Is my boyfriend hiding something serious from me?
September 26, 2016 3:04 PM   Subscribe

He has been maniacly hiding -since always- his phone from me. I'm not even "allowed to touch it". Dumb question, but lately I'm just freaking out about it.

Two years in a relationship, the man of my dreams, and now we are planning to live together. Everything is going great and I couldn't be happier. If there only wasn't this one thing...

He has always been doing this. Taking his phone everywhere even when he is showering. He puts it under the bed on his side at night. He never let's me even touch it; no joke. When he wants to show me something on the Internet I always have to give him my phone. It's kind of disturbing to me.. I have never even been alone in a room with this freaking thing!

I know that a phone is a person's very personal space and it's good that everyone has a personal space that not even the parter has to know about. I have too, but I don't mind if he looks something up on my cellphone if he is out of power. I don't really have any secrets from him. Of course I wouldn't like if he read the conversations between me and my best friend but I also trust that he won't do that.

I have talked to him about it and he said over and over that "it's the way I am. I just feel uncomfortable without my phone. Has nothing to do with you". And when I asked him jokingly to even touch this thing he said no. "No one touches my phone."

I don't know but this seems kind if suspicious to me... I'm planning to live with this man and I fear that he is keeping some serious secrets... My biggest fear is that he is dating someone else over the Internet. He is usually not that type of man, but I'd say if someone is so obsessed he might be hiding something very hurtful.

How would you handle this?

Thank you in advance
posted by Tiffy119 to Human Relations (54 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is it possible he was previously in a relationship with someone who snooped or otherwise invaded his privacy?
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:05 PM on September 26, 2016 [10 favorites]

This is weird but not necessarily guilt. I mean a passcode keeps you from snooping.

Have you talked to his (or preferably mutual) friends to see if he's the same way with them?

There are also a large multitude of things he may not be comfortable discussing with you, or that he doesn't want to involve you in that are not nefarious, cheating etc. Personally I'm okay with both sides in a relationship having some personal things they don't want to share, others feel like there should be no secrets. YMMV.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:08 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Since you say you've been dating this guy for two years, he looks to be the same one as in your previous question. In which case I would say, trust your gut, that sort of guy + this sort of behavior + lack of sex drive = cheating to me.
posted by peacheater at 3:12 PM on September 26, 2016 [55 favorites]

I think your most likely scenario, barring any other red flags, is porn. Lots and lots of porn in the camera roll, browser history, etc. Your call whether that's serious or not.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:13 PM on September 26, 2016 [25 favorites]

I would worry less about what's going on in his phone than about what's going on in his head (and I do not necessarily mean that in the snarky way). "No one touches my phone" sounds too much like a lame B-movie reply to be comforting in an actual spend-your-lives-together scenario.

Also what prize bull octorok suggests.
posted by Namlit at 3:16 PM on September 26, 2016 [22 favorites]

Is this the same guy who you asked about a year ago? You got a lot of responses there suggesting his behavior in that question indicated he might be cheating on you.

If he were my partner, and if I had asked the question you asked last year, and if he were being overly protective of his phone around his long-term GF (which I find super-weird), I would have a long sit-down conversation about how I feel about it, and how his behavior erodes my trust. I'd also ask him to let me look at his texts in that same meeting. If he refused, I'd be super-sad and would probably have to leave him. I can't trust someone who behaves like that.

But that's just me. What will you do?
posted by homodachi at 3:18 PM on September 26, 2016 [30 favorites]

You don't want to hear it, but the two questions together are a near-certainty. You want to see what's on that phone. Or rather, you don't. You know what's on that phone and you probably don't want to see it, you want to pretend it doesn't exist. "No one touches my phone" is an easy excuse for "I don't want you to see my phone". Of course he doesn't: a message from someone else could arrive at any moment.
posted by tillsbury at 3:26 PM on September 26, 2016 [12 favorites]

How would you handle this?

I'd eject. Yes, everyone is allowed secrets, but this level indicates to me that he's either hiding something bad, or reserving the right to hide something bad as kind of a lifestyle. And the more you ask, he is going to make you feel like some kind of obsessive snooper when in fact it's his behavior that's odd.

My $0.02. There are certainly other possibilities but I spent my 20's learning to (a) trust my gut on these things and (b) not let worry and paranoia make me into somebody I didn't like.
posted by ftm at 3:35 PM on September 26, 2016 [27 favorites]

It sounds like you guys could really stand to improve your communication skills. If you say, "Okay I get your need for privacy but it's super weird that you're this obsessed with your phone. Can you tell me what's going on? Is it porn? It makes me paranoid you're cheating and that would be awful," and see what he says, maybe that would help?
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:37 PM on September 26, 2016 [31 favorites]

This guy sounds like a piece of work, to be honest. I read your last question, and what struck me then and what strikes me now is this guy's lack of warm, open transparency. Whether he's cheating or not, do you really want to be with someone who deflects well-meaning questions or concerns with touchy, defensive rebuttals? Don't you want to be with someone who doesn't run the risk of turning cold at any moment, without explanation?

This guy sounds like he's always going to have a part of his life that you aren't allowed to approach or even ask about. Could be another woman, could be something else. Privacy is fine in a relationship when all parties are okay with it, but in my opinion this has crossed into one-sided cagey territory. You deserve better.

Find someone who is consistently warm, open, and unbridled with you.
posted by delight at 3:38 PM on September 26, 2016 [23 favorites]

Trust your gut. He's hiding something from you.
posted by gnutron at 3:38 PM on September 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

I wonder how he'd react if you started being as possessive about your own phone.
posted by adamrice at 3:43 PM on September 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

100% what masquesoporfavor said. Stop talking to us and start talking to him. I might be a little less direct than masquesoporfavor, but I absolutely agree with asking him what's up.

"It's the way I am," is not a reason.
posted by cnc at 3:44 PM on September 26, 2016 [11 favorites]

Assume for a moment that your boyfriend isn't hiding anything. In that case, this is very strange behavior -- most people do not behave this way with their romantic partner they love and trust enough to move in with. Assuming that there really isn't anything he's hiding, this sound to me like a possible symptom of an anxiety disorder like OCD. If this is the case, it is something the two of you need to be prepared to discuss openly, as it is very likely that "no one touches my phone" is not the only artificial rule imposed by his anxiety. If you are living together, you are definitely going to end up violating other such rules that you don't even know about now, and if this isn't something that is already in the open and that you have a conflict resolution strategy prepared for, it is likely to get nasty. I would strongly recommend that you tell him that his anxiety over you touching his phone makes you nervous, as you don't know what other similar rules might come up when you're living together, and you'd like to be able to discuss them.

The above is one possibility. To me, based only on what you've said, it seems much more likely that there's just something on his phone that he doesn't want to you to see, possibly pornography, Tinder alerts, or texts from other women. But you know your boyfriend better than a random stranger on the internet does, so you have to decide how willing you are to trust.

Regardless of the reason, this is clearly an issue that is making you uncomfortable, and the two of you need to find a way to discuss it openly, without recriminations or deception. If he's not capable of doing that here, then he's also not going to be capable of the communication skills necessary for cohabiting.
posted by biogeo at 3:45 PM on September 26, 2016 [12 favorites]

I might be a little less direct than masquesoporfavor, but I absolutely agree with asking him what's up.

Yeah totally. Say whatever works for you guys, my line was very very direct and may not work in your case. but would you really want to live with or marry a man who you can't communicate with? This issue would be only the first in a long line of things you can't broach with him, and marriage (and kids if that's a thing you're into) will only make it worse.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:46 PM on September 26, 2016

These two questions together aren't a great sign, I don't think.

Has the physical relationship improved since last year?
posted by getawaysticks at 3:46 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Even if he's not "hiding" anything per se, I don't know if I'd personally want to be with someone with with such a ... strong need for privacy from his primary partner.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:47 PM on September 26, 2016 [13 favorites]

You definitely deserve more transparency in your relationship (and I say this as someone who doesn't believe partners owe it to each other to share every thought that crosses their mind). And by transparency I mean not necessarily just being willing to show you what's on his phone, but being willing to discuss why he's so guarded about it and not giving you some BS "I don't want to be separated from it" awkwardly coupled with a juvenile "nobody touches my phone." I mean seriously, that's a middle school line right there. Either he does in fact have something to hide from you or he's got a hangup that he should be able to talk to you about. If he cared about your feelings he'd talk this out with you in a more satisfactory way.
posted by drlith at 3:49 PM on September 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

I just went and re-read your previous question, and:
"This way you only make me wanna have sex with you even less"
--just...Christ, no, do not move in with this "man". He's got a consistent lack of emotional maturity that is not compatible with true partnership and it would be really unfortunate if you spent a few more years with him only to come to the same conclusion over something with much higher emotional stakes.
posted by drlith at 3:54 PM on September 26, 2016 [31 favorites]

It sounds like you need to have a conversation, but how you frame it is important. If you say "you need to show me your phone or the relationship is over", guess what'll happen. Make it clear that it's not about you seeing his phone, but rather about him being not so jumpy. Try to find something where he can be away from his phone for a while without the possibility of you seeing it. Have him leave it at work one night, for example. Maybe plan a weekend getaway where there's no cell service, and suggest just leaving both phones at home. If he resists (the latter suggestion, especially), there's probably something in his phone he doesn't want you to see. More likely, he probably doesn't like feeling like you're snooping on him.

There's also the slight chance he could be orchestrating something secret for your benefit. When I proposed to my wife, I planned it with several people, mostly close friends and family of hers that it would be rather unlikely for me to text on my own. So if she would have seen my text list, with her co-worker, boss, sister, etc, she would immediately have known something was up. That's not likely, but if he's the planning type, it might be an outside possibility.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:55 PM on September 26, 2016

He is definitely hiding something from you.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:04 PM on September 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

My brain didn't automatically assume cheating is the issue. Instead, it made me think he is involved in something illegal, like prostitution, selling weed, or something similar. It is as if he is afraid you might look at the phone *at the wrong time* so he just doesn't let you look at all.
posted by tacodave at 4:05 PM on September 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

It's really hard to say whether this is just his personal habit vs. him hiding something from you.

A lot of these behaviors -- especially having the phone on your person all the time and sleeping with it near you -- are within the realm of normal. On the other hand, when you say he won't "let" you touch it, won't "allow" you to look something up if your phone is out of juice, etc. sound odd to me. I'm not sure whether that's personal idiosyncrasy odd or "definitely hiding something" odd.

Either way, I'm not sure I'd be that interested in moving in with someone who had specific things I wasn't allowed to do. Like, I don't want my fiance watching me use the toilet, but it's not FORBIDDEN or anything. He just knows I don't want that to happen, so it doesn't happen. One person not "letting" the other do an innocuous thing which could be better communicated with "I don't like it when..." or "please don't..." seems like a not great relationship dynamic.

My first thought is that his phone is full of porn, to be honest.
posted by Sara C. at 4:10 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Even if he's not cheating, and even if he's not involved in anything illegal, there is a vanishingly small chance that there exists a situation in which this sort of manic protection of a phone is indicative of robust and resilient relationship material.

I am so, so sorry about this, but if you were my friend/sister/workmate, I'd advise you to start finding a way to move on and find someone who does not have fucked up hangups about material things.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:14 PM on September 26, 2016 [18 favorites]

He's hiding it under the mattress?!

If there's a lot of time he can't really account for, I'd say he's probably cheating. But if it's just the phone, it's probably loaded with porn.
posted by AtoBtoA at 4:51 PM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Personally I didn't learn my lesson and am far too open with my PC and phone. That unfettered access lead to a lot of crying and yelling in my previous relationship. So I can see why someone from a shitty or toxic relationship would want to keep something 100% private. Doesn't have to be abusive, just unhealthy.

Perhaps his parents were controlling, or he went to boarding school and people were cruel to each other regarding secrets. Maybe he's Bi. Maybe he complains about you trying to see his phone all the time to his friends. There's probably some porn too, at least in the browser history. Don't underestimate the power of shame.

Like I said I didn't learn my lesson and my current partner and I borrow phones all the time. We even share my PC and know each others lame Netflix secrets. But I would totally understand someone not being comfortable with that level of sharing and I would respect my partner's wishes, as I hope they would respect mine.

Another suggestion: Maybe he's texting or using Tinder etc. to flirt? You would need to keep your phone secret 100% of the time if you didn't know when a notification would pop up.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:19 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Being a dick about using a phone for something simple like "where can we get pizza tonight" is pretty much an A-1 clue that something is going on that you wouldn't like, whether that's dealing drugs or carrying on with other people outside the bounds of your relationship. When this behavior started with my ex it was 100% the beginning of his infidelity. I would not put money on anything here other than shadiness.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:20 PM on September 26, 2016 [16 favorites]

I think it's normal and not a red flag for someone to be uneasy about others using their phone. But to never allow their SO even to touch it, that is not normal. He's either hiding something (maybe just something embarrassing, but still) or he has huge trust issues that he isn't willing to deal with properly. I wouldn't want to move in with such a person because even in the best case scenario, who's to say his trust issues aren't going to flare up in another irrational way, with no room for debate or compromise?
posted by No-sword at 5:26 PM on September 26, 2016

Who cares?

His attitude towards you is pretty awful and you should not be dating him, let alone be moving in. Find someone who is nice to you!
posted by jbenben at 6:07 PM on September 26, 2016 [38 favorites]

I know a guy with habits like these, and while I wouldn't say he was incapable of having a secret, I'd say in his case the behavior is more of a personal quirk and not a positive sign of anything nefarious.

Some diagnostic questions:

About the facts:
-- Has he been like this consistently, or has it changed recently? If this was a recent change, it would seem more like he was hiding something.
-- Is he like this with everyone, or just with you? If he lets other people touch his phone, but not you, that might be worrying.
-- Is he like this with anything else, or just his phone? What's the pattern? Are you allowed to use his computer?

About your comfort level:
-- If you knew your boyfriend kept a private journal, would you want to read it? What if he didn't allow you to touch it?
-- Think about your boyfriend's past relationships. In those relationships, he shared intimate words and experiences with other people. Suppose you wanted to know about some of these words and experiences, but your boyfriend said no. Would that be okay?

Based on what you have said, I am not inclined to think the phone thing is evidence that he is hiding anything serious. (He could be! I just don't think this is good evidence.)

That said, you could decide that the phone thing, coupled with his inability to explain or relax it, is a dealbreaker for you. Just, then, the issue isn't, "I'm pretty sure he's cheating," but more like, "He is inflexibly unresponsive to my needs."
posted by grobstein at 6:21 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I mean, the man sleeps with his phone under his bed every night! That is an high level of paranoia, even for a cheater or a drug dealer. One might even think that someone who was trying to hide cheating etc. would ACT LIKE A NORMAL PERSON and give a legit sounding reason like they did it in a previous relationship and it ended badly, and then it wouldn't be a thing at all! How does password protection not suffice? Is he afraid of ninjas carting it off in the night?

Ordinarily I would just say that the reason doesn't matter because his complete refusal to discuss an issue like this going to be a relationship killer one way or another. But you might as well ask him, he deserves to be put on notice for his bizarre behavior and bullshit answers. I would not recommend moving in with this man.
posted by fox problems at 6:31 PM on September 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

I am always weird about my phone and computer. For literally no reason. Its just so personal... to me. Its like a look into my mind that I don't really like to share with anyone. For me its exclusive to my electronics and I don't have anything too shady on my devices.

So maybe he is totally innocent and just a weirdo like me.
posted by KMoney at 7:28 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you step back and take another look at your relationship you will see that it is not as great as you think it is right now.

You have asked about two strange things involving him. I suspect that you are turning a blind eye to many more things. Look with both eyes and you will see. But then you will have to deal with it all.

Best of luck.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:32 PM on September 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

If he wants to show you something, he gets to use your phone....

Ok, maybe he isn't hiding anything. But why is he the only one entitled to that level of privacy?
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:43 PM on September 26, 2016 [16 favorites]

This isn't normal. You know that. Trust your instincts.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:22 PM on September 26, 2016 [26 favorites]

Since you say he is the man of your dreams, I would say to him "I understand that you are very private about your phone. I've respected that for the past two years. I care a lot about you and I want us to be together long term. But I'm having trouble getting past the fact that you expect a level of privacy for yourself with your phone that you don't give me in return, and quite frankly, that is above and beyond what most people consider to be a normal level.

If you'll give me your phone right now, without trying to hide anything, and let me take a few minutes to look it over and satisfy my curiosity, I promise you that you can have your privacy back forever and I'll never ask this again."

Personally if he could not acquiesce to a request like that, I wouldn't be able to stay with him. Because if there really isn't anything to hide on there, then he's just being absurdly stubborn about something that isn't important. And if there is something to hide that's bad enough he couldn't let you take one look at it over the course of a lifetime, then you probably shouldn't be in a relationship with him.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:55 PM on September 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Everybody is entitled to a certain amount of "quirks," I feel. The most generous possible interpretation of that is that he was once in a relationship with an abusive dynamic that involved somebody forcing access to his devices without his permission, and this is a trigger for him...? This sounds well beyond a healthy level of "Ah, I'm just weird about other people using my phone, I'm sorry, just a hang-up..." (And a healthy version of that would come with "For parity here with my weirdness on this, I swear I'll never go near your own phone!")

The stuff about him yelling at you in your previous question -- yelling at you for trying to discuss something in need of discussing, and then gaslighting you about it and trying to make it your fault -- crossed with your swan song about what a great dude he is and a "perfect relationship" (those exist?) -- flies a lot of red flags; it sounds like you might have some trouble understanding what is and what is not healthy and normal in an intimate relationship.

While people do not need to disclose all of their life's secrets and traumas and so on to their significant other, a big part of the point of having an intimate relationship is...intimacy. If my 'most generous possible' interpretation is correct, and it is a thing he finds very difficult to discuss, a simple "I'm sorry -- some really bad things happened with my ex and phone-snooping and now anyone looking at my phone brings back memories I don't deal with well. It's still very difficult to discuss. I trust you but I am not past this yet. I can offer to never go near your phone or other devices so there's parity there, at least; would that be helpful?" is...required, really, in my view, in an intimate relationship. With a friend you can say 'I'm just not okay with people looking at my phone, sorry' and leave it at that. A healthy intimate relationship should have more disclosure for "quirks."

My SO, poor guy, has been through two (!!) house fires. He can be gently fretful about certain things -- sometimes we're all ready to go somewhere and end up waiting a moment while he dashes back in to double-check that an appliance was turned off. I have a kettle, a glass thing that detaches from a plug-in bottom, and when he uses it the kettle is never set back down on the base. Rationally I'm sure he knows it will not combust if set on the base while still hot. If I didn't know about the fires I would be on him a bit -- hey, whenever I want tea or coffee I have to go fetch the kettle from the other counter; can you please try to remember to put it back when you're done using it? -- but since I know what's going on there on a deeper level, he's perfectly welcome to leave the kettle far away from the base when it's hot. He's not being lazy. That it won't combust is neither here nor there; it is a thing that increases his comfort level at very very little cost to me.

Somebody who has a "quirk" -- with underlying implications that are impossible to spin as flattering; even if it is just stuffed to the gills with hardcore porn, he doesn't trust you to be accepting of his sexuality (and what if it is not hardcore, but illegal? I might start to fret about being with a person whose tastes in porn could mean legal troubles) -- who refuses to offer an explanation, this does not seem like a healthy intimate relationship. "it's the way I am" is not communication; it's a wall thrown up in your face. As in with the previous Q.

Hmm. The more I try to puzzle out what could set somebody to that level of need for privacy for a device, the more I keep -- ugh -- thinking about things like child pornography and bestiality.

This is so tricky because it is on one end of a continuum which is mostly normal -- some people don't mind anybody poking through their phone; I don't like other people randomly pawing at my devices either -- but I don't password-protect them and my SO is welcome to use them; I trust that he will look at whatnot on the web and not try for a sneak peek in my inbox. Even though there's nothing incriminating there, I'd just rather that be private. And I've used his phone/computer when mine aren't handy, and never go near his private messages or anything like that. There's trust on both ends, and respect. I know he's not going to look at my personal junk because he's very respectful. You guys do not have any sort of mutuality in trust and respect here.

Apart from child porn or bestiality, it's also not impossible to hide a hard drug problem, especially when you don't live with the person -- but also when you do. Reddit's tragic soap opera "/r/opiates" has stories about "almost got busted by my SO" -- these are people shooting up heroin and opioid pills, and living with what they are pretending are intimate partners while keeping their addictions secret.

That he could repeatedly yell at you and leave you describing things as "he is very sweet, caring and loving. It's the perfect relationship" is very troubling.

I'm not sure what the legal repercussions for you would be if you lived with somebody who had very illegal controlled substances or media, but at best it sounds like it would be a very expensive and embarrassing and possibly reputation-damaging thing to extricate oneself from.*

Please consider privately seeing a counsellor to work through some of this stuff; I really don't think you should risk moving in with him -- personally, I think between both questions you are in DTMFA territory -- but you should unpack why a guy who would yell at you is 'sweet, caring, loving.' And normally I would consider an early 20s-late 20s age difference not of much interest, but there's a power (and experience) imbalance here and I doubt that helps. Charming jerks like younger victims as they're less experienced with red flags.

You most certainly could be happier -- much happier.

* could somebody with more knowledge than me weigh in on what trouble one could find themselves in -- OP, is it reasonable to guess you're in the USA? -- if living with a stash of child porn or hard drugs...? Terrible to think about, yes, still within the realm of possibilities. I just can't get why this would be such an enormous issue for a person with nothing to hide.

apologies for rambling/repetition -- written with a fever and NyQuilâ„¢
posted by kmennie at 9:43 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dump this person.
This is not a "quirk".
One of the things that a healthy relationship requires is TRUST.
There is none here.
At best, he is a seriously--frighteningly so--controlling person.
At worst... ?

Dump him and go to your doctor for a round of STD tests.

You deserve better.
So, so much better.

posted by blueberry at 9:49 PM on September 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

It could just be some sort of embarrassing porn on the phone... but whether it's porn, cheating, or something else, I do think his obsession with it does have something to do with the problems you described in your first question. (Porn addiction that kills the drive for real sex is a thing...)
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:58 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

At the very least I wouldn't move in with this guy until this is resolved in a way that is satisfying to you. I think it's okay to be a little private, but I think "not trusting the person I'm with to even touch my phone, to the point where I use their phone to show them things" goes a little beyond being merely private. And I think it would be reasonable for him to have a hangup about people messing with his phone because of an abusive ex or whatever, but I think if you're on the level of considering moving in with one another that he should at least be able to open up to you about that hang up. That he's a. obsessive about you even handling his phone and b. unable to open about about why that is strikes me as suspicious at best. Please go with your gut on this one.
posted by Gymnopedist at 10:33 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Maybe he just spends a lot of time on something innocent but hard to explain. I spend lots of time on my phone browsing the Something Awful forums and saving bizarre memes to my camera roll. Actually explaining those things to other people would be a ton of hassle.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:50 PM on September 26, 2016

Please help a sexless relationship. That was in November.

And now this: Is my boyfriend hiding something serious from me?

Yes, you're boyfriend is hiding something from you and it's the fact that he has a second relationship. Either that or child porn.

What's more important is that he doesn't trust you (you can't even touch his phone? I mean, WTF?), and you don't trust him either (otherwise you wouldn't be here second guessing his motives)

This relationship is going nowhere. Move on.
posted by Kwadeng at 12:04 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Here's a different option - find a trusted third party who could look at his phone, then tell you if it's somewhat embarassing but mostly harmless, or something else.

This could be a couples counselor - that would provide confidentiality and privacy for him. If he agrees to go to even just one session with you, that would at least mean he cares about you enough to do that for you.
posted by metaseeker at 12:18 AM on September 27, 2016

I would be wary of moving in with this man. He sounds like he's hiding something, and he also sounds like he has a pretty severe need for control. At the moment that need for control is just about his phone, but it's pretty well documented that some people's bad behavior escalates once you move in together. Can you put off moving in together for a little while? Have you already signed a lease?

If he can't sit down and talk to you about what is going on, and give you an explanation that seems legit and doesn't set off your spidey-sense, I would stop planning on moving in with him at all.
posted by colfax at 3:10 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

One question comes to mind: why are you putting yourself in a situation where your man is calling all the shots? What does it even matter why he won't let you touch his phone?

I think you're still young, and probably looking at that man with loving eyes, thinking how grateful and proud you are that he chose you over so many women. Please stop that. You're equal partners. Tell him you won't put up with him not trusting you, and tell him to relent or walk.

And certainly don't move in together until you have a fully satisfying, sexually fulfilling and trusting relationship.
posted by Kwadeng at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

This leapfrogs past "need for privacy" and "quirky", and lands solidly into "suspicious as hell" and "odd and troubling" territory. You can't even touch it or hand it to him? Give me a break. Even if he isn't hiding something from you (but holy crap, is he ever), this is still really odd, childish, bizarre behaviour that isn't healthy or okay in a relationship. And if he is weird and controlling and extreme about this, who knows what else he'll be weird about. He definitely doesn't sound stable or healthy.

Also, since he can't explain his behaviour I sort of think you get a free pass to work under the assumption that your worst fears (cheating, child porn, drug deals, whatever) are true and you should act accordingly.

Get an STD test too because I'd bet a lot of money he's not being faithful.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:21 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am generally a private person with a don't-touch-that reflex that's been disproportionate at times, but even by my standards this seems excessive and suspicious. And two years into a relationship, even people with a high need for privacy relax that a bit around their partner.

My biggest fear is that he is dating someone else over the Internet. He is usually not that type of man

I find your "usually" hedge pretty telling here. You only have to cheat once to be a cheater. Not to mention that this stands in pretty sharp contrast to your previous question:

You should probably know that he is the type of man who has had many, and I mean many women in his life. He is very handsome, has a good body, and the most important thing is that he can talk. You can fall in love with him only by listening to him.
It all started as a one night stand. I had just gotten out of a serious relationship and he never was the kind of relationship guy. He once was with a woman for 4 years and after that mostly one night stands or affairs

The problems with this guy don't sound like small annoyances in a couldn't-be-happier relationship. They sound like huge cracks in the foundation.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:38 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

So, I am probably this level of paranoid about my phone. But I was trained in security culture, through my work as an intelligence analyst, and it is reflective of that. This does not sound like that, given your other question.

Whenever I have been in a relationship with a non analyst, and they have been that protective of their phone, they have been cheating. I have dated two cheaters and both of them were like that.
posted by corb at 8:07 AM on September 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

He is cheating on you. If you press him to look at his phone, he will yell at you to buy time and maybe eventually let you see his scrubbed phone. During the time between when the convo first started and when you finally see the phone, he will scrub incriminating evidence from the main phone, get a second phone, use that for the cheating, and hide it from you completely. You won't even know he has it. Problem not solved, just hidden better.

I know several relationships where the woman discovered the man's secret phone after years of him cheating on her (the longstanding cheating was confirmed when she called the numbers on the phone and met numerous mistresses who said he'd told them he was single or polyamorous- he hadn't told his wife that though!)

The phone isn't the issue. It's the hiding things, getting mad when you start normal conversations, and constant doubt you feel that's actually the issue. I would suggest you not move in with him- your gut does not trust him.

Nobody I have ever ever dated has hidden their phone from me. That is not a normal part of a relationship.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:19 AM on September 27, 2016 [8 favorites]

Many years ago my partner bought me an iPhone. A month later we were out walking and he reached over to grab my hand. But he couldn't, as my lovely phone was too tightly gripped in my sweaty little palm. I can't seleep without it, I get panicky when someone borrows it or just holds it. If I misplace it, I will not stop looking for it until I find it. I have absolute anxiety if it is away from me.

But if my partner asked me about it, I would explain the above, and then absolutely live with the discomfort of giving it to him to look though however he wanted to. No question.
posted by Vaike at 6:23 PM on September 27, 2016

When I read the old question (which I broke off reading this one to jump to first) I actually thought I knew you! And then I read this one properly and realised you can't be the same person.

But yeah this happened to someone I know. Great new relationship, very edgy exploratory sex, etc. And then one day his sex drive was gone. She tried to discuss it and he gave a series of lame excuses and eventually also gaslit her. He was also mega protective of his phone and laptop and once freaked out at her and literally went missing for a month (no contact, not at home, fully vanished) because she'd leaned across his desk to get the (landline) phone to answer it and in doing so brushed a key and "woke up" the screen of his laptop (it was open but hibernating). She didn't notice anything notable on the screen but he went ballistic then stormed out and disappeared. She even went to the police to report him missing.

Anyway one day she came home from work and the police were searching her home (!). She was taken in for interview and it turned out that the reason he'd gone off sex with her is because she was not 5 years old or a Doberman. He was charged with downloading, sharing and creating illegal pornography (as far as I understand "creating" means opening the file so it's viewable, he wasn't taking photos of these crimes himself). Later on they had a mediation session where he told her he'd always been into porn but it'd gotten edgier and edgier and the passionate interlude at the start of their relationship was his attempt to get back to normal, but that after a while it just didn't turn him on as much as the extreme porn did.

Anyway my take is that your guy COULD be cheating. Or hiding something horrible like this. Or hiding something much more benign. Or he could just have major trust issues.

None of those make a happy secure future seem likely now, do they? Your gut is SCREAMING at you about this situation! Listen to it!
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 1:32 AM on September 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

First, you have no evidence. You are not sure.

Second, you have a feeling in your gut.

I think you need to sit him down. I think you say that you are concerned about potential infidelity and that his phone guarding is setting off alarm bells. Ask him directly if he is or has ever had sex with anyone else since you decided to be monogamous. Ask him also if he is having an emotional or other affair that might by cyber or not yet sexual.

If he says no, tell him you want to see his phone, with him there, to determine if he is contacting others, because his guarding behavior is setting off alarm bells for you. Ask to see it right then and say that if you find nothing in there you will not be bothering him about it again.

Tell him if you can't see the phone you are going to have to seriously reconsider the relationship.

Everyone should be sober during this discussion.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you all so much for your time...

Yes he hides the phone from everyone else too, even his best friend(as he claims).

And it is the guy from the previous question, just that this issue is mostly solved now.

As much as I try talking to him about it he just gets mad and says this is a "quirk"..

Your answers have helped me all a lot, thank you again!

Also, he still doesn't let me even touch it even when he sits just next to me..
posted by Tiffy119 at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2016

he just gets mad

So this is a theme. You bring up reasonable concerns and instead of being level-headed about them, he gets mad. How long until you just stop mentioning things in order to maintain the peace? That's no way to live.

Tiffy119, you can do better than this guy. He's not worth the heartache. And frankly, I would avoid intimacy until you can be 100%, demonstrably sure that he's not passing along STDs from secret partners on the side. Don't sacrifice your health to keep the peace.
posted by delight at 3:37 PM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

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