- Published on Tuesday, 01 July 2014 07:44
- Written by Ashraf Wahab
IT is a common wisdom that it takes more than one person to make relationship work.
After all, a relationship means going further than having emotional involvement and having each other’s back. You don't have to be alone facing everything that life throws at you. But instead you'll get to face these troubling issues as a team.
This ‘team’ bond you forge with your partner, should ensure that until the end of your life both will trust one another unequivocally. Trust also means being open to one another and usually that is when the trouble starts.
So it begs the question, how much privacy should there be in a relationship? Going past the days of physical mails, anyone who’s ever been in a relationship would have probably once pondered, “Is it okay to read my partner’s text message?”
If openness is a major element for a relationship to work, surely a person should allow their partner to read their text messages. But wouldn’t the act of reading the messages signal a lack of trust in the first place?
Everything Needs To Be Shared
For Sariyanti Binti Nasution, 34, the act of reading her husband’s messages is not about being suspicious or having lack of trust. “My husband isn’t a ‘big talker’, so I find out about his day through his text and WhatsApp messages. He completely knows this and is okay with it.”
“There is no right or wrong, I think. It depends on the openness of each other,” says Farin Yaacob from Shah Alam. “My husband is a busy person. His boss and staff use WhatsApp to report and inform things to him. So he's always answering his messages. And sometimes it annoys me and I’ll say ‘let me have a look at your phone. I’m getting suspicious.’ And he would nonchalantly say ‘here, look’. So for me, it should be OK for a couple to take a look into the phone once in a while. If they’ve got nothing to hide, then why not? For me, I’m just not interested to know what’s inside his phone anymore. And i think same goes to him.”
This mother of two also adds: “I don’t think it should be a daily event for a married couple to check their spouse’s phone every night; but the idea of it shouldn’t freak them out. The idea of checking spouse’s phones should be okay, but trust would be an issue if checking phones is important to anyone.”
Ismail Kadir, a government official from Puchong is in the view that there should be no secrets between couples “If there is nothing to hide or you haven’t done anything wrong, then it should be allowed. It is definitely okay to read those messages if you notice a change in behaviour. Privacy is important but vows should be stronger.”
Abdul Shahidan, a Network Specialist in Bangsar is another who is in favour of reading the messages. “Perhaps not so much for those yet to marry, but for those who have tied the knot, then yes,” explained the 31 year old. “Getting married means being united as one; so you should share everything,” he said.
Everyone Needs Privacy
Kamrulzaman Nordin, 27, argues that everyone deserves some level of privacy no matter if they’re in a relationship or not. “Keeping our messages private doesn’t necessarily mean we have something to hide,” he said, “Some people want some level of privacy in their life. I know we are supposed to be open but when our partners read our text messages it feels like some sort of violation. This is probably an exaggerated example, but would people like it if one open the mouth every day to check the condition of the teeth for others to inspect? It’s a form of violation.”
“It depends on your partner, you need to ask them if they’re OK with the idea,” says Foliace Abd Hanan , an executive from Keramat. “If your partner is against the idea then no, you shouldn’t read them. Do not cross the line.”
Suhaidah Abdul Karim, a Human Resource assistant from Shah Alam also believes privacy should be respected. “I’m not saying there should be blind trust and you’re not allowed to be suspicious. But in those situations it’s better to just ask your partner directly. Some would say they read these messages just to know what happens during their partner’s day. Again, why don’t they just ask? Communication is healthy for a relationship.”
Siti Khodijah Abdul Rahim , an online boutique seller based in the Klang Valley says if you do not have the permission to reveal the conversation of the content of the text message, then it is a definite ‘no’. “You might come to false conclusions. Remember, curiosity killed the cat. Anyway, if you need to check those messages, then it means there is already something wrong with your relationship.”
Shazrin Adam, 29, a mobile app developer says, sometimes people disallow the phones from being read to protect their friends. "For example my friends and I are all in a WhatsApp chat group that is consisted of an all male group. They talk of all sorts of rubbish and things that they would only confess to a tight group of friends. It’s guy talk! I don't think they would like my partner reading those messages."
A Relationship Is Never Stagnant
Dr. Suzana Binti Mohd Hoesni, a Senior Lecturer at the School Of Psychology And Human Development at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, says she is rather indifferent on the issue.
“It depends on the partners in the relationship and also on the situations. Idealistically a healthy relationship should be very open, but every individual is different,” says Dr. Suzana who is an expert in the Psychology of Love and Interpersonal Relationships.
She also says that a relationship shouldn’t be an all out trust affair. “My personal opinion is that it should be around 99% trust and the remaining 1% being cautious and careful. The heart can change because a relationship is never stagnant. I’d also say this percentage of trust should be for those in a marriage. This is because they have committed themselves to one another for the long term. For those couples yet to marry, that percentage should be lower and an even worst scenario is when you have a partner with previous bad history. The percentage of trust there should be even lower.”
Dr. Suzana adds, “Psychologically, if a partner is overly defensive, it could mean they are hiding something. It depends on the situation, if the person was holding classified information, like national security, they are obliged not reveal it. But if you have reasonable suspicion to do so, you might want to read the text messages secretly. But that suspicion needs to be justified, for example, if an officemate repeatedly says that he or she saw your partner do something wrong.”
You would think that suspicion is a major factor on why people read their partner’s text messages. But what if they secretly read the messages and it turns out that all that suspicion is proven to be baseless? Should the person confess to their partner that they went behind their partner’s back to read them?
Dr. Suzana says it depends on how the person would react and take that revelation. “If revealing a secret makes things worse, it might be best to keep it to yourself. Relationships are like that. Just make sure you don’t repeat it.”
I agree with Dr. Suzana but I suspect her last statement of keeping to yourself will be used as an excuse for those who would want to keep their messages private. But hey, it’s like what Dr. Suzana said, it depends on the situation. Because if you are hiding something, it might be even more sinful than the act of violating your partners privacy!