University of Colorado senior Marian Hale was sitting on the couch next to her boyfriend when she noticed him glancing at her keyboard as she logged into her Facebook account.
The couple was dating for about a year when Hale decided that was long enough to part with the password to her online identity.
“Kevin and I never really had a conversation about it,” Hale said. “We are just always sitting next to each other when logging into Facebook, email, whatever it is — and so I think we just glanced at each others’ keyboards when logging in to a website. I never felt the need to pull away or get angry that he was trying to find out my password, and neither did he, so we just shared what passwords we use.”
The couple has been dating for almost three years now and Hale said she can’t think of a single password her boyfriend doesn’t have.
“We have all of each others’ passwords for Facebook, Gmail, CU email and he even has my online banking password and PIN,” Hale said. “Kevin and I don’t have each others’ passwords written down anywhere, we just remember them.”
For Hale, passwords have become a modern-day promise ring — something you share with your significant other as proof that you trust each other and are planning to stay together for the long haul.
“It’s just about trust,” Hale said. “I would feel silly telling someone that I trust so thoroughly to look away when I want to login to Facebook or to stop our conversation mid-sentence, so he can walk a respectful five feet away while I withdraw money.”
But not all students are as trusting as Hale.
CU freshman Brian Roderick said his girlfriend knows his Facebook password, but not because he willingly gave it to her.
“Hell no, I wouldn’t share that with someone I’m dating,” Roderick said. “My girlfriend has my password now because she saw me type it in.”
Roderick said he wouldn’t consider voluntarily sharing that information with anyone until he was married, but even then he doesn’t see what the other person might use that information for.
“My girlfriend is the jealous type so she uses it to check up on me and see who I’m talking to,” Roderick said. “Besides checking up on someone, I don’t even know why you would need it anyway.”
Roderick said giving out your Facebook, Twitter or other online passwords is scary because if the relationship doesn’t work out, then sharing your password is like giving them access to your “online identity.”
Hale said her current boyfriend is the second person she has shared her passwords with.
After breaking up with her previous boyfriend, Hale said she was more concerned about her own actions than those of her former boyfriend.
“Break ups are never easy and I definitely got the urge to spy,” Hale said. “I think it would’ve been a lot more difficult on my end to become friends after the break up if I knew that I had violated his privacy.”
Hale said she didn’t snoop but she did change her own passwords, just in case.
CU senior Kerry Petrie said the immature nature of college relationships are exactly the reason why she would not share her password.
Petrie said she’s never shared her Facebook or other online passwords with previous boyfriends because the probability of a break-up — and drama that follows — are inevitable for most young adults.
“We’re still young and it’s not likely to work out so it’s not worth the risk to share the password,” Petrie said.