Passwords and relationships

Is it okay for my boyfriend to demand to know my passwords, and then be upset if I don’t give them to him..?
realsocialskills answered:
No, it isn’t. People in a relationship are still two separate people. Some people are ok with sharing passwords with their partners, and some aren’t. It’s not something it’s ok to demand.
Some reasons not to share passwords:
  • A computer is a very, very personal thing for some people. It can effectively be an extension of your mind and body.
  • It’s ok not to want to share that in an unbounded way.
  • Or, in other words: A computer (or a cloud account) can be functionally an extension of your brain, and you don’t actually have to give your partner the ability to read your mind

Also, your correspondence can involve other people’s confidences:

  • Sometimes, friends need to be able to tell you things without that being effectively the same as telling your boyfriend
  • Likewise coworkers
  • Likewise students if you’re teaching
  • Especially if you are in a profession where people often tell you deeply personal things with an expectation of confidentiality

It’s ok not to want to share passwords, and it’s a red flag if someone is demanding it. (Particularly if you’re not at the point of living together, and especially if you’re young. If you are a teenager, no one but you should know the password to your email account and other things that are similarly private.)

Borrowing computers

Hi… I have a suggestion I’d really like to see: a post with more about people asking to borrow your computer and similar issues and why this can be a problem. Thanks for the blog! 🙂
realsocialskills answered:
Here’s how I’d explain it to people who are inclined to expect to have the use of other people’s computers:
Some people experience their computer/iPad/phone/etc as part of their body and find losing control over these things intensely distressing. Asking to borrow a computer can be like asking to borrow part of someone’s body.
Even for people who do not feel that way – Computers and things are expensive. Some people don’t like to share them, because they depend on them heavily and wouldn’t be able to afford to replace them.
Don’t put people in the position of having to tell you they don’t trust you not to break their computer. There’s no polite way to say that.
It can be ok to ask, but it’s important not to assume that the answer will be yes. And if you’re anticipating the need for a computer during the day, plan ahead rather than putting others on the spot.
For instance:
  • If you know you’ll need to look things up during the day, and you also know that Bob always carries an iPad, don’t just assume that you’ll be able to use his.
  • Either ask in advance, or bring your own
  • If you’re going to need a computer for a presentation or to show a video or something, it’s very important not to assume you’ll be able to use someone else’s.
  • Ask ahead of time, and take no for an answer if someone says no
  • Putting people on the spot pressures them to say yes even if it’s not really ok with them
  • Because it’s likely that everyone will think it’s their fault for ruining your presentation if they don’t agree to share their computer
  • Don’t do this to people.
Some people are happy to occasionally allow friends and coworkers to use their computers. Other people aren’t. It’s ok to be unwilling to share, and the reasons why are no one else’s business. Don’t pressure people into doing things with their computer that they’re not really ok with.