Candor

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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The Politics of Silence: Defending the Extremely Outspoken Among Us

Most Christians passionately believe “if you be still God will fight your battle.” Of course, this belief emerges from Exodus 14:14. I’m a Christian and I believe in this scripture too. I don’t, however, think that this scripture means that one cannot offer his or her opinions on everything at any moment. For me, the scripture does not have anything to with being silent, but has everything to do with trusting in God to solve those matters that are beyond one’s ability to solve on his or her own. My life is an open book.

I never hesitate to express my viewpoints on anything—no matter where I’m situated. I’m never fearful about sharing anything with anybody in any place about myself, except for information that may be a personal or family security risk. I’m not going to share my Social Security number and my mother’s Social Security number with you in this piece. I know you were just waiting for me to give out those numbers.

We’re all unique human beings. I’m a person who elects not to be silent on anything. People who have something to say about everything in any place should not be viewed in any more negative light than people who choose to be silent all the time, most of the time, or some of the time. What’s so virtuous about keeping your mouth closed? Of course, people are going to present all types of hypotheticals and real-life cases where speaking out caused people great harm and even death. My dominant response to those hypotheticals and real-life cases is you have to speak up for yourself—even if it costs you everything.

Lovers of truth are not afraid of the consequences of truthful expressions. Using your voice is one of the strongest ways to stand up for yourself and to articulate who you really are.

While it may sound all cute and sophisticated to say that silence can speak volumes, silence does not say anything in reality. Silence is silence. Silence communicates silence. What are you saying when you keep your mouth closed? Nothing!

I know I’m in the minority on this issue, but I have to stay true to who I am. I’m a person who will not hold back anything.

It’s my desire for a space in the American and global imagination to be engendered where extremely outspoken people like me are viewed as no more flawed than those who elect to employ silence at some level. I really would like to know what makes “quiet people” more virtuous than those of us who are extremely outspoken? Those “quiet people’s” silence could be the very reason why they may be getting pressed so small. While you sit there and say nothing (and perhaps even nod your head and smile) you could be taking unnecessary attacks that could be circumvented by simply speaking out—open your closed mouth!

To my fellow Christians, faith without works is dead!

I contend that this politics of silence is a way to rein in those of us who are extremely outspoken. I believe this is a massive attempt to make people like me more docile.

Now, when there are times when you just don’t want to speak, that’s personally fine with me. It’s fine with me because you are not doing it to give honor to the politics of silence—you’re doing it because you simply don’t want to say anything right then. You’re not trying to pretend that your silence is communicating anything other than you just don’t want to say anything.

I just don’t want people trying to think that a general proclivity to exercising silence and/or to being perceived as a “quiet person” is a powerful virtue.

I’m a tremendously successful person and my outspokenness has gained me an overwhelming amount more than it has cost me. In fact, the things that my outspokenness has cost me are not even things that are important.

Again, as I’ve previously stated, I know that the views expressed in this piece will not only be in the minority in America but also across the globe. These thoughts emerge from various people, including my parents, often telling me that I need to learn to keep my mouth closed. During the times that I did keep my mouth closed, I was steamrolled and lost things that I could have had if I would have said what I had to say. Many of my enemies could have already been defeated if I would have spoken instead of exercising silence. Certain people would not have been able to get away with things if I would have spoken instead of being silent. Many people would not have misunderstandings about me if I would have elected to speak instead of being silent.

Yes, I’ve tried employing silence often but it has never worked out too well for me. I’ll continue being extremely outspoken because I’ve experienced great success and happiness this way.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison