In a loving, healthy relationship you’re meant to share everything, right?
Your deepest, darkest secrets, your sexual desires, your embarrassing habits – but what about your passwords?
Do we really want our partners to have access to our online profiles, emails, banking, social media? And what happens when a relationship goes sour?
Trust is an enormous part of a successful relationship, but there has to be a line.
Letting your passwords fall into the wrong hands could be catastrophic – and it might be just a matter of time before your other half becomes the owner of those wrong hands.
More than four in ten 18 to 34-year-olds (41%) say they’ve regretted sharing passwords in a relationship, according to a study conducted by Better Buy Insurance.
And it seems to be a strictly millennial affliction, with only 5% of those over 55 saying they regretted it.
The figures also found that 30% of 18 to 34-year-olds say they have used a partner’s passwords without their knowledge.
And this is why you shouldn’t share your passwords. Clearly, none of us can be trusted – particularly when we’re heartbroken.
Luckily, the study shows that most of us are pretty savvy and won’t trust an ex-partner not to access their social media accounts. 65% of those surveyed say they change their passwords after breaking up.
This seems smart. But even smarter would be to not give your passwords out in the first place.
I’m a strong believer in privacy in relationships. You can love someone deeply, intensely, but still preserve certain elements of your life that are just for you. It helps you keep a sense of self-identity, and protects you if the relationship breaks down.
Being in a relationship with someone doesn’t give them automatic entitlement to everything in your life. If you want to invite them to share certain things, brilliant – but it isn’t a given.
Passwords fall under the remit of personal privacy.
If your partner is insistent that they want to know your passwords, want access to your accounts and emails, you have to ask yourself – why?
It smacks of paranoia, lack of trust and emotional manipulation. Demanding access to every facet of your online presence is a definite red flag, and never a good foundation for a functional partnership.
Becky from Manchester admits she wishes she’d changed her password following a recent break-up with a boyfriend.
‘My ex knew my passwords to everything and when we broke up he was logging onto my Facebook and Instagram, and unfriending and unfollowing pretty much every boy I had on there,’ says Becky.
‘I only found out because my friends asked me why I had unfriended them, when I knew I hadn’t.
‘I had a hunch it was him, so I confronted him, and he said he did it because he didn’t want me speaking to them.
‘He was on my Instagram and Facebook accounts, snooping and reading all my messages, and deleting everyone for about a month before I realised.’
Tips for strong passwords
Use a strong, separate password for your email
Having a strong, separate password for your email means that if cyber criminals steal the password for one of your less important accounts, they can’t use it to access your email account.
Use three random words to create a strong password
A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words.
Numbers and symbols can still be used if needed, for example 3redhousemonkeys27!
Be creative and use words memorable to you, so that people can’t guess your password. Your social media accounts can give away vital clues about yourself so don’t use words such as your child’s name or favourite sports team which are easy for people to guess.
Cyber criminals are very smart and know many of the simple substitutions we use such as ‘Pa55word!” which utilises symbols to replace letters.
Where available use two-factor authentication on your email account
Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, as it means your account can only be accessed on a device that you have already registered.
When you first log-in with a new device you are asked to complete a second step after entering your password, such as providing your fingerprint or entering a unique code which has been sent to your phone.
Breakups are hard enough without the added stress of knowing your partner can access your social media. Hacking is not a joke, and with the rise of revenge porn, it’s clear that an ex’s spiteful actions can have serious ramifications.
It works the other way as well. If you know your ex’s passwords, the lure of sneaking a quick peak at their DMs can be tempting. But if you see something unpleasant it puts you in a really difficult situation.
The good news is that the longer you’re in a relationship, the less of an issue this becomes.
The data tells us that 36% of those who have been in a relationship for a less than a month think it’s important to share passwords, compared to just 9% of people who have been in a relationship for more than ten years.
Which says a lot about the development of trust over time.
Responding to the results, relationships coach Ben Edwards said: ‘Sharing passwords isn’t a necessity.
‘Trust is a fundamental part of any partnership and your relationship should incorporate a degree of honesty and intimacy that ultimately makes password sharing unnecessary.
‘If you feel the need to share passwords with a partner, perhaps you should consider why you think it’s essential; it may reflect a deeper issue.
‘If, for this reason or any other, you feel uncomfortable sharing passwords, I recommend you be upfront and honest about the reasons why.
‘Good communication is key in a relationship and you may just find that this strengthens your bond more than sharing passwords would.’
Life coach, Jamie Skipper, thinks everyone is entitled to private thoughts, messages and conversations – even when they’re in a relationship.
‘Know thyself before you ask your partner for their password or to share their phone,’ says Jamie.
‘Respect other people’s privacy and individuality, respect their model of the world and remember that your beliefs are not necessarily theirs.
‘Some people keep journals or notes on their phones, or they may have messaged their friends about an argument you had, or a friend may have confided in you and sent a personal message that is between friends.
‘It doesn’t always mean that someone is cheating on you if they don’t want to show you their phone or share their accounts with you.’