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Should I share my location with my partner? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

  • August 10, 2022

partner may seem like a no-brainer decision. But it’s important to give it some thought.

Some feel safer sharing their location with their partners. Others avoid the practice because it can feel controlling. Experts say every choice is valid, and stress it’s important to keep your own mental health as well as your attachment and experiences with trauma in mind when making the best decision for you.

Sharing your location like we do today – whether it’s via Bitmojis on Snap Map or using your iPhone’s growing number of tracking features – is a relatively new phenomenon.

Licensed clinical psychologist Yasmine Saad stresses that young people are especially affected in our increasingly digital world – estimating that the issue of location sharing in relationships comes up for about 80% to 90% of people in their teens, 20s and 30s at her practice, for example.

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USA TODAY spoke with Saad, founder and CEO of Madison Park Psychological Services in New York, about why couples turn to (or avoid) location sharing today, common miscommunications and what to consider when making the best decision for you.

Sharing your location should be solution-focused

It’s helpful to think of sharing your location with your partner “as a solution to a problem,” Saad says. This mindset allows you to best identify what the purpose of location sharing is for your relationship – and whether it’s working down the line.

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But location sharing can be harmful in other situations. Someone who already experiences a lot of anxiety may decide that constantly checking their partner’s location contributes to their fears in an unhealthy way. Others may prefer not to share their location with a partner out of wanting to protect their sense of freedom.

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Acknowledging where you stand first will help you and your partner in these conversations – whether you decide to share your location or search for other solutions. This communication is also key in understanding boundaries that must be respected for a relationship’s survival.

“The violation of our boundaries can also be a deal breaker,” Sara Kuburic, a therapist and relationship columnist for USA TODAY, writes. “If we have not clearly set our boundaries, getting angry at someone for crossing them us unfair. But, if we have set clear relationship boundaries, their violation can be perceived as an act of disrespect and disregard for who we are and the relationship itself.”

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Miscommunications and trust

Even though location sharing can successfully be used as part of a solution to a problem, Saad notes that she also sees many miscommunications.

“A lot of people decide to share location more as a way of silencing some of their partner’s anxiety (or) their partner’s complaints,” Saad says, adding that many can later regret these kinds of decisions or feel resentment if they didn’t take their own needs and values into account.

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A partner may say, “I agreed for us to know each other’s location, but I didn’t agree for you … to just constantly monitor me. I didn’t say yes to that,” Saad says. “Somebody will say, ‘I did it for other reasons (such as emergencies), but you’re using it for reasons that I didn’t agree to.'”

What to consider: Mental health, trauma and more

When looking at location sharing as a solution, it’s critical to identify the “root cause” of the problem to avoid surface-level (and usually ineffective), quick fixes. Saad says there are several main areas to recognize: Personal mental health, attachment style, previous experiences of trauma and the relationship’s history.

Personal mental health. Consider both you and/or your partner’s mental health. In some cases, for example, a partner may have “an anxiety disorder, and they’re anxious about not knowing. And so knowing your location can help a little bit, but usually people who have that kind of mindset will start worrying about another thing they don’t know,” Saad says.

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Trauma. Acknowledge any previous trauma. A partner may have been cheated on in a prior relationship, for example, and may want to share locations in order to feel more secure now, Saad adds.

writes. Location sharing might not always be part of the solution, especially for couples who have had controlling dynamics in the past.

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Attachment style. Recognize both you and your partner’s attachment styles. If you and your partner have different ones, “you’re going to have to figure out a way to compromise” and find a solution that works for both of you, Saad says.

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