5 reasons why keeping secrets in a relationship is a bad idea

If you have been keeping a secret from your loved one, you should know about the risks of doing so

woman feeling guilt keeping secrets in relationship
Photo by RODNAE Productions

All relationships have their ups and downs. But when secrets are kept from partners or loved ones, the relationship becomes a time-bomb, waiting to explode. Keeping secrets can cause hurt, mistrust, and ultimately have huge consequences, once they come out in the open, which they almost always do.

Many kinds of secrets in relationships

Secrets in relationships can come in many forms. They could be about a financial matter, an instance of infidelity, or an addiction. The latter can prove heartbreaking for a partner, as it can be hugely destructive, whether it be gambling, alcohol, hard drugs like cocaine or heroin, when considering the extreme, or even over-the-counter drugs like painkillers, which is becoming more and more prevalent within society.

But whether it’s addiction, infidelity or any other secret you may be holding from your partner, it can have a huge impact on both of you.

To ensure that your relationship stays healthy and happy and is long-lasting, you must know the dangers of keeping secrets from your spouse or partner. Here are five reasons why you must avoid keeping secrets within your relationship.

5 reasons why keeping secrets in a relationship is a bad idea

1. Secret keepers become disconnected from their partners

Most people can easily notice that their loved one is keeping a secret from them. A change in attitude, however subtle, is inevitable when one is trying to hide something from another. There are behavioral changes that give away no matter how hard your pretend to be normal. For instance, maybe the secret-keeper is shying away from important conversations, indicating that there’s something not quite OK.

2. Mistrust could become a major issue

Trust is the foundation of all relationships and it is especially true between married couple and romantic partners. In contrast, suspicion destroys relationships. When there is an air of mistrust within two intimate people, it breeds resentment, hostility and even aggression — all these are toxic for the health of your relationship.

Honesty is an undeclared commitment of every healthy relationship and once it is compromised, doubts, anxiety and fear replace the feeling of trust and respect that you shared. Author and psychotherapist Wayne Allen says, “Secrets have a way of circling back and biting us. People get into the “I have the right to my privacy!” stuff, but here’s a suggestion: if you want secrets, keep them. Just don’t be in a relationship.” Read Be the partner you wish to have

3. Lies breed lies

People holding secrets can often see the lies they are telling spiral out of control. By keeping secrets a person is effectively deceiving their partner and in order to keep an initial secret there will often be a knock-on effect of more lies and secrets to maintain that original one. That initial secret then becomes incredibly difficult to maintain amongst a mountain of lies and when it comes out—as it almost certainly does—the compounding effect of multiple string of  lies to hide one lie is devastating.

4. Communication breaks down

Communication is a vital ingredient in any good relationship but as soon as secrets begin to be kept within a relationship, the whole dynamic changes. Holding a secret in your heart can affect even day-to-day conversations, with the secret-keeper continually thinking about what to say and do in order to keep the secret hidden. Such self-consciousness and fear can lead to a total breakdown in communication and eventually a breakup of the relationship itself.

5. Keeping secrets can cause illness

The stress that accompanies holding a secret is enough to make someone seriously ill. When you keep a secret from your loved one, it gives rise to feelings of guilt, shame and fear. If your partner suspects that you are keeping a secret from them, they too are at a risk of prolonged negative emotions that can cause illness.

Harbouring negative emotions over time can have a number of health implications such as persistent headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders, skincare problems and even heart disease. Negative emotions can compel one to turn to substance abuse such as alcohol, painkillers, codeine or drugs such as cannabis — these can all become addictions, which may then become another secret and the whole cycle continues, further distancing the individual from their partner and perhaps carrying the risk of nervous breakdown and hospitalisation.


Honesty is a prerequisite for healthy and long-lasting relationships. Yes, honesty can create friction at times, but it also strengthens the relationship. On the other hand, a secret kept from your loved one, by its very nature, is akin to lying, which erodes trust. And once you lose trust in a relationship, its eventual demise is almost certain. Besides, as we have learnt, by keeping a secret, you are also risking your mental and emotional wellbeing, and that of your loved one too. So if you are tempted to keep a secret, ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

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