The ways in which people connect these days is mind boggling to my 80’s teenage mind. Gone are the days when the only way to talk to friends is while connected to the kitchen wall or through the written word (literally written on paper and mailed with a stamp). Now, we are always just a few clicks or keystrokes from connecting…to anyone, anywhere, without anyone else knowing.
So it brings to light the question, when dating (or even married) should you have an open relationship? Should you have access to and the freedom to access and check the communications of your significant other?
My boyfriend and I do have an open relationship. I have nothing to hide and he has said the same to me – and I believe him, it’s called trust. I can’t say that we have formally exchanged a list of passwords – but our phones and ipads are not locked and always lying about. Right there he has access to every single account I use – even those I still don’t get quite how to use.
When I started dating after my divorce, I faced the reality that social media would be part of any new relationship. And with my first post-divorce boyfriend I had the uncomfortable feeling he could be communicating with anyone and I would have no idea. He was friends with lots of his ex’s on Facebook; he had their numbers in his cell phone. As my gut unfortunately never fails, I was right and it was the other woman’s husband who informed me of their over-the-line, but only online flirting. It didn’t wreck our relationship (he did that all on his own about a year later), but it did put this awkward pink elephant in the room (as if there is a non-awkward pink elephant). Trust was broken.
When I started dating my current guy, trust was an issue for both of us, for many different reasons. I felt like I had to give him access and I didn’t mind at all. He easily reciprocated and there we formed our two way street of trust. How these things came about I really can not say with great detail. In the beginning as we exchanged some of our war stories (unpacked our baggage), it just happened. I do remember telling him the password to my phone and letting him know he could check it all he wanted.
It would be irresponsible for me (ya know, as a professional blogger and all) to of course not touch on the next logical question “so if you have access do you actually check?” This for me is simple, no. The reality of the situation is that he could have other accounts on facebook and secret email accounts I don’t even know about. I could check his phone all I want…it wouldn’t prove much. Heck he could even have another cell phone. He’s a smart guy and could easily even be doing whatever he wants out there in cyberspace. And I could be doing the same thing, but I’m not, and I don’t think he has, which is why I am with him, and he with me.
As with most of my blog posts, something in real-life starts me thinking (my rocks start banging as the man likes to say). So here is the story that spurred this one….Given that only men can drive cars when a woman is present (chivalry can be a bitch), my boyfriend does all the driving. When behind the wheel, he often hands me his phone to respond to text messages and emails as he receives them.
Last Thursday night, we were on our way out to dinner. He had just been texting with a mutual female friend. As we got in the car, he had me respond to her last text. Since I knew her, I said Hi, told it was me and we her we were on our way out.
The very next day, he received a Facebook message from her stating that it was weird that I look at his phone and something about how insecure I obviously was, it was unhealthy for our relationship. She continued by personally insulting him, something about how a man would never allow this. She felt bad for him. Oh, and just for the record, I didn’t go into his Facebook account and read this – he read it to me across the breakfast table.
For those of you whom I am friends with on Facebook, you know that I took to my Facebook Wall (ok, ok…I know….bitchy). And so was born my now famous quote: “If you have to peer so intently into the relationship of another and share your judgmental thoughts, clearly the problems lie within your own castle.” Clearly, this person has an issue either because of what her significant other may be doing or, what she herself is in fact doing out there in cyberspace.
If you are grappling with this issue, you first have to be honest with why it is surfacing. Is your significant other sneaking off to secretly text, attached to her phone even bringing it in the shower? Is he suddenly mentioning how it is nice to connect with ex’s, or playing online games that include messages from which he never picks up his head? If nothing is ever open, phone locked and you don’t have the password, if the computer is always closed as you enter the room, and your significant other operates on the internet late at night, you might want to open a discussion.
And for all of you who came here because you saw the title and thought "open relationship" meant I was having sex with lots of people AND was about to blog about it, really? I’m a mom, my kids read this! But however you found your way here, welcome to my blog. I find it a great place to hang out, and I’m sure you will too.