Kelly Flannigan Bos: The Relationship Rescuer


Do You Know Your Partner's Passwords?

The Locked and Loaded Issues of Secrecy

I understand there are always exceptions, but when a partner is upset that the other is not sharing the password for a electronic device, my therapist spidey-senses start tingling. This is because secretive behaviour with phones and/or computers have often revealed, at least in my experience, to be tied to things like affairs, addiction, financial deception, or secret families in Michigan.

If you are in a healthy trusting relationship your relationship should be a healthy place of openness and discussion and not require the level of privacy that locks your spouse or partner out of personal electronic devices and online communications. Within the counselling environment, I have yet to hear a justified reason why an individual should lock their phone/computer from their partner. I have definitely heard couples give reasons for locking their phone, but I can't think of any of these situations which did not eventually reveal a betrayal of some degree.


Let me qualify with this, I have also never seen Hillary Rodham Clinton. I don't think she would mind me disclosing that we do not have and have never had a therapeutic relationship. However, she, given the great email scandal surrounding her, I imagine, needs a very locked phone, even from Bill. So Hillary, and others like her in high government positions around the world need a bit of grace on this one.

I have also, at least not to my knowledge, clinically seen an international spy. But had I been seeing a couple with this issue, I think a statement shared of “I am a secret agent,” would be grounds in the counselling office for some understanding for this use of a strict password (and maybe even an added eye scan). And that would be a very interesting session.

Also, there are some understandable reasons for individuals working in roles where confidentiality is crucial like doctors, lawyers, investigators, etc. to have a need for privacy, myself included. This is fair and this isn't to be abused. 

Now maybe a fourth reason to not share your password has occurred to you, the jealous, unfounded, manipulative partner, who not only reads everything but sends incriminating things from the phone. Yes, fine, lock the phone, but I would also suggest that this might be the least of your problems, rather finding ways to protect your devices might come second to a healthy decision of ending your relationship with a Regina George, Frank Underwood (Claire Underwood for that matter), or the like.

I don't want to get pedantic about it because sometimes a locked phone might just be a locked phone. This is not an issue when trust isn't an issue. If you feel fine about it, the commitment is solid in the relationship, you never really use each others phone, or the phone is locked for something trivial like you haven't gotten around to sharing the password, etc., there is really no issue and no need to worry.

When could this issue be a worry?

If trust is already an issue in the relationship, this type of situation is bound to be a problem. Also, if the locked phone is accompanied with:

  • late night or secretive use of the phone/computer
  • a constant blaming of you and your "jealous behaviour"
  • the suggestion that is is your problem when you dare approach the topic
  • guilt laced accusations about the deep hurt experienced from your lack of trust is

Any combination of these can equal lots of red flags that might not reveal that hopeful exception of an accidentally discovered life with an international man/woman of mystery.

What do you do if you are simply feeling uneasy about it?


A "locked from you" phone can be confusing and should be open for discussion. If it is a matter of boundaries, address them, if trust needs to grow, honour that, have the difficult discussions and take the time to be safe for each other.

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