Sunday, February 23, 2014

Should a Relationship Have Secrets?

Should a Relationship Have Secrets?
By Roxanne Rhoads

Almost everyone keeps secrets but is the key to a successful relationship full disclosure?

Experts are torn on whether or not a person should keep a secret from their significant other.

Personally as long as it isn’t something super serious I think a few secrets in a relationship are healthy and perhaps necessary. Once the mystery is completely gone a relationship can grow stagnant.

Most experts believe it depends on the person, the situation, the relationship and most important-the secret. Others are adamant that full disclosure is the only way to go.

“Secrets are cancer to a relationship,” says Marriage Counselor Ace McKay, Author of The Marriage Playbook.

Dr. Dennis W. Neder, CEO of Remington Publications, the publishers of Being a Man in a Woman's World I & II thinks that secrets should be kept. “In fact, it's impossible not to. The concept of a truly ‘open and honest relationship’ is a nice sound bite, but in fact, doesn't exist.” I’m with this guy. I think it is impossible and hurtful to be completely, 100% truthful all the time.

Lisa Abbie Paz, LMFT, Ph.D. explains that “The word ‘secrets’ has a negative connotation in the realm of relationships because it implies an active choice to ‘hide’ information and that feels inauthentic. However, individuals ARE entitled to their privacy.  Not every relationship requires 100% disclosure - in fact I would say 100% disclosure is problematic.” Yeah guys, like when she asks you if she looks fat in those pants, tell her no even if she does. If you tell her yes, there will be blood.

Victorya Rogers, Life & Love Coach, author of the books Finding a Man Worth Keeping and The Automatic 2nd Date believes “Intimate details of past loves are best kept secret. Can your partner know you have had previous serious relationships and minor information about that person, sure. But they do not need to know everything including positions, quantity, location and any other details of your previous physical relationship. There is a difference between honesty and advertising.” Unless of course you are with a voyeuristic person who gets off on details like that. To each their own I suppose.

In Breathing Room - Creating Space to Be a Couple, Relationship Coach Elayne Savage, PhD writes that secrets can inhibit intimacy, that true intimacy is “sharing your secret thoughts and feelings, allowing yourself to expand, opening your heart, so your truest essence is revealed. It means inviting another person into this sacred space and understanding that the other person is willing to allow you in, as well.” I don’t know about you but my sacred place needs a little space, I can be intimate without letting go of all my feminine mystique.

Jeanine Swatton, Relationship Coach says “In my opinion, I feel as though secrets should not exist in a relationship unless you are planning a surprise birthday party or other special event.”

This is what most experts agree on, “little harmless secrets” are no big deal in a relationship. Your significant other is likely to get more upset if you didn’t keep the secret.

Thomas Edwards Jr., Dating & Lifestyle Development Coach believes that “every relationship, the dynamic is different and it can definitely be an, "it depends" kind of thing.” He also says “The most damaging secret to keep would be if you had (or are having) an affair. It will only fester and explode down the road, causing insurmountable damage.” 

Other experts disagree believing that if the affair is over, or if it was a onetime deal you will only hurt your partner by confessing. Keep it a secret otherwise you risk ruining your relationship.

Edwards also believes, as do many other experts, that common ‘secrets’ should be shared before getting into a serious committed relationship: STDs, kids and child support, if you have been divorced, your financial situation, family issues, if there’s a history of genetic diseases, etc.

Julie Spira, Dating Coach and Bestselling Author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online agrees and says that you should offer the truth “If there is something from your past that could affect the physical, emotional, or financial health of your partner.”

Comedian and author of God is a Woman: Dating Disasters, Ian Coburn thinks that complete honesty is the only way to go. “We don't keep secrets for our significant other and their best interests. We keep secrets for ourselves and our best interests. When you keep secrets, you rob people of control over their own decisions. Keeping secrets is simply a form of manipulation and that's never good.”

 “There is no "right" or "wrong" answer about keeping secrets,” says Chris Auer, M.A.

I think Debbie Mandel, M.A., author of Addicted to Stress sums it up best,We all have buried treasure and do not need to reveal our fantasies, innermost thoughts to another nor by the same token does the other person… if you need to get it off your chest to feel lighter, then do it. The truth will set you free. However, only you can make this decision. Keep in mind that everyone comes to a relationship with baggage, and the important thing is to get rid of idealizations and deal with reality to make a fresh start.”

So in the end it’s up to you whether or not you want to keep secrets in your relationship. You just have to use your better judgment and hope you make the right choice.