Jennifer Seip, LMFT
Do you know when it’s okay to keep something hidden from your partner? Many believe that in a romantic relationship, there shouldn’t be anything hidden. But how close is too close? When should you disclose information and when should it be kept to yourself? In this article, I am referring to Secrets Versus Privacy.
Secrets Versus Privacy: Secrets
First, lets talk secrets. Secrets are things that you know are against the rules of your relationship. They are things that you and your partner have either overtly discussed as not being okay or are implicitly assumed to be damaging. A person can tell if they are keeping something secret if they fear the repercussions of disclosing such information. Perhaps their partner will feel betrayed after learning this information. Or maybe there is some personal shame associated with this information, so you don’t want to tell it.
Either way, secrecy is harmful. If your gut is telling you that the thing you’re hiding ought be disclosed, then it probably should to be.
Secrets Versus Privacy: Privacy
Keeping privacy in your relationship means that if your partner knows this information, then they will feel alright about it. You just don’t want to tell them for one reason or another.
Private information is not harmful. Things that are kept private are accepted in your relationship. Sometimes, people don’t want to share private information because it is personal and it might feel embarrassing to disclose. Or, maybe you know that this information is not important to the relationship at all. The best way to determine if something is private is by asking yourself,
“will my partner be affected by this information?”
If your answer is “no,” then you are keeping something private.
Secrets Versus Privacy: Why You Need To Know About It
It’s important to understand the difference between secrecy and privacy in your relationship. The best way to truly know if something falls under a certain category is to ask your partner when you first begin dating. Ask what their values are and overtly discuss the rules of the relationship. Most people mistake secrets for privacy when they assume that their partner is on the same page without having had the conversation beforehand. For example, “don’t cheat,” is not same as, “don’t flirt,” or “don’t text,” or “don’t fall in love.” If you’re having trouble coming up with rules, ask for help. It is not an excuse to say, “I didn’t know that you wanted to be told this information.” Or, “I thought this was allowed.”
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