Social Question

phoebusg's avatar

Could you lead a life with no secrets - why (it's the rationale I'm after not the yes/no)

Asked by phoebusg (5241points) November 27th, 2010

Give a rationale as to why you could or couldn’t live your life without holding back any secrets from anyone.
Definition of secret for this question; thoughts, things about yourself that you tend to keep to yourself. What you really think for example.

Secondary question(s): What do you imagine would happen if you revealed them?
Do you have experiences where revealing a secret was devastating, or examples where what you thought would happen was a huge exaggeration over what actually happened?

Much lurve for longer and complete answers :)

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68 Answers

anartist's avatar

Sometimes secrets are one’s responsibility of one to keep. Especially if one is a trusted confidante. If one makes clear that no secret will ever be kept, expect no close confidentiality.

Seaofclouds's avatar

It depends on what you consider a secret. My husband and I both do things in our jobs that we aren’t allowed to tell other people because of privacy/security issues. We aren’t even allowed to tell each other. So if you consider those types of things secret, no, I couldn’t do it. If we revealed our work secrets, we’d both be in danger of losing our jobs.

If you don’t count work related stuff, I’d still probably say no. When we first found out we were pregnant, we kept it a secret from family until we had some more information (like it not being ectopic and hearing the heartbeat). It has since been told to everyone else, but if something were wrong, I don’t know if we would have ever told our family about it.

Beyond those types of things, I don’t keep secrets unless there is a good reason too (like a friend confiding she is trying to get pregnant but she doesn’t want everyone else to know yet). That’s her secret, not mine.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I pretty much tell all (no mystery here) because I hate the idea of dissembling and I’m very bad at it. I also try to live in a way where it’s OK to be honest. I can keep someone else’s secret, but I don’t like being put in that position.
When I had my daughter I was encouraged (by my mother of all people) to lie about her conception (surgical, out of wedlock) and I was horrified by the thought of the damage that could ultimately do.
@Seaofclouds : Simply not telling because of personal or proffessional reasons is wise, I don’t think of that as “keeping secrets”.

phoebusg's avatar

@anartist use whatever hypothetical situation helps you answer the question if you want.
@Seaofclouds I added a mini definition to help with your answer – but thank you for your response.
@jill That is exactly the paradigm I follow. I respect the privacy of other people’s secrets – and ask permission or talk about some parts of the information in non-identifiable ways. Usually for sake of reference to gain insight.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@JilltheTooth I don’t consider the work stuff as keeping secrets either, but I know some spouses that do and it causes problems in their marriages.

@phoebusg I still say no, but it really depends on what you consider sharing. For example, my husband knows the things I like in the bedroom. My mother-in-law doesn’t need that information, so it will remain a secret from her. To me, personal information is a matter of who needs to know. I don’t keep anything from my husband that he needs to know. As far as what would happen if those things came out, it could change the opinion some people have of me (for better or worse depending on the people), but I’d rather not find out. It could also be potentially embarrassing.

iamthemob's avatar

Nope. I’m definitely going to keep some secrets. It it’s important or relevant, though…I’m up front.

There are just way too many things that run through most of our heads, I think, to tell them to everyone. I’m certain that no one would want to hang out with me if I tried…

janbb's avatar

Honestly? No.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I don’t feel the need to reveal all to anybody.What for?It would only serve to hurt someone.I can see no useful reason for it.There are things that will go to the grave with me.That is for sure :)

JilltheTooth's avatar

I think maybe the question here is what constitutes a secret? I don’t think that having an unexpressed thought is keeping a secret. Keeping something to myself in order to not muddy conversational waters or to not be unnecessarily hurtful is not, by my own definition, keeping a secret.

phoebusg's avatar

@JilltheTooth granted. Though I really appreciate people around me that give me somewhat unfiltered access to their thoughts. And enjoy the same from me. Though that’s not likely to happen in most occasions – unless you make the first step and encourage that.

I would say deliberate omission would be a secret. Omission for the flow of conversation is not “keeping a secret”, so long you could still open up if asked.

josie's avatar

Yes. It is alot healthier.
The more the secrets, the more the suppression.
The more the suppression the more the repression.
The more the repression the more the neurosis.
The more the neurosis, the less chance for a happy and fulfilled life.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@josie : which is why I feel free to participate on fart threads. ;-)

Cruiser's avatar

No one needs to know everything about me! There is a whole other world my brain explores that not too many people would understand or want to for that matter. ;)

phoebusg's avatar

@Cruiser you don’t know that. What makes you think people wouldn’t understand or want to as you say. What do you think will happen if you do open up. Cue the thriller music… :)

JilltheTooth's avatar

Okay, maybe not fart threads, but there’s a f*** thread going on now, I thought it would be indelicate of me to mention it. Which just negates everything I said above, as apparently I wasn’t totally forthcoming. <hangs head>

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m not sure I could lead a life with no secrets, but I would absolutely want to. It’s my personal opinion that the more open and free you are in any kind of relationship, the more rewarding and close it is in general. If I had my way, there would be no secrets.

What makes it hard, when someone feels like I do, is that you must consider the relationships you’re already in. If people you know don’t feel the same way, it’s going to be very hard to reach those ideals. It’s hard for me, even though I have obviously done it, to understand why people feel the need to lie to each other. It’s saddening.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@DrasticDreamer There’s a difference between keeping something to yourself and lying about something. Would you want to tell your parents what you like sexually, or would you rather keep that a secret? Some things just don’t need to be shared with everyone.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Seaofclouds There’s a difference between something simply not coming up (as is the case with sexual preferences in a parent/child relationship) vs. feeling the need to completely avoid the subject altogether. For that matter, I have talked with my mother about many different aspects of sex, because I’m comfortable doing so. There’s nothing awkward about it, since we’re both able to recognize that yes, while she is my mother and I am her child, we are both still individual adults, with lives outside of our relationship. That’s what I like about my relationship with my mom. She’s human too, so I can talk to her about human things. My dad is another matter entirely, for varying reasons.

Anyway, I’m not saying this is or even should be the case for every parent/child relationship, but I’m definitely glad that I can and do talk to my mom about almost everything. It’s freeing, and I’m able to respect her more as a human being, since she isn’t simply “mom” to me. She’s her own person, and I get to see that side of her when we have the talks we do.

phoebusg's avatar

I’m glad to hear you have a similar relationship with your mother @DrasticDreamer – I maintain the same thankfully with both my parents. We talk about anything regardless of our “societal position” – we’re best friends before we’re family. And you also ended it perfectly. Although I can imagine a lot of positives arising from choosing open communication. I would definitely advocate it.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I get what you are saying, but my point was that there are some things that don’t need to be shared with everyone. Perhaps that was a bad example (I have a similar relationship with my mom that you do with yours). I agree that some things just don’t come up, but if they did, would you always advocate sharing everything with everyone? I guess what I’m mainly saying is that keeping things to only those that need to know doesn’t necessarily mean you are keeping a secret. I took this question as saying everyone would be 100% open and honest to everyone they come across, and to me that’s unnecessary and I couldn’t do that.

iamthemob's avatar

My only issue with the claim that one can live “a life with no secrets” is basically the plot of “Liar, Liar.”

Keeping something to yourself doesn’t mean that you don’t feel like you can say it…just sometimes it means that you shouldn’t say it.

There’s a lot of stuff, as I said, that I shouldn’t let out…even though it’s how I honestly feel. Plus, there’s lots of times where I just don’t want to have a fight, because I know what I’m thinking isn’t a point that warrants creating an issue.

phoebusg's avatar

@Seaofclouds what I’m interested in – is a list of reasons as to why you wouldn’t do that. You come close to giving it some content. But so far you haven’t really said what you expect to happen. Only that it wouldn’t be a good idea, but not why.

And I don’t mind if you don’t. The nature of the question is establishing the rationale and thoughts behind the decision. Thank you again :)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@phoebusg I would also advocate it – especially when someone’s child is an adult. It enriches the parent/child bond beyond belief.

@Seaofclouds Yeah, I understand where you’re coming from. But at the same time, is it really needed to be dishonest with people? Who “needs to know” and what grants them the special treatment? No one really “needs” or “has the right” to know everything about someone. It’s more about not being afraid to share things with people, wanting to be honest – because you know that it should, ideally, cause no harm.

Generally that’s why people keep secrets – some kind of fear. Whether or not they’re scared of being judged, of hurting someone’s feelings, pretty much anything you can think of… Honesty scares people. And that makes me sad. If everyone was honest and willing to have open communication, there would be no need for this fear.

phoebusg's avatar

@DrasticDreamer stop it, I think I’m falling for you…

Seaofclouds's avatar

@phoebusg Okay, well let’s see.

I would only tell certain people if I had a disease or illness. Why? Because I don’t want people to look at me differently because of it. I wouldn’t want them to think something about me suddenly changed because I have a new disease or illness.

I would only discuss what I like in the bedroom with certain people because I don’t think everyone else needs to know about it. No one needs details of what goes on in my bedroom aside from me and my husband. I really doubt his mom or sisters want to hear that I think it’s hot when he does x, y, or z.

To me, my next door neighbor doesn’t need to know how much money is in my bank account. Why would they possible need that information?

Things like that are need to know to me. I suppose some would see that as keeping secrets, but I just see it as something that doesn’t need to be shared with everyone. Those are just a few examples that I can think of. If I think of more things I would only tell some people, I’ll let you know.

@DrasticDreamer I’m not saying anything about being dishonest. How is just not telling your coworker that you have herpes (for example) being dishonest. Being dishonest would be saying you don’t have it when you did, but not mentioning it because it’s none of their business isn’t being dishonest. Now, not telling someone you are sleeping with that you have herpes would be different (because you are putting them at risk). Thus, the need to know aspect.

As far as who needs to know, if it is going to have an affect on them, they need to know, plain and simple. If I asked any of you right now how much money you make a year and how much you currently have in your bank account, how many people would honestly tell? And hey, while we’re all being open and honest, if you want to pass on your account number while we’re at, go right ahead. After all, according to you guys, we shouldn’t keep it secret. ;)

Ohh, speaking of bank accounts, that’s another thing that only a limited few people need to know and that I wouldn’t share with just anyone.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Seaofclouds Ah, okay. I misread the first part of your last comment. I thought you said that you felt a need, in certain situations, to actually be dishonest. Simply not mentioning it, yes, is different altogether. But my point is, even if something like that did come up, people shouldn’t feel shamed or scared into silence – even if they do have herpes. Generally, the only reason people don’t talk about stuff like that is from fear of being judged and summed up like they amount to nothing more than their herpes. It shouldn’t be that way.

If you asked me right now how much money I make, I would have no problem telling you. The amount of money I make does not sum me up as a human being, so why should I take offense to that kind of question? I have no bank account, aside from my school account, because I have no job at the moment. I have no job, because I’m a full-time student. The amount in my bank account, and all the money to my name right now, is about $250, until I get my next loan installment and Financial Aid. That wasn’t hard at all. As for my bank account number, if I knew and trusted you, I would have no problem giving it to you. But because I don’t know you, aside from Fluther, I have no idea how trustworthy you are, so I am uncomfortable with letting you have it.

Coloma's avatar

What@Josie said.

I have never kept a life altering secret from anyone. I have had life altering secrets kept from me. lol
I have always found it easy to be honest and open.

I am pretty savvy when it comes to reading others but I would not be blatently unkind in my honesty, although I do strive for total honesty in all my affairs.

Integrity is important to me.

I have no secrets that would reveal me to be less than I genuinely present.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I agree we shouldn’t hold things back out of fear. I understand not being comfortable giving out your account number to someone you really don’t know (I wouldn’t either), but that is therefore keeping it a secret. :-) My point is just that keeping some information from some people isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t make the person dishonest or bad in any way.

phoebusg's avatar

@Seaofclouds I share my bank account details on – quite a useful site/service for accounting and budgeting. And even though I am a security freak – find no issue sharing even that “sensitive” information. I get what you’re saying. But what my response is – even if it may have small exceptions. Making a habit of keeping information to ourselves leads to a cryptic world with many ongoing misunderstandings. When we’re left to our own guesses about why people do things. We tend to vilify and add bad intentions more often than not.

My current salary is somewhere under 20K a year due to university taking most of my time. The actual bank account number is meaningless – now the account and password is a different story. Are there people that have it? Yes. But as @DrasticDreamer – it says nothing meaningful about me or my experiences as a human being. It’s just a small statistic only useful when related with many other factors in mind. It is hard enough for us ourselves to figure out why we do things – being cryptic or dishonest only adds to the problem.

anothermember's avatar

Although I keep others secrets if somebody ask me a question about me or anything I will answer truthfully there is no reason for secrets except to divide and exclude people.

Facade's avatar

I try to live that way anyways, so I don’t see how it’d be much different.

Jeruba's avatar

1. I never fail to keep a confidence if someone asks me to. (I expect to be told before the information is imparted, and not afterward, if I am being asked to keep it confidential.)

2. Some of my thoughts are private just because they are. And some are simply too ordinary and banal to inflict on anyone.

3. I like myself better when I have reserved a few little mysteries to myself than when I haven’t.

So—I do not lie or deceive or cheat, and I don’t do anything that is too dark and terrible to tell. But at the same time I have no need or desire to expose everything, and no one demands it of me, so I don’t.

I always hope others will show me the same courtesy and not require me to listen and pay attention to every damn boring little thought they have.

MissA's avatar


Our thoughts are absolutely congruent.
You expressed ‘my’ thoughts eloquently so.

phoebusg's avatar

@Jeruba I agree on some points. Although I don’t think there’s any mystery to human thought only lack of information and in some cases understanding.

So some thoughts are private due to inability to express them – as you say in an interesting manner? Who knows what is interesting and what is not. We have a meta-cognition about what another person considers interesting. This bugs me personally sometimes – when I ask a close friend or a partner to just be and share everything – naturally I don’t expect to hear only what is to be perceived well. I’d like to hear everything, to be intimate truly. Hear the bad, ugly, brilliant, genius, stupid thoughts altogether – and appreciate the person even more so – understand even more.

I think your fear may be akin to being perceived in a bad light due to openness – lack of understanding and compassion on your listener’s end.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Jeruba I usually agree with you about almost anything, but I think your last statement was a little harsh. Maybe there’s someone in the world who would want to hear all of your thoughts, because they think you’re interesting. Maybe some people are fascinated with another person’s thoughts simply because they aren’t their own. They’re getting to see what it’s like inside a head other than their own.

It’s not about requiring someone to listen to you. It’s about feeling comfortable enough to be listened to, no matter what the thought, if someone shows actual interest in listening.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@phoebusg It’s one thing to share everything with your significant other, but would you be just as open with your neighbor? (I’m genuinely curious because I don’t know anyone that thinks that way.) Relationships vary and I think the information shared in each relationship should vary as well.

phoebusg's avatar

@Seaofclouds personally – yes. I follow this paradigm in my life. That was just an example in my last post for readability’s sake. I believe in being as honest as time and circumstances allow. But also to make an effort to be understood, and share what is there to be shared. Instead of locking it away.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@phoebusg I’m not asking about honesty, just openness, there is a difference. I’m not saying anything about being dishonest with a neighbor, just wondering if you are as open with a neighbor as you are with your significant other. To me, my significant other deserves a different level of openness than my neighbor.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Jeruba -Perfect! Well said! :)))))

phoebusg's avatar

@Seaofclouds I think we’re stuck on semantics and technicalities. To me they are akin. To follow an honest life is to hide nothing. I’m fully open and honest with just about anyone. Which doesn’t make it special – nor do I want it to be special. I think it solves a lot more problems than it seemingly creates.

To keep this relatively short – because I have a lot of background thoughts and premises for it. To tell a lie seems like a quick – easier solution but that is an illusion. A lie takes so much more energy to maintain – it’s like maintaining a version of reality to go with it – and for a long time after. As per @josie input. Communicating the truth appears harder because it takes a lot more effort beforehand than after – and because often due to bad communication attempts it may not have gone through smoothly. Made your listener defensive – and broken communication. I think it’s just the technical communication challenge however, putting in work and emphasis on communicating what you think well. And that also means giving yourself enough time to know what it is you think in the first place. But even if you don’t know – I believe in sharing premises and preliminary thoughts – also in using collective thought to establish a stronger position (we are after all on fluther).

Telling the truth sets you free they say, it really does. Because once you’ve put in the mental energy required to communicate it, you have nothing to maintain. If the receiver has questions, he/she can ask and then you move on to the next part(s).

Hope that makes sense. I am getting a little tired, but let me know if it doesn’t :)

Seaofclouds's avatar

@phoebusg Once again, I’m not talking about actual lies. For example, I don’t share all my hopes, dreams, and desires with a neighbor or my boss (for example), just my spouse and close family/friends. If my neighbor asked, I wouldn’t lie, but I’m not going to go knock on their door and say, hey let me tell you my dreams in life and I probably wouldn’t go as in depth as I would with my spouse. I’m strictly talking about the amount of information we share because of the type of relationship we have with the person we are sharing that information with. I agree we shouldn’t lie and if the question was “could you lead a life with no lies”, the answer would be yes for me, but as it stands, I think secrets are a normal part of life as we share different information with different people in our life. Secrets =/= lies.

I get that you don’t differentiate who you share information with. I do. You and I are just different in that regard.

KatawaGrey's avatar

If I were to keep no secrets, I would lose some friends and possibly be cut off from members of my family. In addition, certain other people’s lives would be ruined or disrupted. I would not want to live without keeping secrets for this exact reason. For example, my mother (@JilltheTooth for those of you who don’t know) and I know things about my cousins that would kill my grandmother and possibly tear our family apart not that it’s held together by much more than threads anyway, but that’s a story for a different day. We each know things about each other that would lead my grandmother to disinherit us both.

As far as friends go, I have a number of Christian friends who do not know that I am pro-choice, bisexual, or Wiccan. I would lose them as friends if they found out, so I keep that information a secret from them.

We live in the kind of world where secrets are somewhat necessary to maintain certain patterns of life and relationships. Perhaps if people were not so judgmental or there were not so many taboos in society, secrets would become obsolete.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@KatawaGrey Thank you. You perfectly illustrate my point. People keep secrets, generally, out of fear. Which, in my opinion, cheapens relationships. “They’ll only like me if I’m this way, and not actually myself.” I’m not okay with that, and I won’t live my life that way. Granted, I understand why people do… But I want my relationships to be as meaningful as possible.

phoebusg's avatar

@KatawaGrey thank you for an excellent rationale and answer to the question as posed.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, I’m sorry to have disappointed anyone, but I did mean what I said. At least 99% of our thoughts are utterly trivial. If we just babbled our stream of consciousness, I think it would go a long way to curbing population growth because we’d feel an overpowering need to strangle one another.

I once worked with a woman who exercised no greater powers of discrimination over her chatter than a three-year-old. She could go on for an hour or more about her new garbage cans and how she had carried out the complex process of choosing a color and how they looked on her porch. An awful lot of the overheard conversation we are subjected to in waiting rooms, on buses and trolleys, in restaurants, and in other public places is of this variety. I, for one, can do without it.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t say human thought is a mystery. I said I like to keep a little mystery about myself. That’s different.

In my case it’s not about fear.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Jeruba I understand your points, but no one is talking about uttering every little thought you have, either. It’s about honest communication – when meaningful communication presents itself.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@DrasticDreamer “no one is talking about uttering every little thought you have”

Actually, that’s exactly how I feel @phoebusg means it. To me, it sounds like he is saying he will tell everyone, everything about him and what he thinks about anything and everything. That is why I tried stressing that I like sharing different things with different people depending on the relationship we have.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Seaofclouds I think he means only when he’s prompted in discussion or if the opportunity comes up. He’s not talking about walking around and babbling as you go down the street. He’s talking about communication between two people.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Even without babbling it to everyone as you go down the street, I think we should share different information with different people that we know. Communication between two people if fine, but there’s nothing wrong with not sharing every little detail all at once to someone you just met. That’s what I mean about differentiating between the relationship with have with people. I think it’s perfectly natural to tell more things to the people you are closer with.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think that a secret is information that someone deliberately withholds, whether they withhold it from only one person, from a specific group of people, or from everyone. The random thought that doesn’t come up in conversation is not a secret, nor is a piece of information that is either forgotten or that does not immediately come to someone’s mind.

I also think a distinction must be made among different kinds of secrets. Length of time a secret must be kept can determine how “severe” a secret is. Example: I know what I’m getting my mom for Christmas, but I can’t tell her. That is a short-term secret and causes no one harm. However, my mom is keeping two soon to be three, hopefully tattoos a secret from my grandmother. That is a long-term secret and the consequences could be severe if the secret is revealed.

Secrets kept out of malice, good intentions or fear @DrasticDreamer pointed out all have different meanings as well. Secrets are deeply complex and strange things.

Edit to add: I think there should also be a distinction made between a secret and something you don’t necessarily want to talk about. It’s a fine line, to be sure, but it is a line nonetheless.

sliceswiththings's avatar

I slept with Nathan two years ago. Eek, secret’s out!

Jeruba's avatar

I wasn’t speaking of babbling as we go down the street. I was speaking of inane chatter, fully realizing that one person’s inane is another’s scintillating dialogue. I have little patience with most conversational offerings and try to leave most of my own drivel unspoken. Is this a thought I ought not to have shared, do you think? kept it to myself? mysteriously?

phoebusg's avatar

@Seaofclouds, I think I mentioned something about – the individual himself knowing what they think first. If one is to lead a life devoid of secrets and in complete honesty, it’s necessary for him/her to spend just as much time on the communication. I think I’ve iterated that as well.

I’ve come across many individuals that have the honesty portion down – but the communication aspect needed work. I definitely don’t tell them to stop giving true and genuine responses, but spending some time putting them together so that another mind can actually pick up and make sense of it. Where is it coming from? Each idea in our heads is connected and entangled with its roots, without those roots or premises – it won’t make sense.

There are however situations in which a team or group is unsure about a position and can openly discuss premises. But every premise has a premise still. In any case, we’re talking about the technicality of the task becoming a hindrance. And I’ll re-state that it’s less of a hindrance than deception. And more excluding than the inclusiveness of open discussion.

@Jeruba we’re better off sharing and reflecting on each other’s work or thoughts than not. Should you choose which way is most beneficial to you – sure. That can work. However, it’s still questionable whether all you’ve deemed worthy really is, or some you haven’t could be. For someone to see where you’re coming from, and to better understand you. The last step is compassion. For different ways of thinking, speaking – but mostly it’s a question of development over time. Different people, at different stages of development changing at different speeds. I understand your lack of patience. But I prefer being faced with faulty reasoning than someone being silent while at it (if it is him that is faulty and not me). We’d never know unless we compared information—that’s all everything is.

I have a really nerdy example for the above (especially first par.). Provided you’re somewhat familiar with Unix based operating systems it’ll make sense. Otherwise disregard it. Let’s assume that unix commands were people for a moment. And you ask them to perform an action (thought), you will get responses regarding that thought – whether your syntax (communication) makes sense to the person and whether they can return meaningful output. In the case of wrong syntax, if the command did not give you appropriate feedback you’d never know what you did wrong to improve your syntax (communication). Thereby getting relevance in the information output. Now – every unix command has a full manual, and a quick reference for all the switches in the syntax. An individual with a decent level of self awareness has something similar. But how many reveal their inner workings so that others can actually have a chance at understanding them? Furthermore, unix commands have a couple of extra verbose options. -v will give you more relevant information that will likely be useful if you’re slightly more technically inclined. -vv will give you a lot more information that is not likely to make sense. So you may prefer the first syntax without verbosity, and definitely not the extra verbosity. The trick with that is, the higher the verbosity the higher the understanding. The biggest limit is time in my case, otherwise I gladly use -vv ;) Ok that’s the nerdiest I’ve gotten in a metaphor in a whiiile. Cookies if you made it this far :>

augustlan's avatar

In general, I do. While I don’t necessarily volunteer my every thought, I will answer just about any question that just about anyone has for me. The only exception to that is my children. They are still young enough that they shouldn’t know everything about me, but the older they get, the more I share. I expect that when they are adults, I won’t hold anything back from them, either. However, if someone confides in me, I will keep their secret. Don’t ask me to keep it from my husband, though. That’s not something I’m comfortable with.

thekoukoureport's avatar

In a loving relationship we all strive to be open and honest. But the last thing you ever want to see is dissapointment in our loved ones eye. Sooo what. a little white lie will save a whole lot of grief and who’s gonna know. You are, as you place your first toe on a very slippery slope.

As far as being open with my every thought…. Thats crazy…. no one would talk to me EVER again. My brain spits out more thoughts than a slot machine on jackpot.

free_fallin's avatar

I don’t know if a life without any secrets would be healthy and happy. Some of my thoughts may be cruel and telling them is selfish since they’d only hurt the person and I wouldn’t get much in return. I’ve revealed my own secrets and it has backfired. Sometimes people don’t really want to know the truth; they’ll tell you they do but, in reality, the truth is often too much for them. I could lead a life with no secrets but it wouldn’t be a happy one, in my opinion. As for the secrets of others, people divulge their secrets to me often and I always keep them as such.

Coloma's avatar

‘You’re as sick as your secrets.’ source unknown.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Jeruba “Is this a thought I ought not to have shared, do you think? kept it to myself? mysteriously?” No, not at all. It opens up dialogue and allows other people to try and understand your perspective. With open communication, even if I don’t feel the same, it allows me to further understand the way you think. Which is what my main point is, I guess. I’m not trying to say anyone here who disagrees with me is wrong, and I never would. Simply saying that I would prefer a world, not where people babble to each other about the fact that they think they’re going to fart and it will stink, or what specific underwear they’re going to wear today (though anyone can feel free to say those things around me, because it wouldn’t bother me…) but a world where people can feel comfortable enough to not feel the need to keep secrets about themselves. Not only would it be freeing for the person with the “secret”, but the potential to build trusting, strong relationships grows enormously.

If there was a machine that would allow me to enter another person’s head for a while, or the other way around, I would seize the opportunity. Not against someone’s will, obviously, but I think that would be fantastic. My curiosity to know what it’s like to be someone else has always been huge. The more we share with people, the closer we come to having an idea of what it’s like to be someone else. I understand not all people are interested to know, and that’s fine. I am, that’s all I’ve been saying all along. I also worry, all the time, about whether or not I’m being truly understood by the people I care about who I’m trying to communicate with.

Anyway, I’m not speaking of “natural” or “unnatural”, I’m speaking about my own ideals. I just don’t think that people should be uncomfortable sharing information about themselves to anyone. We’re all human, we all experience different things, we can all teach and learn from each other. Blah, blah, I’m a huge dreamer, living in a world I wish was different, blah, blah.

Jeruba's avatar

@DrasticDreamer, I’ve always loved the idea of trying on someone else’s head. That’s why I read so much fiction.

But after more than 30 years of faithful marriage, I can tell you this: whereas I truly believe it’s important to communicate readily and often, and to be honest in our communications, it is also best for our individual and collective health to keep some things to ourselves. I do not need to know when the thought crosses my husband’s mind: “Jeez, when we got married I never thought she’d look like this someday.” I do not need to voice the thought: “I hate the way he blows his nose.”

I also do not feel a compelling need for everyone to understand my perspective. I don’t want the way I think to be an open book. I’d rather let some things be unspoken and never understood. I don’t feel that I owe anyone full exposure.

3. I like myself better when I have reserved a few little mysteries to myself than when I haven’t.

As a matter of fact, I have learned over time that there is a very considerable number of things I’d better not try to explain at all, because the attempt will actually lead most people further away from an accurate picture than otherwise. Selectivity is key: I choose what to share and when and with whom.

It’s not that I’m so extraordinary—not at all. I regard myself as well within the normal range of common mortals. But my habits of expression, coming as they do from deeply rooted sources that I have no desire to extract, often obscure as much as they reveal. I make no apology for that and have no interest in rewiring my entire thought process to make it easier to be understood by people whose understanding is not essential to me.

I don’t mean to be harsh, @DrasticDreamer. Just honest.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Jeruba I understand where you’re coming from, and I do appreciate the fact that you’re laying it all out for me. I know it might seem bizarre to some people (or maybe not, even, I don’t know), but I would want to know if someone I was close to hated the way I blow my nose, or whatever else. Then I would want to know why – even if they didn’t have a specific reason. I just really wish I could know what it was like to be someone else. Curiosity kills the cat, I suppose.

”...often obscure as much as they reveal”. That much, I fully understand and relate to. Everyone probably does. Also, there are people that I couldn’t care less about knowing me, so I agree with the sentiment that for all people to understand you it is not essential. People who I’m close to, though, I would love to delve into their minds.

Honesty is what I was after, so thank you.

downtide's avatar

If I didn’t keep at least one secret (the one in which I think the departmental head at work is a jerk), then I would be unemployed. There are also a few things about my mental state that I prefer not to share, mainly because I don;t really understand it myself. So I do think at least some secrets are good to keep. On the whole though, I feel more comfortable when I’m not keeping too many secrets. Trying to remember who knows and who doesn’t confuses the hell out of me.

augustlan's avatar

I just realized that I didn’t include my rationale in my previous answer.

1) I’m a terrible liar. It shows on my face, and I learned early on not to do it.
2) As a result of #1, I’ve been honest (though not brutally so – there is always room for compassion in truthfulness) for most of my life.
3) As a result of #2, when I share things about myself, others open up to me. I’ve found that many, many times this helps the other person immensely. The biggest example I can think of at the moment: I was sexually abused throughout my childhood, and I’m completely comfortable with discussing it. Doing so has led more people than you can imagine to share similar stories with me… stories they had never told anyone. It’s a huge weight off their shoulders to know they’re not alone and to get it out in the open. It often times leads people to get help.
4) People know each other better, which could lead to more compassion. In a very big picture kind of way, I’d like to see that ‘knowing’ spread. I feel like the more that happens in the world, the harder it is to see others as a threat, and the more likely it is to see that people are just… people. Just like ourselves. It’s much harder to go to war against people when you know them.

phoebusg's avatar

@augustlan thank you a ton for completing your answer with such detail.

1 – So can’t get away with it, less likely to think lying may be a shortcut.
2 – I tend to think being honest is itself compassion, so long you also communicate it respectfully and when the person (is paying attention, non-defensive etc) through language that promotes respect, non-aggression etc. A lot of the examples I hear people call upon when they want to prove honesty as unsuccessful pay not attention to this. There’s a huge different between “I don’t like you, asshole” and “I don’t like you ever since you did X, maybe because of Y” – which already brings you into a mode of understanding. Even if you can’t resolve the issue, both parties have exchanged information. The opposite I can think of – people putting aside an individual for reasons they will not share with him/her – isolating the person. Which usually leads to torment, the less you know, the more you have to guess – and given the negative propensity, the more one will torture themselves with negative thought.
3 – I share the experience. And I repressed it for most of my life, for a good part unknowingly even. I have the exact same experience – with helping others come to terms with their past, and liberating themselves from that living nightmare. I did think some pretty strong irrational and emotional fears that could be verbalized as “my life would be over if everyone knew I was abused”. Turned out to be much more therapeutic, helped me get on with my life and accept myself, and love myself that I was previously unable to.
4 – Exactly, something well shown – or can be risen from the project 6 billion others. Seeing those interviews of people from every culture – answer on themes and topics that touch us all. Honesty reveals both differences, but also huge similarities – and I think increases the level of our empathy. But it can go wrong, and there are ways to make a smoother transition.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes, that’s the kind of life I lead now – there are at least two people in the world who know all my secrets, so to speak and though I am very careful about what information to reveal and to whom, I don’t keep anything to myself if I was asked by my love or best friend. This kind of philosophy is the foundation of how I relate to my husband in an open marriage. And it doesn’t trouble me at all.

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