Home Advice & How-ToDating My Partner Wants to Go Through My Phone. Should I Let Them?
Home Advice & How-ToDating My Partner Wants to Go Through My Phone. Should I Let Them?

My Partner Wants to Go Through My Phone. Should I Let Them?

by Spokeo

Should you let your partner go through your phone if they ask to?  Would you feel comfortable giving them the passcode for your lock screen?  Smartphones are more than just a way to call up a Lyft or check your social media.  If someone has access to your phone, they may have access to your bank accounts, your text messages, your location, your photos, what you did last night when you said you were going shopping … in essence, they pretty much have access to your entire life. If you’re wondering, “Should I let my partner go through my phone,” only you can decide the right answer for yourself. 

Why Do They Want to Go Through Your Phone?

If your partner is asking to go through your phone, you should ask yourself two questions: First, why do they want access to your phone?  And second, how does that make you feel?  And, for the record, if you’re the one who’s thinking of snooping, ask yourself what you think you’ll find there. 

Relationship counselors generally agree on the most common reasons someone may want to look through their significant other’s phone — and that most of them signal deeper issues in the relationship. 

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They have trust issues

Nearly all of the reasons people give for wanting to be able to go through your phone boil down to one thing: they have a problem with trusting others.  They may have been let down in the past, or simply have never learned to put their faith in another person.  It’s possible they’re repeating patterns they learned growing up, especially if one of their parents was unfaithful or controlling. 

They may be insecure or jealous

Insecurity and jealousy often go hand in hand.  People who are insecure about their own appeal may project those feelings onto their partner.  The feelings may stem from past romantic relationships, or even from their childhood.  That may make them suspicious, even if you haven’t given them any reason to be. 

If this is the reason, no amount of snooping on your phone is likely to reassure them.  That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though.  Asking to go through your phone presents an opportunity for a deep conversation about your relationship. 

They may suspect you’re cheating

Your partner may be reacting to something they’ve noticed or to perceived changes in your behavior.  Cheating is sadly common, and it’s an equal-opportunity activity.  According to recent statistics, about 20% of married men and 19% of married women admit to cheating on their spouse. 

They may be cheating on you

There’s an old saying — every accusation is a confession.  It’s called projection.  When a person is doing (or thinking about doing) something, they often suspect that other people are doing that thing, too.  If you suspect that may be the case, see if they’ll let you look through their phone.  If they do, you can look for signs that they’re the ones being unfaithful

Or you could take the opportunity to talk about your relationship, your boundaries, and what you can do to start building trust in each other.

They want to control your relationships with other people

If they want full access to your phone so they can monitor your interactions with other people, they may feel the need to control your access to your friends, coworkers, and other people.  This kind of controlling behavior can be a big red flag — it’s a common tactic used in abusive relationships.  If your partner is doing or saying things that make you feel unsafe, consider reaching out for help or counseling.  Your safety always comes first.

Should You Have Access to Each Other’s Phones?

If you’ve ever read anything at all about keeping your phone secure, you know the simplest, most basic step you can take is to secure your lock screen and never share your passcode.  When it comes to couples sharing access to phones and other devices, though, there’s a growing cultural norm to do the opposite. 

In 2023, ExpressVPN asked 2,000 U.S. adults if they shared their passcodes with significant others.  They found that more than 80% had shared passwords to various accounts, and 19% shared the passcode to their phone, computer, tablet or email accounts.  A 2020 survey by Pew Research found those numbers were even higher — they found that 75% of partnered adults have shared their mobile password with their partner.  And a 2022 r/WomenAsk thread garnered more than 250 responses to a post asking “Would you share your password with your partner? Why?” with the responses seeming evenly split between “Sure, why not?” and “No, never!” 

So should you share your phone passcode with your partner?  The answer appears to be, “It depends.”

The case for sharing your phone password

In both surveys, as well as in the Reddit thread, there was a clear trend among partners who share access to each other’s phones: The more committed the partnership, the more likely the partners would share the password to their phones and other accounts.  Couples who were married, living together, or in a committed relationship were the most likely to give access to their partners.  Even in the Reddit thread, most of the women who said their partner had their phone password — and they had their partner’s — had been in a committed relationship with their significant other for years.  In fact, many of them qualified their response by saying they wouldn’t share the same information with a “boyfriend” or someone they didn’t know as well. 

There was also a clear trend in why they were willing to share access to their devices.

  • Trust.  Many expressed that they felt they could trust their partner not to snoop through their private messages and social media accounts.  A lesser number said they felt that the willingness to share their passwords was a way to tell their partner they could be trusted.
  • Convenience.  For many couples, it was a matter of convenience, particularly in being able to navigate while driving or manage Spotify playlists in their home or their car.
  • Safety.  Some couples turned on location services in order to monitor their partner’s safety if they were in potentially dangerous situations.  On the flip side, some of those who responded felt that they had to allow their partner to go through their phone to avoid arguments or to prove their fidelity.
  • Future Planning.  Several women in the subreddit thread shared their experiences with trying to help a parent gain access to a partner’s accounts and vital information in a medical emergency or after their unexpected death. 

The case against sharing your password with your partner

Whether they were married or not, those who said they wouldn’t allow a significant other access to their phone also shared a number of common reasons.  Those included: 

  • A Need for Privacy.  Everyone deserves to preserve their sense of privacy.  A few of those who cited this reason said that they wouldn’t feel safe with a partner who asked for or demanded their phone passwords.
  • Preserving Their “Vent Space.”  People often use their mobiles to blow off steam or vent, sometimes about their partners.  They didn’t want to worry that their significant other would read something they wrote in frustration and be hurt by it, especially if it was unimportant in the long run.
  • Confidentiality.  Some noted that their friends, coworkers, or clients sometimes shared sensitive information with them via text, email, or instant messages, and they felt a need to preserve their confidentiality.
  • Maintaining Boundaries.  Similar to those who cited privacy concerns, some men and women felt that being expected to share their phone passcodes was a violation of their boundaries. 

The Bottom Line

While it’s becoming more common for couples to share access to their phones, it’s important to consider your relationship, and how much you trust your partner to respect your privacy and your autonomy.  That kind of trust takes time and commitment to build.  If you do decide to let your partner go through your phone, consider ways to limit the information they can access: 

  • Take advantage of privacy settings on social media accounts.
  • Set your email and text messages to require a secure password to log in.
  • Set reasonable boundaries. For example, allow them to go through your phone, but only in your presence.
  • Ask them to reciprocate by sharing access to their phone.

Most important of all, only share what you feel comfortable sharing.  Take the time to discuss your relationship and your expectations, and how you can build trust in each other.  Open, honest communication is the key to a long and healthy relationship.  The conversations you have about phone access can set the stage for a more loving and trusting relationship going forward.

Sources:

Pew Research – Dating and Relationships in the Digital Age

VeryWell Mind – Is It OK to Snoop On My Partner?

HuffPost – Is It Ever OK to Check Your Partner’s Phone? Marriage Therapists Weigh In

University of British Columbia – Vulnerability & Blame: Making Sense of Unauthorized Access to Smartphones

Whistle Out – 50% of Americans Look at Their Partner’s Phone

Ask Men – Snooped on Your Partner’s Phone? Here’s How to Move ForwardThriving Center of Psychology – Should I Look Through My Partner’s Phone?