To snoop or not to snoop? The Cellular phone tough call

20 Aug 2018

The cell phone has been blamed for ruining a number of relationships and marriages. However, some couples seek to foster trust by not being overly protective about access to their phones by their partners. It all starts and ends with the password. Is sharing passwords a litmus test for our relationships?

In the age of fingerprint and now face recognition on mobile phones, the question is –is it important for your partner to know the password to your phone? A bit of a catch-22 situation, the cellphone has become an undeniable symbol of trust in relationships -or the lack of it.

Dr Sethunya Mosime, senior sociology lecturer at the University Of Botswana says phones are and have always been an extension of someone’s privacy. “Nowadays relationships are different and aren’t necessarily based on trust, though some people who are in relationships might prefer to share their passwords to show their trust towards one another others prefer to keep their phones and their passwords to themselves. I think snooping is never a good idea because chances are whenever you go snooping in your partner’s phone you are bound to find something you don’t like which shows that a phone is simply a symptom of  a couple’s relationship, chances are if you didn’t trust each other before then you aren’t going to trust each other now. “She says we have reached a time where body parts aren’t private in a relationship but gadgets are definitely more private than body parts.

Many people struggle with how much information they should share—or want to share—with their partner and although letting a significant other scroll through your phone or have access to key passwords has become something of a relationship milestone, most people would rather keep the skeletons of their double lives, infidelity and secret financial transactions behind hard-to-crack passwords. In extreme cases, some go to the extent of carrying their phones to the bathroom lest the missus or hubby happens to bump on nude photos of a secret flame.

Some simply want to keep the prying eyes of their partners from their cellphone bank accounts that might include payment to a lingerie store or a bed and breakfast in town (not for their partner). There is also that seemingly harmless matter of denying access to a spouse who is forever ‘siphoning’ airtime and Internet bundles. To lock their phones, some couples have devised complicated passwords, such as convoluted patterns, which they often forget (when drunk). Handing over control of your phone to allow your partner to look through your photos, text messages, and call history may show him or her that you have nothing to hide, that there are no secrets between you but that if that is the case one would wonder why a couple in a committed relationship play a cat and mouse game with phone passwords, yet trust and openness are what relationships are ideally built on.

Bonno Kaisara a graphic designer at Impressions in Gaborone says sharing passwords is an exercise in trust, as the logic goes if you have nothing to hide, why would you keep your password from your partner. “I feel like it’s so much easier to live in a relationship where you know you have nothing to hide and are entirely 100 percent honest about who you are and what you’re doing, if there’s something you’re worried about your partner seeing that means there’s some fundamental issue with your relationship beyond privacy.” He says he and his partner share their passwords and so far there haven’t been any problems. Bonno’s situation however goes against the current trend. Most partners don’t have free access to their partner’s phones or email accounts and instead snoop. It is always in a mission to find out if their partner is cheating. The not so small matter of an ex still chatting to a former lover, many have argued that passwords on their partner’s phones means they are hiding something or someone. Unsurprisingly, sharing passwords can cause some serious problems during a relationships, the age-old “I thought he/she was cheating so I checked”. Phone passwords have forced spouses with roving eyes to develop the art of coded language when speaking in the presence of suspicious partners

Kelebogile Orapetse a nurse at Princess Marina Hospital says she doesn’t believe in sharing passwords with partners. “Personally I don’t share passwords with my partner, I believe that a phone is private, it is my phone therefore i would like my privacy. A lot of things could set someone off; I don’t know what he would find offensive or not offensive so i don’t give him my phone. Sharing passwords can cause unnecessary problems or escalate the already existing problems in a relationship. A message from an ex for instance could be misinterpreted or blown out of proportion.”