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Should I combine accounts with my partner?


To share or not to share?

That's the question that's troubling couples these days — each of whom has dozens of online accounts, from banking to healthcare to streaming.

Linking accounts together offers several benefits. You can use one monthly Spotify subscription instead of two. You can pay rent without having to Venmo each other. You can even use her Instagram password to peek into her DMs, if you feel like it.

But linking online profiles together also comes at a cost. A shared Netflix password won't save your relationship from disaster, and separating your accounts after a breakup can be time-consuming and — in some cases — dangerous.

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Stories to keep you informed

From finance to Facebook, here's what we've learned about the risks and benefits of account sharing in the Internet age. If you're feeling unsure, follow these rules.

If it's too early to post about each other on Instagram, it's probably too early to share an account, too.

Like real-life love, online relationships shouldn't be a one-off. Let digital sharing follow the natural progression of your relationship. Start with low-risk accounts like HBO Max or Libby, my colleague Heather Kelly wrote. If that goes well, don't hesitate to experiment with something more substantial, like location sharing. In cases where mismanagement could lead to lasting consequences — like a bank account or social media profile — wait until you know the person well. How do they handle their finances? How do they react to rejection, and how will they respond if your relationship ends?

This process doesn't have to be spontaneous; talk to your partner about how much of your digital life you're willing to share. Consider incorporating this into conversations about communication styles, romantic exclusivity, and future plans.

Putting in a password here and there may not seem like a big deal, but think about the implications. What would it mean if your partner had constant access to your WhatsApp messages or real-time location? Once you make privacy concessions, it may be hard to convince them.

Sharing an account can also change the power of the relationship. If the bank account is in her name, she could start making unilateral financial decisions. If her name appears first on a joint Facebook profile, she could take over posting and messaging. Some personal accounts — including iCloud and Google — should almost always remain personal to protect your identity. (Apple and Google are often accessed in a way that allows abusers to steal sensitive photos or break into additional accounts via multifactor authentication.)

Sometimes, combining accounts makes sense. For example, starting a cellphone plan together can symbolize the formation of a new family (I believe we can't all stay on our parents' plans until we're 30). Sharing location indefinitely can ease tensions as co-parents. At each step, consider what message the shared account is sending and what it means for you in the future.

For some couples, sharing passwords and accounts is a sign of trust or transparency. But is it really trust if you're spying on your partner's online life?

Some relationship experts say that the desire for transparency can quickly turn into control or entitlement. You may feel more secure having full access to your partner's account, but you are not entitled to it. Talk about how to balance your needs for trust, security, and independence.

When possible, don't go for freebies. If your main goal is to save money on Disney Plus, maybe share with your brother instead of your girlfriend. That way you can avoid the embarrassment of getting caught using the account long after the breakup.

Keep it realistic, not skeptical

In your efforts to protect your autonomy, don't forget that relationships require some give and take. For example, if marriage means living together for a long time, what's wrong with opening a joint checking account or sharing your location during that messy Nashville bachelorette party weekend? If you're not willing to share any aspect of your digital life, make that clear upfront and let your partner decide if they're willing to go along with it.

Our online lives can make relationships even more complicated. But the love is still real (we think) and worth the effort. So if you think he's right for you, consider asking for his Audible password.

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