Samara O'Shea

Passwords of Love

Once upon a time I dated a man whose ex-girlfriend still had his voicemail pass code. He warned me that she listened to all of the messages I left him. One time I took it upon myself to say hello to her. I left a message that began with, “Hi Jim and Cindy!” It was an admittedly snotty thing to do and she called me several choice words afterwards. I just couldn’t—for the LIFE of me—understand why he didn’t change the code. He acted so helpless, “What can I do? Cindy has my code?” Um, you could change it. I think he liked knowing that someone cared about him enough to spy on him. It gave his ego a little boost. He and I didn’t last very long.

I’ve heard the argument for exchanging pass codes/passwords, and it goes something like: It’s a way to prove to your significant other that you have nothing to hide. Earlier this week there was an article in the Times about teenagers sharing their e-mail and Facebook passwords as a sign of affection. It’s just like giving someone your ring—sort of.

“It’s a sign of trust,” Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, said of the decision she and her boyfriend made several months ago to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me.”

The great thing about trust is it automatically exists—you don’t have to prove it. Only if the trust is broken, do you have to work to earn it back. If your significant other has given you no reason whatsoever to think s/he is untrustworthy and you are still in constant fear of the trust being broken, then the problem is yours. Your insecurities are playing tricks on you—causing you to see problems that aren’t there. Only you can remedy this by facing your insecurities and, ultimately and ideally, ridding yourself of them.

The other issue with exchanging passwords is relationships can go sour very quickly—especially when you’re a teenager. The damage someone holding your passwords could do to your online reputation is immeasurable. More harm than good can come from this situation.

Again, there’s no need to test trust. Respecting your significant other’s privacy and valuing your own is an important part of a relationship. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted by all that goes on in my own e-mail account. Why would I want to look at someone else’s?