How to set boundaries when sharing phone passcodes with your partner

Sharing your phone passcode with your partner can be healthy - but certain boundaries should be respected. (Getty Images)
Sharing your phone passcode with your partner can be healthy - but certain boundaries should be respected. (Getty Images)

Do you and your partner know each other’s phone passcodes? Having access to your partner’s smartphone can be a point of contention in a relationship, but a new study shows that 33% of Britons trust their partners with their phone passcode.

A recent survey by smartphone experts Compare and Recycle surveyed 2,000 people and found that an additional 9% take it further with their partner’s Face ID or Touch ID set up on their smartphone.

The survey also revealed that men are more likely to let their partners access their phones compared to women. Nearly 90% of men share some level of access to their phone with their partner, while just 75% of women do the same.

In terms of other passwords, 23% of respondents said they shared their email account passwords with their partners. But 31% said they do not share any passwords at all.

While sharing passwords can be convenient in everyday life - such as when you need to answer a phone call or change a song that’s playing on your partner’s phone while they’re occupied - there are some situations in which this act of trust can turn into a serious invasion of privacy.

Close up woman hand holding smartphone while entering the passcode. Concept of personal information security
Men are more likely than women to give their partners some level of access to their phone, a survey revealed. (Getty Images)

In some cases, someone who constantly goes through their partner’s phone can signal abuse. According to the Thriving Centre of Psychology, this can be a sign of controlling and unhealthy behaviour.

"If they are always checking on your calls, texts, social media, and digital activity, you may have a controlling and potentially abusive partner," the organisation warns on its website.

In order to ensure you and your partner have a healthy agreement when it comes to sharing phones, couple’s counsellor Susan Leigh offers her advice on how to set key boundaries.

"It’s often a courtesy to ‘ask permission’ or check in and mention if you want to use someone’s phone, even if they always say that they don’t mind.

"Regularly maintaining a boundary and checking in before using it prevents complacency from setting in and feeling like an automatic right to look at each other’s phones."

"Be respectful as to how you use this permission and remember that it is a privilege based on trust. Be clear from the outset as to the reasons for using each other’s phones.

"Using it to take a special in-the-moment photo might well be understandable and justified, but retain some mutual respect and, for example, don’t go into their inbox unless you’ve been specifically asked to, reply to their emails or update their social media accounts."

Asian couple using smartphone at home.
Trust is key when sharing phones. (Getty Images)

"Exercise discretion before deciding to read an email, answer a call or verbally comment if you see a message or incoming call popping up on their screen. It’s none of your business unless they choose to make it so. Resist the temptation to scour other screens or browse their phone simply because it’s in your hand."

"Appreciate that the situation regarding your access to their phone may change and that doesn’t have to be a big deal. If their work or personal commitments change there may be no need for you to have their passwords and access to their phone. If you’ve, up till now, customarily used each other’s phones, now may be the time to renegotiate the situation for either or both of you for future reference."

"Avoid taking changes personally. It may be hard not to take the withdrawal of access as a slight or as a withdrawal from the relationship, but that’s the time when open and honest communication can make a big difference. Knowing that they’ve changed their passwords or don’t need you to have unrestricted access to their phone doesn’t necessarily mean a lessening of closeness or intimacy."

If you think your partner is displaying controlling or abusive behaviour, you can contact the 24-hour freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247.