation and control. The sooner you stop that, the better. Right now is a good time.

5. Seriously, talk to your therapist about this. What you're describing is not a reaction but a compulsion. You can't overcome this alone. This is what therapists are for.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:54 AM on September 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

Honestly, it's not clear how long you've been together, but "several months" of trustworthy behavior after a yearslong pattern of lies and evasions wouldn't exactly inspire faith in me. Realistically, it's hard to convince yourself to trust somebody when you have good evidence that they are not trustworthy, especially if you have a childhood full of the same thing.

At one point I dated someone who was not a bad guy but who really had no business trying to be in an exclusive relationship. In retrospect he was gaslighting me a lot (although I think it had more to do with his wishful thinking than deliberate deception). The disconnect between what he was telling me and the behavior I was seeing with my own eyes was often so severe that I was really tempted to snoop just to get some clarity one way or another. After that relationship ended and I started dating someone new the impulse to snoop went away as it became clear that he was a fundamentally honest guy. Even when that relationship ultimately broke up I never felt the need to pry. I'm sure my husband has stuff that he would prefer to keep private for various reasons, but like FAMOUS MONSTER says, I trust that it's not going to hurt me.

It might be worth taking a hard look at why you ended up with a guy who seems to repeat some of the patterns you had with your mother. Still, it sounds like you love him and you want to break this habit. I think talking about this with your therapist would be helpful, and it's unlikely that he or she would be shocked or even particularly surprised that you'd done some outside tracking--this is quite common for patients and therapists and is the reason that most of the therapists I know try to keep their Internet presence pretty innocuous.

Snooping is a pretty ingrained habit for you at this point so probably just telling yourself that your boyfriend is trustworthy is not going to do it. Maybe some of the techniques that people use to break other habits would be helpful, such as distraction. If you're in a situation where you would normally snoop, such as being left alone with his open email, find something else for yourself to do, like going to the bathroom or picking up a book. Identify scenarios ahead of time where you know you are likely going to have the impulse to snoop, like him being out for the evening and leaving you alone in the house, and strategize ahead of time about how you are going to avoid it.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 9:04 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think the first step is to tell your therapist. I did the same thing as you - snooped on the internet and found out she was married to a woman, her partner's name, where the partner worked, and all sorts of private info about therapist. Easy to do when your therapist doesn't realize her FB settings are public.

So then I'm sitting in therapy trying not to reveal I know this information and it becomes so distracting that I eventually decide to fess up. I was terrified she'd boot me as a patient. She didn't. We talked about why I felt it was important to find out that information and she asked that I stop snooping. And I stopped. It was huge for me and she really helped me work through what the snooping is about.
posted by Sal and Richard at 9:12 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might want to read the story of James Angleton.

TL/DR: his spying brought him to a very bad place.

In the DSM spying is listed as a symptom of paranoid personality disorders. It can be very hazardous to your health. Internet stalking isn't exactly the same thing. My theory is that falls into the category of something that everybody does and nobody talks about in polite company. It is almost as natural as farting. The distinction is going behind locked doors or password gated locations where people have expectations of privacy.
posted by bukvich at 9:31 AM on September 19, 2012

Hi, my name is Empress Callipygos and I am a former snooper.

I knew it sucked, but I did it anyway. Mostly to friends; I snooped in a friend's journal while he was crashing on my couch beteween apartments. I snooped in another friend's room when I went to visit, and on his computer when he let me borrow it to log in. I snooped in another friend's email when he left the room for a minute. I felt evil and awful, but I did it anyway. It was one of those friends who finally caught me when I blurted out something that made it obvious I knew something I shouldn't, and he had a little come-to-Jesus with me about it; he told me he'd sort of known for a while that I was doing this, that yes, it had damaged his trust in me.

But that was the turning point. And it made me sit down and really think -- why was I doing this in the first place? What was the motivation behind why I was snooping? And when I really dug deep and figured out what was really at the root of all that -- it gave me something concrete to focus on when I had the impulse to snoop, and....that stopped me. That was about 7 years ago now, and I have successfully avoided the major snooping incidents ever since.

The "why" in my case is unique to me, and almost certainly will not apply in your case; it's the fact that I did sit down and think about "what's behind this" that helped. You say something about your mother having been a gaslighter - try really, REALLY getting to the root of that. Ask yourself how that made you feel, and then ask yourself whether you also feel that way about each of the other people you snoop about. Really, really map that impulse out in as much detail as you can; do you do this to everyone? Or only certain people? Why those people? Do you snoop about people from Day 1 of meeting them, or only after a while? Why? Is there types of snooping you would never do to someone? Why? Is that line in the sand different for everyone? Why?

This will take you a lot of time; but that will firstly help distract you from the snooping impulse, and as you figure this out, it'll give you the tools to know how to stop yourself ("okay, I'm tempted to sneak a peak in so-and-so's wallet, but I know I only tend to do that when I'm subconsciously feeling like they've been blowing me off. Let me leave the wallet alone and talk to them about that instead.")

Now, things like Googlestalking someone you've just met is a gray area - for the most part, the internet is publically-accesible information, and there's a difference between Googling someone's name and looking in their diary. You may want to think about why you do that as well, a little, but I wouldn't beat yourself up over it if it's of the "hmm, let's Google that guy Sid I just met and see what I can find". If you find yourself hacking into a company database to get Sid's insurance info, that's a bit much, but "Sid was born in Washington, I wonder if I can find anything by Googling that" is something everyone does. But if this is an issue for you, I'd also spend some thought on "why do I do that, too," and see if it's anything you want to address.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:34 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

If I were you I'd turn this into a lucrative opposition/personal research business. These are really useful skills that not a lot of people have the stomach or patience for, and the ability to cover your tracks is well valued.

There are fistfuls of cash in it for you.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

>>Honestly, at this point (and I'm not saying this to be mean) you're lucky your boyfriend hasn't left.

Couldn't disagree more: S/he needs a better class of boyfriend. But I wonder, would s/he be able to be happy with someone who didn't hide so much?

When you grow up with seriously ****** up people, it has huge implications for who you will be attracted to/comfortable around later in life. I'm thinking that part of the snooping problem is that your personal radar tends to home in on people who aren't that honest to begin with, which leads to snooping, which then leads to more snooping.

As you're trying to get to the root of the snooping problem, you might want to take a very, VERY hard look at the types of people you are surrounding yourself with, and whether some changes need to be made.
posted by Ys at 9:59 AM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Your childhood has taught you it is OK to become intimate with, or stay intimate with, people who are not trustworthy or emotionally safe for you to be around. Obviously, this is not working out for you as an adult.

Google "hyper-vigilance" and its psychological causes.

It can be both a blessing (you have a heightened sense of intuition) and a curse (you sometimes don't know to trust or how to act upon what your intuition is telling you.)

One thing jumped out at me as I read your question: it seems you may have reached that watershed moment where you need to re-think, recalibrate, or reject every single relationship in your life. This is a Rite of Passage in my book. It means you are on the right track as far as overcoming your upbringing is concerned.

Hon, the right people won't make your "spidey senses" go flip flopping all of the damn time. Life is too short to make compromises like this. You don't need to be in relationships with people or groups who resemble your past, you don't need to make allowances for drama, dishonesty, and lies. That's not all that's out there in life. You CAN learn to identify and enjoy relationships with people and groups who are trustworthy and emotionally safe.

If you like your current therapist, work on this with them. If they are not supportive or capable of helping you turn what you see as a negative (snooping) into a positive (trusting your own senses and intuitions to choose and navigate healthier relationships) than find someone who "gets" it and will help you move forward.

In short, drop the people who give you the urge to snoop, and the snooping will take care of itself. Seek insight into the way you experience life, and learn to use your life experience to your advantage as you move forward and re-populate your life with people worth trusting.
posted by jbenben at 9:59 AM on September 19, 2012 [13 favorites]

Oops. " sometimes don't know WHO to trust, or how to react to what your intuition is telling you."
posted by jbenben at 10:04 AM on September 19, 2012

To clarify, I don't approve of snooping, but neither can I jump on the bandwagon of condemnation.

I think snooping, and then recognizing that there is a better way, is an important phase people who were abused go through as they try to sort out the lies their childhood taught them.
posted by jbenben at 10:18 AM on September 19, 2012

Definitely mention it to your therapist. To your boyfriend, be up front: "I have this habit of snooping, and this need to snoop, and here's why, and I know I need to stop, but that's going to take time and a partner that I can trust, so I can only be in a relationship with you if you're not hiding things from me. Frankly, you shouldn't be hiding things from anyone you're in a relationship with, but it's even worse with me, because of my need to learn to trust and stop snooping." Be open to the possibility that he will explain why he's been doing that, and then you'll either have to jointly establish a new pattern of behavior for both of you, or not.
posted by davejay at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You absolutely need to tell your therapist. The relief you feel when you tell them, and tell them that you've been keeping tabs on them as well, will be huge.

I want to second jbenben's very wise comment about "hypervigilance". Hypervigilance was useful to you when you were a child. It is no longer useful to you, so you move past it. Every one of us who had a difficult childhood had some strategy that was super-adaptive to getting through that time that, as we become adult, we need to discard in order to lead a happier, more serene life and to have more authentic relationships with others. (Mine was suppressing my own wants and needs and going along with what others in my life decided.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I will offer a different explanation for why you should stop snooping.

From what I have observed in life, most snoopers are not very good at it. They get a lot of stuff wrong, and miss some basic stuff that they should have noticed for all the effort they were putting into it. It is honestly a lot of angst for not much utility.

Like gamblers, some snoopers insist they have a good track record of getting it right. Hmmm...conveniently forgetting about all the times they got it wrong, or all the occasions their snooping put them down a blind alley.

So ask yourself -- should you spend time on something that seems to be mostly unreliable and inefficient? Perhaps it is better to develop other forms of trust-building that will work more consistently.
posted by 99percentfake at 11:37 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ys and jbenben have it right. You're stuck in a cycle of relationships with untrustworthy people, and the only way you can protect yourself is to snoop. Now snooping isn't good, but if your self-protection instincts kick in, then you snoop for reasons of emotional safety. Sorry, but that means you need to hang with a better class of people. If you snoop because you don't feel safe, attempting to stop will create incredible tension that will drive you to snoop again eventually. Then you add guilt to the equation, and you're in a huge emotional stew. Re the boyfriend: He won't change. You either accept him for what he is, or DTMFA.

Since there are two components to your snooping--self-protection and habit--removing the instinct for self-protection is the only way you can deal with your bad habit. That just takes impulse control and curbing your 'satiable curiosity. To do that, you just quit asking so many questions. Put down the diary and pick up a book. Close the google tab. Refuse to listen to the gossip. These are things you do one at a time. You don't just 'stop snooping', you have to refuse to act as a snoop just this one time, and then just another, and then again.

I don't buy into what waving was saying: I've been a snooper in my relationships and have always found out that my boyfriends were either outright cheating or emotionally cheating. All of them, which is a lot. because, there are many, many men out there who don't cheat at all. Finding these guys is hard work. What it requires is that you step outside your comfort zone and look at men who are different from what you usually are attracted to. You're used to being with people who cheat. You know what they look like. You're within a certain comfort zone of behavior. You want to be attractive to the type of guy who won't treat you well. That means you can't be a cheater, a snooper, a user, either.

Waving is right though in saying we're all just human, with all the human foibles and ability to screw up. Sometimes good people make mistakes. Once is a mistake, twice indicates someone embracing a pattern of behavior, three times is a lifestyle. Forgive, but don't forget. If someone hurts you twice, it's time to look to your own safety.

The internet nowadays makes it just about impossible to keep myself in check...
The internet made me do it!! Don't. Just don't. Do whatever it takes. Don't look up their name. Don't go to their facebook page. Don't access google. Don't turn on the computer! Whatever it takes.

You do need to talk to your therapist about this. They will understand and can help you with some of this. If not, you need a better therapist!! One thing that will be tough for you is your family. You've been hurt badly, and your self-protective instincts are trying to keep you from being hurt again. Ask yourself if snooping on them has ever worked to prevent this from happening. If it has prevented you from being hurt, stopping your snooping with regard to your family is going to be hard to deal with. Again, the therapist is crucial.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

First, stop lying about anything important.

Second, remove anyone from your life who lies about anything important.

Addiction is mitigated by healthy, fulfilling relationships, and you'll want to preserve those more (by not snooping) the healthier they are.
posted by ead at 8:20 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have an aversion to practicing armchair psychology, but I was struck by a similarity between your mother's lies and your surveillance of others. Both those behaviors give you covert power over other people. Although you've rejected your mother's methods, you're still enacting the fundamental motivations you learned from her in your early life.

That's just one possible explanation. As others have said, this is something for you to work through in therapy. Your resistance to coming clean with your therapist only clarifies the need to share your secret and address the problem.
posted by itstheclamsname at 3:49 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with "Obscure Reference".
I think you're doing it because you're unhappy and most likely if you solve the other problems the urge will go away.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 5:41 AM on September 20, 2012

I mean, I think snooping is the symptom rather than the problem.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 5:44 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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