Secrets are a complex thing. And when it comes to romantic relationships, they can be even trickier to navigate.
Keeping secrets in a relationship will cause problems – that’s a certainty.
But if it’s the relationship itself that your partner wants to keep under wraps, that can be difficult to handle.
If you’re in a relationship or getting into a relationship that your partner wants to keep secret, it’s important for you to be fully aware of what that might mean, both for the relationship and for you.
What might the reasons behind it be?
What questions should you be asking yourself to make sure you’re comfortable with the situation?
How should you approach it?
Where can you draw the line between a secret relationship and a private one?
Keep reading for an insight into how you might be able to answer these questions.
8 Reasons Why Someone Might Want To Keep A Relationship Secret
There are plenty of different reasons why someone might want to keep a relationship secret.
At the beginning of a relationship, these reasons might be more understandable, or even sensible for everyone involved.
But as a relationship develops, they become more serious and can begin to take their toll on you both.
After all, the longer you keep it quiet, the harder it can be to bring a relationship out into the open.
1. They’re fresh out of a relationship.
Often, someone can want to keep a relationship secret because they’ve recently come out of another one.
They might feel that it would be unfair on their ex to move on so quickly or worry about how that ex might react.
They might not want to rub in the fact that they’ve found happiness with you only a short time after their last relationship ended.
That’s completely legitimate, and you should try to give them the space and time they need to feel comfortable about making things public.
On the other hand, there’s always the remote possibility that it might mean they’re still pining for their ex and nursing a hope that they might get back together.
2. They’re scared of commitment.
They might struggle with the idea of telling people about your relationship because the idea of openly committing to someone scares them.
If they tell people about your relationship, then, in their head, it might make things seem more serious, and overwhelm them.
This isn’t a good excuse for not being open about a relationship, but it could well be the reason behind it.
3. Their friends or families might not approve.
Perhaps your partner comes from a conservative family or has parents who have very particular ideas about who they should be dating.
And perhaps you don’t quite fit that mold.
This is a tricky situation for them, and you need to respect their decisions and choices, whilst not compromising too much of yourself in the process.
4. If it’s a work relationship, it might be against the rules.
If the two of you work together in some capacity, then a romantic relationship between you might be breaking the rules.
It can certainly make things a little difficult, even if it’s not prohibited.
If it could have a negative impact on one or both of your careers, that might be a good reason to keep things quiet until you’re sure that the relationship is worth making sacrifices for.
5. They’re thinking of their children.
If your partner has children, that makes things an awful lot more complicated.
You don’t just have your own feelings to consider, as new relationships have to be very carefully handled where children are concerned.
People with children might choose to keep a new relationship secret until they’re sure that it’s got a future.
6. They’re not out of the closet.
If you’re in a relationship with a member of the same sex, there’s a chance that they might not be ‘out’ to their friends and family.
This is a tricky one to deal with, as it’s entirely their choice when or if they choose to tell the people they love that they’re attracted to members of the same sex.
On the other hand, keeping your relationship secret for this reason can really take its toll on you, especially if you’ve struggled to come out to your friends and family yourself in the past.
7. They’re seeing other people.
In some rare cases, their unwillingness to make your relationship public might be down to the fact that they don’t want their other lover or even lovers to know about the two of you.
If you’re under the impression that you’re in an exclusive relationship with this person, their desire to keep things secret might be cause for concern on this front.
8. You have history with a friend of theirs.
It might be as simple as the fact that, in the past, you’ve been romantically involved with a friend of theirs. Or, they might have history with a friend of yours.
Either way, it can sometimes be sensible to keep things quiet at the beginning of a relationship like this, until you’re both sure that you’re serious.
But it’s best not to keep it under wraps for too long. If the secret were to get out, that friend would probably be within their rights to feel betrayed, however they feel about their ex.
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4 Important Questions To Ask Yourself
So, your partner has expressed a desire to keep what’s going on between the two of you a secret.
It’s normal to have some confusing feelings about that, so don’t worry if you aren’t able to clearly express and articulate them immediately.
Of course, you might entirely agree with them that it needs to be kept a secret, for the same reason, or for your own, different reasons.
Here are a few questions you might find it helpful to ask yourself if you’re in a situation like this.
1. Are you truly comfortable with the situation?
There’s never been a more important moment to be totally honest with yourself about how you’re feeling.
If you really like this person, you’re probably trying to convince yourself you’re okay with the secrecy, even if, deep down, you’re not.
Are you happy keeping things quiet, for now, waiting to see how things unfold?
Or, if you had it your way, would you be shouting your love from the rooftops?
Are you starting to resent them for the secrecy?
Is it making things tricky to organize, logistically speaking?
Honestly reflect on whether it’s working for you, and whether it’s sustainable in the short term.
2. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
It’s one thing knowing your partner wants to keep things secret for a few weeks, or maybe even a few months, until circumstances have changed or a certain event has passed.
You might be able to accept secrecy knowing that, on a precise date, things are going to be changing.
But it’s quite another keeping a relationship secret indefinitely.
If your partner can’t offer you hope that things might change sooner rather than later, the situation will be harder to deal with, and your relationship may well suffer as a result.
3. Who could get hurt if the secret gets out?
Who will be the ones to suffer if your relationship is discovered?
Will it just be the two of you who have to deal with the consequences, or could it hurt other people?
Might if affect your friends or family? Are there any children in the mix?
If more people will be affected than just the two of you, you’ll need to be even more careful about the decisions you make.
4. Is it really worth it?
Ask yourself whether the relationship you have with this person is really worth the heartache.
Do you think the two of you could have a viable long term relationship in the future?
Could you really stand the test of time? Are your feelings real? Are their feelings real?
Make sure that you’re investing in something that’s worth your time and effort.
How To Approach The Situation
You’ve now had a chance to reflect a little on your feelings, so it’s time to think about how you’re going to deal with the situation.
Let’s think about the practical side of how you can actually keep a relationship secret, and then about what you might do if you’re not comfortable with the situation.
When you know for sure that your partner wants to keep your relationship a secret, you need to have a conversation with them that lays out what you’re willing to accept, and what you’re not.
Try to pick a good time to have this talk, when you’re both sober and you’re not tired or hungry, so that you have the best chance of having a calm, reasonable conversation about the situation.
Let them know how long you’re willing to keep the relationship secret and establish exactly what this will mean for you.
How will it affect your life? How will you have to adapt your normal behavior?
If you’re in a relationship that’s being kept secret, you’ll have to be flexible and compromise.
You might have to grab time with the one you love whenever you can, and you need to be open to that, and not resent it.
If they aren’t willing to make any compromises for you or can’t understand your desire to have things out in the open, it might be time to say goodbye.
Private Relationship vs. Secret Relationship
Finally, it’s important to make sure you’re not confusing a secret relationship with a private one.
Privacy and secrecy can be easy to mix up, but there are key differences between them.
One of the main ones is that the motivation to keep something secret is often rooted in fear and shame.
You might keep the details of a relationship private for all kinds of reasons, but if you’re actively keeping something secret, it’s normally out of fear of what might happen if people found out.
It’s perfectly reasonable for someone not to be interested in broadcasting details of their relationship to their work colleagues or social media friends out of a desire for privacy.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to keep your relationship a secret.
Bear in mind that a private relationship shouldn’t limit the two of you. It won’t affect the things you do, the places you go, and the people you see, whereas a secret relationship probably will.
Privacy is about setting boundaries and being happy to stay within them. Secrecy is about hiding something out of fear.
You might occasionally be concerned about their need for privacy, especially if you’d be happy to tell every man and his dog about what’s going on between you, but you’ll know deep down when the person you’re with is just private, and when they’re actively keeping your presence in their life a secret.
We all have to make compromises for the ones we love, but when it comes to keeping a relationship secret, make sure you don’t compromise too much.
Check in with yourself regularly to make sure the situation isn’t taking its toll on you, and don’t allow things to drag on interminably with no light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, you deserve the world.