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Tracking Trust in the Era of Smart Phones

June 17, 2017

Smart phones have ushered in a new era of contact. In addition to the email of old, there are multiple texting platforms, not to mention an array of visual mediums to convey information.

Most smart phones these days also have built in GPS thus enabling one to navigate as well as be tracked.

Built into many commonly used programs is a tracking feature so that companies can determine your habits and then offer products and services to meet your needs and interests as you move through your day.

Beyond one’s communication and commercial application of the smart phone, tracking personal surveillance is a little discussed capability.

During a recent discussion I had with a group of women, one woman commented that she follows her partner regularly through the GPS on his phone. After some discussion, she then advised it was for emergency reasons. It left me wondering about the practice. A search of the Internet reveals there are multiple applications available for tracking one’s partner and that apparently many do. By why and is it right?

It turns out the answer is, it depends.

In my posting to my Facebook page exploring the issue, the comments suggest that absent any concerns, it is an invasion of privacy and that people should otherwise trust their partner. Being spied on for no good reason in and of itself may be the very issue that torpedoes an otherwise good relationship.

However, other comments point to the value of knowing each others whereabouts for emergency purposes, planning and personal safety.

When concerned about a partner’s dalliances tracking may provide evidence one way or the other about the integrity of the relationship. However, tracking itself does nothing to address or repair concerns.

If you find yourself not trusting your partner, the issue may reside with your partner or alternately, the trust issue may be yours to carry. Depending on upbringing, some folks inherently have issues of trust.

If ones parents’ relationship was marked by issues of infidelity, be it emotional, sexual or even financial, it can be a set up for the adult child to then have concerns born of the childhood experience. This is clearly not an outcome of the current partner’s behavior. In such circumstance though, that lack of trust can carry into the present relationship with disastrous consequences.

No one ever wants to be accused of behavior or thought capable of engaging in untoward behavior. That lack of trust originating in ones own mind the result of prior untoward experience, when projected as an issue on the partner is cancerous for relationships. It creates unwarranted tensions, hostilities and conflict.

If you have a trust issue with your partner. It can be like an itch that needs scratching. In lieu of tracking, consider communication. Discuss your issues and concerns. Take responsibility for your issues. Advise when you have gained knowledge of unreasonable behavior.

Rather than the cat and mouse game consider addressing your concerns forthrightly.

Your partner, if guilty, may at first seek to deflect and avoid but this is actually normal in the context of truly getting caught. However, continue to address your concern and evidence where actually available. Maintain your composure and certainly seek couple counseling whether a transgression is actual or perceived in order to determine your next steps and to find ways to address the trust.

If the issue is a function of your own prior experience undermining your trust in others, then couple counseling can help both persons understand and find coping strategies. Once no longer feeling blamed for projected concerns, the partner, through understanding can support the person coming to terms with the impact of early experiences on their life.

If indeed a transgression did occur, then the couple can explore any personal or interpersonal issues that could have given rise to the transgression and determine the respective interests in continuing the relationship. Either way, remain a couple or separate, counseling can be very helpful to support the outcome and help people cope and develop strategies to facilitate their direction.

In the end, better relationships are based on trust as well as transparency.

When I am out and about, I often make contact with my wife so she has some sense of my whereabouts and when I will be returning home. We see this as a courtesy. Realizing she can now just as easily know my whereabouts through the smart phone’s tracking features, I may just turn this on myself so she can more easily know my whereabouts and determine my time of arrival when driving home.

Have the discussion with your partner. How does your trust track?

If not tracking well, consider counseling to get back on track.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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