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Am I way off the mark thinking that we all have our own little secrets? I know I’ve got a few that I have never shared with anyone and nor do I ever intend to.
Doesn’t everyone have some little secret that they have either never shared with anyone or only ever shared with a very close trusted friend?
Then there are those secrets I would describe as the ‘deep and dark’ ones which can take things to a whole new level.
Let’s keep on track here with secrets in relationships because they can and often destroy many long and short term relationships when something from our past comes to light, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
In any fairly new relationship I would really question if it is necessary to bare your soul about decisions and actions that were made in the past? If a guy started asking me some really personal things about me and my life within the first few weeks of seeing each other, for example, how many people I have slept with, I would seriously have to question 1. why they would want to know for a start and 2. what does it matter? These sort of questions very early on would be sending me some warning signals. If however, it begins to look like developing into something much more then this is not just a good time but the very best time to clear the air. If you aren’t starting off a relationship feeling safe to share your biggest fears, your biggest mistakes, your deep dark secrets you are not only setting yourself up for living in fear of being caught out but this is not just about you, it is being disrespectful of the other person and giving them the opportunity to make a decision that is the right decision for them and how they feel about moving forward with the relationship with this new information.
We are all human, sometimes we make a really bad error of judgement that might well have a detrimental impact on a relationship and we are just plain scared that we might lose someone we really love and care for.
As I thought about more about this topic I started to question what might be some of the key reasons that a relationship could be severely damaged as a result of one or perhaps both parties withholding certain information.
In so many situations guilt, shame and fear are the reasons most of us would keep quiet about some aspects of our past and at the time it’s all seems perfectly understandable when we look at what is at risk if we disclose all.
Here are just a few of the things that might just come back and bite us some time down the track if we don’t deal with them right up front and at the most appropriate time.
- If we are carrying a whole lot of guilt and regret about a particularly difficult decision we made when we were younger.
- If we have a criminal record or have served time in jail
- If we have either a current or previous drug, alcohol or gambling addiction
- If we have a pretty substantial debt
- If we have been married before
- If we have placed a child up for adoption
- If we have suffered emotional trauma of any kind
These type of issues are far too heavy for most people to carry around with them on their own and the price you pay living in fear of one day being found out will take it’s toll physically, mentally and emotionally.
Way up there on the list is of course ‘infidelity’. Can you tell this is a really big thing with me? I have been on the receiving end of it and I see so much of it each and every day with the work I do as one of the most common reasons for the breakdown of a relationship. From my perspective there is a very fine line between sexual and emotional infidelity. Emotional infidelity is when one partner fosters emotional intimacy with someone else and maintains a secret or semi-secret friendship when there is a clear mutual interest or attraction.
Or, as someone I have been in contact with recently, finding out that the person you have been living with for the past 10 years has been living a double life with his legal wife at the same time.
If you are living with a secret that might have a serious or even slightly negative impact on your relationship I believe it’s time for you to have ‘that’ conversation.
Difficult conversations are never easy and these are the ones we must have, regardless of the outcome, which brings me to the question, ‘is there ever a right time to reveal a secret?’
If your relationship is at risk of your partner finding out from some other source then you must have the difficult conversation as early as you can. The person on the receiving end of the news may need some time alone to process the information so they can come to terms with what it means for them and you have to be prepared to accept the worst and pray for the best.
Yes, it’s scary and yes it’s risky, but so is living with the fear of being found out sitting at the back of your mind all the time and more importantly hurting the people you love the most even more.
People can and do constantly amaze us when we put aside our guilt and shame and share our secrets. It can open up a much deeper level of conversation and trust and give your partner the space to share more about themselves too. Knowing that it’s safe to be totally honest and truthful, not just about your past is what strengthens and deepens a relationship.
Whatever you decide to do involves taking a risk and being vulnerable and sometimes being prepared to risk everything brings with it the biggest rewards.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brene’ Brown
To share your comments or personal story – send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With love and gratitude
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