Should we be an open book all the time to our nearest and dearest?
Does the definition of nearest mean there should be no secrets between you? What if being open about everything makes your dearest a bit disappointed about who you really are?
For example, you may not want to admit to some of your time wasting activities such as the two hours you spent today browsing on line for shoes. Or that you scraped off the price tag on the exorbitantly priced bottle of olive oil Is this being secretive? Or is it rather being rather human and preferring to be seen in your best light by your beloved?
Secrets and secrets
It would stand to reason that there are secrets and then there are secrets - and it will all depend on your relationship and how you each develop boundaries about what is alright to keep secret and which withheld secrets could harm your trust for each other.
It goes without saying that secrets such as a current emotional affair or "special friend" is going to be harmful to your relationship. Some secrets - such as having been married before, having suffered abuse at an earlier age, or having struggled with addiction - will usher in a more serious note for an ongoing developing commitment.
Sharing thoughts and feelings and perceptions is the high road to emotional intimacy. Who doesn't want to feel understood and accepted? How very often have clients I have worked with suddenly disclosed something to their partners during a joint session - a disclosure which makes the other partner exclaim - "why didn't you tell me that before - it helps me to understand so much more about you". Why indeed?
Probably because no one wants to experience negative judgement from their partner -and there is a rather thin line between secrecy and shame. Shame is under rated - it is a powerful motivator for hiding and dissembling, for masking vulnerability with evasion or half-truths. And yet the intimacy that springs from sharing vulnerability, of feeling known as well as loved, is a powerful binding agent in the choreography of love.
Commission or omission
Start by being honest with yourself about the secrets you're keeping: what is it you want to conceal and why?
Lets face it - in the early stages of a relationship it is challenging enough to work out how you and your partner feel about each other - without divulging your most personal aspects. There is little point in disclosing every last wrangle with feelings of rejection encountered in your life -- the job you didn't get, the fall out with your old friend or the minute details of your recent break up. Certainly as you are establishing trust and a sense of identity in your relationship, it is not useful to feel you have disclosed too much and to feel out of your comfort zone. And anyway some of these disclosures can compromise others who have the right to privacy too.
But If there are big issues you are uncomfortable about sharing- but which weigh heavily on your mind- it is a very good idea to find some professional help to facilitate your sorting through your feelings and the decision of if - or how - to approach discussing this secret with your current partner.
Balance is key to sorting the inconsequential secrets from the consequential ones. Establishing trust -and in that climate of trust -choosing to disclose the things that matter is an act of courage in daring to be vulnerable.
Chocolate ice cream at midnight and highlights in your hair
A little mystery and artifice, however, has an allure not to be sniffed at. Life with your partner is surely not a confessional under a naked light bulb. You have the right to your current privacy, your small vanities and indulgences - just as long as you know it wouldn't be destructive to your relationship if those guarded truths were revealed. And that same respect should be accorded your partner.
• Secrets are common even in "open" relationships
• Be honest with yourself about the likely impact on your relationship of keeping particular secrets
• Distinguish between "dumping" secrets from your past and the act of disclosing what is important to your future healthy relationship
• Pick your times - don't address secrets if you are drunk or having an argument.