“My boyfriend keeps reading my journal”

Have you ever had to deal with a problem like this?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 10 months, and we’ve grown extremely close to each other. He’s a wonderful guy, and we’ve talked seriously about marraige. However I have a small problem: he’s read my journal twice now. The first time he read it, he’d found an old one, and read something I’d written about an ex. We had a little fight, but I thought we’d worked it out. However a couple days ago, he began asking questions.. ones that concerned particularly topics that I’d written about a week ago in my journal. I knew he’d read it again, and I asked him about it….

Read more about this dilema, and the interesting dialogue in response at CafeMom.

I’ve had some major issues with this myself– my mother and sister both read my journal when I was going through some difficult times in college, and when I argued with my mother about the invasion of privacy, she basically said that it was her duty to know what was going on with her child, and that I shouldn’t have written anything down that I didn’t want others to read.
I also had a relationship with someone who read my journal more than once. The first time, I didn’t mind, because it ended up helping resolve some doubt about whether we were actually interested in each other, so the journal was actually what got us together. The second time, I’d written something that was so blown out of proportion that it led to us breaking up! I think for that reason, I’ve had some periods of time during certain relationships when I tended not to keep a journal, or perhaps to leave things out of it that I knew could be difficult to read. I’ve also had phases where I kept two journals, and kept the one with the super-secret stuff in my office where I knew my partner couldn’t read it. I’m glad I don’t have to do that now– as the comments at Cafe Mom point out, it’s all about trust, on both sides. I trust my partner not to look, and there’s nothing in there that I’m ashamed of anyway.

Does anyone else have any stories to share about others reading your notebooks?

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19 Responses to ““My boyfriend keeps reading my journal””

  1. My husband and I are both what we refer to as “notebook people”. We have always had an unspoken agreement that we don’t read each other’s notebooks and journals unless invited. The invitation usually only exists when one of us writes a poem or essay we feel is worth sharing. Maybe it would be worthwhile for the person with the dilemma to suggest that her boyfriend start his own journal. His sense for a need for privacy for his own thoughts and words may lead to a greater respect for other peoples privacy.

  2. I had my Mom read my journal once and I was extremely outraged and I am always outraged when I hear about someone reading someone else’s journal. On the other hand Mom claims I don’t “share” and so for years now I’ve kept a journal of unsent letters just for her with the object of giving her the notebook to read eventually. I don’t hold back in my journal or hers and hopefully she will gain a little insight as to who I am and how various situation effect me and her when I do give her the notebook.

    And perhaps I will gain a little insight as well…

  3. To my knowledge, I’ve never had anyone read my journal. My husband respects my need to write candidly in my journal without the fear that he might read it one day. I’ve actually thought about either burning old journals or destroying sections of old journals that deal with old boyfriends. Part of me feels like I should maintain the integrity of the journals but part of me sees no need to revisit those relationships. Haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do.

  4. Thankfully my husband is understanding about my journal privacy and I trust him not to read when I’m not around – and he never did. I can’t imagine having that kind of trust broken. And I don’t believe any of the reasons people give when they invade privacy – contrary to popular beliefs, moms don’t have that right, nor do dads. Their jobs are to ensure their childrens’ happiness and wellbeing, and if they make their children outraged, what is the point? Plus, journals are extremely private things, and should be treated as such.

  5. As far as I know, nobody’s ever read my journal without my knowledge, though mine’s also written in a secret code I like to call “handwriting”. Seriously, my handwriting is so bad most people can’t read it even looking over my shoulder – I have to take extra time and print when I’m writing something for someone else to be able to read. If someone actually put forth the effort to decipher my journal, then they’ve probably earned whatever information they can glean from it. :)

    On a more serious note, I’ve never been too concerned about somebody reading my diary and getting the wrong impression. It’s a collection of moments. If someone wants to get angry over something I wrote in a moment of pique, well, maybe they should stop to think about what I might have done to let out my emotions if I hadn’t written it down.

  6. Love the topic and the possible conflict that it presents. For an art thesis project in college, I had actually used entries from my journal over the years to show my thought process behind my artwork and show the vulnerabilities and motives that are apparent in the writing and the art. Of course, there are some things written in “the heat of the moment” that I would rather not show to others that the comments were directed to, but if they did, it would be bad, but hopefully nothing that would cripple my relationship with anyone.

  7. I’ve actually asked my wife to read my journal, and she refuses. She tells me that it is mine, private and almost inviolate. Therefore, I leave it laying about and have no qualms about what I write inside it, when I do…

  8. It’s a known rule in our house that no journals are read. Also, my husband has specific instructions that if anything should happen to me he can read my journals, but then he must burn them so no one else ever gets their hands on them!

  9. My ex-husband read my journals several times during our 10 year marriage, and it was part of what made me decide to get divorced from him.
    At the beginning of the relationship I told him that I never wanted him to read my journals, that it wasn’t “secret keeping” or hiding anything, but just something I had to do and did not want to have things taken out of context because I might write something out and then the emotion would disappate or the insight would cause me to change my mind, or I would write dreams or impressions or pieces of fiction in the middle of the “diary” bits. I had had other boyfriends violate this trust, and so I was particularly straightforward with him about this.
    I kept both personal notebooks and online (password protected) journals throughout the marriage. Neither were things that would be easily “accidentally” accessed… so when he decided that i was obviously “hiding” something from him (he assumed an affair) he was completely thourough in his violation…
    Not only did he find a way to get my online password from my computer and read my computer journal and also my personal and work email, access all the websites I had been reading, and all the (not saved) chats I had with my best friend and my mother… he went through both our home phone and my personal and work cell phones, my day planners, AND unlocked my safe and read the journals that I had kept for the previous 15 years.
    He used my fears and insecurities AND my past (before him) to tear me down and control me. The last straw was when he admitted to our marriage counsellor that not only had he gone well out of his way to violate my privacy, but that he felt that because he was my husband, because he PROVIDED more to the family than I did, because he was raised to believe that as head of household he had the right to know what his wife was doing and thinking, and that he would do it again!
    I left him a week later… and thankfully was granted divorce.
    But after that experience I had a VERY hard time keeping any sort of journal/diary online or in a notebook… its only recently that i have been able to feel “safe” doing this, and I haven’t been able to reinstate it as a daily ritual yet because I still feel I have to censor myself lest I get in “trouble” for my personal thoughts and feelings.

  10. My mother read one of my journals a few years ago. It was the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul journal, which is kind of like a big workbook, with questions that you can answer. I started using it when I was eleven, and every once in a while I go back and add more things in. It’s one of my favorite possessions. I guess my mother decided it wasn’t private. She even wrote a message to me in it! It led to a huge fight. I was completely stunned that she would do that.

    Since then, I don’t know of anyone reading any of my journals. Almost everyone I’m close to respects my privacy and also knows how hurt and angry I would be if I found out they read my journal. It also helps that my journal is almost always within my line of sight. : )

    Every time I read about someone else having their journal read without their permission, I feel terrible. It’s such an invasion of privacy. Keeping a journal is a wonderful process, and it’s one that others should respect.

  11. A very fraught and interesting topic! I’ve realised recently that I am very blessed to have been raised by two people (though separated since I was 3) that deeply respect the privacy of the journal/notebook. I realised this as I surveyed my shelf of notebooks. I display them in my room, my space, as the sight of their completeness gives me a lot of joy ;) but I have never had to worry for one second that they might be read by my parents, even during a particularly dark time in high school that I know was deeply worrisome for them.

    I think Sine`’s idea, of making the boyfriend appreciate the situation through him starting his own journal, is a great one. From what I can gather (he is very private) my dad has a journal, but they are hidden away and my mum is a writer so she keeps one of ideas, etc. My notebook is an everywhere notebook, surveying people on topics, observing life and recording ideas. Because it is a conspicuous part of my life, my girlfriend has asked to read my notebook, and jokes about it, but she knows that if she ever did the consequences would be catastrophic for our relationship. As was said, it’s all about trust.

  12. I can strongly identify with Pam. I was experiencing blocks in my creativity and was keeping a journal to help in my recovery. My wife understood this and was aware that I was keeping such a journal. She had agreed that it was mine and for me only unless there was something that I wanted to share. I had written several journals over a four to five year period of time and there had not been any problems. My wife made it clear that she was not interested in what I was writing. Part of the conflicts that I was dealing with was a difficulty relationship with someone I employed. My wife knew of the conflict and some of the difficulties but then decided that I was in involved in an affair with this person. As a result she read both my computer journal and written journal. I was devestated! There was no affair but she had difficult believing that and ended up making the conflict worse by contacting the other person and some of their family. It has taken me five years to get back to keeping a journal and I can’t say that I am comfortable. I usually don’t wirte daily, I don’t write when she is around and I tend to monitor what I write thus feeling that I am not getting the full benefit of personal journaling. Will I ever feel comfortable doing it again? I don’t know. Since keeping a computer journal did not work I tend to keep a written one now but it is harder to keep it private or at least keep it from seeing eyes. The small moleskine journal is what I tend to use and often keep it with me but don’t really feel comfortable doing that. Things that I don’t think I would have worried about before I now find myself worrying about if someone should read the journals again.

  13. My boyfriend read aloud several parts of his diary when we first started dating and I saw things in there as he was reading that I should not have. When I discovered something that made me very anxious and insecure, I went back to read parts of it. I felt (and still feel) very guilty about doing that and stopped myself, and didn’t finish it all. The only reason I read as much as I did was that it was so easy to read. Also, he always states he wants his journals to be something people remember him by and maybe someone will publish, so I wonder if I should feel that guilty. I think the main reason I feel guilty is that I went behind his back to read it, and I hate to keep that secret. I feel so bad about it, that I can’t tell him….
    I know I have difficulty when I get anxious to stop myself from violating privacy. When everything is fine, I have no urge, even with easy access. But when stuff is hard, I get anxious and become overcome with the urge to look at texts, browsing history, email, to see if he is being deceptive. At this point, I don’t want to do it ever again, but I’m afraid that I will if things get bad- in particular because it doesn’t bother him that much and he doesn’t feel it’s a violation of privacy. I feel like it is though, and hate how it feels.

  14. In addition, I know where he keeps his journal. I hate knowing it. I haven’t gone back to read it, though I could. But I just wish it weren’t there to tempt me if I were to ever get weak again!

  15. My boyfriend read through my journal not intentionally but he went to write down his work hours, first i had the notebooks in my room, then i was afraid of him looking at them so i decided to move them to a cabinet outside my room thinking he wouldn’t go in there, but he did. I came home to find his work hours written in my journal laying on the bed, i was really upset and tried to explain to him that its a way for me to let things out and move forward with my life. Of course he had to read something that was deeply emotional about an exboyfriend and the loss of my pregnancy with that person. Since he read it has been so upset saying that he can’t trust me, even though it was dated before we ever got together. He claims in “holding on to my past, when that’s not the case at all. Has making me feel bad for having feelings before i even met him, i feel like I’ve done something wrong when i haven’t. He obviously doesn’t understand or respect my need for privacy. Looks like he’s not the person i thought he was.

  16. I was curious one day, so I read my best friend(who i’m kind of dating)’s journal.

    I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong when I picked up the book.

    Over the course of an hour or two, I learned many things about her life, some which made me question our relationship, and some things which made me love her even more.

    I never knew that she had such flair, style, and such depth to her soul.

    I felt a little jealous with how much she loved him.

  17. It is never okay to read your partner’s journal/diary, mail, or other personal records without explicit permission. That is to assume that all articles are private and should not be read unless you have specifically asked to read “x” and have been given a clear permission first.

    I used to keep handwritten journals. I never left them in the open (though ifI had, it would have been under the presumption my privacy would be respected). I also kept a LiveJournal with privacy protected entries. About a year and a half into my relationship with my then-fiance, he waged a diligent search to find my journals. He did read them without permission. He then proceeded to use every private detail against me. And he even had the audacity to scream at me that I should have kept my thoughts about “x,y,z” to myself. Feeling betrayed and attacked, I stopped journalling for some time, and it led to extreme resentment and other problems caused by losing my outlet.

    Needless to say, he is now my ex-husband, after developing trust issues, surviving domestic violence, and now having to fight a war in court to protect our children from his abuses.

    The mere thought of reading a partner’s private thoughts is indicative of problems. If someone willing to betray their partner’s trust, thus giving the partner a legitimate reason not to trust them, they should carefully evaluate the relationship and personal insecurities.

  18. I don’t understand why anyone would want to invad a persons privacy like that, I mean if the stuff that I wrote in my diary got out I would probably hurt most of the people I love. Ps: that last comment from me was an accedent

  19. One time my brother read my diary he told the entire family who I liked. I started crying. My brother saw and then HE felt bad, he said it was supposed to be a joke but I knew he was saying that to try and get me to forgive him

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