You may have heard that keeping secrets from your partner is a bad idea, but in many relationships, things aren't quite that clear-cut or easy. After all, you likely have a lot of history and detail in your past prior to meeting your partner and even some additional things that might have happened while you've been with your current partner. You may or may not be surprised to hear that there are some secrets about yourself you should never tell your partner because telling them isn't going to do anything for them. It won't benefit them in any way. And if telling these secrets will only make you feel better and might hurt them, you have to consider why you want to tell them these things.
Each relationship is different and when it comes to not telling your partner this bit of information or that bit, it might be more about timing and person preference than anything else.
"Not telling your partner 'secrets' is a very dangerous relationship game," Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show tells Romper by email. "While we are individuals and there is no requirement to tell our partner everything about ourselves, the bigger question is why are you choosing to keep it from your partner? There’s a difference between not offering every detail of your life and purposely keeping something from your partner. As well — there are some things we probably don’t need to share immediately but should be in a position to share when the time is right. If your partner asks about your past life, about your thoughts and feelings, about traumas in your life then if you love them, if you trust them — there is really no reason to not answer what they are asking."
Still, some of what you might not want to tell your partner doesn't need to be told right away and some might not ever need to be. But in some cases, if you're looking to actively keep something hidden from your partner, you may want to do some further reflection. Ultimately, there can sometimes be some good reasons for keeping certain things to yourself.
1. Anything That You'd Only Tell To Let Yourself Off The Hook
If the only reason that you're feeling compelled to tell your partner a particular piece of information is to relieve your feelings of guilt (or any other feelings), that might be something that you should keep to yourself, at least for the time-being. Melanie Schilling, a social scientist and dating and relationship expert, told HuffPost Australia that if you're trying to make yourself feel better, that's a selfish reason to disclose a secret to your partner. Think about it a little bit more, talk about it with someone else who perhaps already knows the details, and then make a decision about if it's something you want to tell or not.
2. Things That You're Too Embarrassed To Share
"Everyone had their own level or shame," Dr. Kathryn Smerling, PhD, LCSW, a psychotherapist, tells Romper by email. "I certainly am not one to judge what is too embarrassing or too uncomfortable to say to your partner." Again, if you're considering keeping a secret to yourself, you might want to reflect on the reasoning for that. It might be something that you really don't need to share, but if it's something that will affect your relationship, you might want to share.
3. Your Feelings About Their Family
Not liking or getting along with your partner's family probably isn't something that you should share with your partner, because (unless they tend to agree) it will likely only upset them.
"You need to remember that this is the family that they grew up in, and there are positives and negatives in each and every family," Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. "You don’t want to say or do anything that might damage your relationship with your partner based on how you personally feel about their family members."
4. Details About Your Sexual Past That They Don't Need To Know
Chances are, even if your partner asks about your sexual past, they don't want to know the extremely specific details about things (though if they ask, you can, of course, tell them). "Often what sounds sexy in theory ('sex in a car park') can turn into a mental image that makes our partner experience distress," Stefani Shaffer-Pond, LMSW, a sex and relationship therapist, tells Romper by email. "Perhaps they don't like imagining you with your ex. Perhaps they're concerned that they're 'too vanilla' to ever live up to your past experiences. Maybe they just don't want that picture in their head."
It's OK to keep some of those details to yourself.
5. Your Feelings For Exes
You likely still have some sort of feelings for exes, whether it's love, anger, resentment, or anything else. And often, it can be a combination of a number of things. "It’s hard to express the complicated truth about feelings for past lovers without creating insecurity, jealousy, and misunderstandings with your current partner," Jonathan Bennett, co-founder of Double Trust Dating and certified counselor, tells Romper by email. Your partner likely doesn't need to know about these kinds of things unless, again, it is affecting your current relationship.
6. Details About Your Past Traumas
If explaining all of the details about a past trauma is something that is too difficult to do and the trauma is something that's in your past, you might not want or feel the need to share every single detail with your partner. Klapow says, however, that if the past trauma is still affecting you or could affect your relationship, or if your partner asks about it, you might want to share.
7. Things You Don't Love About Them
You probably don't love every single little thing about your partner, just like you probably don't love every single little thing about yourself. That's understandable, but it's something you should probably keep to yourself. "No one is perfect and there are times you might want to bring up some of the little things you don’t like about your partner," Bennett says. "However, if your partner is generally great and you can live with the smaller flaws, it can be better to keep silent, especially if you feel it will hurt his or her self-confidence. It’s not worth creating feelings of insecurity for your partner in the name of total honesty."
Ultimately, when it comes to secrets about yourself, you're the one who has to decide whether or not to tell your partner. In some cases, you really shouldn't because it won't do any good. But in others, such as when the secret still very much affects you, it might be about timing more than anything else.