Monday, August 20, 2007

Can I have your password, honey?

Recently, a friend of mine told me to mind what I say in my emails to him, even in jest. The injunction was not so much an admonishment for something I had said, as a warning against something I may say in the future. The reason: he had shared his email password with his girlfriend.
For some reason that freaks me out. I would never expect anyone I was in a relationship with to share their email password or bank pin with me unless it was a shared account or an emergency, in which case I would ask them to change it immediately after the emergency was over.
Of course, there are different ways of looking at everything, but everybody has some private spaces and should be allowed them. Having a personal space does not necessarily mean it is being misused. If I don’t want someone reading my messages, even a boyfriend, it does not mean I’m up to no good.
If my friend is fine with sharing his password, that’s his decision. But I don’t think by doing so the two are bringing any more openness into the relationship. Because he is going to watch what he says and he’s warned his friends too. So all that has been added is a layer of subterfuge.
I no longer feel comfortable mailing my friend. You may argue that since I’m not flirting with him or bitching about his girl or something like that in the mail, I have nothing to hide and the fact that she reads the mails shouldn’t bother me. But it does.

What would you do if your partner asked for your password?


Bikerdude said...

I'd just say No. Point blank. And I'd probably pre-empt any emo spiel about it by saying "And no emo spiel about it either thanks honey" if I dont barf before I say "honey" ie :p

Nice blog :)

confused said...

Say no. I agree. Itna pyar bhi theek nahi...

Rahul said...

We have each others' passwords. But that doesn't mean we read each others' mail, except on request. ("I'm busy, you have the laptop with you, can you check whether so-and-so has replied to me?")

I think, if you can trust each other not to snoop, what's the problem? And if not, why are you partners?

Semantic Overload said...

The issue, like you rightly pointed out, is not about trust. Its about privacy. The reason why I want to keep my communications private is not that its sensitive. It is so because my communications are nobody else's business. Sometimes, not even my significant other's.

In a more philosophical sense, your email is your identity online, its a means of authenticating yourself to whoever you are communicating with. Now by allowing someone else access to your email, you are compromising that identity (and not necessarily to the other party's knowledge).
If you and your significant other would like to blur your identity boundaries, then that's your decision. However, it is also your responsibility to ensure that this fact is communicated to everyone who is communicating with that email/identity.

Personally, I would like to know who the email is coming from. I don't want to have to guess or verify if it was my friend or his/her significant other who sent that email.

Additionally, there is a very real threat of misuse. If you are in a relationship, then you are bound to have fights, misunderstandings. You dont want someone who is emotionally charged against you to have access to your email accounts and your communications. That is just asking for trouble.

Patrix said...

Well, in our case we know each other's passwords not because we have to or we agreed to. It is merely utilitarian. But there is that implicit understanding that you would access the accounts unless asked to.

I would say, sharing of password is for the reasons that Rahul suggests in his first paragraph.

Bombay Addict said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Niket said...

I concur with Rahul and Patrix.

In fact, I am sure that in their cases, as in mine, the password wasn't asked for... it just happended to be shared.

In fact, if my situation was like your friend's, I would have refused to give the passowrd to my wife.

"And if not, why are you partners?"
That would be true in an ideal world. People are suspicious, possessive, feel they ought to share everything, feel that the partner doesn't need his/her private space, or more than one of the above.

Bombay Addict said...

No way. Sounds cootchie coo at best and intrusive at worst.

Convenience is one thing, but honestly I don't see how my partner reading / replying to my mails makes life easier for me.

If I'm not around, well, there is a concept of "out-of-office" even in gmail. And its not like I need to access my mails every second (in which case you now have crackberry, mobile applications, etc.). So that takes care of ease-of-access, timeliness, etc.

Also, really I don't see how all of above affects my relationship with my partner.

Yet, this is a choice that couples make and as long as its cool between them, duniya ka kya.

N - that was one corny incident. I think I'd freak out too if it happened to me.

IdeaSmith said...

If I really liked him, I'd probably login in front of him and then later, change the password. Not recommended though, I see your point of layering again. Not to mention inconveniencing other people for the sake of pseudo-'openness' in one's relationship. GOod post.

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

Have shared passwords with my g/f but as some readers metioned, they just happened to be shared ..... (No I do not know if she swoops into my mailbox, I do not, unless asked to - but I have reasons to believe that she does not do it as we keep forgetting each others passwords, so when a request is made, the password is promptly muttered on the pnhone) It is usually .... please see if there is an email from my Boss / from a US client / etc. if she does not have access to the net at some time.
And I think some things just cannot be shared with your partner, they have to remain with your guy-friends (I guess it is the same with the girls). So please do not woop into your partner's mailbox even if you know the passwords

Rahul said...

niket - yes, in other words the password was given, not asked for.

semantic overlord -
"If you are in a relationship, then you are bound to have fights, misunderstandings. You dont want someone who is emotionally charged against you to have access to your email accounts and your communications."

I don't want to sound virtuous but, while fights will and do happen, neither of us would think of using each other's email accounts to "get back" in such a way. With honest disagreements (which are hopefully the only kind with someone you trust), it only demeans you to stoop to something like that. But we wouldn't even do that with someone we totally detest.

So do you always log out from your mail when you get up from your home computer to fetch a coffee? Do you also have a separate postal mailbox for your partner, with a separate lock and key? How do you ensure that it is not opened by your partner? Our postman seems to prefer to leave letters with one end sticking out of the slot, so you don't need the key. He's also been known to misdeliver our mail to our neighbours, or vice versa.

If you're not worried about such things, why is e-mail different?

Morpheus said...

it matters not. I say what I want and let other people say what they want in their emails to me. If he noses around and reads something he did not like, well he will know not to do it next time. I don't think its a test of love or trust. It sometimes is just mechanics of logins saved on a laptop. Not a big deal according to me.

n said...

thanks, hopefully, you'll stick around?
in fact, taking this further... I would see a partner's asking for the password as signalling to the fact that they do not understand or appreciate concepts of personal space. That would make me like them lesser.

glad you agree. Though I don't think it's a question of love

giving a password is different from asking for it. If my partner gave me a password cause he wanted me to check something for him, i would remind him to change it the next time he was near a computer.
I don't think I need to prove my trust by sharing my password. The fact that I'm sharing my life with the person is evidence enuf.
but like I said in the post, if it works for you, then it works for you...

[semantic overload]
well put. communications are not private only because they're sensitive. but because they are personal and no one else's business. Not even my partner's unless i choose to share something particular. absolutely right (nods vigorously)

refer what I said to Rahul.

that's right -- asking for and giving voluntarily are very different things. Personally, i don't see myself giving it, unless for a specific one time use. My private spaces are important to me, even in a relationship.

[bombay addict]
yea, fully freaked out. haven't mailed or chatted with him since :D
in fact, the other day, another friend's wife was logged on from his email address. i wish they'd just change the status or something to clarify who it is that is online. again, not that anything indiscrete was said or even wished to be said...

as you seemed to realise even as you were typing that, that would just be pretending. what's the point?

yep, snooping is definitely a bad thing. i've known of people doing it. If it's not email, it's the last calls list on the phone.

since you bring it up... a couple I know once had a misunderstanding and during it, the guy checked his wife's mail. He didn't find anything incriminating. and felt like shit later. it was something done on impulse, in a moment of weakness. it's something he doesn't forgive himself for tho his wife has. my point: everyone has moments of weakness.

that's one way of looking at it :D if he snoops, let him reap!
but if someone asked for it, you'd them to get lost, right?

Santosh said...

Like most people I share my password with my wife and vice-versa just for emergencies. But we dont ever check each other's emails unless asked to.

witnwisdumb said...

Huh. Weird. My girlfriend and I know each other's password, but we don't check each others' mail unless asked to. And yes, I agree, what's the point of giving your girlfriend your password, if you're only going to put up a facade and ask everybody to 'watch what they say' to you?!

Amrita said...

I did it once. Just once. And I learned my lesson. I would say: N.O. if anybody else asked me for it. And I've yet to come across someone who actively asked for their girl/boyfriend's password who didn't use it to snoop, usually to their own grief.

People like Rahul, Patrix, etc not included. I agree that's a different thing :)

blue said...

i would stop being their partner. ahem.

blue said...

it's strange, i just remembered now that i read ur post, that i have often seen this weird activity in public places. at a coffee shop, a couple sits making conversation and the boyfriend asks the girlfriend for her purse. as she makes faces, he opens it and checks out all the items in it. what kind of relationships ARE these, i ask?

Sathish said...

Even in a relation, the other persons privacy should be respected. Sharing passwords is akin to following the person whereve he/she goes!!
If you trust your partner so much then why share password?? Share other things in life!! :-)

n said...

I'm sure you'd never ask one another for the password. Givin voluntarily is different

kinda defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

you seem to know exactly what I'm talking about :)

yea, thats what I almost said in a comment earlier. I mean, ending it is a little drastic, but I would surely question my being with them.
and yea, I've seen that too. It's the weirdest, isn't it?

n said...

exactly. a person should have the right to be able to decide how much to share

Paavani said...

Giving password to partner is not matter of only trust but more of convenience.
At times, when Internet is down or something or an important mail is coming.
Its should be mutual without forcing or saying, What’s your password?
If someone comfortable- give it. If want to change, change it.
If you trust someone you already know him/her and feel comfortable, share it.

Dadoji said...

Have spent so many years together now knowing all the passwords that it doesn't matter. We anyway share with each other all we come to know of.

Shreya said...

i feel the same way about having some private space of ones own..but I gave my password to my boyfriend anyway,since it was almost becoming an issue with him.*sigh*..erm,was I wrong in giving it to him when I so didnt want to?

Anonymous said...

hell no :)
I would quote Kahlil Gibran at them.. may there be spaces in your togetherness etc etc

Anonymous said...

@shreya - you are the only one who can decide if it was right or so.
But girl, you may want to get a different account that he does not know of ;)

n said...

being forced to do something doesn't quite sound right.

Oh yea, that's a lovely one. I'd almost forgotten it...
"let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."
Thank you for reminding me.

Brad said...

Well, Now, you don't want to hurt the other person if such a situation arises. [Firstly, I would be quite uncomfortable if I were seeing somebody who happens to be the 'asking-the-password' types] So you ask carefully: "...And you need the password because...??" and you add jokingly, "...coz you want to pry into my email and stuff..."
If the other person is a bit sensible, s/he would end up giving you some bull reason. And you counter that by giving some bull password. Simple. The other person can't come back to you and say "Hey, that password didn't work..." Coz' s/he is not supposed to be checkin' your email anyway!

Damn, I am EviL.

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the mad momma said...

Just noticed a trend in the comments. its mostly married ppl or those who've been together a long time who share passwords. mostly without blinking. aftera point somet things cease to matter. for instance my husband and i share two children. a password is the least of our concerns. though as someone mentioned, its more convenience. net is down and i ask him to check something at office etc.

though i must admit that i would never have shared it with a boyfriend or friend.

greekalphabet said...

It happened with me. I refused. Now he thinks I am hiding something. Bull.

I am not. Its just that I like to have some space in the world justto myself and if that space happens to be on cyberspace, its still just mine.

greek alphabet said...

someone i know once had shared all his email passwords with the girlfriend.

when they broke up, in a fit of rage she changed all the passwords to all their email accounts

he was jacked.

lol. dont want that happening do you

greek alphabet said...

and btw - I think the only time you share passwords with the boyfriend/girlfriend is with ur first bf/gf.

after that you get wiser. :)

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