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4 Reasons Why Keeping Secrets In A Relationship Will Come Back To Haunt You

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Have you ever kept a secret from a partner that you wish you’d come clean about?

Maybe you’re keeping a secret from the person you love right now, and you’re not sure whether you’re doing the right thing.

It’s true that certain kinds of secrets sometimes have their place in certain areas of life, but when it comes to romantic relationships, they should almost always be avoided like the plague.

After all, secrets have an uncanny knack of burrowing their way to the surface and making themselves known.

Very few secrets actually stay secret forever, and in the meantime, they can eat away at the secret-keeper’s conscience.

Are you unconvinced?

Do you think that secrets sometimes have a place in a relationship?

Read on to find out why you shouldn’t be keeping secrets from the one you love if you want the relationship between you to thrive and go the distance.

The Difference Between Privacy And Secrets In A Relationship

Before we look at the reasons you should be open and honest with your partner, it’s important to consider where the line is between maintaining your privacy in a relationship and keeping secrets.

We all have the right to privacy in any kind of relationship. Your partner doesn’t need to know every single detail about your life, or the life you lived before they came along.

You should both respect the other person’s right to keep certain things private. You should feel able to trust that they’re not hiding anything that could impact you or hurt you.

Some people feel the need to tell a new partner every detail about all the things that have happened in their past… but not everyone wants to know.

Recently, a friend of mine was concerned that her new boyfriend would judge her if he found out about her sexual past (which wasn’t at all scandalous, in my view).

But he reassured her that he, personally, felt that they both had the right to keep those things private, and that nothing she might have done would affect the way he felt about her, so he just didn’t feel the need to know.

On the other hand, some people only feel comfortable in a relationship if both they and their partner completely wear their hearts on their sleeves.

But you don’t have to share every detail of your past just because your partner is asking it of you.

When it comes to the line between secrets and privacy, it’s all about checking in with your conscience.

Obviously, if it’s something significant that could have an impact on your partner, they have a right to know about it.

But if it’s something hurtful or embarrassing from your past, or if it involves someone else who also has a right to their own privacy, then that’s different.

If it’s just something from your past that you’d rather not share and you don’t think has any bearing on your current relationship, keeping it private is fine. After all, it might upset your partner without achieving anything.  

You’ll always know deep down when you need to share things with a partner and when it’s fine to keep it to yourself.

If you should tell them, chances are the gnawing guilt will let you know. If your conscience doesn’t twinge, you’re probably okay not to share it.

But if in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

The best way is normally to tell them, and then deal with the potential fall-out, rather than keeping it to yourself and worrying about them finding out further down the line.

It can be very beneficial for you to have a discussion with your partner at the beginning of your relationship and, between you, decide where the line is on big issues, like finance and infidelity.

That way, you don’t have to agonize over whether to tell your partner that you think your new co-worker at the office was flirting with you, or something similar.

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4 Reasons Why Keeping Secrets Can Damage A Relationship

1. It’ll make you feel guilty, and put you on edge.

Most people struggle to keep secrets from their partner and suffer from guilt when they do, and that’s the way it should be.

If you love someone, you shouldn’t find it easy to deceive them, even if you’re just lying by omission rather than lying to their face.

It makes you tense, as you’re always waiting for them to catch you out or stumble across something that will bring your secret to light.

It’ll mean you put a defensive barrier up between the two of you and are always wary of discovery. This is likely to have an impact on your intimacy and closeness and eat away at the foundations of your relationship.

2. Mistrust breeds mistrust.

If you’re keeping secrets from them, what’s to say they aren’t doing the same thing? At least, that’s what you’ll be thinking.

You might start to wonder what they might be hiding from you, too, which can lead to mistrust and paranoia.

3. The more time passes, the harder it becomes to come clean.

If you keep putting off telling your partner a big secret, it’ll only get bigger and bigger, until revealing it could do terminal damage to the relationship.

The longer you wait, the harder it is to be honest about it.

After all, if the secret’s difficult to hear, it’ll be even worse if, on top of that, they discover you’ve been keeping something from them for an extended period of time.

4. If they find out, trust between you can be hard to repair.

Even a small secret can be tough to come back from in a relationship, depending on what it is.

If your partner finds out that you’ve deliberately kept something from them, however small, they might start to wonder what else you’ve lied about or neglected to mention.

What Things Shouldn’t Be Kept Secret?

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons why secrets can damage a relationship, it’s time to consider the general types of things that you should, as a rule, always share with someone you’re in a romantic relationship with.

Anything to do with the below are things that you should be open with your partner about.

Finances – Things like not paying bills, lending money, debt, inheritance, and how you spend your money are not things you should be lying about when you’re building a life with someone.

Job issues – If your job is under threat, they need to know, as it could have an impact on your life together.

Illness, both physical and mental – If you have a history of physical or mental health problems, or are experiencing them now, your partner has a right to know.

Of course, anything to do with STDs needs to be shared with your partner very early on in your relationship.

Addictions – Any kind of addictive behavior is serious and needs to be treated as such. Your partner should be made aware of it as early on as possible.

Legal issues – If you’ve had a run in with the law or find yourself in trouble, your partner needs to know, no matter how embarrassing or difficult you might find it to tell them.

Having an affair – Whether emotional or physical, any infidelities need to be confessed to as soon as possible if the relationship has any chance of surviving.

When Not To Share A Secret

If you’ve decided that it’s time to share something big with your partner, you need to be careful about the moment you pick to reveal it.

Don’t bring up tricky topics at bedtime, when either of you is tired, ill, angry or stressed, or when there’s already something else going on that’s making your lives difficult.

Make sure you’re both well fed, energized, and haven’t got any big commitments later that day, just in case they need time to process it or are upset by it.

But don’t use finding the ‘perfect’ moment as an excuse to keep putting it off indefinitely, as you’ll always be able to find a reason to get out of it.

Some secrets can be difficult to hear, but facing an awkward, difficult moment now is far better than them finding out for themselves, or you having to tell them that you’ve been hiding something from them for an extended period of time.

When it comes to relationships, it’s all about being honest, both with yourself, and with them.

Don’t bury your head in the sand, and be considerate of their feelings at all times, and don’t let secrets eat away at the bond between you.

Not sure what to do about secrets in your relationship? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.