I heard a story the other day about a woman who was advised by a sex therapist to exchange phones with her husband. The therapist believed the woman’s husband was cheating on her.
To remedy this, they were advised to rifle through each others emails and messages, in what, I suppose, was a kind of trust exercise. The idea was that having access to all her husband’s info, the woman could be reassured by her husband’s fidelity. Or confirm his infidelity.
Call me crazy, but checking your husband’s phone as part of a trust exercise is a bit like hitting a dead fly with sledgehammer to see if it’s really dead.
Trust is a funny thing, you see. If you don’t have it, it’s a cold, hard world where everything looks like a cheat. Too much of it, and you’re a naïve Pollyanna-child and no cheat could be big enough for you to see it.
Ultimately, trust is a little game you start playing with yourself first.
So I rolled my eyes at the therapist’s suggestion. Clearly no one in that room had heard of private browsing, multiple email accounts or the delete button. Or self-awareness.
But it did get me asking women what the deal was with their personal privacy in a relationship. Do they have any? Or do they hand over their right to personal space along with their smartphone, email and social media passwords when they decide to get serious with someone?
And, I have to admit, that I was surprised at how many couples do this. Actually, let me clear: I was surprised by how many women expect to do this as a matter of course.
Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but when I try to picture myself in that position – of being asked to share my email or FB messages to prove I’m trustworthy – something inside me goes into ‘WHOA!’ mode. I might have nothing to hide, but those boundaries go down hard.
Either you trust me or you don’t, but I shouldn’t have to use my personal spaces to placate your creeping suspicion on a daily basis.
Or do I have it wrong? I so often get the stink-eye for calling foul on couples who regularly scour the contents of each other’s daily behind-the-scenes interactions that I wonder if I’m being old-fashioned with all this ‘boundary’ business.
To be fair, I imagine that a lot of that creeping suspicion finds its way in through the cracks made by a lack of honest and regular communication. Maybe there’s a sense that what is hidden will never be willingly shared and it’s rather best to go and sniff it out for yourself.
For example, let’s look at sex sites.
I’ve heard countless stories of people signing up to sex and fetish sites without their partner’s knowledge, because they just know that their partner will judge their kinks and desires and not want any part of it. Or those who ‘accidentally’ find a porn collection on their sweet honey’s hard drive and then lose their minds over ‘broken trust’.
Does being in a relationship mean you’re not ‘allowed’ to entertain your own sexual fantasies and curiosities without letting your partner in on it? Is privacy taboo when you’re attached?
You see, that’s the problem with blurring those boundary lines so early in the game.
If it’s starting with gaining equal access to all their private platforms, like trawling through their emails, FB messages and Whatsapp chats, where does it end? Diary entries and credit card slips? Getting wildly distressed every time they look at a naked picture? Following them to work and friend catch-ups?
The only way to manage healthy personal space is to deal with those trust issues the moment they start wanting to poke about. The minute you feel the need to be reassured that you can trust your partner, you need to start the conversations about your faith in your self, the relationship and him.
All a password gains you is access to a can of worms in your own head.
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