How Much Privacy is Normal?
Q: My boyfriend is online a lot. I respect his privacy and have no reason not to trust him, but I can't help but notice something weird. Anytime I go near him when he's online, he closes his browser windows and email. He's pretty private about this phone, too. What does this mean? We're talking about moving in together and he says he trusts me. I just don't understand why he's acting like he has something to hide. Should I ask him about it? How do I bring it up? — Elizabeth, 31
Dr. Susan: Before you move in with someone, you need to be sure you feel comfortable enough around him to bring up any and all sensitive issues. I'd bring it up exactly in those terms: "I want to feel truly at home with you if we're going to live together, and the secretive way you act when I enter a room when you're online feels a little weird to me. Like you might be hiding something." Then see what he says. Some people are strict about their personal boundaries, even when they have nothing to hide. Others are very open at nearly all times with nearly everyone. I can see him wanting to keep his letters and texts private, even if there's no special reason to hide them. But to close his browser when you walk by? Maybe you're just not ready as a couple to make the commitment of living together.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.