Digital boundaries

The line between healthy and unhealthy relationships can get confusing once a relationship goes online. It’s not always clear what your digital relationship should look like, and different people may decide on different terms for their own arrangements.

Considering your digital boundaries

Before you talk to your partner about your online relationship, check in with yourself to determine what you’re comfortable with.

Is it okay to tag you in posts or check-in places together?

Do we post our relationship status publicly?

Is it okay to follow or friend other people in my life?

What are the expectations for communication through texting or social media?

Is it okay to use each other’s devices, and when if so?

Is it okay to post about our relationship publicly?

Once you’ve established how you feel, talk to your partner and collaborate to agree on digital dating terms. There may be some negotiation or compromising as you figure out an arrangement that works for you both, but remember that you always have the right to say no to something that doesn’t feel right or gives up control over your own decision making.

Your digital boundaries can change as your relationship evolves.

Just because you felt comfortable with something at the beginning of a relationship doesn’t mean you’re bound by it forever. The opposite can also be true: there may be something that you weren’t okay with at the beginning of your relationship that you eventually become comfortable with.

Both you and your partner should feel able to openly discuss your changing needs and wants. Just remember that changes to the terms should be made together with mutual respect.

As you think about the terms of your digital relationship, consider the following and learn more about online safety:

Keep passwords private.

Even if you trust your partner, sharing passwords to your phone, email, or social media accounts usually isn’t a good idea. You’re entitled to your own digital privacy, and giving your partner access to your accounts gives them the ability to do or post anything without getting your permission. They can also monitor who you’re talking to or what you’re doing.

In order to ensure you have control over your own information, keep your passwords to yourself and out of reach from others.

Sexting can have consequences.

Similarly to physical boundaries, it’s important to have clear digital boundaries about what you’re comfortable communicating digitally. Once you’ve sent or posted a photo or message, you lose control over what happens next.

If your partner sexts you and demands that you send sexts back, you should feel comfortable telling them your boundaries without them getting angry or threatening you. Especially if you’re a minor—sexting can come with serious legal consequences. Be careful in all your digital communications and take steps to be safer online.

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