Oprah and Stedman. Beyonce' and Jay Z. Taraji P. Henson and Kelvin Hayden. Kerry Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha. Rihanna and Hassan Jameel. The late Nipsey Hussle and Lauren London. Off top, they are some of the celebrity couples who choose to keep their relationship intensely private.
I don't blame 'em either because in the day and age of social media, smartphones with cameras and folks who seem to feel entitled to everyone's business, if you truly want your relationship to go the distance—and to remain healthy and strong while doing so—keeping certain things quiet, under the radar or even confidential, can be one of the smartest things that you could ever do.
Still, there is a bit of a fine line between being private about your love life and keeping it a secret.
A secret typically implies sneaking around, being cryptic and/or taking a bit of the cloak-and-dagger approach to what the two of you have going on. If your relationship falls more into the Column B category, there are some pros and cons that come with taking that sort of approach. If you've never considered that secret relationships can be both good as well as bad, take a moment to check out why it's always a good idea to consider both sides of the coin.
PRO: It Gives You the Chance to Solidify Your Relationship
We all know what they say about opinions (everyone has one and they are just like a—holes; sometimes literally). Well, if there's ever a time when there seems to be absolutely no shortage of them, it's when folks catch on to a new relationship that exists. If you put it on social media, that gives the opportunity for exes, trolls and pure haters to put their two cents in. Even if it's not online, you've got friends and family members, on both sides, who typically choose to weigh in with their thoughts and perspectives (whether you like it or not).
That's why I definitely think that a benefit that comes with keeping your relationship on the low is you don't have to listen to incessant chatter from other individuals. You can take the time that you need to pay attention to what the two of you think, want and feel—and build from there.
Not to say that outside influences shouldn't be factored in to a certain degree (sometimes others can see what you can't or refuse to look at). But since your relationship is a secret, you can control who, how and when you let others in. That is a good thing.
CON: It Can Put Unforeseen Pressure on It as Well
Stephanie Mills once sang about not being able to go on being someone's secret lady. In another tune, Luther Vandross once asked why he couldn't tell anyone about his relationship. Xscape ("My Little Secret") and TLC ("Creep") also sang about messing around on the low. Something that all of these jams have in common is the importance of assessing motive. If you're in a secret relationship, is it really as innocent as wanting to give your situation time to grow and develop? Or is it something a bit shadier like one or both of you are married or in a long-term relationship?
Or, could it be that you are actually fine with things being out in the open, but he isn't? If this is the case, even if he isn't seeing anyone else—hiding around, not going out much or never meeting his world can start to take a toll on your self-esteem. It can have you feeling like, if he is as into you as he claims, why doesn't he want to show you off? Why isn't he forthcoming about what he has with you?
Yep. That is one of the challenges that comes with agreeing to not telling anyone about your relationship. It can start to eat away at you and put tension and strain on what y'all have going on. Sooner or later, something will have to give.
PRO: No One Will Know About Your “Downs”
Despite what Instagram and the hashtag #relationshipgoals may show you, every relationship has its fair share of trials and tribulations. The thing about social media is you are able to control who knows and sees what—and how much.
Over here, nothing irks me more than passive aggressive shots that some couples take on their social media accounts, whenever they are going through it (because they do have each other's phone numbers, right?). And so, if there is a real plus that comes with no one knowing about your relationship, it's that they will not be aware of your problems or issues. The two of you can quietly and privately resolve them together without anyone criticizing or butting in.
Although it is critical that I say this is only a perk if, what you are going through is normal day-to-day stuff, and not abuse. If you are being mistreated, in any way, your relationship is not a secret. Sistah-friend, you are being isolated. It's time to let someone know exactly what is going on. Soon, please.
CON: On the Other Hand, They Won’t Know About Your “Ups” Either
How do you feel when a friend of yours announces her engagement on Facebook? What about when you're invited to a surprise birthday party that another friend's man is throwing for her? How about when a couple that you know posts an anniversary pic on their IG? Whenever I experience these types of things, it's a reminder that good times are meant to be acknowledged and celebrated. Yet, you rob those who care about you of the opportunity to share in your joy if no one knows that your relationship even exists.
If you are naturally private or introverted, this point might not matter to you—at least, not immediately. But there will come a time when, as your girls are braggin' about how good the love they have is, because all you can do is nod and grin, you'll start to feel a little resentful that you can't say the same.
PRO: Secrets Can Be Seductive
Meeting up in undisclosed locations, being intimate with someone no one else knows about, sharing something with another person that is only between the two of you—there's something very seductive about all of that.
It's attractive. It's enticing. It's erotic. I get it. More than I get it, I've been there.
On this side of seductive, there is also something that's very "grown woman" about knowing that you don't need others to be aware of your relationship in order to enjoy it; that it's not about wanting to go public, just so you can feel some sort of validation of your worth (due to being with someone). And, there is also something sexy about not feeling like you have to share every detail of what is happening, whether it's inside or outside of the bedroom; that so long as you and "yours" are pleased, that's all the affirming or approval that you truly need.
CON: Again, Secrets Can Be Seductive
As a marriage life coach, I've certainly seen my fair share of affairs. Three common reasons that come up is a lack of consistent sex in their relationship with their spouse, someone feeling as if their partner takes them for granted and/or sheer boredom. If you've never cheated, all of these reasons might lean on the side of semi-ridiculous to you, but let me put it to you this way—the Lifetime channel would probably not exist if people weren't pulled into the lust, intensity and even drama of a lot of their movies. Same thing goes for illicit relationships; they tap into all of these feelings as well.
But if there's one more "con" to consider if you are currently keeping your relationship a secret, it's the fact that it can make it that much easier for him or you to keep another relationship a secret as well. Just think about it—you've already mastered how to limit information, sneak around and put on a poker face. Sometimes the seductiveness of secrets can make it tempting to start something up with someone else. And hey, who would know since you already know how to keep things on the low?
This point right here takes us all the way back to motive. If your relationship is a secret because you are protecting its value, that's one thing. But if it's a secret because you're doing some stuff that you know you ain't got no business doing, well, all I can say is if you sow a secret relationship, you'll probably eventually reap one. Only this time, it'll be the kind you didn't want—your man being in a secret relationship with somebody else.
Secrets aren't bad if your reasons are good. And by "good", I mean right and healthy. Choose wisely, y'all.
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