By Erika Ettin Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) When it comes to keeping secrets, dating expert Erika Ettin says it is NOT a good idea. Ettin says, "if you're looking for a long-term, committed relationship, then you want to be with the person who appreciates your ability to communicate your feelings, not withhold them."
Tribune News Service
Someone on my mailing list, not a client, but a person, who seeks dating advice, asked me this question via email recently:
"Is it good to have some secrets in a relationship? Isn't that one of the many things that attracts a person ... a little mystery? Are there things that you should always keep to yourself?"
My response to him was short and sweet: "I would say that it is not healthy to have secrets. 'Mystery' sounds like playing games to me. If someone wants to be with you, they shouldn't only want you when you hold back."
Now, I'd like to elaborate a bit further on this point. Expressions like, "the thrill of the chase," or "playing hard to get," have made it into our lexicon, sadly, often as something positive. Here, we are talking about the early stages of dating, before you're in an established relationship. Many people believe that acting distant or not being available to make plans will make someone like them more. Their rationale is, "I don't want to make it too easy for someone;" or "I want them to work for it."
Can this strategy make you more desirable in the short term? Sure, to people who only want the chase and not the prize, if you will. It may also work with people who are more insecure because your aloofness feeds into their insecurity. Some see this uncertainty as "excitement." I see it as a game. In fact, Neil Strauss made a name for himself (and I imagine a fortune) with his book, "The Game," teaching men how to pick up women with tips and tricks, like ending a conversation early to leave her wanting more.
But, if you're looking for a long-term, committed relationship, then you want to be with the person who appreciates your ability to communicate your feelings, not withhold them.
Speaking of long-term relationships, to get to the question at hand, while I don't think it necessary to share every intimate detail of previous relationships, I would never condone hiding things simply for the sake of hiding them. That hurts both people in the couple. The thing that keeps most relationships working, or not working is communication. What do I mean by that? Sharing things, bringing things up when they're on your mind, not harboring resentment, asking for what you want, telling your partner when something is bothering you, sharing your love with your partner, and the list goes on. Every lie, or, in this case, omission, will come out. You should be the one to let it out.
Relationships are never easy. Don't make it even harder on yourself by continuing to perpetuate a false assumption that leaving someone wanting more makes you more desirable. At a certain point, this behavior gets frustrating, and makes your partner wonder why you can't let your walls down and be you ... the full, honest you. ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)