The Politics of Privacy vis-à-vis Trust in a Relationship

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I rarely attend weddings.  I find them largely boring–the usual speeches and the whole drama that comes with the celebration.

However over the weekend, my fiancée’s friend was wedding so I had to tag along (needless to say, I only appeared at the reception for the obvious reason—food and cake).

But one of the speakers struck me. He advised the couple NEVER to pick their calls in private when they are together. He also encouraged them to permit themselves to pick the other’s calls regardless of the time or who the caller is. As far as I understood, his point was that in a relationship, there is no privacy.

Is that true? Privacy is the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people. In Uganda, it even has a legal backing. The right to privacy of person, home and other property is guaranteed under Article 27 of the Constitution. Specifically, Article 27(2) states that “No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication or other property”. I am more interested in correspondence and communication.

There is a tendency among lovers to stealthily check the other’s SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, emails and all tribes of communication avenues. Even those who pretend not to, actually do it whenever they are sure of not being caught!

This is where relationships get tricky. As a couple, there is always a need to strike a delicate balance between being close and attached while at the same time respecting your partner’s sense of independence. The mere fact that one is in a relationship does not necessarily mean that they have forfeited all their liberties.

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But here is the other angle; relationships are built on trust. Trust can only be achieved through transparency. It entails telling the truth literally about everything. But to establish this trust, one needs to somehow invade the other’s privacy. I mean for example, if I want to establish that my girlfriend is not cheating on me, the most natural option is to check who she communicates with regularly. So in the process, I am interfering with her “space” and when she realizes, she will quickly take it that I don’t trust her. So in essence, a well-intended act of killing my “fears” will actually end up “confirming” them to her. More often than not, she will conclude that I don’t trust her. Ladies and Gentlemen, at this point, just know the trust level would have shrunk significantly. Snooping hurts a relationship!

It’s also note-worthy that whereas snooping may be a breach of trust, it can also expose some untrustworthy behavior. Some partners have used the concept of privacy as a scape goat for their wrong moves because ultimately when snooped, the discoveries may actually be justifiable. Sometimes snooping is essential to discover the information you deserve.

This may not be the best solution but I propose that whenever one has reasons to doubt the other, face them. Inform him/her of your fears and deal with it. If this fails, go ahead and snoop but be ready to deal with the consequences.

Like they say, what you do not know does not hurt…

                                                         

                                                                                             The author is in a relationship…