Why Is Privacy Important in a Relationship?
The digital world gives us a lot of space in which we communicate, exchange, and store things that are important to us — both private and public. But what happens to our digital life when we meet someone important to us?
In this article, we will consider the question: “Why is privacy important in a relationship?”
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What is privacy?
Privacy historically has meant “a state of loneliness and lack of observation by others.” The word “privacy” comes from the Latin word “privatus,” which means limited, personal, isolated, or special. We humans are very concerned about our privacy in real life. We don’t want others to spy on us, interfere with our freedom, or interfere in our lives more than we allow them to.
With the development of the internet and social networks, we now spend much of our time in these virtual spaces. And just as we need privacy in our real life, so do we need privacy in our virtual lives. The internet brings many great advantages, but it also entails some significant disadvantages. One of the biggest drawbacks is the risk to privacy. Our online privacy is at high risk of being violated.
How is our privacy at risk?
There are many ways in which our privacy is affected on the internet. Some of them are discussed below:
- Espionage and surveillance. Espionage and surveillance are used to obtain someone’s private information without their knowledge. With the advent of many social networking sites, it has become easier for spies to follow us. We are so fascinated by social networks that we share all our personal information on them — things we don’t even share with anyone in real life. Although we value privacy in our real life, in the virtual world we have lost the understanding of what should be shared and what should not.
- Phishing attacks. Phishing is a type of attack using social engineering. Attackers or hackers see users as “fish” and lure them with “bait.” This bait can be fraudulent lottery winnings, fraudulent job offers, and so on, and it can come in the form of emails, calls, and SMSs. Greedy or naive people fall into the trap and end up sharing their confidential information, such as their address, bank details, and credit or debit card details. All this information can be used by hackers for monetary gain, revenge, or blackmail.
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- Improper handling of information and data confidentiality. The internet is widely used to exchange information and data with other people. This is because it is the easiest and fastest way to share such details. When we connect to the network and share data, it is transmitted according to certain protocols. If our data is not encrypted, and our network is not protected, it is possible that intermediaries between the sender and the intended recipient can collect and manipulate our data.
- Identity theft. Identity theft is a crime in which a person impersonates another person by collecting their personal information and data. The imposter creates fake accounts on your behalf and uses them for illegal purposes or to defame you. Identity theft is the most common privacy issue nowadays. Almost every day we hear about cases of someone posing as someone they are not. Identity theft dramatically affects the mental and emotional state of the victim.
Why is privacy important in a relationship?
Stage 1: Acquaintance
In the life of modern couples, the digital world plays a significant role. Many people meet online for the first time, and many people use online resources to learn something more about each other before meeting live. A quarter of current relationships had their origin on the internet — in a social network, on a dating site, or in some group.
Why do people seek their other half on the internet? According to a study on dating, 32% of Internet users meet online because there are more chances of meeting the “right” person there.
When a couple is already dating, the internet allows you to communicate between in-person meetings. Sharing information, exchanging ideas, and just chatting via messages is an important element of budding relationships that allows you to get to know each other better. It helps to strengthen the chemistry between people.
Stage 2: The beginning of a relationship
The moment when the new union becomes publicly confirmed, in many cases, is also associated with the beginning of a period when the boundaries between previously two separate digital lives begin to blur.
In a relationship, it often becomes natural to share some aspects of digital life with your other half — be it information for logging into an account for sharing movies, television, and photos, or other things of a more intimate nature.
The study shows that 80% of people believe that each person in a relationship should have their own personal space, both in real life and virtual, but 70% say that relationships are more important to them than their own safety.
In this regard, many people turn to another person’s devices. Moreover, the study showed that half of the people in a relationship know the PIN code or graphic password used to unlock the partner’s device, which further blurs the boundaries of digital privacy.
This is where the violation of the boundaries of privacy begins: some people who remain in a relationship admit that they have acquired the password of their significant other without his/her consent — 3% of respondents admitted that their partners do not know that they have access to their devices.
In addition, 26% of respondents store private information about their partner on their devices: news, photos, or videos.
Perhaps such a couple trusts each other enough and each is convinced that the other person will not view such private things. Or maybe the partners simply feel that they have nothing to hide.
Unfortunately, confidentiality is not always respected: some people secretly get a password for the device or accounts of their partners and inspect their personal information. This behavior is more often acknowledged by people who, according to them, are not completely happy in a relationship.
For example, 38% of respondents believe that the partner’s activities should be revealed to them, and 31% admit the need to spy on a partner online. 20% of respondents believe that their privacy on the internet is at risk because of a partner. However, this share increases to 48% among those who feel their connection is unstable and are not sure about its future. It is not difficult to understand why a partner’s private life can sometimes be a cause of tension, especially in the case of unhappy couples.
However, people can violate another person’s privacy not just to spy on them. For example, many people admitted that they saw (intentionally or accidentally) what the other person wanted to keep secret — for example, news (33%), internet activity (31%), photos, documents, and videos (29%).
In addition, an insufficient level of privacy can be the cause of conflicts in relationships — 33% of couples quarreled because one person saw something in the other’s device that they second wanted to hide.
Stage 4: Lack of personal space
It may seem natural if one person just wants a little privacy — or if one of the partners is trying to organize a party or buy something as a surprise for another person.
But the situation may concern something else (perhaps more annoying) that one of the partners would like to hide from the other — for example, messages, photos, or memories from their relationship with a previous partner, which they find difficult to let go of.
The majority of people (72%) claim that they have no secrets from their partner, and 81% said that they trust their other half and do not worry about their online activities. Happy couples are more transparent towards each other: 87% of people who rated their relationship as successful admitted that they do not hide their activities on the internet (compared with 74% among those who rate the relationship as failed).
Although partners express expectations about crossing the privacy boundary, most people would still like to keep something for themselves. At least 61% admit that they do not want their partners to know about some aspects of their personal life. People often hide the content of messages that they send to others (24%), containing the amount of money issued (23%), as well as information about what they bought (23%). Here again, unhappy partners are more likely to hide different events.
Stage 5: Finding a compromise
But what if the relationship becomes unstable? Suddenly, it turns out that your private data has fallen into the hands of someone with whom you no longer get along. For example, one in ten admitted that after a breakup, they published (or wanted to do so) personal information about their former partner as a form of revenge (12%). Men were more willing to do this — 17%, compared with 7% for women.
It is possible that the abuse of trust, or the fear that this will happen, is one of the reasons that about half of people remove a former partner from their virtual world by destroying information related to them, deleting them as friends on social networks, and deleting their photos.
However, a third decide to spy on an ex-partner using social networks (31%) or using an account to which they have access (21%). Women do this more often on social networks (33% compared to 28% of men).
Meanwhile, men are more willing to spend the money of former partners on the internet (15%, compared with 6% of women) and damage the partner’s device after separation (from 16% to 9%), limiting the other person’s ability to rebuild their personal life.
How to protect your personal life in the relationship
Below are some tips on how to protect your privacy regardless of the status of your relationship:
- 1. Talk to each other. Be honest, but set privacy boundaries so that you both know exactly what your partner expects from you. Even if you are not embarrassed by sharing absolutely everything, make sure that the other person also feels the same.
- 2. Hide incoming calls or messages that should remain secret. Do you want to organize a surprise for another person, and don’t want them to find out about it? The privacy protection feature will help you hide selected messages and calls.
- 3. Don’t let internet advertising give you away. Your partner’s birthday is coming soon, and you don’t want them to find out what gift you were looking for? The incognito surfing feature will help you with this, which will protect information about the latest search queries from being saved.
- 4. Keep the plans a secret. Clearing the history on your computer is a great way prevent anyone knowing which pages on the internet you have visited recently.
- 5. Use strong passwords on your devices. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving your device to a partner or if you want to protect your information, strong passwords are crucial.