Keeping Secrets from Your Partner—Is It Okay?
Posted by Soribel Martínez
Most of us can agree that lying in a relationship is never a good idea. Even those “little white lies” can quickly add up and cause problems.
But, the waters tend to be muddier when it comes to keeping secrets from your partner. Is it lying by omission? What if you’re keeping something from them to protect them, or even to keep from hurting their feelings?
Whatever the case, does that make it okay? Is there ever an instance where keeping secrets from your partner could be considered a good thing, or should you avoid it altogether?
Understanding Your Right to Privacy
Even when you’re in a relationship, you have a right to your own life and private concerns. Healthy relationships actually respect privacy and individualism. Those that don’t actually end up lacking more intimacy, because you’re more likely to want to avoid your partner.
You can’t be fully vulnerable and open with your partner without first understanding your innermost self. That requires alone time, privacy, and potentially even secrets.
Yes, there are good reasons for keeping certain secrets from your partner. If something embarrassing or hurtful happened in your past, you don’t have to bring that up and re-live it. If something involved another person and they want it to be kept a secret, you also need to respect that.
Keeping these types of secrets can secure your sense of privacy and space, and might even make you feel closer to your partner. But, it’s important to understand the difference between secrets that are okay to keep, and those that could damage your relationship.
Check Your Personal Responses
If there’s something specific on your mind and you’re wondering whether you should share it with your partner, that’s usually a good indicator that you should. How does that particular secret make you feel when you think about it? Do you get nervous? Do you have a physical reaction like an increased heart rate?
If so, you’re probably keeping that secret because you don’t want to face the consequences of sharing it.
Secrets about infidelity, money issues, job problems, or bad habits will always do more harm than good to your relationship. Even secrets you think could protect your partner, like hiding an illness or not paying bills, will come out eventually and make things worse.
The reality is that most secrets will eventually be revealed one way or another. If your partner finds out about something before you tell them, the consequences will be greater, and it could destroy your relationship.
Revealing Secrets While Maintaining Trust
If a secret is revealed by someone else or by a situation, your partner has every right to feel betrayed. Your conscience should be your guide when it comes to whether you need to share something important with your partner. Your mind and body are better indicators than you might give them credit for.
With that being said, it’s understandable to be uncertain and nervous about opening up. If you’re having a hard time, consider working with a counselor or couples therapist. Doing so can provide you with a safe and neutral location for sharing a secret. A therapist can help you and your partner to work through what you’ve been hiding, and decide the best steps to take in your relationship to keep things moving forward.
So, is keeping secrets from your partner okay? It depends. Maintaining a sense of privacy and having your own space can be a good thing in a relationship. But, avoiding consequences and responsibilities by hiding things is never the right move.
Take stock of any secrets you might be keeping and why, and you’ll have a clearer idea of what you should share with your partner right away.