Thursday, July 4, 2013

Should You Give Your Partner Your Passwords?

Some time ago now, I was watching the Today Show one morning, because I am a glutton for punishment, and some blowhard came on and started lecturing us about how, in a good relationship, we should share our email, social media, cell phone and presumably online banking passwords with our partner because, “If you’re trustworthy, you have nothing to hide.”

Right, that’s what the NSA said. How about, if I’m so trustworthy, then you trust me.

A few minutes later, the same guy told America that we no longer need to wear socks with our closed-toed dress shoes, so that just goes to show you how well-thought-out his opinions are.

Socks are not optional, America. Don't even try it.
Image credit: Loran Davis

In an unprecedented move, I took to the Internets to see what other people thought before blurting out my half-educated opinions here on the blog. I thought this would be a good idea because I have, according to an ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, “a negative attitude about relationships,” for reasons that remain mysterious.

My search turned up a Pew study that found that one in three teens share their online passwords with their boyfriends, girlfriends, or (in the case of the forever alone) besties. According to a New York Times article on the matter, teens take password-sharing as a sign of trust and intimacy.

Yeah, but those are teens, and teens are…not renowned for their ability to think things through. What do full-grown adults think of the matter?

An informal survey of ten of my Facebook friends and one of my Twitter followers revealed that the majority of full-grown adults think that sharing your online passwords with your partner compromises your own personal space and privacy, which you, as a distinct and separate individual, need and deserve. No one actually said that; that’s just the impression I got from reading all of their remarks.

Don’t get me wrong, some of those people did come out on the side of full password disclosure. One friend, Eileen Dover, said, “My wife knows my passwords because its always the same and I know hers because I set them up! We don’t have secrets and have never used them to spy on one another.”

Another friend, Constance Noring, wrote, “Snoop all you want. Just be prepared for what you find. On that note, my husband and I both know each others passwords. It’s not a trust thing but a respect thing as well.” I’m not sure I understand that, because I kind of feel like, if someone respects me, they’ll respect my right to privacy, but whatevs, it’s not my husband.

I will say that the general rule of thumb, as I understand it, about snooping on your partner is that you will be guaranteed to find something you don’t like, either because a) you realize, either consciously or not, that there are problems in the relationship, and you’re snooping because you’ve decided, either consciously or not, to find the evidence you need to confirm your suspicions; or b) you’re some kind of paranoid jealous wingnut who’s going to overanalyze and misinterpret whatever you find, even in the absence of any legitimate evidence of wrongdoing.

Several people said, as Facebook friend Leigh King put it, “You shouldn’t want to know your spouses passwords and they shouldn’t care if you know it.” So that would be a “no,” then, I think.

The Twitter follower, @youresuchamom, said, “If you’re doing something wrong it’s likely on another account anyhow. I let hubs have his privacy.” Well, I guess that’s logical.

Christina Majaski, whose real name I’m going to go ahead and use here because everybody already knows who she is, said, “I think not sharing passwords exhibits more trust than sharing them. I am definitely going to wonder if the person I’m with suddenly thinks he needs that information. Granted, because of tech issues and other things, couples may accidentally just know each other’s passwords, but if you think you are entitled to this information, ask me for it, expect it, or think I need to prove something to you by sharing it, then we don’t need to be together.”

Only one person, Polly Esther, said anything about the privacy of the people on the other end of your email: “While being open and honest with [husband] is my #1 priority, keeping my friends personal feelings and rants private for them is just as important to me as trusting they would never share mine with someone else. How could I protect their thoughts/feelings/private conversations if I share my passwords with my significant other.” That’s right! The people who email you expect privacy too! But no! Make it all about you!

It's probably obvious that I come down on the side of non-password-sharing. Have you ever heard someone say, "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" It's like that, only with trust instead.

What do you think? Should you share your passwords with your partner?


  1. chris and i don't share passwords. but he does read my twitter abt once a week. other than that... i mean, yeah we just trust each other? like a normal healthy couple that doesn't need to be able to snoop around or whatever? idk.

    aaaaand socks are totally optional with shoes


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  2. Well, I don't know about "should" ... that word kinda sends me off running in the opposite direction. I guess I don't think about it much ... my hubz and I share passwords because we work together and it's often handy to help each other out in answering emails and stuff like that. Also, we don't have a one-password-fits-all so sharing the passwords help us remember them ... okay ... I help him remember his. LOL! Truthfully, I don't feel compelled to search his computer for anything he might be doing ... and I don't think he feels that way about my stuff. So for us ... no problem sharing passwords.

    1. I'm getting a lot of "my husband can't remember his passwords" lol.

    2. Yeah, my hubby says why should he use valuable mental real estate trying to remember things like passwords when he KNOWS that I will keep track of them. A "guy" thing? :-)

    3. For some reason husbands' mental real estate is always, ahem, scarce.

  3. My hubby doesn't own or use a computer, a phone, a tablet or any such madness (his opinion) and he's definitely happier for it. He prefers his tractor, lol, and the simple life. After spending over a week fighting trojans and worm viruses on 2 laptops I'm being to want a tractor too. :)

  4. My wife and I know each others but like what was said above, it is more a matter of convenience. Also, we both tend to stick to just 1 or 2 each that we use. I don't snoop on hers and as far as I know, she doesn't snoop on mine. I don't think it would really matter one way or the other to us.

    1. I think if it evolves naturally as a part of your relationship, then so be it, but I'd be suspicious if someone asked for my passwords.

  5. I could see the logic in sharing things like banking passwords, sometimes both parties need to access those accounts. But email passwords is just asking for trouble.

    1. If you're married, sure, but there's no way I'm giving that info to someone I'm just dating.

  6. My husband and I have known each other's email passwords since we got together 14 years ago. I have NEVER gone into his account, and as far as I know, he has never gone into mine. Just as I would ask before going into his wallet, that is a personal space. I do, however, know the passwords in case of an emergency. He owns a business, and I would need to contact his customers if he were unable to do so on his own or if he were to die unexpectedly. I believe that knowing how to access accounts is important so that spouses can take care of closing them out if need be.

    Teenagers sharing passwords as proof of trust and intimacy? THAT'S just crazy! I hope my daughters are smarter than that. There IS a level of trust that goes along with a marriage that just doesn't need to be shared before that.

    1. You have a point, but I guess it's one thing to have the passwords and another to actually use them.

      Yeah, I'm finding a lot of the people who come down on the "share passwords" side aren't married. That disturbs me. If you're married it's a whole different situation.

    2. I absolutely would NOT share passwords with someone if I wasn't married. That's just asking for trouble, IMO. I tink this may be the trendy way to show "trust," but it's really dangerous. I agree that is disturbing.

    3. Yeah, you also get a lot of that from the "we don't need to get married, it's just a piece of paper" crowd. Um, actually, it's not. smh

    4. Oh, don't get me started on the "we don't need to get married" line. That is definitely a subject I feel passionately about.

    5. Me too. I enjoy the look of panic that comes over a hippie woman's face when I point out that she probably won't be allowed to inherit the house that her "domestic partner" insists be in his name only.

  7. We both know all each other's passwords (except for the one of mine he can just never remember). We're constantly like "HEY I'M IN THE SHOWER, LOG INTO MY FACEBOOK AND MESSAGE JEN THAT I'LL BE 10 MINUTES LATE!" and stuff. We don't go into each other's work accounts, but we jump into private emails and facebook and stuff all the time so that we can help each other out. We've been together for almost 12 years though. I would never recommend it for a teen relationship or something super new or without the level of trust to know the other person won't abuse the privilege.

  8. Fromy own experience,i dont really think we need to answer the'trust'question to mantain or stay in a relationship.the idea of trust is rather old fashioned.if you dig deep enough in any relationship,you definitely find something unpleasant.does that mean we shd not go on living?NO.Trust to me is not thinking at all that your partner is cheating on you while in reality that might be happening even when u dpnt get the signs.Just dont think about it if you can,then you will be trusting him or her.that s a more healty way to live.

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  11. I don't share passwords with my husband other than bank accounts. I am married and will show him an email from a male or female friend and I do talk to him about the texts I receive from friends...male or female. I guess we are weird but now that I have kids life is more password protected. with a husband who already travels a lot for work I feel communicating verbally means more than him having access to every account I own. A little bit of privacy makes the marriage work. Years ago we didn't have the kind of access we now do to each other's lives with mobile phones, emails, websites, etc. For us in a world where everything is watched it's nice to not have to feel like I'm managing one more thing. Love him, trust him.

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