They say that a relationship is nothing without trust, but what about when that trust includes allowing your partner to have unlimited access to one of your most personal possessions – your mobile phone? Snooping lovers scrolling through their partners’ social media messages without them knowing is sadly nothing new, but just how many Americans are comfortable with sharing their phone passcode with their partner and allowing them to look at their phone unsupervised?
SellCell.com – a money-saving site that helps customers find the best deals for their tech – wanted to know just how many star-crossed lovers are open with their partners regarding their mobile phones, and whether they, themselves, are guilty of taking a look at their partner’s phone – with or without their permission.
To find out, SellCell has surveyed 2,000 US citizens that are currently in a relationship to see how many of them have an open-phone policy with their partner.
Purpose of survey
The survey asked Americans, across seven questions, whether they have shared their phone passcode with their partner, whether they have access to their partner’s phone, if they have actively looked at their partner’s phone or caught their partner snooping on their phone, what has prompted them to look at their significant other’s phone, and how catching their partner using their phone has made them feel.
The data collected through the research will provide insight into how common it is in relationships to have access to each other’s mobile phones, and why couples might want to look at their partner’s phone.
Summary of findings
- 51% said they checked their partner’s messages without them knowing.
- 57% of people said they had caught their partner looking at their phone without permission.
- 71% of those asked said they had used their partner’s phone without them knowing, with 21% doing so often and 38% doing so sometimes.
- 83% of people say that their partner has told them the passcode to their phone, with 54% remembering the passcode and 29% forgetting the passcode after being told.
- 12% said their partner had not told them the passcode to their phone, with 6% reporting that their partner either has no phone or no passcode on their phone.
- 74% of respondents said that they had shared their phone passcode with their partner, with 49% saying that their partner remembered the passcode whilst 25% said they had forgotten.
- 8% had not shared their phone passcode but their partner knew it anyway.
- 55% looked at their partner’s phone to check their emails.
- 40% of respondents felt very comfortable with their partner looking at their phone, with a further 42% feeling comfortable with it.
- Of the 5% that were not so comfortable with their partner checking their phone, 62% said they were uncomfortable despite having nothing to hide, as their partner should trust them.
Americans sharing their phone passcode with their partner
When it comes to our mobile phones, they tend to hold some of our most personal and intimate information. In some cases, they might even hold our secrets. With so much being held within one little device, it’s only natural that we may prefer to keep our phones to ourselves. When we’re in a relationship, however, this can complicate things as our partner may want access to our mobile phone, for many potential reasons. With this in mind, how many Americans are comfortable with giving their partner the access passcode to their phone, and how many have had their partner share their passcode with them in turn?
We first asked people whether they had told their lover their phone passcode. 74% had shared their passcode with their partner, with 49% saying that their partner remembered the passcode and 25% saying they had forgotten it. 9% hadn’t shared their passcode with their lover and they believed their partner did not know it. However, worryingly, 8% said that they had never shared their phone passcode, but their partner knew it anyway.
Of those that had shared their passcode with their partner, the majority of those whose partner remembered their passcode were male (60%), whilst just 42% of female respondents said that their partner remembered their code. The majority of those asked that hadn’t shared their passcode but their partner knew it anyway were women (10%), whilst 5% of men said their partner knew their passcode without them being told.
Next, we asked Americans whether their partner had told them their phone passcode. 83% said their partner had shared their passcode with them, with 29% forgetting the code whilst 54% had remembered it. Additionally, 12% said that their partner had not told them their phone passcode.
The majority of those asked that remembered their partner’s passcode were male (61%), whilst 49% of female respondents said they remember their partner’s passcode.
Interestingly, the majority of Americans said that both they and their partner remembered each other’s phone passcodes, with more partners of respondents sharing their phone passcode than respondents themselves.
The motivation for checking a partner’s phone
With the majority of Americans confirming that both they and their partner knew each other’s passcodes, we next wanted to know how often they were looking at each other’s phones, and what their motivations were for checking their lover’s phone.
We asked those surveyed whether they had looked at their partner’s phone without them knowing. In total, 71% of those asked said they had checked their significant other’s phone without their knowledge, with 21% doing so often, 38% doing so sometimes, and 12% doing so rarely. In contrast, just 22% said they don’t look at their partner’s phone. Evidently, looking at your lover’s phone is fairly common.
31% of male respondents reported checking their partner’s mobile phone often, compared to just 15% of female respondents. Similarly, 40% of male respondents said that they sometimes looked at their partner’s phone without their knowledge, compared to 37% of female respondents.
We also wanted to know what people were doing when using their partner’s phone, particularly when their partner didn’t know they were doing so. The majority (60%) of those asked were using their lover’s phone to use their paid subscription services, such as Netflix and Spotify – innocent enough.
Meanwhile, over half (55%) used their partner’s phone to check their emails, with 52% also checking their partner’s social media. And the privacy invasion didn’t stop there, with 51% looking at their partner’s images, and 51% also checking their messages.
A further 2% of people said that they only used their partner’s phone if they asked them to.
Males were more likely to use their partner’s phone for their paid subscriptions (65%), compared to 56% of female respondents. Similarly, males were more likely to check their partner’s emails (61%), social media (61%), images (60%), and messages (59%).
Meanwhile, just 51% of females said they check their partner’s emails, whilst 45% admitted to checking their partner’s social media, images, and messages.
Catching a partner looking at your phone
So, we know that the majority of Americans feel comfortable looking at their partner’s phone without their permission for a variety of reasons, but what about when the same happens to them? How comfortable are people with catching their partner looking at their phone without their permission or knowledge?
SellCell discovered that over half (57%) of those surveyed had caught a partner using their phone, with 43% saying they had never found their partner looking at their phone. 70% of male respondents had caught a partner looking at their phone, whilst 48% of female respondents said they had found their partner using their phone.
In terms of how comfortable people felt when they caught a partner snooping through their phone, the results were a mixed bag. Surprisingly, 40% said that they felt very comfortable with their partner checking their phone without their permission, whilst 42% said they felt comfortable with it. 14% felt neutral about finding their partner using their phone, whilst just 4% reported feeling uncomfortable and 1% felt very uncomfortable.
Of those that reported feeling uncomfortable with catching their partner looking at their phone, we wanted to know what had made them feel that way. The majority (62%) said that they felt uncomfortable with their partner looking at their phone without permission because, despite having nothing to hide, they felt that their partner should trust them.
Just under half (47%) said that they had personal images or messages on their phone that they didn’t want their partner to see, whilst 37% said that they don’t use their partner’s phone so their partner shouldn’t use theirs either. Similarly, 30% felt that, as their phone isn’t their partner’s property, they shouldn’t use it without permission.
Relationship phone-snooping: a matter of trust issues or good faith?
The survey found that an overwhelming majority of Americans are looking at their partner’s phone, with or without their permission. Whilst the reasons for using a significant other’s phone behind their back varied, many centered on looking at their communication with other people. With so much of our personal data being stored on our mobile devices, having partners look through our phones without permission can be quite a concerning thought, particularly for those in newer relationships.
Although the majority said they innocently wanted to use subscription services such as Spotify, it was clear that one of the key motivations behind snooping on a partner’s phone was to try and catch them out in the act of infidelity.
SellCell surveyed 2,000 US adults (18+) between the 23rd-26th of January 2023. People were surveyed using seven questions, in order to ascertain how many people are comfortable using their partner’s phone in a relationship and how comfortable they are having their partner use their phone in return. No personal data was collected during this survey.
Data was compiled in January 2023.