Exploring Secret Relationships

Let me begin this article by saying that I’m an open book—always have been and always will be. There’s absolutely nothing I avoid discussions about. Most people are not able to say they are an open book. You may say, “You’re right and I don’t want to be one either.” I’m just making this point up front, however. I think that it may be my unfiltered candor that may be my greatest strength and greatest flaw in this article. People’s strengths and flaws allow us to learn so much from them.

In only the most extreme cases can I see the necessity of maintaining a secret relationship. By secret relationship, I mean hiding a relationship you are in that you are building something meaningful in and/or desire to continue to build something meaningful in the relationship. Moreover, by secret relationship, I mean those relationships where a person refers to another person in intentionally ambiguous terms to keep the person’s identity veiled, but still keeps alluding to that person with such fondness. To go even further, by secret relationship, I mean any relationship where one is not publically transparent about the individual he or she is in a relationship with. Sometimes these secret relationships are nothing more than “invisible relationships,” that is, non-existent relationships.

Many people who maintain secret relationships will publically share with us a significant amount of personal information, but will not share with us at least the simple identity of the person who they are in a relationship with. Therefore, for these people to try to claim that the reason why they are not public about the relationship they are in is due to a desire to protect the privacy of the relationship, I would have to contend that their position is quite contradictory.

It seems to me if you have a strong fondness for a person and/or want to develop something even more substantive with a person, you would naturally divulge the identity of the person you are in a relationship with. If the person is making you feel this good, then why is his or her name left undisclosed? I’m not saying that a relationship is not valid that is not publically promulgated, but what I’m saying (or at least trying to understand) is why is there a need to keep the name of the person you are in a relationship undisclosed when you are so public when it comes to alluding to this person?

What are you hiding?

Although I recognize some of the strengths of a relationship that is kept tremendously private without people ever knowing the folk are in a relationship, I would like to express that there are some weaknesses to these secret relationships. When you don’t identify the person you are in a relationship with, even before you consider yourself in a relationship with the person, you run the risk of not learning things about the person you need to know that he or she will not tell you.

Personally, I know people who are in secret relationships and it’s resulting in them not learning things about the people they are in a relationship with that would cause them to no longer desire to be in a relationship with those people. Sometimes your secret relationships are not so secretive. However, because people will respect your desire to keep your relationship a “secret,” they will pretend that they don’t know you who you are in a relationship with. By pretending like they don’t know who you are in a relationship with, they feel like they have to withhold vital information from you. One guy I know who’s in a secret relationship is involved with a girl who tried to holla’ at his very close friend and has had sex with another one of his good friends and still is having sex with her because the good friend does not know a relationship exists. From my experience and vantage point, being secretive and silent does not prove beneficial inevitably.

By having a secret relationship, you prevent yourself from receiving some much needed relationship advice. You won’t receive any relationship advice because no one knows about your relationship or does not know who you are in a relationship with.

Furthermore, being in a secret relationship can be tremendously dangerous. If people don’t know you are in a relationship with a person, then they never know about you possibly being in danger by this person. They don’t know what the person looks like, and don’t know that you may be spending time with this person in a private place that’s totally isolated from everyone who knows you. This is a perfect storm for disaster to evolve.

What are reasons why secret relationships continue to persist? What do you consider to be extreme cases in our contemporary period where secret relationships are necessary? Do you think that it’s necessary for a person to reveal who he or she is in a relationship with?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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20 comments

  1. When I first start dating someone, I’m not too open about it. I like to keep the amount of people who know down to a minimal. I think the more people that know, the more people will be in your business. For me, it’s all about a level of comfort. I don’t need everyone keep tabs. I would never want to live my relationship on the “down-low” but I would like to keep my business to myself for a while. I’ve found that this works better for me. I’m just a mysterious person in general. The less you know…

    1. Yeah, I’m all for keeping relationship matters private for the most part, but I do think that there comes a point when one needs to reveal the person’s identity. It should not take forever to reveal the identity of the person. Thanks for reading and your response.

  2. Yeah I’m with Drew. No sense in letting everyone know what the deal is until they need to know. Most of my relationships don’t make it past infancy, no matter how great the start.

    I’m always in a mini spotlight anyway. I don’t feel the need to increase its magnitude at all. This one goes in the category, “to each, his own”. In my opinion.

    Thanks for the shout out in your last comment.

    Get ready. I’m going to be looking for a guest post from you soon.

    SM

    1. Yeah, it’s important to wait until the right time to reveal a relationship. I do agree with that. True, people do have to sort relationship matters out in a way that works best for them. I will be honored to write a guest post for your great site any time. Thanks for reading and your response.

  3. Greetings Maurice,

    I would HATE to be in a relationship with you. Our business especially at the very beginning is ours to know, and your friends to guess. My name should only be revealed upon meeting your friends, otherwise your reference of me should use my moniker African Mami or Ms.Mufasa

    Mystery to me is both intriguing and sexy. Remaining tight lipped does not mean you are hiding something, more like telling whoever to mind their own.

    Open books are just plain boring the way I see it. There is no need to purchase the novel as the content in the pages is out in the open.

    To answer your questions:

    What are reasons why secret relationships continue to persist?
    The need for privacy and everybody needs to really mind their damn business is at an all time high.

    What do you consider to be extreme cases in our contemporary period where secret relationships are necessary?
    If my name was Beyonce, thank you Jesus it ain’t and everybody and their ancestors, was in my business I would have checked into rehab. There is an actual need to remain sane when you are a public figure.

    Do you think that it’s necessary for a person to reveal who he or she is in a relationship with?
    Again, if your name is not African Mami and insert whoever I’m whispering sweet nothings to at night,(sweet nothings don’t have the same effect during the day) then you have absolutely no business knowing my relationship. Not even my parents have that privilege.

    *Pumps fist in the air like Snooki to let you know, I’m a proud closed book with nothing to hide other than love.”

    1. LOL! I love your responses. I seriously mean that I love your responses. Let me tell you why I always appreciate your responses. You give your honest opinion about each article and don’t come just to give me an automatic cyber high five, although you will tell me when you agree with me and when you like something. After reading your responses, I have to say that I now agree with you on this issue.

      I do, however, have to say that I still believe that at some point–maybe not early on in the relationship as my article states, but I do believe that at some point identities should be revealed, and the identities can be revealed to close friends and family members not to everyone in the world. I just have a hard time understanding how people carry on secret relationships for long periods of time and never announce that they are in a relationship to anyone. After never revealing who you’re in a relationship after a long time has past, I have to question what’s the point of the relationship.

      Thanks for reading and your response. I thoroughly enjoyed your response!

      1. Maurice,

        How can you agree with me on this issue, and then go on and have a whole HOWEVERed paragraph. You are contradicating (yet to be included in the Oxford dictionary) my mind. Let me address your however part. You do say that your site should stimulate discourse, so here goes! (I could be making this up or you do actually write with that intent in mind)

        “After never revealing who you’re in a relationship after a long time has past, I have to question what’s the point of the relationship.

        Hypothetical Relationship Between Closed and Open Books
        When Ms. Mufasa aka African Mami is booed up with say, Maurice an open book, it should be understood that we are getting into a relationship with each other NOT with others. For you to question the POINT of the relationship as if revealing our status to your people was the reason we got together and not because we liked or were attracted to each other is absolutely ABSURD to me.

        Your revelations are mind blogging as is the Book of Revelation to me. Because it SEEMS as if you are keen on doing a compare and contrast dissertative analysis on Ms. Mufasa. You weigh your options and make relationship decisions based on the similarities of what you heard from YOUR peeps and what she actually tells you. Or it could be that you suffer from a dire case of TRUSTiisaizis. (yet to be added in the Oxford dictionary)

        So I guess in that case, Ms. Mufasa will be forced to break up with Maurice to keep her sanity, and be well on her way to find someone more on her level of privacy.

        PS: We could make this into a BLACK Cinderalla fairytale movie ya know, minus the poverty. You chase Ms. Mufasa to the ends of this earth, with twists and turns on the way…..continue the story!

        1. LOL! You do bring up a great point about the two people being in a relationship together and not with everyone else. Here’s my question, though: Will never revealing that you are in a relationship with a specific person with a real name make the relationship less pleasing and meaningful? Yes, I did write that I love to stimulate discourse. Lol!

  4. Will never revealing that you are in a relationship with a specific person with a real name make the relationship less pleasing and meaningful?

    Personally, no!

    Pleasure and meaning from the relationship is derived from a deeper and greater source of connecting with EACH other. I’m not saying that you should not mention my name when we are officially a couple, all I am saying is let nature take its course, stop trying to rush things by seeking what I would deem to be unnecessary revelations.

    1. Very good responses. See now, I’ve learned some things. It’s so good to discuss with different people because they can expose you to understandings about things that you may never have considered, and could cause your mind to be changed. Very good!

      1. And the Oscar goes to African Mami!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        *Takes a well-deserved bow, and exits the post*

  5. Dating you seems tiresome. Only time people should know who I’m/you’re dating is after 4 to 6 months. Why would you reveal the person you are dating only to suffer shame and constant question if the relationship goes awry? Wait! As I read your post again and all your responses to everyone’s comment it seems as if you don’t believe your own stance. so the real question is…

    Which once of your current friends relationship are you feeling salty on?

    or

    What girl forbid you from telling your friends about her?

    1. Lol! It’s a rewarding tiresome, though. Lol! In all of my relationships, everyone wanted to continue the relationship but I did not and I ended all of the relationships. They all said that they were thoroughly pleased in every way. I just was not. What the individuals who commented on this post caused me to understand is the value of not being so public about identifying who I’m in a relationship with so early on in the relationship. It never struck me as a flaw until I seriously contemplated the responses of the respondents to this post.

      What I learned from the respondents was it’s not about hiding anything or anyone, it’s about cherishing the privacy of the relationship so that it can grow effectively, and then the appropriate time will come when one can disclose the identity of the relationship. I like your 4 to 6 months time frame–it seems to be the appropriate time frame. It was just my general interest in being transparent that was my dominant flaw on this issue. Thank you for reading and your response.

    1. I usually do. With the busy last days of school, I just don’t have time to post two quality consecutive posts. As my post, “Tips for Improved Blog Writing,” explains, I don’t believe people should rush out and publish pieces that have not been carefully prepared because they don’t fit within their work and school schedules. On May 14th, I will be finished with school for the semester, so I plan to post nearly everyday after May 14th during the remainder of the Spring and Summer. I appreciate your comment and your desire to see more posts. Thank you!

  6. I am a cat who definitely likes to keep my love affairs on the low. The only way I would be truly public about my movements is if I was or thinking about marrying the woman. I guess call it the playa in me or just the cautious part of me…lol

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