Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Are You Hiding?

What Are You Hiding? - man hide secrets from woman
Do you have a mountain of debt? Did you experience past physical, emotional, or sexual abuse? These elements from your past can impact your present relationship.

Let me guess – you don’t keep any secrets from your partner and they don’t keep any secrets from you. You are both open books with no ghosts in the closet. Everything has been laid out and no stone has been left unturned. 

Then why are you reading this? 

You’re reading because this is reality and everyone has secrets. Relationships are not immune from withholding, deceptions, and hiding. Some secrets can be harmless and others can be deal-breakers. The mother of all relationship secrets – the affair – is usually the secret that marks the end for many couples. There are, however, even seemingly harmless deceptions that have the power to upset the relationship balance. 

What are you hiding in your relationship? How do you draw the line between harmful and harmless secrets?

Secrets You Can't Keep
Secrets you have to tell are secrets that have the potential to affect your partner’s life, their future, and their life with you. Do you have any serious medical problems, STDs, or STIs? Do you have a mountain of debt? Did you experience past physical, emotional, or sexual abuse? These elements from your past can impact your present relationship. 

Are you in a financial crisis? Are you facing a downsizing at work? These instances within the present can influence the future of your relationship.  

Secrets have a way of surfacing whether you want them to or not. The longer it takes you to be open with your partner the greater the risk is for creating feelings of betrayal, mistrust, and resentment. They have a right to know information that has the ability to impact their life. Your partner needs to know you trust them enough to share your secrets, and they deserve to have enough information to make informed decisions about your life together.

Secrets You Kinda Sorta Need To Think About Sharing
Medical conditions and financial problems are the more obvious “I Have To Tell” secrets – but what about the time you had an intimate same-sex encounter? Are you supposed to talk about EVERY past lover? What about that thing you did in college at that one party that you don’t really remember doing in the first place? Is it worth it to go there? Does it mean you’re hiding something from your partner if you don’t?

The answers to these questions are all subjective to your personal situation; if you feel it is important and worth sharing, and if you are compelled, then do so. 

Is there some embarrassing tale of long ago that has nothing to do with who you are today? Did you once T.P. someone’s house in high school? You’re probably safe leaving that one under the rug. 

But there are other secrets that may be more harmful than they initially seem. What happens when your boyfriend/girlfriend sees old pictures of you making out with the Demon of Relationship Past on Facebook? Will they be caught off guard and upset they didn’t know about your Ex? Does your sister like to tell your more “interesting” stories after a few glasses of wine? Consider what you feel your partner should know.  For example, knowing every detail of your past lovers will probably burn unnecessary images into their memories – but knowing how many previous partners you’ve had can help them feel like you trust them enough to share personal information.

Secrets You Can Get Away With
Even though you’re in a relationship, you’re still allowed to keep some things to yourself. As long as you’re not lying to your partner, hurting them, or causing potential harm, it’s alright to have your privacy and a sense of personal business. 

Do you “secretly” watch Jersey Shore while your boyfriend has his weekly basketball night with the guys? Did you splurge on the pair of My Feet Will Never Forgive Me shoes you’ve had your eye on for weeks? Did you give in to pizza on your lunch break instead of having the salad you were supposed to eat? Chances are, these are the secrets you can get away with and are not going to harm the relationship you have with your partner. 

In the context of a relationship, we feel the need to keep secrets for several reasons.  Some keep secrets in order to protect themselves from ridicule; others are trying to protect their partners from unnecessary worry. Some keep secrets to uphold illusions of being strong and in control. 

You still maintain your right to privacy and the right to have personal pieces of yourself. Keep in mind that most secrets inevitably come to light, and depending on the secret, the longer you withhold information the more damage it could cause to your relationship. Consider your partner’s life when gauging your secrets. Will it harm them? Will it impact their life? If so, it’s best to fess up, and show your partner you’re honest and do not want to betray their trust.

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