No secrets in relationships
5 Ways Keeping Secrets Can Ruin Your Relationship
Why people keep secrets in relationships.
There is a difference between privacy and secrets in a partnership. Individuals do maintain the right to privacy in a relationship if the topic they're keeping to themselves does not negatively affect their partner.
That said, even the smallest of secrets can affect relationships. Slepian, Halevy, and Galinsky's study found carrying secrets is correlated with a negative sense of well-being, and that can affect the way partners interact with each other.
The most significant secrets that affect couples are infidelity, financial problems, and substance abuse—and research suggests this type of secret-keeping is common and destructive.
Studies have found infidelity is responsible for 20 to 40% of divorces in the U.S. An estimated 13 million Americans have hidden a bank or credit card account from a live-in significant other, partner, or spouse. Drug overdose deaths are at a record high3, and reports show that surviving loved ones deal with feelings of anger, guilt, and helplessness over the fact that they never knew the drug abuse was occurring. The secrecy deprives family members of the information that could have enabled them to act.
Keeping secrets within a relationship can be appealing when it's predetermined that revealing the information will create conflict or embarrassment. People keep secrets because of fear that their partners won't be able to love them through the truth. People believe that the anger, shame, humiliation, or recrimination their partner would feel would alienate them and push them away from the relationship.
Yet they fail to realize that personal shame, humiliation, and recrimination have already occurred, and that's what provoked the desire to keep the secret. The relationship has already suffered damage in the form of restricted emotional communication and continuing deceit.
How keeping secrets can ruin your relationship.
Identifying and understanding how keeping secrets can backfire on couples is the first step to disrupting the behavioral pattern. Here are five ways secrets can undermine your relationship:
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Creates a barrier to connecting.
It becomes difficult to feel a shared and connected life with someone with whom you know you're being inauthentic. In their study, Slepian, Halevy, and Galinsky noted that there is a dichotomy between secret-keeping behaviors and human beings as social creatures. In addition, they found that secret keepers had felt lower life satisfaction and felt fatigued, lonely, sad, and hostile.
Fuels an atmosphere of mistrust in a relationship.
When a partner severs trust, rebuilding it is challenging. Resentment and suspicion are hard to overcome. The deceived partner often finds it hard to trust that other secrets don't exist or that the pattern won't continue in the future. The constant need for reassurance doesn't help build trust; it just placates fear.
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Impedes the ability to communicate naturally.
When people keep secrets, they impede communication between them and their loved ones. This can create stilted, inorganic conversations because so much overthinking is involved to ensure not revealing the lie. Overwhelmed by the fear of revealing the secret, the deceptive partner may be less available, receptive, or involved. Understandably, this becomes frustrating for the deceived partner, which drives a wedge between them.
Deceit begets deceit.
Once deceit becomes a part of a relationship, it begins to erode the foundation of a partnership. If a partner doesn't address the erosion early on, either the original deceit continues and deepens, or further deceits incur. When a deceiver successfully keeps secrets, it can embolden their self-concept and empower them to continue their secretive behavior.
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You can become physically sick.
Internalizing deceptions is a burden that has somatic consequences and can cause guilt, shame, and stress, which can come with co-occurring symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, and sleep problems. In more extreme cases, people may even turn to substances to numb themselves to the discomfort they experience. The risk of substance dependence or abuse will further alienate the secret keeper from their partner.
Breaking the pattern of keeping secrets.
If you've been a perennial hoarder of secrets in your relationship, it will feel like an ominous challenge to break the protective veneer that has made you feel safe and less vulnerable. Suddenly becoming transparent overnight will feel jarring to you and your partner, so don't be impulsive when revealing a significant secret to your partner.
Be straightforward, but kind and compassionate. Carefully evaluate the circumstances, such as the timing, location, mood, and mental and emotional state of your partner. If the information is something that might create distress between the two of you (such as infidelity or bankruptcy), you may want to consider having a third party present, such as a couple's counselor or therapist (or an accountant or lawyer to go over financial options).
However, even though at the front end exposing a secret may seem daunting, even terrifying, the relief people feel in the end has positive effects for the individual and the couple. The research by Slepian, Halevy, and Galinsky demonstrated that those who unburden a secret feel happier, more authentic, and closer.
Exercising transparency, honesty, and forgiveness are essential for sustaining your personal well-being and the health of your relationship. Even if your partner can't bring themselves to love you through deceit, "owning" your truth will set you free and on a personal path toward better physical and mental health—and not just in your relationship. Hopefully, it will encourage you to be more truthful in your future relationships with loved ones and family as well.
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Why Secrets Can Ruin Relationships
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One of the great concerns in many romantic relationships involves secrecy vs. privacy. One partner thinks that he or she deserves a bit of privacy; the other views this desire as secrecy. Which is which? How can we know the difference between the two? And how should we navigate between these two extremes?
- Privacy is best defined as the state or condition of being free from observation and disturbance by other people. For instance, when you leave a public event and return to the privacy of your own home, the person who sat next to you at the public event can no longer stare at, talk to, or otherwise annoy you. In general, keeping certain things private involves setting and maintaining boundaries that align with your individual needs, values, and beliefs. When your privacy is violated you might feel angry, and rightfully so, with a desire to pull away from whoever spoiled your privacy.
- Secrecy is the active state of intentionally keeping information hidden from one or more people. In general, beyond professional requirements for confidentiality, if you keep something secret it’s because you fear the impact (on yourself or others) that the information might have if it were openly known. What often underlies secrecy is a fear of judgment and/or reprisal. When your secrecy is violated, you may feel as if you’ve lost control over the information and how others respond to it. Thus, you might feel afraid, anxious, concerned, and angry, and want to pull away.
Using the above definitions, the difference between privacy and secrecy seems relatively clear, but this isn't always the case: Consider, for instance, a husband who finds his wife’s sister very attractive, though he has no intention of ever acting on that attraction because he loves and respects his wife. This man might consider his attraction to his sister-in-law private. His wife, however, might consider it a secret. As an outside observer, it’s hard to say that one belief is more accurate than the other.
Why is this distinction is so important? We’re just playing with semantics, right? Except we’re not. There is a huge difference between privacy and secrecy in terms of the degree to which hidden information can impact an intimate relationship if or when that information is made known. If a husband surreptitiously reads his wife’s Cosmopolitan when he’s sitting on the toilet and feels a little embarrassed because he enjoys a magazine aimed at women, he might keep this fact hidden. And if his wife finds out about it, their relationship will probably not be impacted in any sort of lasting way—other than her teasing or his new openness to weigh in on her fashion choices. This is an example of privacy. However, if that same man were to masturbate while looking at his wife’s Cosmopolitan, he might seek to keep that fact hidden, too. If his wife were to find out, she might well get angry about it or feel less attractive. But she might also laugh about it, if she finds his behavior amusing. Either way, the fact that he’s not telling her because she might feel angry or hurt makes this an example of secrecy.
This leads directly to my next topic—infidelity. After more than 25 years as a therapist specializing in sex and intimacy disorders, I think I’ve heard every possible opinion about cheating. Along the way I’ve learned that defining infidelity can be a highly subjective endeavor except for one constant: Infidelity always involves the keeping of important sexual and/or romantic secrets—and the reason those secrets are kept is fear. Here is an example of both secrecy and infidelity:
“If I tell my wife I loaded the Ashley Madison app onto my phone and looked at profiles for three hours yesterday, she might get really mad, even though I didn’t actually try to hook up with anyone, so maybe I’ll just keep this information to myself.”
Of course, many people in committed long-term relationships are able to convince themselves that secrecy is really privacy:
- “At lunch I left work and hooked up with a guy I met online, but I don’t need to tell my husband about this because it’s private and it doesn’t affect our relationship. Besides, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
- “When I was away on business last week I spent $800 at a strip club, but my wife doesn’t need to know about this because the money came from my private savings account and not our joint account. ”
Both of these individuals have convinced themselves they’re merely keeping information private, but they’re actually keeping secrets.
If you’re wondering whether a certain piece of hidden information involves privacy or secrecy, ask yourself a simple question: If the person I am keeping this information from knew the entire truth, would he or she be hurt or angry? If the answer is yes, you’re keeping a secret. Looking at porn, cruising for prostitutes, and going to massage parlors are behaviors that many people keep secret. Similarly, snooping, following, and eavesdropping (what I call “doing detective work”) on an intimate partner are also behaviors that many people keep secret. The first set of behaviors qualifies as sexual infidelity; the second is a common response to infidelity. Both are examples of secrecy.
The primary problem with secrets in intimate relationships is that they undermine trust. And we know for a fact that the healthiest relationships are built on mutual trust. This means no secrets, but it does not mean you can’t have any privacy. For instance, my social media passwords are private. My spouse is perfectly welcome to peruse these pages to see what I post, but my login information is mine and mine alone. What's important is that we talked about our social media accounts and mutually agreed to a boundary that aligns with our unique set of morals and values, instead of one of us simply deciding what is and is not private in our relationship.
Of course, this sort of mutual give and take about the boundary between secrecy and privacy involves a lot more than Facebook access. All aspects of a relationship can be openly discussed and debated, with these discussions and the mutually agreed-upon boundaries strengthening rather than weakening a couple’s intimate bond.
Consider, for instance, the initial example I gave, in which the husband is attracted to his wife’s sister. Many couples, if asked to set a boundary about something like this, will agree that there is no need to share information about an attraction unless you have thoughts of acting on it. A wife might say, “If we go to the movies and you find an actress really hot, you can tell me about it or you can keep the information private. However, if you have a hot new co-worker and she’s flirting with you, I want to know about it.”
Couples can even discuss and agree upon boundaries for sexual activity. For instance, some might choose an “open relationship” with certain limits, also noting whether sex outside the relationship needs to be disclosed and, if so, under what circumstances. The simple truth is that clearly defined agreements and boundaries about “acceptable use” of things like porn, strip clubs, anonymous sex, flirting, and the like can and do work for many couples, so long as both parties are able to fully participate in the boundary-setting process.
Couples can also discuss and agree on ways in which disclosure takes place. Some couples might agree that if one of them has done something that might upset the other, as long as the guilty party comes clean within 24 hours and doesn’t repeat the behavior, whatever it is they’ve done will be forgiven without a big blowup. This sort of agreement helps to eliminate secrets and build relationship trust. Essentially, partners learn that neither of them is perfect, but they both care enough about each other and their intimate bond to be honest instead of keeping secrets. And that is a powerful and very comforting thing to know.
Being honest and emotionally vulnerable in a romantic relationship is a form of both personal and relationship integrity. Sometimes people think they’ve only violated their integrity if they flat-out lie. Secrets, however, are lies of omission, and they’re just as damaging to relationships and personal integrity as those we say out loud. Countless individuals don’t understand this, or maybe they just fear it. As such, they keep important secrets in their relationships, and they never quite develop the level of trust and emotional intimacy they desire.
I am senior vice president of national clinical development for Elements Behavioral Health and the author of several highly-regarded books; visit my website at robertweissmsw. com or follow me on Twitter, @RobWeissMSW.
Regina Brett, author of God Never Blinks, believes relationships shouldn't be kept secret. Do you agree or are you ready to argue?
There was a period in my life - from the age of twenty and almost forty, when men passed through me like bread crumbs through a goose. In fact, I met with the same man, only the name changed. nine0003
I realized this only when, after a relationship with one person, I needed psychological help. The handsome young guy who used to hit on me at work seemed to be in awe of wanting to date me. For three months he passionately told me about his feelings. And just when I was ready to trust and remove my protection, he announced that he would not be able to go on a date with me on the weekend, because his fiancee was coming to town.
Who-who is coming?
Yup. He was engaged. I again turned out to be a side dish that needs to be devoured on the sly. I was furious. I've foreseen everything! This guy wasn't an alcoholic, a drug addict, he didn't have a wife, nothing like that. How did it happen that once again I started dating an unfree man?
This is the story of my life. Why do I repeat it over and over? That evening, when I said that I did not want to see him, I cried, prayed and appealed to the universe: “Why do I always attract unavailable men?” nine0003
The universe replied: "Because you are afraid of the free."
Wow. It dawned on me: I'm afraid that the man might stay. Why? As a child, I lived under the same roof with a man who yelled, raged and raged. On the other hand, he was the most generous and selfless father in the world. But it was never possible to predict which side he would turn towards you. Once upon a time, as a child, I developed a mental rule for myself that was firmly imprinted in my heart: “Men bring pain. Never live with a man." nine0003
So I didn't live. I chose those who would not stay. Inaccessible. Married, engaged, dating others, living in another state, drunks or workaholics. Men who can't truly belong to me. The good guys that would stay around scared me, and only a few years of therapy helped me cope with this fear.
The therapist who healed my darkest and deepest wounds gave me the ground rules for dating. Their initial letters make up the word "stop". She wanted me to keep four things in mind, and the first one is the most important. nine0003
Secret. Will your relationship stand the scrutiny of society? If your relationship is to be kept secret, you don't need such a relationship.
Trauma. Does this relationship hurt you or humiliate you or your children in any way?
Feelings. Are you dating just to avoid getting hurt? Is this relationship for complacency?
Void. Is this bond empty, without care and devotion? nine0003
This was a great starting point. From that very day, I realized that the main quality to look for in a man is his availability for relationships. As soon as I laid eyes on someone, I immediately asked myself if he was available for a relationship? If not, then it's not even worth trying.
Over time, I made my own list of relationship advice.
Stay away from inaccessible men. These include monks, those who live where you do not want to settle, married, engaged, and those who are afraid to tell others that they are dating you so as not to scare other girls away. nine0003
No secrets. One of my close friends was cheated on by her husband for many years. It was not a novel, but a lifestyle. At the same time, they were undergoing family therapy, "working on their relationship. " The husband skillfully portrayed the manifestation of the liveliest participation in the classes, he never mentioned another, but one fine day he was caught red-handed, and that was the end of the marriage. Another friend of mine repeatedly returned to a married man, hoping that he would leave his family and marry her. I kept repeating to her: “If you marry a man who is cheating on his wife, then you will marry a man who is cheating on his wife.” A similar rule is true for the stronger sex. If your girlfriend won't tell her sister, mother, girlfriends, or ex that she's dating you, forget her. Don't be a secret airfield or side dish for others. If she cannot be honest and is silent about your connection, leave her. What do you want - an affair or a relationship? nine0003
Watch out for addictions. If a person is addicted to alcohol, gambling, horse racing, crack, lotteries, sex, work, and so on, then he is unavailable. Beware of your inner need to find and heal a twisted soul. If over and over again you choose for yourself exactly those who need to be brought back to life, ask yourself why. If you think you can save him or her, think again. The first step in any twelve-step program is to admit that you are helpless in a given situation.
Be a tempting candidate. Everything that is given to you, use 100%. One guy I dated said he liked everything about me, except that I was too religious. Is this possible? Did he want me to believe more in him and less in God? The quality that I valued more than anything else was hard for him to endure. I don't want to be with someone who tolerates me. And I want with someone who will appreciate it. nine0003
Tell the world what you want from a companion. But first explain it to yourself. Mark every husk: height, weight, income - leave it all and don't remember anymore. Sit in the silence of your soul, go down to its very depths and ask: "What do I really want?" Make a list. At the end, write "this or something better. " And then put it somewhere far away in a box and forget it.
Don't look at the wrapper. The wrapper in which the gift is wrapped usually does not give any idea of \u200b\u200bwhat is inside. Sometimes the wrapper is better than the content. The best gifts are sometimes given without any wrapping. Don't discount small bald or chubby teddy bear men. Before you eliminate them from the list of applicants with a five-letter curse "cute", think carefully about what you really want. Don't overlook a good-natured man with a tender heart, looking at a tough macho with abs. A tender heart is more durable than embossed muscles. Ask any woman over forty. nine0003
Improve yourself. Make your life so wonderful that it doesn't matter if someone appears in it. Grab every opportunity to make new friends, meet new people, go on an adventure. Live the life of your dreams, don't look for the man or woman of your dreams. As soon as you stop chasing the butterfly, it will gently fall on your shoulder. Instead of looking for that one or that one, become that one or that one ... for yourself. Reveal your best, deepest, most authentic self. Be attractive to yourself. nine0003
Live the life of your dreams, don't look for the man or woman of your dreams
There is someone for everyone in the world. If you are trying to turn yourself into another person, your One may not be interested, because he is looking for the woman you just stopped being.
For more life-changing lessons, read God Never Blinks. The book is available September 10.
signs that you have an emotional connection with a partner
In any relationship, physical attraction is just one aspect that can bring two different people together. However, establishing an emotional connection is a more complex thing. This article will talk about several signs that may indicate that your connection with a partner is really deep.
The importance of an emotional connection
An emotional connection between two people is very difficult to describe. Firstly, this means that there is a common language between them, which is understandable only to the two of them. Second, they are aware of each other's needs, concerns, and problems without requiring their partner to tell them. People who are in a relationship where there is a pronounced emotional connection have a common space for growth, trust each other. nine0003
With the help of some signs, you can easily understand whether there is a deep emotional connection between you and your loved one.
The basis of such relations is appreciation and respect for each other. There is a deep emotional connection between you if you value each other's opinions, advice and thoughts, and are able to be friends without having a romantic relationship. You just feel good in each other's company. With such a person you feel easy and free. You don't have to pretend or hide your emotions. nine0003
Shared experiences, such as travel or the same hobbies, can help you accumulate memories that make relationships much stronger. The stories you shared together bind you strongly to each other.
Having a certain routine
The word "routine" does not sound very attractive, but you can't get away from it in everyday life. However, it is the constancy and reliability that partners experience for each other, even in small things, that create a solid foundation for their relationship. nine0003
If you don't have any personal secrets or secrets from your partner, then you can say that you have a strong relationship. You know what interests your partner, you have confidence that his affection has not weakened. To such a person, you will not be afraid to show your vulnerable side.