Psychology and Relationships

Practical, romantic or controlling? Here's what a therapist has to say about location-sharing in a relationship


The first kiss, meeting their friends and the "what are we?" conversation are all steps we typically take on the road to a relationship.

Today, though, there are plenty of device-dependent gestures that hold weight during a flourishing romance.

Sharing a Netflix password, messaging a meme, initiating the first FaceTime: any of these acts can cause a notable serotonin boost when done with a potential partner.

The same could be said of sharing your location. Some have called it a "love language" and others have noted that it feels like a step toward deeper intimacy.

There is no rule that if you have a healthy relationship then you must share your location, says Lisa Bobby, psychologist and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching in Denver, Colorado. However, discomfort with your partner knowing where you are or vice versa is something to talk about.

"In my experience it's a non-issue unless there is a problem with the relationships in another area," she says.

Why a partner might want to share locations or not

If your partner really wants you to share your location, it might have to do with a past indiscretions.  

"Someone who has experienced relationship trauma in a past or current relationship will often be more hyper vigilant and less trusting about where people are," Bobby says.

Especially in an "affair recovery" situation, Bobby says, it is normal for a person to want to know the whereabouts of a partner who had previously betrayed them in some way.

If they don't want to share their location with you, that is also a discussion that needs to be had.  

"If somebody is unusually evasive and does not want to provide their location, that can indicate there are things they are trying to conceal and that isn't healthy," she says. "Why shouldn't your partner know where you are?"

In any of these situations, she says, "there is stuff going on under the hood."

Have a 'connecting conversation'

You and your partner not agreeing on whether you should share locations is an opportunity for discussion, she says. If one person wants this level of intimacy and the other doesn't, not talking about it could be harmful to the relationship. 

"If one person is cagey and withholding, it can create anxiety in their partner," Bobby says.

In most cases where location-sharing is a point of contention, it's rarely about the act itself and having a conversation could help you find the root of the trauma. "Approach it with curiosity," she says. "It could lead to a connecting conversation."

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