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Shared Email Addresses: Convenient or Claustrophobic? November 9, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought.
Tags: , , ,

I have some friends who share an email address with their spouse. I also have some friends who keep their own email address after they get married. I don’t see any big ideological, political, cultural, or background differences between these two groups.  So why do some people merge their accounts when they tie the knot?

Full disclosure: my parents share an email address. This is convenient when I want to announce my Christmas Wish List to both of them. It’s claustrophobic when I want to scheme with my dad about what to get for my mom, or vice versa.

I think in general I’m going to have to come out against shared email accounts. If one of my girlfriends has been complaining to me on the phone about her husband, I have to make sure I don’t reference our conversation in an email to her because he might open it instead. Claustrophobic.  The merging of accounts is also an uncomfortable metaphor for the merging of lives. Sharing an email account is Total Openness. Her contacts become his contacts; his messages become hers. Nowhere does real life present such total fungibility in a relationship, except in our culture ‘s mythology of marriage as being totally open, a complete sharing. This myth sets all couples up for disappointment and frustration, and sharing an email account just reinforces that myth that two people can become one.

Copious Readership, what are the plusses and minuses of sharing email addresses? Have you ever shared an email address with a sig-other? Do you know people who do?



1. Singlutionary - November 9, 2009

They are gross. Plain and simple. I hate shared email. I would not want to share an email address because then I would have to go through all his emails in order to get to mine. If I lived with a dude and a letter came to the house addressed to him, i would not open it. I think that is part of the respect and trust that comes with a relationship. If it was addressed only to him and from a mutual friend, I would not open it. i would think “maybe this friend has something private that they are discussing with my partner.”

Also, usually when couples do that you end up getting an email from the dude’s name when it is really coming from the female partner. It is annoying because half the time I don’t know who it is and then when I am writing them an email and typing in their name their email address doesn’t come up.

For the sake of humanity each person should have their own email address.

2. autonomous - November 9, 2009

My parents have a shared e-mail to keep in touch with all the kids and grandkids, but then they share the letters I hand-write to them individually as well. It doesn’t bug me. IN THIS INSTANCE.
Anyone else, absolutely.
I don’t even want to share a house with a man, let alone my private correspondence. I can’t tell how many people come into our office and complain that their spouse/sig. other “broke into” their private e-mail account and read their personal stuff. It’s akin to reading someone’s diary. Therefore, how can one possibly maintain privacy, not always their own, or personal intimate friendships if their e-correspondence is so accessible? Besides, I don’t think it’s necessarily all that healthy to share absolutely everything with another.

3. Onely - November 10, 2009

For the record, I don’t have any friends who do this. But you can be sure that I would *hate* it if they did! Also for the record, I have at least 5 email accounts for me and me only. And then there’s the one that Christina and I share for the blog… That’s a lot!


4. Rachel - November 10, 2009

I always think it’s weird because you never know who you’re actually writing to! And presuming that you want to be friends with the guy (or gal) your friend married is rather rude.

My parents have separate email addresses and it really takes only a fraction of a second to add the other address if I want to email them both.

So, I don’t really see any pluses to sharing an email address.

5. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles - November 10, 2009

I don’t mind it if a couple has a shared email address as long as they also have separate email addresses. As some people noted, a shared email is convenient when you want to send an invitation, a thank-you, an update, or whatever to both members of a couple, not much different than a shared land line, which is what all of us had before cell phones became ubiquitous.

That said, I’m weirded out by couples who have nothing but a shared email! That’s horrifying. Sorry, but despite the romantic cliche, two do NOT become one. One partner is not entitled to know all the private business of his or her spouse’s family and friends. There’s an unpleasant undertone of distrust in these relationships, too, a sense that the partners need to keep tabs on each other. I DO know couples who do this, and I simply never communicate anything personal by email. Interestingly enough, I’m no longer that close with them either. I would never in a million years have only a shared email address with ANYONE else, husband or otherwise. It would be a violation of my privacy, his privacy, and everyone else’s.

Lauri - November 11, 2009

“As some people noted, a shared email is convenient when you want to send an invitation, a thank-you, an update, or whatever to both members of a couple”

but you can simultaneously send one email to two addresses very easily…

6. Lauri - November 11, 2009

I don’t see any pluses to it. It’s just another sign of loss of identity after marriage. It’s presumptuous to assume that everyone who wants to get in touch with you wants to get in touch with both of you. frankly, I don’t see why the couple would like it. Why would the wife want to read emails from the husband’s friends or the husband want to read emails from the wife’s boss? You’d have to sort through a bunch of crap that doesn’t pertain to you. Doesn’t make sense. I only know one couple who does this, and I know that the wife has always hated email and hardly ever uses it (weird, she’s only like 30).

7. singlethirtysomething - November 17, 2009

Urgh – shared email addresses. Shudder.

On a par with shared Facebook accounts (“JohnandAnne Smith” – eeeeek).

For heaven’s sake people, you are INDIVIDUALS. Do you share a cell phone number? No, you each have your own. Email addresses should be the same.

8. Therese - December 11, 2009

This is awful! My cousin did this when she got married and it’s terrible. It’s an extension of the Cult of Couplehood – that EVERY aspect of your life has to be shared. That the person you were is supposed to disappear when you say “I do”.


9. K - January 21, 2010

aside from being very codependent, it also seems rather INconvenient to me. do i really want to open my email and wade through 50 comments from the guy’s facebook? but then maybe they share a facebook account too…oy.

Onely - January 22, 2010

K, good point. I know that my mom suffers from wading through the innumerable cheesy, or sexist, or Republican (often all three) forwards from my dad’s friends. She doesn’t seem to email often enough to want her own account, though. CC

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