The TikTok video begins with a pretty Black woman looking directly into the camera. Her straight, black hair is parted down the middle and she’s dressed in a floral top and jeans. Across the top of the screen in bold red letters reads, “Privacy or Secrecy.” The woman in the video is Tamara Wright, and she starts discussing a topic that admittedly has her flustered: password sharing. 

@samster29_ Privacy and secrecy are two different concepts! If sharing your password with your spouse could cause mistrust and conflict in your marriage and you choose not to do so in order to avoid these problems, then that’s secrecy. The sharing of passwords is regarded as a norm in my marriage, and in my opinion, it should be a norm for married couples who trust one another, but I've realized that's not everyone's reality and never will be! P.S.: Providing your spouse with access to your phone does not imply that they should misuse it. #fyp #foryoupage #fypviral #marriage #privacy #couples ♬ original sound – S A M I

“I was having a conversation with someone a few days ago, right? And she asked me if I believe in privacy in marriage and I said yes to a certain extent,” Wright shared excitedly to her followers in a Jamaican accent. “She asked if I have the password to my husband’s phone and I was like, of course.”

Wright says she explained to the friend that the couple not only shares phone passwords, but also has access to each other’s iCloud accounts.  

“We basically can take up each other’s phone at any given point,” Wright explained. “When I tell you she was shocked by me saying all of that. Believe me, I was as shocked as she was shocked.”

Her friend is also married; however, unlike her, she isn’t afforded the same level of access to her spouse’s devices. Wright’s friend informed her that if she were to ever ask for her husband’s password, the pair would start arguing.

Access, Not Abuse

The older generation never dreamed of debating the topic of sharing passwords while in their youth. It is most certainly a concept for the modern-age. Wright and her husband, Micheal Thomas, made the decision to exchange logins before they ever said “I do,” choosing to open up access during their engagement.

“It probably happened naturally. It might be down to personality types and the things that we value. We value honesty and integrity,” Thomas reasoned. “If it is that you’re committing to this person why would you want to have secrets and have your password and turn down your phone if you get a text or anything like that?”

Wright points out that unfettered access to each other’s information shouldn’t give one person in the relationship the green light to start digging. Although the couple give’s each other access, they still maintain a level of privacy.. Relationship expert and social worker Angela Nicole Holton believes that the risk of abuse is one of the major negative consequences of sharing digital access with a significant other. She points out that the temptation to “snoop” can easily turn into a slippery slope. 

“If a person is secure within themselves and within their relationship, there would not be the need to check a partner’s emails, texts, and DM’s,” Holton explained. “Additionally, if one partner has an insecure [or] anxious attachment style and incessantly makes false accusations of infidelity and continually searches for the ‘other shoe to drop,’ they may find exactly what they’re looking for. Seek and you shall find.”

Who’s Business Is It Anyway?

Several commenters on Wright’s TikTok video also pointed out that untapped access can compromise other relationships, specifically the sanctity of friendships.

“What if someone confided in me and shared their private life. I wouldn’t want my wife to have access to that info,” one commenter wrote. 

Another shared the same sentiment pointing out that sharing feels like a loss of self.

“We are still different [people] with our own autonomy. My wife should trust me without getting all in my business. I might have private notes,” another commenter wrote.

Wright and Thomas say they take each other’s personal and professional privacy seriously. For Thomas, it’s especially important, since he works in the medical field. However, Thomas pushes back on the idea of keeping information, learned in a friendship, private from his spouse.

“If you’re in a committed marriage you shouldn’t be keeping secrets for people outside the relationship,” Thomas said. “For us, it’s an expectation that if someone is telling one person something then the other person is going to know. There’s not really any reason to keep secrets for anyone when you’re in a committed relationship.”

The Answer Is No

The real problem with password sharing comes when one person wants access, and the other is avidly against it. One commenter under Wright’s video who has been married for 17 years is going through this exact situation. While she doesn’t have a problem with sharing her passwords, her husband doesn’t even want her to touch his phone.

Thomas and Wright believe denying access raises red flags. However, Holton takes a different stance on the matter.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that the partner is hiding something or is mistrustful,” Holton said. “It depends on the relationship and the person and their reasons for rejecting the idea. If two people are healthy, whole and secure in their relationship, [then] they won’t interpret this as a message of dishonesty or secrecy.”