You’ve always been the type to keep personal information to yourself. You didn’t do it with malicious intent; rather, that’s just your personality. For instance, you never divulged your bank account information or issues with your past relationship because you never felt it necessary.
However, now that you’re in a relationship, your partner may be interested in knowing those things. So, how do you know keeping certain secrets is detrimental to your relationship?
Keep reading to find out how what you don’t say can sometimes be worse than what you do say.
Can Keeping Secrets Be Detrimental to Your Relationship?
Being honest and vulnerable about every aspect of your life is courageous. But unfortunately, some people feel they need to keep secrets, or even lie, in their relationships to help maintain them.
Most times, they do so because they lack confidence in their significant other to discuss unpleasant topics like money woes or past errors in relationships.
Finding healthy methods to express your emotions to your partner is an excellent way to build a trusting, long-lasting union. Sure, you want to keep some things to yourself, but when is doing so considered detrimental to the relationship?
There are different types of deceit. According to Loss Prevention Magazine, the 5 types of lies used when interrogating include:
- Omission: Often referred to as the “lie of choice.” Your partner didn’t ask the right question, so why should you divulge extra information?
- Denial: A person–truthful or untruthful–maintaining they weren’t involved. Period.
- Minimization Lies: Distorting the truth with statements like “I didn’t mean for it to happen” or “It wasn’t my fault because it was already like that.” This is an attempt to minimize what they’ve done.
- Fabrication Lies: The most difficult lie to tell because it completely makes up facts that never occurred, which they’ll have to remember later on.
- Exaggerated Lies: Similar to minimization, but the person will overstate the facts.
In a professional setting, these are types of lies. However, the two common lies in relationships are omission and denial.
Omission lies are intentional and leave out information to avoid conflict. You aren’t “officially” telling a lie to your partner; instead, you are omitting the details.
This often happens in relationships because one partner attempts to eliminate conflict. For example, you know your best friend, Tammy, will be at the party, but your boyfriend doesn’t like her.
Jim: “Who’s going to be at the party?”
You: “Lisa, Bob, Mark, Carrie, and Elise.”
The next type of lie is intentional deception or denial. This is where you flat-out lie to your partner. The root cause is the same–attempting to avoid conflict–but the method is different. Using the same example above.
Jim: “Is Tammy going to be at the party?”
You: “No. Just Lisa, Bob, Mark, Carrie, and Elise.”
Another example of omitting details to spare your partner’s feelings (and to avoid conflict): you are going out to dinner with co-workers, including Joe, the guy that your husband doesn’t like because he flirts with you. You know it’s completely innocent, so you tell your husband that you’re going to dinner with Stacey, Brandon, and Phyllis. You decide not to tell him that Joe will be there because you don’t want another heated discussion.
Do you consider this a lie by omission or a flat-out deception?
6 Ways Keeping Secrets Ruin Your Relationship
1). It’s Being Dishonest
You can talk yourself into believing that your deceit is for the greater good. However, no matter how you spin it, you are being dishonest to your partner. Most people have an internal moral code that says keeping secrets is a softer term for lying, but in the end, it’s the same.
Being dishonest starts with telling a simple “white lie.” You may believe these little lies are harmless, but they can eventually turn into more significant lies involving infidelity and financial issues.
15 Examples of “Little White Lies”:
- “I never touched the thermostat.”
- “I only had one cookie.”
- “Your snoring doesn’t bother me at all.”
- “I don’t mind your mother coming over all the time.”
- “I love your cooking.”
- “I adore this Christmas gift, thank you.”
- “I didn’t see the dishes in the sink.”
- “You’re way hotter than she is.”
- “No, that outfit doesn’t make your butt look big.”
- “Sure, I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
- “I always think about you.”
- “I haven’t seen my ex in years.”
- “My mom adores you.”
- “My phone was off.”
- “Nah, your friends aren’t attractive to me.”
You may think you’re being kind when telling small deceits, but the more minor lies become bigger over time. Eventually, the line between a tiny lie and a humungous deception is blurred. You begin lying about things like who you’re spending time with and how much money you spend. Where does it end?
2). Secrets Cause Mistrust
Sure, keeping secrets may help you avoid conflict initially. However, those same secrets can breed mistrust if your partner finds out. Once a person loses trust, it’s tough to regain, especially for someone who has been betrayed by a close family member, a spouse, or a former romantic partner.
Signs Your Partner is Cheating on You
Infidelity can be a traumatic experience. It is also one of the more complex issues faced in a relationship. Some people are completely caught off guard when they discover a partner cheating. Others may have been suspicious for a while because they caught their partner in several lies.
10 Common Signs of Cheating
- Attitude Changes: Is your partner moodier, or has their demeanor become happier?
- Changes with Communication: Your partner used to come home and tell you everything about the day. Now, they barely speak to you at all.
- Lying: Have you caught them in small lies like who they’re with?
- Indifference: They no longer care about what you’re doing or with whom you’re doing it.
- Changes in Sex Life: You barely have sex anymore, if at all.
- Money Issues: All of a sudden, you’re having problems paying the bills, but your job hasn’t changed, and you haven’t picked up additional expenses.
- On Their Device More: Your partner barely picked up their phone when they came home from work. Now, he spends the entire evening on it.
- They Pick Fights: Is your partner constantly angry at you for the tiniest things?
- Avoids You: They used to come home straight from work. But now they go out more often and don’t come home when they know you’ll be there.
- They Accuse You of Infidelity: Are they deceitful toward you but then question your whereabouts, insisting you’re the one that’s acting “shady?”
3). Keeping Secrets Is a Prelude to Betrayal
As mentioned, telling “little white lies” is a hotbed for additional deceit. The same goes for keeping secrets.
For example, you neglect to tell your husband you’re going out to a business dinner at a fancy French restaurant with your male co-worker your husband doesn’t like. However innocent you consider the reason, you are keeping a secret from your husband.
Fast forward to weeks later, and your husband suggests going to that fancy French restaurant for dinner. However, you tell him you were recently there and didn’t like the food. And there’s the oops!
– At this point, do you tell him the truth?
“I was there with Mark last week for a business dinner.”
– Or do you add another secret to that first secret?
“I was there with my co-worker, Carol.”
The damage has been done. But by telling another lie, you risk getting caught.
4). Relationships Are Damaged by Secrets
In the above scenario, getting caught causes mistrust in your relationship. This can be detrimental for a couple that already has issues.
However, before you get all upset, all lies will not end your relationship. The small lie you told about skipping lunch isn’t going to be the nail in the coffin. What you need to ask yourself is, if I get caught in this lie, could it be the end of the relationship?
For example, if your spouse catches you lying about having a rib platter instead of a garden salad for lunch, you don’t need to call the divorce lawyer yet.
On the flip side, if your spouse catches you lying about hanging out with your friend, but instead, you were with your ex, it might cause irreversible damage to your relationship.
But what if you honestly don’t see the seriousness of your deceit?
For example, you’re thinking, Who cares if I spend money on expensive shoes? No biggie, right? Wrong! Especially if you previously discussed financial issues and promised you wouldn’t spend frivolously.
5). Ceases the Ability to Communicate Naturally and Effectively
Unfortunately, when couples keep secretes, it impedes communication between the two. This creates inorganic conversation due to overthinking for fear of revealing the lie. “Did I mention this to him already?” “Does she know about my co-worker?”
Often, when we reveal something we didn’t mean to, we have to tell another lie to cover up the first one. When you become overwhelmed by the anxiety of revealing your secret, the deceptive partner becomes
- Less available
- Less involved
- Less receptive
Understandably, this causes ineffective communication and becomes frustrating for the couple, eventually driving a wedge between them.
6). Like Attracts Like
The deceiver often believes they’re getting away with their lies when their partner actually knows. But, whether it’s intuition or cold hard facts, they understand they are being lied to. They may not know the whole truth, but they know their partner is covering up something.
Once one person in the relationship begins deceiving, it’s not long until the other partner keeps secrets, too. It may feel like:
“If they aren’t telling the truth, why should I?”
“Since they’re doing their own thing, I will do mine!”
Because their partner is lying, they feel it’s OK to do the same. This happens when a partner does not address the deceit early on. If the deceiver feels as though they’re getting away with it, it empowers them to continue the secretive behavior, which in turn, causes you to continue yours.
What to Do if You’re Dealing with a Secretive Partner
Whether it’s a small lie like what you had for dinner or a bigger one like spending time with your ex, you should confront your partner. However, what if your partner is more of a secret keeper than a flat-out liar? There is a difference.
A secretive partner doesn’t open up about things you’d prefer to discuss. Their communication skills could be better. For instance, they failed to tell you they were picking up take-out for dinner after you prepared a delicious meal for two. Examples like this can make your relationship frustrating at times.
Here are a few tips on dealing with a partner whose communication skills leave much to be desired:
- Tell Them How You Feel: Your partner may have difficulty discussing their feelings, so tell them yours. In the scenario above, don’t just get angry. Tell your partner why you’re upset. “I spent all day preparing this dinner so we could spend a quiet evening together.”
- Be Available Emotionally: Don’t force your partner to open up. However, be sure they understand you will be available whenever they’re ready to have a discussion.
- Respond Positively When Your Partner Communicates: Be positive and encouraging when they finally open up to you. Avoid disparaging comments like, “It’s about time” and “That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard.” Negative comments will only cause them to withdraw back into their shell.
- Be Patient: Stop forcing a conversation when they aren’t ready to have one. If your partner isn’t ready, just chill. However, ask them to let you know when they feel comfortable discussing something with you.
In a perfect relationship, couples would be super-honest with each other. But the reality is that most people skew the truth a bit here and there. Secrets are sometimes what keep the relationship train peacefully chugging along. Is that necessarily a bad thing?
But who is anyone to judge? Every couple is different, and you know your partner. So, make the best choices for you.