Is Keeping Secrets The Secret To A Healthy, Happy Relationship?

You have a secret, one that your partner is unaware of. Does it make your relationship an unhealthy one? Here are a few pros and cons of keeping secrets!

You have a secret, one that your partner is unaware of. Does it make your relationship an unhealthy one? Here are a few pros and cons of keeping secrets!

Have you ever crushed on your ninth-grade professor, the one who is 20 years your senior? But you never confided in anyone for the fear of being judged? Or you wanted to become a theatre artist in a family of exemplary management graduates. But were scared of the ridicule you might face so, you kept it a secret? Or have you ever stolen from your friend’s favourite jewellery after you’ve stayed over at her place and hidden it from her after that?

A secret is a piece of information intentionally hidden from another person. It can manifest in a number of different ways and have varying effects on us. Psychologists often say that an average person holds around 13 secrets at any given point.

These secrets range from trauma to theft to a romantic desire to certain habits, a surprise, finances, work, cheating or emotional infidelity. These are things we don’t want anyone knowing. Therefore, Ally Carter in her book, ‘Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover’ rightly said, “I thought about how there are two types of secrets- the kind you want to keep in, and the kind you don’t dare to let out.”

Secrets in relationships

It is a universal fact that the foundation of any relationship is trust, without which, there is no authenticity. However, partners are entitled to their privacy and space. And thus, forcing one to reveal everything instead of it happening naturally will lead to more problems than good.

In the initial stages of a relationship, it’s imperative not to reveal too much and to hold back, at least till you’ve understood and gained each other’s trust. After this, one can begin to reveal a whole lot about themselves. And if you are accepted for who you truly are, it’s a sign of a meaningful relationship. One where you’re forgiven for what happened or admired for who you’ve become.

The fact that you’re being confided in, goes on to show that you are being trusted enough to have a secret shared with. It makes your connection more meaningful and gets two people closer. But most importantly, it gives you a sense of being distinguished from others to be trusted with secrets.

Everyone has secrets, it just make you more human. And that reminds me of a quote by Carlos Ruiz Zafon in ‘The Shadow Of the Min,’ “A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it is to be kept.”

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Can secrets break relationships?

Are you secretly attracted to the new intern who joined your team and have taken her out on a date? As the boss, you’ve crossed your boundaries and know it’s wrong. Worse still, you’ve hidden it from your partner.

Or maybe you’ve withheld the password details of your email from your wife for your privacy and it’s mutually agreed on.

It is evident the first secret is tantamount to infidelity and cheating, which can have damaging consequences to the relationship. And it can also cause a break up.

The second is just a matter of privacy between the couple. At the same time, if you believe in brutal honesty and no secrets and say hurtful things upfront without considering the other person’s feelings, you definitely aren’t humane.

This is when a certain level of secrecy is important to ensure we keep others’ sentiments in mind. The secrecy maintained here does no harm, as the intentions here are not to hurt someone.

Is keeping a secret a burden?

Columbia University professor Michael Slepian states that keeping secrets can carry a physical burden, as it stresses the cortex in your brain. These are called the “complications of the emotional burden.” It is similar to moving up several staircases, which make you feel tired and low on energy.

Further, as a secret keeper, you tend to think more about the fact that it’s being hidden rather than the secret itself. This, in turn, can burden your mind, leading to an overwhelming sense of guilt for hiding it from someone. After which you feel fake and not genuine as a person, which eventually leads to low self-esteem.

The other aspect of this is the higher the level of confidentiality that’s entrusted to you, the more negative the impact has. In social situations, you need to constantly be careful about who knows and who doesn’t. Add to this, making sure the information doesn’t leak out in conversation.

This pressure to be alert all the time can take the fun out of socialising and hanging out with friends. An apt quote by Sharon Salzberg, “Due to fear of detection and the ways we shut down inside to avoid feeling the effects of our behavior. We can never afford to be truly seen and known even by ourselves. The costs of keeping secrets include our growing isolation.

How can we deal with the stress of secrets?

If the secrets you are keeping are constantly weighing you down, then these simple mind techniques can help ease the burden. First, catch your thoughts before you begin feel low. Once you tune into what is occupying your mind, try any of the following solutions below.

Journal your secrets, it relieves your emotions and enables you to look at it objectively. Confide in a complete outsider, someone who can offer you valuable insight or help. Maybe a therapist, counsellor or a trusted loved one.

Step back from the situation and introspect about the damage the secret can cause if it is openly shared. This will help you find ways to deal with the possible consequences.

Change your focus to something more productive and change your mood with soft music. In case of romantic partners, it helps to write your fears on paper and share it with them.

Your fears for keeping the secret must be mentioned here, and an apology for why it was hidden. You can revert in writing to show your response as the starting point of the chat.

This process requires several exchanges of reading, writing, and answering, which is a catharsis in itself. It ensures you’ll don’t hold this against each other for the rest of your lives.

Therefore having dissected secrets and their consequences, it can safely be said that we must try to not take any secrets upon ourselves. And if we do, we need ensure we know how to deal with the burden that comes with it.

“If the world were ready to be accepting of everyone, it would be a better place,” McDonald said. “In an ideal society, we would have no secrets. Do I think that’s likely in your lifetime or my lifetime? No.”

A version of this was earlier published here.

Picture credits: Pexels

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About the Author

Sarika Tainwala

Sarika Tainwala is a corporate marketing professional with 6+ years of work experience in Client Servicing, Business Development, and content writing with Imagic Creatives Pvt Ltd, Think IMC, Aegis BPO, and Air Deccan airlines among read more...

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