Can You Keep a Secret?

January 19, 2014

When someone asks you if you can keep a secret, it’s such a slippery slope that you’re better off saying that you can’t. The ego might prompt you to say that you can, but you’re human and there is always the possibility that you won’t remember where you heard the story or that it was supposed to be a secret.

The memory is not infallible; you could more easily forget something that was told to you about someone else than if the situation happened to you. This is especially true if some time has elapsed and you have had a lot going on in your life.

You might expect your privacy to be invaded by gossips but you don’t expect it from close relationships. And that’s where you run into trouble. You’re talking to someone who mentions something she has heard and something clicks inside your head as this is old information. Most people respond in the moment; they don’t stand there thinking about where they heard the story so they might reveal information that was told to them in confidence.

Some rumors are so rampant that they can’t be traced back to the person who started them but other rumors can be traced back to the source. When this happens, there is such a feeling of betrayal that you can usually kiss your relationship goodbye. It’s a painful learning experience and some people never learn from it.

If you are in a profession that depends on confidentiality, you have probably trained yourself to keep silent about everything, no matter if it’s about a client or someone you’ve never met. If you share personal details about your clients, you could find yourself without a business and a ruined reputation.

It’s a delicate balancing act. How much do you reveal and how much do you know not to discuss? On the one hand, if you keep silent about the lives of your clients, you can stay in business. On the other hand, if you don’t share personal information with your partner, it can adversely affect intimacy.

There is no easy solution to this dilemma but you could set up ground rules with your partner that you’ll be forthcoming about almost everything in your life but anything about your clients is off the table and can’t be discussed.

Not a perfect solution, but a viable one.

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4 Responses to “Can You Keep a Secret?”

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    • Connie H. Deutsch says:

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