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  1. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Should couples be allowed to keep secrets?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Andrae Smith, Mar 13, 2014.

    I watch and read a lot of superhero shows and stories, and I noticed one of the most central conflicts is the issue of the secret identity. Often the hero must keep their hero identities secret from family, friends or love interests. Naturally, this causes problems because these people (particularly the love interests/partners) are obsessed with the truth.

    This isn't only in superhero stories, also in shows like abcFamily's Twisted. There are secrets that certain characters must keep, and love interests are obsessed with knowing the truth. That is, they feel entitled to know absolutely everything about the protagonist.

    This always bugs me because these characters act like it's the end of the world if they aren't engaged in each other's lives 100%. I know it's wrong to lie, but do you think couples should be allowed to have some level of privacy from each other?

    This question is primarily for people with experience, but it's open for everyone. I know all relationships are different, but I personally think that having to reveal everything about oneself shows signs of insecurity and limits peoples ability to retain a sense of individuality. I'm not saying they should be allowed to lie, but is it devastating if they say there is something personal that they don't really want to talk about? Is it so devastating?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I do. My example is this:

    About a month ago my brother's partner (yes, my bro is gay too) found out that a long-ago flame had passed away. It was someone with whom he had parted amicably and they were still good friends. Andy (my brother's partner) is going to the funeral and wants to go alone. My brother was furious and felt hurt that Andy wanted to go by himself. Danny (my brother) never new the old-flame.

    I told my brother he needed to let it go. It was Andy's ex, Andy's relationship, Andy's past, a past to which Andy has a sovereign right. My brother still doesn't get it, still doesn't understand, but I do understand.
     
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  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    There are certain secrets that would do more harm if told than they do as secrets. Some might refer to them as 'white lies,' but they are nothing more than secrets.

    If I was married to a woman and later I found out I had slept with her sister in high school, that would be a secret her sister and I would more than likely keep. Does it hurt anyone that I slept with her sister before I even knew her? Nope, but if she knew I slept with her sister...it would more than likely be a HUGE problem.
     
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  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Good point. If my girlfriend says she doesn't want to talk about something or tell me something, I trust her judgment. There are some things about my past that I would like to keep to myself, so I think we're both on the same page as far as this issue goes.

    Regarding superheros, the two of us have agreed that if one of us became a superhero we would tell the other one. There are no secrets when it comes to superpowers.
     
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  5. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never new :p

    Understand both view points though, some people don't want to believe their partners have sentimental value attached to anyone else.

    My Mrs is the same I think, she doesn't like hearing of old partners where as I enjoy the stories.

    That being said I have secrets I hide from my Mrs, she even knows I have some of them. I believe a good relationship is based on two separate people that enjoy spending time with each other, their lives don't need to be as one.
     
  6. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    @Wreybies Lae caught your bad grammar. You owe us ten "my bads." :D
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Unless there were issues the other mourners would have with your brother being there, then I don't find the situation that simple.

    There are trust issues on both sides here. Yes, your brother should trust his lover and respect his lover's wishes naturally without resentment.

    At the same time, what kind of message is it to shut your loved one out in a time of grief?

    A relationship is about being partners, best friends, trust. Excluding someone lacks all that. Not knowing when you lover needs space lacks it as well.
     
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  8. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was seeing this girl back in the day. She wanted to know how many other girls I'd slept with but I didn't want to tell her. She told ne she had ex amount of boyfriends and it freaked me out - I wished she'd have kept that secret...
     
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  9. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    You all raise good points. You see, the way I see trust is that partners should be able to let each other have some space without worrying. Likewise, they should be honest and open enough with each other to earn that trust.

    @Wreybies, thank you for sharing. That is something I've been thinking about. People need space, and sometimes they need to deal with things alone. I know one of a partner's roles is to be there for support, but they should able to back up a little.
    @GingerCoffee, I agree it could send the wrong message, to your partner if you push them away at a hard time, but I don't think it does any good getting upset if your partner wants to deal with their past on their own. When they're ready they'll talk or move on. I totally get what you're saying though.

    You're right, too, @Lewdog. Some things are better left in the past. That is something that would only be damaging if it comes up. I have a friend who was upset because her bf was mad that she had dated one of his friends before they ever knew each other. He was mostly mad that she didn't tell him earlier, but her point was that it shouldn't matter to the current relationship. They weren't having problems before that, but he let that get to them. She never even gave him cause to think she might be interested still.

    I understand the value in being honest and upfront about something like that. There is little harm in telling someone something like that, as a matter of trust, but we all have to make choices, and sometimes leaving the past in the past is better. Is it wrong to feel that way?

    @thirdwind, I hear you on that. No reason to hide superpowers from someone you love.

    @Lae, Thank you for your input as well. It's true that some people definitely have trouble accepting that you might actually be on good terms with a past relationship, or at leas have even had strong feelings for them. I don't understand that exactly.

    And to be clear, I don't necessarily mean hiding secrets when we don't need to. I believe in honesty and integrity, but people are individuals, and I don't think that sense of self should be sacrificed for the melding of minds. Marriage is a partnership, it's union, but I think a lot of stress comes from sacrificing too much and trying to give oneself entirely to being one with one's partner.
     
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  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I can see why that's a valid question. I wouldn't have trouble answering it. Then again, I can't say I wouldn't be nervous if a girl tells me she's had x many partners. That's one thing that keeps me away from the girls at my University. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Michael Collins
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    Michael Collins Contributing Member

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    I believe it's normal to keep some secrets, but most of the time, at least in my experience, they turn back and bite me in the face.
     
  12. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's the problem with a girl having had many partners?
     
  13. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think secrets should be kept. I have a failed marriage under my belt because of poor communication and us not telling the other how we felt.
    I learned a lot from that. I have a girlfriend now who I couldn't imagine living without. We put everything on the table and talk about it like adults.
    To me, keeping secrets shows a smidge of shame. You should not have any shame with a person who loves you
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think in general, it's good to get important things about your past—the past that really IS past—out in the open at the start of a relationship. I think that's when uncomfortable secrets are more easily digested by the new partner. Telling them all about 'it' after you've been married for 10 years? Uh ...can be a mistake.

    I think it's a good idea to share like that, because you never know when something is going to come out in the wash, so to speak. Best to already have it covered.

    However, if the secret you're keeping is still an ongoing issue for you ...ah, that's another situation entirely. That's scary, and there aren't any easy answers. Depends on risk, I suppose.
     
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  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No, you're correct, it's not a simple issue. The deeper level of this is that my brother is a very dominant individual, very Alpha. He's one of those people who have a habit of speaking in the imperative mood. (Grrrr!) And he has a lousy bedside manner. In this case, he started telling Andy what would happen, when they would go, the arrangements, etc. He never stopped and asked Andy what he wanted, which was, to me, the only correct first thing to do. I know my brother. His way of dealing with things is to control them. I know Andy. Andy is very much like me. The right thing to have said to Andy upon finding out that his ex had died was, "What do you want to do? Do you want me to go with you?" and when Andy didn't answer for the shock of it all, the next thing to say is, "You decide and let me know. If you want me to go, of course I will go with you. If you want to go alone, I completely understand." Had my brother just thought it through, not tried to control Andy, not tried to own the situation for himself, things would be happening very differently now. That's what I meant about this belonging to Andy.
     
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  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you are living with someone for 10+years, it becomes impossible to 'keep secrets' without some effort and hurt on the other side. What Wreybies was talking about is fair enough, but if you are talking about someone leading a full blown double life, imagine how many hours in a day they'd be away? Ok, you can make sure you are away during working hours and pretend you've got a job, but it's an awful lot to conjure up every time your partner asks you how your day's been. I think a secret big enough would become obvious very quickly, and without resolution, it would undermine the relationship. Couples need to be able to discuss anything, they don't necessarily have to do the same things all the time.
     
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  17. Gemini_Genie
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    Yeah if you were with the person a while it would be difficult to keep things private. Especially if you were doing something heavy like what you mentioned above Jazzabel. But I don't know. I know everyone needs love, but sometimes I wonder why Superheroes even bother having relationships. If you don't tell the person your secret eventually they're going to wonder where it is you're running off to all the time and if you do tell them there's a high probability they'll get kidnapped or seriously hurt in a fight with one of your enemies. A secret identity would definitely be in the realm of what I'd call a big secret. Powers or no powers.

    Somethings really are just best left unsaid. There are a lot of things to this day I wish people hadn't ever told me and that I wish I hadn't ever pressed them to tell me about. I think it's natural to want to know about and be apart of things in our mates lives but I don't think we have to know absolutely everything. Sometimes curiosity really does kill the cat.
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As in writing, I've come to the conclusion that there are no absolutes in relationships. Every member of every relationship comes to that relationship with certain expectations and if those expectations are not fully congruent, problems will result.

    That said, keeping secrets, particularly any that stem from events that occur after the relationship begins, suggests a lack of trust. My wife and I have been married for almost 38 years, and we have virtually no secrets from each other. In fact, an element of tension between my wife and my mother-in-law for many years was that my mother-in-law would tell her things and then say, "Don't tell Ed!" Of course, she always told me and we never pretended otherwise. And on those occasions when I have tried to hide things from my wife (in order not to upset her), she always found out and was always more upset than she otherwise would have been because I'd kept it from her (even knowing my reason).
     
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  19. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Well, nothing and everything at the same time. On one hand, she's experienced; on the other, she's probably easy. She could also be infected with something. She may have a higher likelihood of leaving or cheating. I know, I know: that is like an unfair assessment of women, but it's hard to shake these questions. If I were a woman, I don't think I'd want a man with many partners either, for the same reasons.

    @Garball, I think you bring up a good point in mentioning shame. I never considered that perspective, but you're right, secrets can kind of indicate you're ashamed of something. But even then, do you think the partner has a right to pressure you into talking about it? Should they feel offended if you're not ready to talk about something or would rather deal with it yourself? I get that relationships should be open, but if I'm ashamed of something, or even when I'm dealing with something, I don't always talk about it. I usually meditate or write until it passes. Would it be wrong of me to tell my hypothetical partner that I'd rather let something just be/stay buried, or that I want to work it out on my own through meditation?

    @jannert
    I agree with this. However, what constitutes important? A criminal record is important enough to share. A past relationship, if it is in the past, seems minute enough to share. I was watching a show where a woman had a child and put it up for adoption before she was with her husband, and he was mad that she didn't tell him until 16 years later. I don't see why that's upsetting. I wouldn't think that information like that (whether it's a lost child, and aborted child, a child put up for adoption) is something that needs to be presented upfront if it has no bearing on the relationship. That is unless my hypothetical partner is still dealing with it emotionally or psychologically. Even then, I don't think it's fair to pressure them into talking about something that is bothering them. Rather, I should be an open ear and open heart.

    @Wreybies I think you're proposed response it perfect. It should be Andy's choice in a case like this because it is his past. You're brother should be a comforter and a support. I feel like too many people try to personalize the experiences of their partners, and that can cause problems because everyone is still living his or her own individual life. We like to try to own things and be involved in things, and I just think there should be some boundary. As to where the line is drawn, I'm not sure, and I think every relationship would have to work that one out.

    @jazzabel, you're right, it does become difficult to have a sort of private life. I don't mean intentionally keeping secrets for the sake of keeping secrets. I mean partners respecting certain boundaries. I know some people think that wen you get married you become one complete person, but even then I think we have to recognize each other's individuality. For example, sometimes I go through phases or emotions that I'd rather meditate on than talk about. I don't think it would be fair for my partner to be offended or angry if I said, "hey, it's alright. I am dealing with something, but it's entirely personal, and I need to figure it out myself. I'll be fine, but I don't want to talk about it, at least right now." I feel like that should be respected and my partner shouldn't try to pressure me into talking or feel like I'm pushing them away.

    @Gemini_Genie We know superheroes keep their secret identity as a contrived plot device in many cases. In Some stories, I see why it's important. A woman would probably view Bruce Wayne very differently if she knew he was someone as brutal and tortured as the Batman. And it's also for the hero's sake. You can't have everyone knowing who you are. What if you go through a nasty break up. How do you ensure you're i.d. won't get out? Then all your loved ones are at risk.

    @EdFromNY Thanks for sharing! You touch on something very important to this discussion here.
    Events after the relationship has begun should be open. However, should my partner be obligated to give me a run-down every time she visits her family or goes out with a few friends? Of course, that is something we should discuss early on so we know what is open for discussion and how open we want to be. I just think that it's unfair to push people. Sure there should be nothing to hide, but if were to go out with my friend Arjun, I don't think I should have to tell my partner everything we did and talked about. I don't mean to omit information, but giving the highlights and important details should be enough. Similarly, if She were to go out with her sister, she doesn't have to come back and tell me that she happened to run into a cute guy, unless that cute guy is always there and always hitting on her.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks all for the replies!
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Trust runs both ways, I reckon. If your significant other is the kind of person who shrinks from truth, or the kind of person who is going to go bananas over small things, then you probably won't trust them enough to tell them about your past.

    I do think if you want your partner to 'reveal all,' then you have to be the kind of person who can take it, whatever it may be, without turning it into a personal drama ...or even worse, using it as a stick to beat them with during every subsequent argument.

    I don't lie to my husband, but I certainly remember keeping lots of stuff from my mother. She was very controlling, constantly over-reacted, and if I ever made a 'mistake' of any kind, I was never EVER allowed to forget it or live it down. So I just withdrew and didn't tell her much at all. I simply lied my head off whenever the occasion warranted it, and felt absolutely no remorse about doing so. It was survival, pure and simple. However, that's not the way I normally operate, so I guess I wasn't too badly scarred. It really was she who missed out on an open relationship with her daughter, though. Sad.
     
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  21. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think there is a difference between not relating unimportant occurrences and keeping something deliberately secret. And it's usually pretty easy to tell the difference. My wife is a teacher, and earlier this week they had "open school" - a half day for the children, and then parents can come in and talk to the teachers, either in the afternoon or evening. In between, my wife went out to dinner with her colleagues, all of whom I have met several times. When she got home, I asked her how dinner was. "Very nice," she said. "Nobody complained". Meaning that no one went on about problems they have in the school. I didn't ask any further.

    Sounds very much like the relationship my wife had with my mother-in-law, who was also extremely image-conscious. In fact, their relationship took a nosedive from this already not-so-great level when my daughter, who has autism, was about nine. My wife's extended family was very large, but we had gone several years without being invited to any major family events. If we'd thought about it, we'd have thought it odd, but we didn't because of the issues we had with my daughter. Well, one day my wife got a call from a cousin who was having a get-together (my mother-in-law was one of four sisters, and invitations were usually relayed through her). She was calling directly because there had been so many events we hadn't attended (we'd never heard about them), and in case we couldn't make it to this one, she wanted to see how we were doing. We went, but it gets worse. My mother-in-law had concocted stories about how my daughter was doing so well at a local parochial school (she was actually in a very good special education program in public school) and had deliberately not passed on invitations so that the family wouldn't see my daughter and how she really was. Of course, when they did see her, everyone loved her - she's very sweet and very endearing. My mother-in-law also told her sisters my wife was a teacher, but never mentioned that she taught children with autism, or that she was brilliant at it (and she is). She chose to be ashamed of the whole disability aspect, and so completely missed out on the very real accomplishments that her daughter and her granddaughter achieved. When she passed away, my wife didn't shed a single tear.
     
  22. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with saying, "I don't feel like talking about it," and no, you should never pressure your partner into talking about something they are not ready to discuss.

    I can understand the reasoning in short term relationships why you feel like you don't want to disclose your darkest secrets, but when you find the person who you want to share your life with, you want them to know everything about you (my opinion). It takes a lot of confidence and self love to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Those are two very important qualities in a long lasting relationship.
     
  23. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like keeping my secrets secret. Just another reason why I never dated, let alone married.
     
  24. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Depends what the secret is.
     
  25. MrReliable3599
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    Although she would never admit it, my wife wants me to keep secrets from her. One of the first things she did after we got married was get me involved in a kind of strange inventory of my personal stuff, old prom photographs, things like that. I got "The Look," and soon the photographic evidence of old girlfriends disappeared. It became pretty clear my past in general wasn't a topic that was going to score any points for me.

    I think it's some kind of universal cleansing ceremony, but only the girls understand what's going on.
     
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