You say your kids’ artwork is the best, to encourage them; you compliment friends when they ask you how they are looking at a party; you make up excuses for declining a boring invite; sometimes you fake it in bed … One lies consciously, not out of malice, but sometimes out of politeness or to avoid hurting people unnecessarily.
Secrets, on the other hand, are certain aspects of your life or a significant thing you want to conceal from your partner. Since life isn’t black and white, it’s fair to say that concealing some elements of your past, like your sexual history, a family secret concerning a parent or sibling, or a piece of distant history which is never in danger of coming out, may not amount to a betrayal. Bygones after all are better off left that way.
But the argument is: Being secretive in your present life is not really wrong vs your partner deserves to know what is up with you.
So, where can we push the boundaries and what is considered unforgivable?
Here are some opinions:
Being deceitful is wrong
All lies are based on secrets, something you choose not to divulge. Now, there are two kinds of lies a white lie and an outright one.
White lies are told in the best interests of the person (though not necessarily the best way forward) — for example, telling your child Gabbar will come if he/she doesn’t eat their food. An outright lie is told with the intent to deceive. If your partner is the one you’re lying to, the lack of trust and ability to communicate honestly indicates a fundamental block which needs correction.
Sometimes the background of relationships doesn’t encourage complete confidence. In an arranged marriage scenario, the girl may want to tell her husband she is not a virgin but may refrain from doing so because of the dynamics or circumstances of the relationship.
But if you are being deceitful within the relationship, your personality, ethics and courage need to be questioned as well as the level of your respect for your partner’s right to know and act accordingly.
— Pooja Bedi, an actor & wellness entrepreneur
It’s about boundaries
A balance and boundaries are important. Sometimes a lie can save you from collateral damage or save your relationship. The human mindset is such that we only think of a lie in a negative context. It doesn’t have to be.
Coming to secrets, I would say ‘secret’ is the wrong word. It’s about boundaries. There are certain things that you don’t want to disclose, and that’s fine. Unnecessary importance can be given to things that don’t matter.
— GeetArsh Kaur, founder The Skill School, Communication/Image/Etiquette Coach
It’s a grey area
As a relationship coach, what I can say with experience is that, in functional relationships there is nothing like “an absolute lie” or complete “sharing of secret”. A whole lot of grey areas exist. People don’t want to “deceive” their partner, but they hide certain information and justify it by saying either the other person won’t understand (eg. how many people you dated in the past) or that it’s irrelevant now.
Nothing is absolute, in most relationships couples may claim to be open books to each other, but they only reveal up to 70 per cent when it comes to sharing everything about themselves.
— Altaf Shaikh, relationship coach