David Williams | 18 Jul 2018
When you’ve been seeing someone for a long time, you start to all but physically feel anticipation growing. A palatable, swelling anticipation and expectation, a sense that the big day is finally coming. Then, when it does finally arrive, and your partner turns to you with that look in their eyes, you know your life will never be the same again. They ask for the passwords to your personal online accounts, and your heart goes into overdrive.
Funny, yes, but a reality in this age of digital dominance we live in. After a story hit websites across the world, telling the tale of a boyfriend suing his ex-girlfriend for sabotaging his career via email meddling, people everywhere started to ask the question; should we share our social media passwords with our significant others?
The story that triggered debate around the world was of Eric Abramovitz, a music student who lost the opportunity of a lifetime. His girlfriend, Jennifer Lee impersonated him online, deliberately interfering in communication with a renowned professor that had offered Eric a scholarship. Eric subsequently lost the scholarship, robbing him of what could well have been a life changing education.
Why would Jennifer do such a thing? Simply because she did not want him to move away. Almost heart wrenching and understandable, but certainly not in the eyes of the judge that awarded Eric $375,000.
The incident raises a number of questions, certainly about the level of trust between couples. Some might be quick to declare that they trust their better half unconditionally, but then so did Eric, and it will likely be some time before he trusts again. For him, it would have been far less risky and a lot more fun to bet all his money on a game of online Roulette than to take a gamble and give his girlfriend of a few months access to his private email account.
Alayna Pehrson is an identity theft expert, and recently gave her opinion on the password sharing. She acknowledged how intimate and special it can be to share passwords with partners, or even simply a matter of convenience. But her line of work has put her in contact with a harsh reality; should a breakup occur, shared passwords can be the biggest nightmare imaginable.
The above story with Eric and his lost music career occurred out of misguided love. Stop to imagine the further damage that could have occurred if Jennifer has been intentionally trying to cause him grief. The truth of the matter is that breakups happen all the time, and hurt feelings are often a bi-product of what could once have been a very loving relationship.
On the other hand, many relationship therapists insist that password sharing is important. The level of trust required to do so is obviously enormous, and it’s an act that can bring two people together like never before. Giving over a password, to a once private part of a life, is a declaration of utmost trust. That, of course, is a lovely thing.
The best conclusion to likely draw is that couples are different, and no relationship is the same. Sharing passwords to personal accounts is likely not a situation that can be addressed at large, and instead something that needs to be approached on a case-by-case basis. Eric and Jennifer were young students, and perhaps not the best example, but it is best to be cautious when you give someone the key to your innermost thoughts - or at least your email account.