You’ve been in a relationship with your partner for a while now and trust is fully cemented. You talk daily, are open and honest with one another, and have effectively set boundaries in your relationship, communicating about what you consider to be cheating, or over-stepping the bounds with external parties. You’re in love, and it feels great to be at this stage in your relationship! You feel secure and loved, and after playing tug-of-war with your heart, you’ve finally decided to trust your bae wholeheartedly.
But what happens when you feel a gnawing inside your heart and tummy that tells you you’d like to have their social media passwords and check their private chats, just to make sure you’re not being treated like a fool behind the scenes.
There are some couples who openly volunteer their passwords to one another, just to strengthen the trust already present in the relationship and reinforce to their baes that they’re not cheating or having inappropriate chats on social media. If you’ve been with your partner for a while, would you ask for their social media passwords or volunteer your own? This is a topic that even I have no concrete ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to. There are many diverse scenarios to consider, and surely every person should have their right to privacy?
A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she and her partner had exchanged social media passwords. She had the freedom to go through his chats and he had the freedom to go through hers. But after a few months, they both became obsessed with monitoring each other’s social media accounts and scrutinised every ‘like’, ‘comment’ and ‘sharing’ of posts. The obsession became so unhealthy that they both decided to change their passwords, which created a huge dent in a once rock-solid relationship.
Many moons ago, when I had exchanged passwords with my partner, my bae would inbox random guys – some of whom were good friends of mine from my high school years – to gage the level of comfort in the relationship between us. I would be so embarrassed when I’d get WhatsApp texts from these friends, asking why ‘I’ texted them at early hours of the morning to simply say ‘stay away from me’ or ‘why do you keep liking my posts?’. When I would see my partner face-to-face, he would literally wrestle my phone away from me and go through my WhatsApp texts, my pictures, screenshots and even my call log. I had absolutely nothing to hide, but I hated the feeling of being violated when messages were sent from my social media that were, in reality, texts my partner would send to my friends. More than anything else, I hated having my cellphone yanked away from me.
Conversely, my partner would liberally ‘like’ and comment inappropriately on sexy pictures shared by the gorgeous women on his social media. I was trapped and treated like a criminal for no reason, and told that I was being ‘dramatic’ each time I confronted my bae for his inappropriate advances towards other women through social media. After some time, I realised that the social media password-exchange was not the reason my relationship had failed, the passwords were mere catalysts put in place to show me how controlling and emotionally abusive my partner was.
It is important to note, however, that I am not saying that the same disastrous consequences that happened when I exchanged passwords with my partner, will happen to your relationship. I am simply pointing out that there are many aspects of trust, privacy and control to consider before you decide to take your relationship to the next level virtually.
Here are a couple of things to consider if you’re looking to exchange social media passwords with bae:
1. Set boundaries
If you don’t want your partner ‘liking’ or commenting on posts or pictures on your behalf, tell them! If your bae interacts with your contacts without letting them know that you are not the person behind the texts, they’re effectively catfishing them, and that is incredibly toxic and inappropriate. If there are discussions about password exchanges taking place between you and bae, make sure that you communicate with one another about exactly what you’re allowed to do on each other’s accounts and what would be considered as a violation of privacy.
My partner would text my friends on my behalf and open important text messages without ever informing me of their existence. Furthermore, he would text my male friends on my behalf and then block them from my social media. That was, without a doubt, completely unacceptable. Please be wary of partners who try and control you by gaining access to your social media. You have a right to your privacy and, most importantly, to the peace of mind of knowing that your communication is not intercepted or tampered with.
2. Know your reasons
If you simply want to ensure that trust is further cemented between you and your partner, perhaps exchanging social media passwords isn’t a bad idea. If, however, you or your partner aim to abuse the trust afforded to you and control one another and your relationships with other people, please keep the word ‘password’ out of your relationship. The last thing you need is the creation of a toxic relationship through the exchange of virtual networking information.
3. Take it one step at a time
If you’re wary about password exchanges, you and your partner should start by simply initiating conversations about why openness is so important within the relationship. If you were triggered by bae ‘liking’ a certain post or interacting with their exes on social media, speaking to them about your discomfort may be a better idea than simply demanding passwords and access to their mobile devices.
In my case, social media acted as a catalyst in demonstrating to me how toxic my partner was. He would grab my phone from me even if I was simply texting my classmates on WhatsApp through the class group chat. I needed to kick that boy to the curb, and thankfully, I did!
As aforementioned, I am neither for, or against password exchanges. But it is important to understand both the pros and cons of your partner having access to your private social media platforms. Open communication and honesty are key tools to ensure the success of any relationship. Tell your partner about your stresses and why you would like to peruse their social media networks, make sure boundaries are in place, and most importantly, do not try and control your bae, or allow them to control you, through the exchange of social networking passwords.
Tell us: What do you think about sharing social media passwords?