Privacy vs. SecrecyLet’s start off with a quick mental exercise.

Think of three things your man doesn’t know about you. Even if you’ve been together for years, that should be easy.

Now for the hard part.

Ask yourself WHY he doesn’t know these three things. Is it because this stuff has just never come up? Or is it because you’re keeping details about your life from him?

The answer matters. Let me explain.

The issue of privacy comes up a lot in the modern world. You hear about it all the time as it relates to things like Facebook and internet use. Privacy has its place online… and in dating relationships.

Privacy is about those moments when no one is observing you. When something is private, it just means it happened where others couldn’t see. Privacy isn’t bad.

However, if there are things you’re keeping from him because you fear he will be upset, angry, or hurt, that’s not privacy. That’s keeping a secret.[i]

And here’s the problem with secrets in dating relationships. They destroy trust.

So, there’s this tension in every romance between privacy and secrecy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just come home from your first date or you’ve been together for 20 years. The tension is real.

When is it better to just leave a skeleton in the closet?  When is privacy a good thing?

The following tips will help you decide.

  1. Ask yourself about motive.

Like I mentioned above, the real difference between privacy and secrecy is the motive.

If your guy doesn’t know you used to date a co-worker because you didn’t know your partner then and it’s just never come up, that’s no big deal. But if you’ve made a conscious decision not to tell him because you’re concerned he would be upset, you’re keeping a secret.

Maintaining some measure of privacy is good for you as an individual, and as a couple. But few things dissolve trust as fast as secrets that seem to have a potential hidden motive.

  1. Talk about what you will and won’t share.

If there are areas in your life where you want to maintain privacy, don’t be afraid to let him know.

Here’s a very practical example. When I am dating someone, I’ll friend them or allow them to follow me on any social app. But I will NOT share my passwords with them. Ever. My passwords are private.

Healthy boundaries are an important part of any relationship. Just make sure you talk about what your boundaries will be.

  1. Respect his privacy every bit as much as you want him to respect yours.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb. Don’t violate his privacy in a way that would make you feel ashamed if he caught you in the act.

In practical terms, that means don’t go snooping on his cell phone, digging through his browser history, or even shuffling through his mail (unless you asked first). If you have questions, ASK HIM. Don’t violate his privacy by sneaking into areas of his life without his knowledge or permission.

Privacy vs. Secrecy

Privacy is one of those really critical, but really tricky relationship things. It’s neither realistic nor ideal to ditch it completely. You should have parts of your life that are just for you.

At the same time, secrecy isn’t helpful in building intimacy and trust.

The important thing is balance. Know the difference between the two, and guard healthy privacy. That benefits you, him, and the relationship.

[i] Weiss, Robert, LCSW, CSAT-S. “Intimate Relationships: Privacy vs. Secrecy.” Psychology Today. HealthProfs.com, 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.

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