Do you share passwords with your partner?

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Personal Password Keeper by CityGirlPlanners

Qui.lee asks:

Do you have advice on whether couples should share passwords with each other?

Does it encourage snooping? Is it bad for the relationship or do we even need privacy if we have nothing to hide?

This seems like such a touchy subject for most people and maybe there’s no right answer for all couples, but here’s my take:

No snooping. If you know enough to think you should be snooping, either your partner’s up to something or you’re in a bad place. Either way, it’s time to step back and reconsider your course if snooping crosses your mind. I’ll fess up: I snooped once and it sucked and it made everything worse. There was no upside.

But what about passwords? Now that I’ve laid down the law on snooping, passwords are a much easier topic.

When to share your passwords:

  • When it is necessary. If you need to print something off your partner’s computer but in order to do that you have to call them for the password? Generally should be fine. Do you work together on projects or share bills online? Totally. If you want to create a layer of security, create a different password than your usual.
  • When it is responsible. Every household should have a password plan in case of emergency. A file, a post-it note — some way to share passwords in case one of you is unreachable. I would hate to get hit by a bus (nose tap) and not have a way for Scott to get my essential info.

Those are my rules. What’s worked for you and what hasn’t in password swapping at home?

Comments on Do you share passwords with your partner?

  1. I have to agree with the “no snooping” advice. If you’re snooping, you’re suspicious and if you’re suspicious, you should probably be talking to your partner, not their computer. However, my husband and I share all our passwords with one another simply for convenience and because we have no reason not to share them.

    • Preface: This is not at all about your relationship.

      I think that the “no reason not to share” can be turned into “if you don’t share you have something to hide”. I think that “because I don’t want to” has to be acceptable as a reason. 🙂

      • I think that’s totally true. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to share everything.

  2. we’ve always known each others passwords, but have never looked in each others email accounts of facebooks unless the other says “oh look in my account for that particular piece of info/email”

  3. I definitely don’t snoop – snooping is looking for private or hidden things. But I occasionally check my partners facebook and email – simply because he is SO terrible at
    a. getting back to people
    b. dealing with administrative stuff

    But I do this with his knowledge and blessing – he knows he often misses that email from his university, or forgets to respond to his uncle on facebook.

    • This is exactly what I do for my husband – with his blessing. I’m on a computer all day for work and he’s not, so I’m his virtual admin assistant…

  4. We don’t share passwords, not really. I think I might know the password to my wife’s World of Warcraft account, but that’s it. I’m really weird about sharing my passwords with anyone, though.

  5. We don’t share passwords. I don’t care what the BF does with his e-mail, FB or twitter. (We even agreed not to follow each other on twitter, since everybody needs a spot to rant from time to time. *lol*) I also don’t care if he knows my passwords, since I trust him not to use them anyway.

    On the other hand it drives me *mad* if he leaves the room to enter a password on his iPad, since this feels like a big bad “distrust” sign to me. (I know some of his passwords but would never use them. As I say, I trust him.) I know that he has had snoopy girlfriends in the past, so I understand where that comes from, but still – I dislike it.

    In short: Everybody should keep their own passwords for stuff, common accounts should be shared (of course!) and no one should snoop around.

  6. We didn’t share passwords for the first couple years, and I was always sort of put off by it–not that I wanted to see his private things but I wanted to know that if I DID want to that I COULD. Weird, I know. When he finally told me his “master password” it just turned out to be an embarrassing password!

    It’s so much easier to share them though because then when one of us forgets we have a “password brainstorm” session to try to remember! Two heads are better than one!

  7. My husband and I share all our passwords. For the important ones: joint account passwords, computer security codes, ect we chose them together. For our more private ones; email, facebook, retirement accounts, separate checking accounts, student loans, etc we created a “password cheatsheet” that lists all our accounts and corresponding passwords that we keep locked in our filing cabinet. We promised each other we’d only look at it in emergency situations.

    • This is a truly excellent idea! Doing now. It would be very inconvenient to not have any idea how to access a bank account or email in case of an emergency.

    • Same with us. I could care less that he knows or doesnt know my passwords. Like original poster said, I did the snooping thing in my previous marriage and it sucked. My current husband and I are open books. But he never accesses my FB or private email accounts unless I send him there and vice versa. We too keep a list of all passwords in case one of us is in an accident or god forbid, passes away. We dont always share the same friends so I want to make sure he can get to what he needs to get too to administer my estate and vice versa. Social media has added a whole new layer to that sort of thing.

  8. We don’t really share passwords intentionally, but kinda wind up having access to everything anyway.

    For example, the main bank account is a joint account, so either of us can access it. Computer-wise, I have SERIOUS issues about people being on my computer (thanks, snooping mother), so while I don’t usually password-protect anything on my “home” computer, he has his own account which has access to some of the folders, which works pretty well. (My work computer is a machine I try not to bring home that much, but it’s password-protected by my office, so different state of affairs.)

    That said, this is also the guy who knows what my blog is, but refuses to read it because (and I quote): “you should have a space where you can talk without me listening – everyone needs a space to vent if necessary” so, y’know, I’m pretty ok with trusting that he has access but doesn’t snoop! 🙂

  9. My husband told me his password when he gave me his laptop (I irreparably infected mine with viruses) and I shared mine in the spirit of mutual trust. Though he was clearly the more trusting one, since he trusted me to not hack into his things and not kill his laptop like I did mine (I killed his laptop in a different way. I’m amazed he stayed with me)

    Completely agree with the “no snooping” thing, obviously. Even though he tells me basically everything he gets emailed to him, it does require context. Case in point: a couple of years ago a random girl he’d never met before sent him an email along the lines of “Hey, how are you? It’s been a while since we were at blahblah doing blah and by the way here is a picture of me naked by a tree”. It was funny at the time because he was all shocked and confused so we co-wrote a response saying “We’re not sure who you are, but you seem like a nice person and that is a gorgeous tree”. But if I’d just snooped and found that, there would be passive-aggressive crying fits galore…

    I think one of the big benefits of sharing passwords is that when I inevitably forget, he can remind me. I think that’s a safer system than writing all my passwords on a bit of paper by the PC anyway…

  10. I know all the passwords to all of mine, his, and our accounts. But that’s because I take care of the finances and general scheduling/organizing of the house. He’s quite scatterbrained at times so it makes life simpler for me to keep things in order.

    He knows the bank password. It’s his bank even though I keep on top of the finances. Otherwise he doesn’t know any of mine but I don’t think he really has any interests in knowing them.

  11. I think it depends on the type of relationship you have and the type of people you are. I started out being very guarded about my information and being uber respectful of my husband’s privacy. But after awhile we realized that we were open and honest enough with one another that it didn’t really matter. I don’t care what porn he looks at and he doesn’t care if I have money stashed somewhere. We understand each other’s hang ups and we respect each other. We only share the things that matter–bank passwords, netflix passwords, phone passwords, etc. But he does have passwords and accounts that I don’t know about and vice versa. That’s cool with us.

  12. I use a password manager that’s always running on our shared computers, so it would be trivial for my partner to snoop if he so desired, but there’s really nothing for him to discover.

    At one time my partner only had two passwords, and shared them both, but he’s changed them so I don’t actually know any of his passwords anymore. An emergency password plan is a really good idea.

  13. Obviously no snopping (it really is a no-win situation), but that’s not exactly what you asked. I don’t think sharing passwords encourages snooping, per se. When I got my BF’s password, I wanted to go into all his email accounts, but entirely to see if I could (I’m weird like that). But we had talked about it and he said he didn’t mind if I did. I didn’t do it without his permission. Basically, I think the thing that will prevent snooping is communication – when you share your password, make sure your significant other knows what you’re expecting of them. If you still want privacy on your computer, tell him/her that. Be warned, that may put them off, and it might lead into other conversations (“why would you want to hide anything from me?”), but those may be good conversations to have anyway. My personal opinion is to share passwords if it comes up, and understand all the expectations around sharing them.

  14. I personally would never share my passwords not because I’m worried about snooping but rather because everyone I know thinks facebook hacking is hilarious. I use my facebook/Twitter/LJ/Wordpress for professional purposes. I wouldn’t want to risk someone getting drunk and trying to be funny.

    I have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) file stored on a shared email address somewhere that my partner could get from a colleague if he needed it.

    If you absolutely trust your partner to respect for privacy and behave sensibly at all times then share passwords, but other than an emergency why would you need to?

  15. We don’t really share passwords. We only use one account on our computer, so we both have access to most things. We are both terrible about logging out og facebook and our emails so one of them is always pulled up. I accidently snopped once when I thought it was my fb logged on, not his, and went into the messages. I was sooo confused becasue I didn’t know these people! But it was good for me to see that all of the messages were legit and not shady and I’ve never wondered about it once.

    We even play around on each other’s phones. I know that I don’t have anything to hide so if he wants to play with some of the apps I have that he doesn’t, well go for it.

  16. we are both private people. while i know a few of the passwords he uses, i don’t bother looking around. i respect his privacy.

  17. My husbands idea was to create a Joint at “ourwebsite” dot com email and a standard password for it. So that things from the bank, netflix, bills etc, get sent to this account which then forwards it to both of our personal accounts. It also makes logging on to our joint accounts easy.

    There has never really ever been the consideration of snooping. We have about 4 computers in the house and they are constantly logged onto personal accounts, but we just use different browsers (me: chrome, him: firefox) so we have some privacy while being completely open. And we will look at each others accounts but only when asked by the other.

  18. we keep bank account passwords to ourselves but we have a mutual account for big things.

    we do share passwords for things that affect us both like the health insurance account but that’s hardly unusual.

  19. i’d say we neither share nor protect our passwords. that is, i wouldn’t care if she knew all of them, but there’s also no real reason for her to, so she probably doesn’t. and vice versa. plus, my memory is awful, so i have to ask for her password every single time i want to use her computer.

    that said, if you are in the “no how, no way” camp (which i really, really respect, because intimate relationship shouldn’t equal lack of privacy…unless you want it to) i just read about a program called “dead man’s switch” where you can put in your info and no one will see it unless you fail to tell the program you are still alive. more info on that and other “in case of… file” stuff at: http://unclutterer.com/2011/08/18/including-instructions-for-handling-your-online-identity-in-your-in-case-of-file/ and http://unclutterer.com/2011/08/16/creating-an-in-case-of-file/

  20. So, while I understand most people seem to view this as a snooping issue it ends up not being one. My spouse just lost his mother unexpectedly. Fortunately, she had a notebook with all of her passwords and accounts. Unfortunately, it was all out of date. It is important for your partner to have access to this information (yes even facebook, it’s amazing the number of people who only know how to contact you through those means). In the days immediately surrounding a tragedy, such as a sudden death, access to bank accounts, email, and the like can be vital to accomplishing things such as getting the mortgage paid or figuring out where important documents were kept. I’m not saying your partners need to have intimate access at all times to all of your accounts. I am saying that I highly suggesting having an “in case of emergency” complete access plan in place.

    • I had a friend unexpectedly die and the RCMP investigators went through the entire family computer looking for any links whatsoever to her death. I don’t recall if they broke her passwords or her parents provided them, but crap happens, and when it does, privacy goes out the window. It made me seriously think about the In Case Of Emergency files that should be kept – not only for those who are married, but single/kids/whatever.

      And that was a crappy enough situation that half of my friends wrote wills. Egads.

  21. My husband and I know each other’s passwords. However, all of our email accounts are linked on the iPad and main laptop. If I wanted to I could go throguh all of emails or fb page. I don’t unless he asks me to reply to his mother in an email or someone’s fb message. (he is horrible at keeping in touch). Bank accounts are joint except for one of mine in the states but he has the password in case something happens.
    We switched passwords about a year intombeing together, but it was only email.
    Banks stuff came once we combined stuff.

  22. Vista Prints, Etsy, Amazon accounts…fine. But NEVER email, Facebook, or anything tied to money. Even though we have been together for 4+ years I always insure I log my husband out of a personal account, and never snoop. Some things should equally be seperate and private.

  23. My husband and I know all of each others passwords. Plus we have shared accounts (joint email, etc). But we do have the “no snooping” rule. That should be common sense.

    We also tell each other when we are needing to access the other’s whatever account. Like this past week, my husband was out of the country (down in Texas) for a week for work. And we had a dragon boat festival coming up. But since the team was through his work, I couldn’t access the Facebook page. So I told him before he left, “I will be logging on to your Facebook every once and a while to check the team’s Facebook page for updates.”

    We also know each other’s pin numbers just in case.

    However, it’s something to discuss with your partner. With me and my husband…it just happened. But other people don’t like sharing passwords for various reasons…so it’s good to discuss it.

  24. My husband and I share passwords, it’s not really a big thing in our relationship. We don’t hide anything from each other. He handles all the money/bank accounts and I’m the social butterfly who handles our joint facebook account. If I wanted to get on the bank account I can, and he gets on facebook sometimes to talk to a few friends, and that’s that. Emails have been used by the other, computers, cars, phones, everything we share. We’re married, we share everything, and that’s just perfect for us.

    We don’t snoop, but if one or the other did, it’d be no biggie. Who cares if there’s nothing to hide honestly? I have more important things that I’d be hurt about if my husband did, and going through my phone/email out of curiosity is not one of them.

  25. My husband and I have a shared password. I think sharing a password has made both of us less likely to snoop. Regardless, it’s not really our style to need to know what the other is doing 24/7. We’ve been together 11 years, 7 of which we’ve been married and share a soon to be 6 year old – and we’re 27 & 30. I think growing up together, and the amount of stuff we have gone through together has built enough trust that we each can have our respected e-lives.

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