A relationship is one of the few gifts of life we have to strive to work towards. It’s not easy, and the incentive of emotional rewards and attachment is all that keeps us going. Is monogamous companionship really worth the trouble and the effort? Debatable, and something we won’t dive in for the time being. Any relationship is build upon trust and security, and how our partner can help us tackle our own issues with insecurity and abandonment. It’s what intimacy means, to be in the comforting arms of someone we can bare our wounds to. We’re all hurt in some way or the other, and not repeating the same cycle of abuse we’ve gone through is as difficult as walking on eggshells. It’s not as simple as being ‘nice’, absolutely nothing involving human emotions and psychology ever is. We’re like ships stuck in a storm, sailing towards an unknown light in the distance hoping and praying for safe harbor. When we do find it, we give our all to never let go, clutching on to it like something our lives depend on. And yet, we all keep secrets in our relationships, secrets from the ones we might even consider spending the rest of our lives with.
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Why do we keep secrets from the ones we love, only to hurt them later when they find out? Why do we build walls all around us, alienating people close to us in a world already alienated by shallow Facebook profiles and tinder dates? Keeping secrets in a relationship might sound elusive and enigmatic at first, but here are four prime reasons why people do it:
Yes, sexuality might factor into why you are keeping secrets from your partner. There is very little research to support this, but according to University of Tennessee psychologist Beth Easterling, people in same-sex relationships who have had to hide their identity among other things for most of their lives tend to extend the same behavior towards their partners. A lifetime of hiding things core to them have rendered them unable to share their vulnerabilities with others, which results in keeping secrets in even the closest and most intimate of relationships.
This is something that plagues all sexes, and all sexualities. We’re all insecure, some in more ways than one. Mask it with strong words and stronger actions, any hint of insecurity in us comes out on top at some point. We’re left bare and embarrassed, and so we bury our problems with comforting lies.
- Trust issues
It’s hard to trust people with a broken heart and a few failed relationships, because let’s face it, as depressing as it is most relationships are doomed to fail the moment they’re kindled. We’re hurt, doomed to repeat the same cycle again, and our hope dwindles with each try. Intimacy becomes difficult to achieve, and you shield yourself from your partner waiting for the worst.
Most monogamous relationships aren’t without mistakes, be it something small and inconsequential to cheating on your partner. There are even times when your partner holds the relationship hostage so you don’t do anything mildly stupid, which can have lasting psychological effects going beyond the course of the relationship. You’re scared of them, and the fact that they’ll sever ties with you as soon as you come clean.
Why keeping secrets can ruin a relationship
“There are no white lies in a relationship”, is something I stand by as much as I despise the tradition of monogamy so many of us have slipped comfortably into. Of course, even then there are exceptions to the white lies themselves, but you have to remember one important thing. You cannot expect to maintain intimacy without trust. I’ve read countless articles about men and women saying there are things about them their partners would rather not know, hence the idea of keeping secrets in a relationship. There is an important distinction between privacy and secrecy that seems extremely important here. Privacy is a state where one is free from unwanted observation and/or disturbance by other people, whereas secrecy is the act of keeping information under the wraps from one or more people. The distinction is more than semantic, and only the latter is key to an unhealthy relationship.
Honestly, at this point when sex is no longer considered as something deeply intimate as it was and still is in conservative societies, confiding in your deepest darkest secrets is something I believe to be a peak sign of intimacy. We’re so guarded these days, social media personalities masking our true selves to the point where people only fall in ‘love’ with the idea of you. Intimacy comes long after you’re actually in the relationship itself, and that is when the facade drops. Once the magic and the excitement of the romance when you’re just getting to know each other fades, what incentive do you have for actually loving someone else? Is it simply attachment, or the fear of being lonely? Or is it that you actually love and care for another human being in a selfless manner (howsoever feasible that is), cherish them for who they are and believe that they’re the one for you? For that to happen, you need one important thing. Trust. Intimacy will come of its own accord if you trust someone enough to let them deep into the mess that is your life. Lies, especially the deal breaking ones, will not only end your relationship on a sour note (or prolong it into a few more months of endless quarreling) or destroy what could’ve been salvaged as a valuable friendship.
So, should you lie? If you can help it, don’t. And if you can’t help it, it’s time for a moment of deep introspection into what you want from relationships and how impractical some of your desires are. A lie will remain a lie, and it will slowly burrow into what remains of the trust and intimacy of your relationship only to rot it from the inside. Lies in a relationship lead to nothing but nasty habits like keeping score and losing all respect for your soulmate, and the only thing worse about relationships than a breakup is a drawn out and horribly handled breakup.
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As mentioned, there will always be lies that are ‘okay’, which makes them more crucial than your average lie. Such lies include the following:
- Lying about trivial things to make them feel better
It’s the small things in life matter, and yes you’d be surprised at how much they do matter. Lying about a badly cooked breakfast your partner worked so hard to get to the bed, a painting which isn’t exactly Picasso, and similar lies help encourage them to try new things. And don’t worry, they won’t let their apparent success get to their head, if you ARE dating an adult (I hope). It’s absolutely healthy to urge them on into exploring what they’re good or absolutely terrible at, because life is too short for not trying things out.
- Saying that you love them more than anything
This is one of the lies which has in a sense evolved from its original meaning. It’s physically impossible to love another human being more than anything, but it’s the thought that counts. Says a lot about the beauty of words, allowing us to do and feel things we’re too human to actually express. The more privileged of us have the luxury of knowing better words from languages which are impossible to translate, and are fundamentally complex proving the might and extent of human emotions. Prayers might not move mountains, but I believe words can. So hug your partner tight and tell them you love them more than anything, ‘coz you never know what tomorrow will bring.
- Your past sexual relationships
It’s perfectly cool to talk about your past sexual or romantic relationships in the light of abuse, ill-treatment and trauma, but you do nothing but ‘tease’ your partner when you talk about the unnecessary details of your past experience with the love of your life. That is not a conversation you have with them, at least not in heterosexual monogamous relationships. We’ve been reared to be possessive and jealous of other potential mates, and ridding yourself of these biases can be a lifelong process of self-discovery and improvement. Suffice it to say, it isn’t easy and might as well be impossible for many. Say that your past sexual experiences weren’t all that great, if only to please your current partner. It objectively makes for a happier relationship, don’t let jealously occupy your partner’s mind!
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Being in a relationship isn’t easy, but then again, what in the world is? Whether or not to lie to your partner about something can still be a tricky thing, and wholly depends on the kind of relationship you are in. If in doubt, always talk to your partner. Be as open with them as the situation allows, then decide your next course of action. Keeping secrets in a relationship can be a grave your dig yourself, and it only gets deeper. Choose wisely.
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