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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Would You Share Your Smartphone Passwords with Your Partner?

Are you surprised to discover that the majority of couples share their passwords with each other, whether it be for their smartphone or internet usage?

Does the thought fill you with horror?

Is it a personal sharing too far, or do you feel that it’s a reasonable thing to do?

After all, if you’ve done nothing wrong what have you got to hide!

It’s often the case that when we’re in the throes of a passionate new romance we want to be open and honest about ourselves and, as such, are keen to share ‘everything’, including our smartphone usage and our passwords. Initially it can feel like the perfect demonstration of mutual trust, a reinforcement of the bonds and ‘usness’ that we’re confident we’re building. But something that started with the best of intentions may be regretted several weeks or months down the line.

Over time our enthusiasm about our partner’s involvement in so much of our personal ‘stuff’ may start to wane, especially if the sharing is not reciprocated or they become excessively critical, monitoring and over keen on making comments or suggestions about those areas of our lives.    

But being close doesn’t require everything to be shared and choosing not to disclose passwords or smartphone access doesn’t automatically mean that there’s something nefarious or untoward going on! Just like those personal things we do that our partner may never be privy to!

It’s often a courtesy to ‘ask permission’ or check in and mention if you want to use someone’s phone, even if they always say that they don’t mind. Regularly maintaining a boundary and mentioning before using it prevents complacency setting in and it becoming an automatic right to look at each other’s phones.   

Be respectful as to how you use this permission and remember that it is a privilege, based on trust. Be clear from the outset as to the reasons for using each other’s phones. Using it to take a special in-the-moment photo might well be understandable and justified, but retain some mutual respect and, for example, don’t go into their inbox unless you’ve been specifically asked to, reply to their emails or update their social media accounts.

Exercise discretion before deciding to read an email, answer a call or verbally comment if you see a message or incoming call popping up on their screen. It’s none of your business, unless they choose to make it so. Resist the temptation to scour through different screens or browse their phone simply because it’s in your hand! 

Appreciate that the situation regarding your access to their phone may change and that doesn’t have to be a big deal. If their work or personal commitments change there may be no need for you to have their passwords and access to their phone. If you’ve, up till now, customarily used each other’s phones this may be the time to renegotiate the situation for either or both of you for future reference.

Avoid taking any changes personally. It may be hard not to take the withdrawal of access as a slight or withdrawal from the relationship, but that’s precisely when open and honest communication can make a big difference. Knowing that they’ve changed their passwords or don’t need you to have unrestricted access to their phone doesn’t necessarily mean a lessening of closeness or intimacy.

However, whilst sharing passwords can be a cosy sign of commitment and togetherness at the start of a relationship, it can gradually become a nightmare, especially if our partner starts to behave in a possessive or over-critical way, constantly monitoring how we use our phone.

Yes, of course sharing passwords can be an efficient way for busy people to manage their time and their lives, especially if they trust their partner to respond to any communications in a way similar to them. It can mean they gain a PA/secretary to look after their diary and admin, but if the relationship starts to sour someone having unfettered access may bring serious consequences. Our smartphone is often the cornerstone to much of our lives.

Also, do we really want our partner to have this much awareness of everything we do? It’s good to keep a little mystery, and retain some of the person we were before we met. Whilst it can feel seductive and compelling to have an ‘us’ team approach to life there’s also something attractive about still having a little independence, with some personal, private areas that don’t need to be shared, dissected or discussed with our partner.        

Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist lifestyletherapy.net

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