You may not be ready for a joint bank account, but you are ready to share passwords for streaming. Here are a few things to remember when you take the next step.
There’s no greater social cachet these days than having a password to a streaming service — or better yet, passwords to the five-fecta of streaming services (Netflix, HBOMax, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Hulu). Maybe you’re involved in some sort of six-way trade deal with family members or friends to alleviate the financial load of multiple monthly subscriptions. (You wouldn’t be alone! Just look at this chart which illustrates how many people “borrow” passwords to streaming services instead of creating their own.)
By that logic, whether you’re shacked up or have separate places, it seems reasonable to share passwords with your significant other. While it’s not quite the same as giving each other keys to your apartments, it does require a certain level of trust and communication.
Here are some things to keep in mind to keep your Netflix and chill, well…chill.
Even if you’ve achieved the level of intimacy where you’re comfortable enough with your partner to reveal your embarrassing passwords circa 2002 (bl!nk182rox), it’s best to create a password from scratch before sharing. In general, reusing passwords is not in keeping with best practices for digital security, so it’s good to get in the habit of creating a new password for every account. This also rules out the chance that you might be sharing a password you use for another account.
While you may trust your partner with your login, can you trust everyone they trust with your login?
It’s best to establish some ground rules—reminding each other to log out of accounts at hotels, etc.—and touch base with your partner before giving a password to another friend or family member. While most streaming services make it difficult to access account information like the existing payment method (Netflix and HBO, for example, only display the last four digits of a card once it’s entered), passwords still have value on their own for hackers. Often a hacker only needs your login credentials to phish for payment details or subscribe you to third-party accounts.
The safest and smartest way to share passwords is through a password manager. Dashlane has a Sharing Center, in which you can share your logins or data with someone else more securely. (Here’s some instructions on sharing passwords in Dashlane—with gifs!) You can choose between Limited Rights and Full Rights for each password. Limited Rights means that the recipient can autofill a password through the Dashlane app, but they can only view it as a series of dots and won’t know the actual password. With Full Rights, the recipient can view and change the password as well as edit the sharing rights. Sharing through Dashlane also ensures that if you do have to change a password, it gets updated for everyone it’s shared with so you don’t have to reshare it again or ask every person to change it manually.
As we get closer to February 14th, breakups are the furthest thing from our minds (hopefully). But just like the fire extinguisher your mom insisted you keep in your kitchen when you got your own place, you hope you don’t have to use Dashlane’s “break-up” feature, but it’s good to know it’s there. The “break-up” button is really just Dashlane’s Revoke access setting. As you might expect, it allows you to revoke other people’s access to passwords. This only works if you are the person who created and shared the password in the first place, or if you’ve been granted full rights by someone else who created and shared their password. So yes, that means that if you give someone full rights to your Netflix password, they could revoke your access. Another reason to trade and share wisely.
There’s no right way to cohabitate digitally. Whether you want to keep your passwords private, even from your partner, or you want to share everything from toothbrushes to Netflix accounts, it’s completely up to you.
On a serious note, if a significant other insists on having unfettered access to your online accounts (or your GPS location) and becomes angry or violent if you refuse, that could be considered controlling behavior and may even be a precursor to more serious boundary violations or abuse. If you think you need help with a controlling or abusive partner, check out these resources, or do a Google search on a friend’s phone for resources in your local area.