Love

6 Reasons Tracking Your Partner's Location 24/7 Is Bad For You — And Your Relationship

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Couple hugging, woman looking over the man's shoulder

My husband and I have been happily married for decades. We've always respected each other's boundaries and privacy. We don't track each other's phones.

One day last month, I wished we did. My husband is losing his hearing in one ear, and he can't hear the ding of a text. (Or he may just ignore it).

I wanted to know when he'd be home. I was going to be in a meeting when my daughter dropped by to pick something up. 

I texted him. No answer.

I texted her, letting her know where the item was. I texted my husband again. Still no reply. 

He wasn't with another woman. He wasn't betting on the races. He wasn't even watching football. 

He was playing Pokemon Go, five minutes from the house. 

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My meeting began. My daughter arrived. She searched but couldn't find the item. So she left without it.

Five minutes afterwards, my husband came home. Over dinner, I let him know that we wouldn't have an issue had he just let me know he was on his way home, in the sassiest tone I could get out.

If one of us had known how close he was, it would have streamlined everything. This would be a normal reason to track your significant other's phone, right?

In our marriage, it isn't. 

We based our marriage on freedom, individuality, and privacy. It's worked for us. Tracking your partner's location isn't normal for us. 

While there are some logical or safety-based reasons to utilize location tracking or "find friends" on each other's phones, routine tracking can set up a Pandora's box of miscommunication, unhealthy expectations, and crossed boundaries, leading to distrust.

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Here's why phone tracking can lead to relationship problems: 

1. It can trigger their childhood rebelliousness.

Our partners are adults. They don't need mommy dearest peering over their shoulder all the time. They flew the nest once.

They don't want another mother. They want a wife. We have to have faith that they are faithful, and convenience is not a good reason enough to make them feel like kids instead of the men they are. 

2. It can lead to trust issues.

It's micromanagement. Being tracked can leave your guy feeling emasculated and distrusted. A marriage is based on trust, and tracking can seem like we're suspicious. 

Ironically, it's the first step toward more distrust. It can lead to secrets and risk-taking. It may even lead him to the arms of another who does trust him. Which is probably what you're trying most to avoid. 

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3. It threatens their independence.

If your husband is like mine, he resists control. He is with you a lot, and maybe he wants some space, privacy, or time with friends.

These are healthy human needs, and each feeds a marriage instead of diminishing it. We want our men to be equals, right? We want them to be who they are, not immasculate them. 

4. It breaches boundaries.

Once you cross that line, you're implying you have a reason not to trust him. It may hurt him, even if he doesn't admit it.

Think of the golden rule. Would you want him to know every move you make? Would it please you if he looked through every shopping bag you brought home? If he listened in on your phone conversations?

That seems a lot like surveillance. 

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5. It dampens romance.

Who wants to kill the mystery? We already have enough things to cause concern and disagreements in our homes — daily finances, parenting, and routines.

Knowing every move your husband or wife makes can whittle away the mystique and romance in a great relationship. Do you really need to know he had McDonald's for lunch? Or spoil his birthday surprise for you? 

6. It can cause mixed-up messages.

Ok, say you find something suspicious. Then what do you do? Sit down, take a breath and ask yourself if you've been burned before. Is this fear related to this particular instance, or something from your past?

Perhaps you're reading something into his whereabouts that isn't true.

Could your own self-doubts be why you're spying on him? If so, you have a choice. You can drop your suspicions, and move on. Forget about it.

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Unless you have a good reason related to safety (that you both agree upon with enthusiasm) stop tracking, and have a conversation instead, realizing that it might provoke him instead of enlightening you.

I wouldn't advise saying nothing and deepening both your tracking and your doubts. Worst case scenario, you could find something out that could end the marriage.

My husband and I set up parameters about what we would allow and not allow before we ever exchanged our vows.

Make sure you have this conversation now not later. Doing so helps you see that tracking isn't even viable, or advisable.

My husband's number one rule is trust, and his second rule is freedom. Of course he won't ever let me track his phone.

Trust and freedom make our marriage what it is. Tracking breaks our initial commitment to our marriage. 

Open, direct communication is always the answer. 

Tracking someone's phone can lead to complicated, dicey conversations. Why not talk about a problem rather than using some app?

Some women still like the idea of seeing where family members are. But, please think before you track. Ask permission. And whatever you do, track them in specific circumstances (like during a jog late at night or on a treacherous drive home when answering a call could be dangerous), but not all the time.

The minute we stop communicating face-to-face and resort to electronic monitoring instead, we're breaching the tenets of any relationship, cracking its foundation. 

If you're still saying, "tracking is normal in our relationship," make sure that you are in a healthy relationship already, ask him (or her) beforehand, and set up parameters for tracking, perhaps even in a signed agreement, and look within for the reason you're doing it. The minute you're doing it in secret, it can cause problems.

Remember a little separation can make hearts flutter more. My husband and I had a long-distance (overseas) marriage when we were young. We had one phone call a week. Smartphones weren't around yet.

The reunions were hot, and as far as I know, we were both faithful. 

Above all, deal with your own stuff before you decide to share locations. It may be that your trauma has you triggered. Identify what's old and what belongs to today. 

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My husband and I sat down the next night, and I apologized. He returned my apology. I'd been a little jealous that he had time for fun because I'd been working too many hours.

That's what triggered my desire to track his movements. He offered to drive the item to my daughter, but I suggested we both do it.

But, what if my husband had been with a woman? What if he had been at the horse races betting on lucky #5 (who wasn't lucky that day)? 

That's his business, not mine. (Though I did turn the volume up all the way on his ringer.)

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Kathryn Ramsperger is an award-winning author and writer focusing on relationships and cross-cultural communication. Her writing has appeared in Nat Geo and Kiplinger. More info can be found on Twitter and on her website.

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