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Keeping Secrets in a Relationship: 42 Must-Know Rules & Exceptions

Do you think that keeping secrets in a relationship is acceptable or not? We all have our small secrets that nobody else knows but should you share all?

keeping secrets in a relationship

Countless magazines tell you that you shouldn’t keep any secrets in a relationship. Hell, even we’ve said it. And to some extent, it’s true. You should be able to talk openly and honestly with your partner about anything, but are there some secrets you’re allowed to keep in a relationship? We would have to say ‘yes.’

For example, do you really need to tell your partner how many people you’ve slept with? No, you don’t. Some secrets can be extremely hurtful. Not only can they be considered lies, but they lead to resentment, paranoia, and unhappiness.

The more secrets you keep, the more likely it is that you’ll become a blatant liar. The things that aren’t typical to most people might be normal to you. It’s a little unnerving, but it does happen. So, is it worth it to hide a secret from your partner? [Read: 13 giveaways to tell if someone is lying to your face]

Why do we keep secrets from our significant others?

Saying, “If a person really loved you, they’d accept you for the things you did” is not that reassuring. We want to be loved the way we are right now, not because of our past and the things we’ve done. The secrets we keep are those that we think could damage our relationships or leave us open to judgment that we aren’t prepared for.

Our insecurities and beliefs keep us from revealing some of the things that we’re ashamed of. Knowing that most people don’t react well to some secrets can make us think twice about telling people about it.

Sometimes, we hear people react negatively to other people’s circumstances. If we are experiencing the same things, our observations tell us that revealing the same secrets can make us vulnerable to that type of judgment as well. [Read: The checklist to follow for a happy romance]

Can a secret stay secret?

Most secrets don’t stay secret for very long, especially if someone else knows about it. The problem occurs when those secrets get out, and the person on the receiving end hasn’t had time to process said information.

It’s true that you need to be open about everything in order to move forward in your relationships, but some people need more time to process the information that they want to reveal. Apart from that, your partner needs to be ready to accept the things that you want to reveal to them.

You need to get to know your partner better and see if they are the type of person who won’t judge you for the things that you have no control over.

You can’t control how they will react, but you can at least build enough trust to be comfortable about telling them your secrets… eventually. [Read: 8 taboo topics you need to avoid in a new relationship]

Is keeping secrets in a relationship worth it?

There is no harm in hiding one or two secrets from your partner, but when you lie often, it may genuinely hurt your health. People who lie often may have heartburn, panic attacks, and sleeplessness due to feelings of guilt and worry. Why do you hide secrets from your partner, anyway?

How big is your mistake that you want to cover it up with lies just to save your relationship? No matter how big or small your faults may be, keeping it a secret should never be an option, especially if you genuinely love your partner.

It’s okay if what you’re keeping from your partner is considered a white lie but if it’s something big and significantly affects your relationship, it’s just not worth it.

You’ll end up overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Not to mention, you’ll sabotage your relationship as a whole by keeping secrets. [Read: Lying in a relationship: 15 steps to confront a lie & heal the love]

The exceptions for keeping secrets in a relationship

While keeping secrets is never a good thing, there are particular exceptions when it’s okay. There are a few unspoken agreements where keeping secrets won’t cause the fall out of your relationship.

1. A surprise

We bet everyone loves surprises, especially when it’s a beautiful occasion you want to remember forever. Are you throwing a party or investing in an expensive gift? Then a secret is a-okay. Buying your partner jewelry, recreating your first date, planning a fun getaway are all good secrets in a relationship.

That is if your partner loves surprises. Keeping secrets in a relationship and hiding a surprise present for your lover is entirely different. So, no need to worry about keeping it a secret. [Read: How to express your gratitude to someone you love]

2. A proposal

Asking her to be your girlfriend? Asking him to move in? Or are you proposing marriage? All of these are often secrets for a while. But what makes them suitable is that there is a plan for the secret to being exposed. And in most cases, the mystery leads to good news, not bad.

If you want to make this event memorable for you and your partner, put in all your efforts and ideas and observe their reaction. Keeping secrets in a relationship isn’t always bad if your intentions are pure, like proposing to your partner. [Read: How to pull off a memorable proposal]

3. What you talk to your friends about

Guys and girls alike have conversations with their friends that often do not need to get back to their partners. It isn’t that this knowledge would cause a fight, but just as you and your partner have privacy from others, you and your friends deserve that too.

Yes, keeping secrets in a relationship may be harmful. While this is true for most conversations with your friends, there are few exceptions, particularly regarding topics reserved for female discussion.

You may complain about your husband’s snoring habits to your girlfriend or your brother about your girlfriend’s movie-watching habits. These things might be irritating in a relationship, but they are so minor that venting to a close friend can help. [Read: What to talk about with friends and ask the questions most ignore]

4. How do you feel about their family

This one can be touchy. You do not have to share your feelings about your in-laws with your partner. If it becomes severe and needs to change, by all means, talk. But if you don’t like your boyfriend’s mom’s cooking or her need to organize your cupboards, you can probably put up with that during a visit.

However, if your mother-in-law insists on moving in, contacting you often, or asking about your sex life, you should speak to her. But holding your mouth for minor issues may help. If you get to know someone well, the good may outweigh the negative.

Keeping secrets in a relationship, like how you feel about your partner’s family, is still up to you. Sit down with your partner and speak about it when the time is right. [Read: 18 signs it’s time and ways to prepare your partner to meet the parents]

5. External secrets

Your partner does not need to know about your buddies’ pacts or secrets. Just as you and your spouse have secrets, it’s pointless to share topics unrelated to your relationship.

One of the most incredible things about keeping secrets in a relationship is that certain things aren’t worth talking about or worrying about.

Your lover does not need to know if your closest buddy confided in you about anything serious. Sharing your life does not obligate you to disclose everything. [Read: The 9 unspoken rules all couples need to follow]

6. You have an innocent little crush

Even if you’re in a relationship, you may enjoy seeing your neighbor jog past or talking about mid-20th century fiction with the gorgeous young clerk at the bookshop.

We all have these hidden desires, and they’re harmless—unless they begin to dominate your thoughts or emotions, threatening your mutual trust. In other words, keeping secrets in a relationship, like having a crush on someone, is acceptable as long as you don’t act on it.

7. That one embarrassing moment from your past

Everyone has done something they’d want to forget, whether it was a disastrous romance, an unfulfilling career path in which they failed horribly, or even the time they sang lead in a dreadful Go-tribute Go’s band.

Keeping secrets in a relationship like this should not always be wrong. Those memories are yours to share or not. As long as there was no lingering trauma, you got over it, and your present partner will never know about it. [Read: 15 painfully embarrassing things that happen during sex]

8. You think one of their friends is hot

It’s alright to be attracted to one of their close friends. That is if you never intend to act on your attraction. If you do, that’s a distinct matter and should be addressed.

Just because you’re attracted to one of their friends isn’t a huge problem. Plus, telling your partner you think their friend is hot is a red flag. Don’t even think about keeping secrets in a relationship if you’re this insensitive. [Read: What is cheating in a relationship? The truth most people ignore]

9. You weren’t initially attracted to them

Getting to know someone builds attraction. Mentioning that you were gradually drawn to your present partner is neither humorous nor beneficial to them. This information is outdated and harmful. You are with them now for a purpose, so don’t mention the growing attraction.

10. You’ve had better sex

You may have had better sex but this isn’t something you need to share. Plus, the sex with your past partner may have been amazing, but you lacked the connection you have with your new partner.

The point is, your partner doesn’t need to know they’re second or third best. This isn’t going to make them feel good about themselves, nor will it make your relationship stronger. [Read: 15 things to talk about in a perfect relationship]

11. How many sexual encounters you’ve had

Listen, whether you’ve slept with two people or 200, no one needs to know this except for you. Of course, when it comes to STIs, you should tell them. This is something that could affect their own personal health.

But other than that, if you’re in a committed relationship with your partner, there’s no need to exchange the numbers of people you’ve slept with. The number doesn’t change anything. [Read: How to talk about your past sexual experiences with your current partner]

12. A characteristic you don’t like that they can’t change 

If you don’t like a core characteristic they have, well, what are you going to do? Tell them that they don’t like something that they can’t change? And then what? Now, if you’re concerned about their weight, for example, these are things that can change but have to be encouraged positively.

Your partner is going to have quirks that you may not like, but that’s also why you love them. [Read: Are you being selfish in your relationship?]

13. How you spend your money 

If you’re married to your partner and share expenses, naturally, how you handle your money may differ in some aspects depending on how you arrange it. You don’t need to explain every daily purchase you make throughout the day. This only adds anxiety and stress to a relationship.

But if you’re in debt, you should let them know.

14. You like specific things about your ex better than them 

Listen, there are qualities that our exes had that our current partners may not have. Every person is different. You’re with your current partner for different reasons.

But you don’t need to share qualities that you miss from your ex with your current partner. How do you think this would make them feel? [Read: How to stop comparing your new partner with your ex]

15. They need to lose weight

Sure, you wish your partner had a super flat and sexy stomach, we all do, but this isn’t something you need to share. You’re with your partner for a reason.

If the only thing bothering you is their body, well, maybe you need to find someone else because you don’t deserve them.

16. Lingering feelings for your ex

Oh god, this isn’t something you should do. In fact, this will only bring on insecurities in your partner. You don’t want that. Your ex may always have a place in your heart, but you don’t need to share this with your current partner.

If you’re unsure of what to do and unsure about your feelings, take some time and sort them out on your own. [Read: 10 clear signs your past relationship is holding you back in life]

17. Negative things your friends and family say about them 

If you repeat what your family or friends tell you about them, the next time you have a family dinner, they’re not going to come.

Negative reactions can be hurtful and hard to recover from. Once you tell them, the odds are they will distance themselves from your family and friends. [Read: Scenarios where white lies is your savior in love]

18. Psychological disorders

When people jokingly say you’re crazy, all you can do is smile and sip on your cup of coffee. Although this is something that should be discussed early on in the relationship, the stigma of having a diagnosed mental disorder still keeps people from admitting the truth.

For sure, it’s something you should discuss because you shouldn’t have to keep this secret, but you should share it when you’re ready and not before. [Read: Why we need to break down the stigma of mental illness]

19. Gross habits you can’t stop doing

Oh, you know what those are. Picking on an ingrown hair, squeezing a blackhead, drinking out of the milk carton – the list goes on. But it’s so hard to stop!

20. How you really feel about the things they like 

Yes, that shirt looks so cool. I love football! This leather recliner in your basement in the middle of summer is so comfy! Lies, lies, lies!

It’s okay to keep your feelings inside for a while, because otherwise, you may end up pushing the other person away or hurting their feelings. [Read: 25 hobbies for couples that want to have more fun together]

21. Family problems and what your friends are really like 

We’ve lived with our family since the day we were born. We know how it feels, so we’re not sure whether or not a significant other will want to join in on the crazy.

The same goes for friends; you love them to death, but they make you want to scream sometimes. Some of the things they do are not fit for public consumption, let alone your partner’s.

22. How often you’ve slept with people on the first date 

“I don’t usually do this on the first date.” Yeah, right.

The bottom line is it’s your business and nobody else’s. Opening up about this leaves you prone to being judged and you don’t deserve that. [Read: Is it alright to have sex on the first date?]

23. When you want to get married

Honestly, any date that’s available in June is good for most of us women. For the men, it’s more of a question of if they want to marry. Okay, that’s a generalization, but if you’re too forward about your plans for the future, you might just scare them off.

24. Your blocked contacts list 

If they ever saw it, there would be so many questions! So many questions that we don’t have half the answers to. [Read: The happy couple’s guide to social media etiquette]

25. What you looked like in high school and how you were

 No matter how good we looked, it was still in high school. It’s like your mom showing you how hot she looked wearing hot pink leg warmers and shoulder pads in her sweaters.

What we looked like doesn’t matter as much as who we were. If we were mean, that info’s going in the vault. If we were losers, that info’s going in there, too. Similarly, admitting who we dated in high school just leaves room for us to explain what happened when we were dating said people.

High school romances are not for the faint of heart. [Read: How to talk about your past relationships the right way]

26. Credit reports

When your partner realizes that they’re dating a shopaholic or someone on the IRS watchlist, that June wedding probably won’t materialize anytime soon.

As we mentioned earlier, you should probably talk about debt if it’s a real issue and things get serious, but at the start, you can keep your credit report to yourself.

27. The really serious stuff

Abortions, abusive ex-partners, traumatic experiences, etc. What matters is that some people need time to resolve themselves to opening up about these things with their partner in the present. [Read: Should you ever confess to cheating on your partner?]

No matter what your secret is, just know that you should always be honest with yourself. Keeping things to yourself is okay, only if it’s not going to bite you on the ass one day. The secret that you’re keeping shouldn’t cause anyone harm, as well.

An example would be keeping an abusive relationship with your family from your significant other. A secret like getting your upper lips waxed is no big deal.

But if you’re harboring a secret that could possibly affect your relationship, you should think twice about hiding it or discussing it honestly with your partner. [Read: Things you need to eventually talk to your partner about to be happy]

Common relationship situations and whether to speak up or keep quiet

There are guidelines for keeping secrets in a relationship. To avoid problems, stick to these golden rules.

1. Your ex reached out

We’re sure you’ve fought this before. When your partner noticed an ex’s text on your phone, chaos ensued. It wouldn’t have been a problem if you simply said your ex texted you about returning their iPod. There is always a rationale for keeping anything like this hidden.

Why keep it hidden if your partner has no reason to be angry? Your partner trusts you, so give them what they deserve by not keeping secrets in a relationship that could harm you both. [Read: How to respond to a text from your ex]

2. An inappropriate encounter

The same goes for this. Whether your boss hit on you, a coworker made a pass, or a friend crossed the line, you should tell your partner. If it made you uncomfortable, this is the person you should be able to trust and lean on.

Remember that you got into a relationship not only because of pure love, but you believe that your partner can be worthy of your trust.

No matter what happens, if you’re thinking about keeping secrets in a relationship, let your spouse know that there is someone out there who could be interested. Sharing this and discussing your role in the relationship can help you grow closer. [Read: Are you unintentionally micro-cheating?]

3. You got a job offer

Yes, that’s great! You got a job offer and want to think it over before telling your partner. If you aren’t taking it, why bother worrying about them in the first place? Well, you are in a relationship and should make big decisions together.

Getting a job offer isn’t something to hide from your partner. They would be even more glad if you were open to them about your career. If you tell your partner big news like this after the fact, they will feel betrayed. Like you didn’t want their input or bother to include them at all. [Read: Love or career? How to make the right choice]

4. You want to buy a house

Buying your partner’s home, condo, or anything else significant like that can be romantic to some. However, it can seem controlling and intense to others. Decisions like this are best made together.

So you have to think hard about this decision if you don’t want to ruin your relationship with your partner by keeping secrets. Although extravagant gifts can be lovely, think before you buy.

5. You want to quit your job

Just like getting a new career, leaving one may do a lot of harm if you’re planning on keeping secrets in a relationship.

Changing careers or abandoning one without a backup is another choice you should discuss with your partner, whether you like it or not. Not telling your partner about this is unfair. [Read: The need for purpose in life – 5 things it can do for you]

6. You’re spending a large amount of money

Buying anything above a certain amount has to be discussed in a serious relationship where you share money. Keeping secrets in a relationship is challenging, especially if it’s about spending a lot of money on something your partner won’t like.

Even if you don’t like what they say, talking about it demonstrates that you value their opinion. [Read: How to stop fighting over money in your relationship]

7. You cheated

This is one of the most serious problems when it comes to relationships. Some don’t like talking about it at all because it’s disturbing and might hurt their partner. Then some believe that secrets can never affect them. Regrettably, we disagree.

It’s likely you already know but are in denial that your boyfriend cheated on you. That’s a coward’s excuse. You wouldn’t have cheated if you didn’t intend to hurt your spouse. The easiest approach to address it is to admit you made a mistake and apologize.

In such a case, the possibilities of regaining trust are limited to none. [Read: What is cheating in a relationship? The truth most people ignore]

8. You’re bored

Being bored in a relationship might sound ordinary. We all go through ruts. But if you are feeling unfulfilled by your relationship, you need to talk about it. Keeping that to yourself can lead to cheating, resentment, and a blowout.

Instead, tell your partner you feel like your relationship lacks that spark.

That way, you can work on it together. You can plan fun dates, go on mini-vacations, or couples counseling. If you want to have an everlasting commitment with your partner, start by not keeping secrets in a relationship and always talking about whatever that’s bothering you. [Read: 34 honest reasons why couples get bored with their relationship]

9. What you want in the future

A lot of long-term relationships can get thrown off track by both partners concealing their plans for the future. You could be with someone for years and keep it a secret that you don’t want kids or that you want to travel the world. These things don’t need to be spilled right off the bat.

Once you see a future together, you should discuss the future. If your dreams don’t line up, and you’re both unwilling to concede, it won’t work out. Did you know that the greatest battles in a relationship are won when two partners work together as a team?

That whatever obstacles they may face, they know they’ll overcome them with trust and confidence. We just hope that every couple in this world has this positive mindset.  [Read: The best questions to be asking in your relationship]

10. What you expect from them

This is a biggie. So many people expect their partners to know what they want and expect from them without them ever having to say it.

Sharing what you want from your partner makes your relationship so much stronger. Your partner has to know what you expect from them, from helping with household chores to weekly date nights.

Do you want them to attend your parents’ wedding anniversary? Or maybe do a little shopping on the weekend? Always keep in mind that little things matter and can impact your relationship.

11. Your minor relationship doubts

If you’re experiencing these feelings first, don’t feel obligated to share these secrets in your relationship. Sharing these first views can only induce uneasiness and wounded sentiments. Only communicate your emotions with your partner if they persist and get stronger. [Read: Relationship doubts – How to recognize them and make the right decision]

12. You’re in debt

If you live with your partner or have joint finances, they need to know how much you owe. Don’t hide your debt.

Don’t hide it, and don’t make excuses. Expect honesty in return. It’s better to know up front whether your debt is a deal-breaker for your partner.

13. You don’t think they’re making an effort

Many believe that their partner isn’t doing their part, but they choose to keep it to themselves. It’s essential to speak out when someone isn’t doing their fair share of the emotional and financial work in a relationship.

Generally, most couples avoid discussing responsibility because they believe it’s trivial. But it’s best to address these concerns as soon as possible since they may quickly turn into a source of resentment. [Read: 20 relationship problems that push a couple apart or bring them closer]

14. You’re having mental health issues

All of us experience highs and lows in our lives. Talking about it with your partner may not even be the ideal option since you don’t want to burden them with the emotional weight.

This is fair for some couples, but it should not be an exception for others, especially regarding things like your mental health. It is difficult and perhaps hazardous to be mentally ill. Our relationships with others are likewise affected by this.

15. You were married or engaged before

Because some people don’t believe it’s necessary, it’s on our list of secrets that need to be revealed.

Indeed, the past shouldn’t influence how your relationship works in the present, but for financial and emotional reasons, previous love commitments should be made clear to your partner. [Read: 10 reasons why divorce can be such a damn good thing]

Keeping secrets in a relationship WON’T keep you safe

As we’ve come to understand, it takes courage to be open and honest about every aspect of your life. Some people feel that to survive in a relationship, and they must conceal secrets or tell lies.

However, the most excellent way to build a long-lasting relationship based on mutual trust is to discover healthy ways of communicating your true feelings to your partner.

[Read: 19 rules to be a good partner in a relationship and make them feel lucky]

Keeping secrets in a relationship can be a bumpy road. How do you know when a secret is acceptable and when it’s a red flag? If you’re hesitant, keep in mind that honesty is always the best policy.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...