When you read the title above, what was your first thought? How would you answer if it was you being secretive, or your partner?

In any relationship, or friendship, trust in each other is one of the main building blocks. For that to exist and grow, we have to be open and honest in sharing thoughts, opinions, actions and feelings. But prerequisite to that is also what we know as self-awareness. To the extent that I know myself, my motivations and thoughts, I can communicate them to you. What if I am afraid that you will judge me or disapprove of my behavior or thoughts?

None of us likes disapproval. Or even the expectation of disapproval. So that fear may override the need to share or to be honest with our partners. Let’s take an example: As a kid, what did you do if you got a bad grade? Immediately tell your parents? What did you know about the consequences of such a grade? A dressing down? Some kind of punishment, restriction of privileges? Or an acknowledgement of having to do better? Helping you craft better studying habits? We have all learned values and attitudes from our parents, but when we grow up and become an adult, we CAN take a look within ourselves and make choices as to whether we want to continue with learned behavior and beliefs. If they are creating issues for us, we CAN change them.

Often, the notion of fear and anxiety, and consequently guidance of our actions, rest on what we know or expect to be consequences. How fast would you drive if there was no speed limit? Or if the penalty was losing your license? When we ignore what we know might result from our choices, we have let the emotional center overrule the frontal lobe of rational thinking which takes into account reasonable consequences. I had a friend whose partner had lost his driver’s license some time before he relationship started. Kept it a secret. Quite some time later when it came out (inadvertently, I might add!), it created a huge problem and scene. On the other hand, there may be secrets that need to go with us to our graves IF the only reason to disclose is unburdening your own conscience without any benefit to the partner. If you had a one-night stand for whatever extenuating circumstances, learned from it and never repeated it, should you tell on yourself? What will be the benefit to the relationship? I am sure there will be those who may disagree, but love means sometimes you have to carry a single burden of your own making where sharing will bring more harm to the other while you get the relief from the guilt.

      “Confession is always weakness. The grave soul keeps its own secrets and takes its own punishment in silence.” ~ Dorothy Dix, author, teacher, reformer.

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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577