- Sammy Jo Diffendaffer, M.S., LMFT Associate
Wanna Know a Secret? Top 3 Ways a Life of Secrecy May Be Ruining Your Intimacy
While it is often thought of as common practice to tell "little white lies" or occasionally leave out details that would reveal whole truths about ourselves or something we have done, there may actually be some drawbacks to the larger-scale practice of withholding information.
Top 3 Ways a Life of Secrecy May Be Ruining Your Intimacy
1) The Exhaustion of Upholding: Although secrets can be alluring and sometimes even exciting at first, secrets can turn into a full time job if the pressure to maintain them builds over time. Just as any area of our lives has the power to become weighty, exhausting, and ultimately distracting in our relationships with other people, the stress of heavy secrets can often be of greater impact than other stressors we face, as the secret nature of our problem leaves us unable to connect with our partner regarding what exactly has us feeling so bogged down.
2) Self-Loathing and Shame: Chances are, if we find ourselves overwhelmed with secrecy, we aren't proud of whatever it is that we feel we must hide. Secret behaviors typically do not develop by sheer happenstance. Meaning, if it is worth it to put in the effort to keep something concealed, whatever it is we are working so hard to protect must have some value or reward to us. Often, for example, if it is a repetitive secret behavior that we feel trapped in, there is likely something particularly comforting about whatever it is we go out of our way to cover up. This is where shame and self-loathing often create their most powerful and corruptive dynamic duo. While we are feeling really beat-up and ashamed of our secret, we find ourselves in need of comfort more than ever, and when we certainly can't look to another PERSON to help us with this problem, we often turn directly back to the secret thing that we are ashamed of the most. This, of course, leaves us feeling defeated, stuck, and often self-loathing of ourselves. Thus you have it, the old saying about being able to love ourselves before we can love someone else, well, in this case, it really is true.
3) Inter-Partner Conflict: While secrets may not be "addictive" in and of themselves, they can certainly establish a pattern in our lives that can be quite difficult to get out of. Whether out of humiliation and shame, as mentioned earlier, or the simple rewards we gain from our secret behavior, we often find ourselves drawn to more intense and lengthy versions of the adrenaline spiking secret behavior that, if discovered by others, could get us in trouble. When entrenched in this pattern, we may find ourselves skipping out on opportunities for closeness or even quality time with our partners in order to create space for our other (undisclosed) activities. When this happens partners may feel hurt, neglected or vengeful as they cope with the distance and lack or intimacy in the relationship. This can lead to retaliatory acts or other forms of protests as wounded partners attempt to distract from the problem or even engage their partners in conflict in desperate attempts to reel their partner back in.
If you find yourself battling the weight of secrecy in your life and you are looking for ways to better manage your situation, contact me (469-322-9389) to learn more about how to create a space for growth and healing in your life and in your relationships with those you care about most. Do not wait another day to take back your life and embrace the newfound freedom of authenticity.
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