There is a Russian proverb that loosely translates to, “better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie.” Trust is the foundation of every relationship. And this trust comes from being transparent and being able to share everything with your partner. Keeping secrets in a relationship, however small or insignificant, can destroy it irrevocably. One single lie can make your partner think that if you can keep one, you might be keeping more. It will make them difficult to trust you and question your intentions in the relationship.
Of course, if you finished an entire tub of their favorite ice cream, you can replace it before they notice, and no harm is done. But if you were briefly married to a stranger in Las Vegas, while being completely drunk, you must fess up. Your partner is entitled to every bit of information that might affect their emotional involvement and change the course of your relationship.
If you don’t want secrets to destroy your relationship, then here are a few reasons why keeping secrets in a relationship is a BAD idea:
1. One will lead to many
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What is more harmful than one secret, is one secret too many. After being able to withhold some information from your partner, and confidently believing that they will never find out, you might be tempted to try your fate one more time. You cannot deny it; it is embedded in the human psyche to seek thrill, however dangerous and fatal it might be. And keeping secret in a relationship is the kind of thrill that doesn’t bode well. Also, it is harder to admit fault, or in this case, the truth, than to lie. And so you lie, more often than you might realize.
So if you have had dinner with a co-worker who is interested in you, either avoid it, or let your partner know beforehand. Otherwise, you will be left with the choice of lying about the entire thing, or at least parts of it. You will never able to share the complete truth. And your partner will sense it, thereby creating an unseen black hole in your relationship that will suck out every good thing you have had together.
Ever had a song stuck in your head, and it keeps playing in an endless loop?. Although you love the song, you can’t keep listening to it all day long. A secret in a relationship is just an exponential form of such a song. Every little thing will keep reminding you of it, and before you care to admit, it will overwhelm your life. You will always be in either a state of anxiety and guilt, or in fear that your partner may find out about it.
Soon enough, the mental tension of dealing with the guilt of keeping a secret will engulf you, changing your mood and behavior. To make matters worse, your partner will push you to share whatever it is that’s bothering you, out of concern. And you will end up feeling guiltier. You don’t know it, but anxiety has a way of negatively affecting your health. So while you are already losing your relationship, you will also lose your health. Is your secret worth it?
3. The hurt
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You are in financial distress, which could lead to losing everything you ever owned. Rather than discussing the situation with your partner and trying to come up with a solution, you thought it wise to mortgage the house/start betting and/or gambling. And now, when the troubles have worsened, you have no idea how to deal with your partner, as well as your bankruptcy, all at the same time.
So why did you, in the first place, did not share your problems with them? This is the first thing your partner will ask you. The question is actually masked with the ton of hurt they feel, as they figure out the answer. You did not trust them. Sometimes, a secret in a relationship is kept because you do not trust your partner to understand the truth, which basically means that you doubt their love and affection for you. It is always better to share your burdens with your partner; they may surprise you with their resilience, and their trust in you.
4. Lack of communication
Communication is an integral part of any relationship, and thus an important ingredient of a successful relationship. And a secret, in reality, is the exact opposite of good communication. While keeping secrets in a relationship, you will definitely try to avoid talking or discussing about anything that you suspect of bringing you in the vicinity of your secret or lie. You went grocery shopping, saw your ex, and came very close to kissing them. Your brain will do everything to avoid mentioning the fact that you even went grocery shopping. And there it is – the gap in communication already widening.
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5. Distrust in partner
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You have been keeping a few secrets in your relationship, and quite successfully too. Your partner has absolutely no clue about what you are up to. And a thought springs into your mind – does your partner too has a secret? Is there something that they are keeping from you? The paranoia creeps in. The more dishonest you become with your partner, the more you start losing your trust in them. The assumption that they are probably lying to you too, makes you feel righteous to have your own secrets. And this goes on, until you have either come out of the denial, or worse, you have lost your partner.
6. Life of the relationship
The most important thing to remember while keeping secrets in a relationship is – how long do you want to be with your partner? If you are willing to have a long-term relationship, you have got to come out of your shell sometime. You need to bare all, be vulnerable, and let your partner know that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be with them and make it work. The more secrets you have, however trivial you might think them to be, the more you are hurting your chances of having a successful long-term relationship. On the other hand, it is quite possible that once you share whatever it was that you were hiding from your partner, your relationship will grow stronger.
7. Putative secret
Consider this scenario. You have a secret that your partner doesn’t know about. Or you think that they don’t know, while they actually do. They haven’t confronted you about it because they want to see how far you would go in lying to them. They will give you many chances to come clean, and when you won’t, they will finally confront you, leaving you in an ugly mess.
Secrets can rarely be kept hidden to be taken to the grave. In the shadow of a putative secret, your partner may actually be taking undue advantage of you, thinking that you deserve it. Depending upon how badly your lie has hurt them, a revenge plan might be shaping up to destroy you completely. Simply put, you both will be more of a partner to your secrets than to each other.
8. Nothing is ever a complete secret
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No matter what you do, there will be someone other than you who is privy to your secret. Someone might know that you had a tiny fling with your neighbor, which has since ended. If they are good people, they will let you know, and advice you to tell your partner, or even keep your secret. Or they might blackmail you. Or, to worsen the matters, they might reveal the details of your affair to your partner.
All the above situations have a similar outcome. Your partner will find out about your secret from someone else, probably in a distorted version. Where you could have handled the truth sensitively and still saved your relationship, this other person may cause irreparable harm. What would hurt your partner more than your lies is the fact that they were made aware of it by someone else. It would imply that you think of them as less mature to handle whatever it is that you hid. Also, it will embarrass them that strangers know you better than them. There is no coming back from this situation. So if you are aware that a third person has critical information that might ruin your relationship, go ahead and tell your partner, if you want to save your relationship.
Secrets in a relationship are like a ticking time bomb. You cannot control the outcome, but you surely can minimize the damage. Once you share it with your partner, you will feel a weight lifting from your shoulders. The energy you spent keeping a secret, can be utilized to focus on the relationship and its growth. You never know how your partner would react. They might understand and forgive you. They will be hurt, and might punish you in some manner, but your relationship will live. Also, it will give you a renewed sense of responsibility towards your partner. You will be more inclined to keep away from temptations. It will be a bumpy road, but as time passes, your relationship will flourish. And you never know, your secret might become the thing that keeps you and your partner together.
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