He Said/She Said
Secrets In Relationships
By Tim Stiglitz and Winter Kelly
Sep 1, 2002 - 6:16:00 PM



Secrets? What for? Nothing is sacred with high tech carnivore software, infrared binoculars, and wiretapping. Come on, what are you hiding out there? Tell it like it is and let it all hang out!

What good is there in bottling up all of those juicy secrets? This is not a wine, to continue the metaphor, and to be sure, secrets certainly do NOT get better with age. One does not taste a secret, only to spit half of it back arrogantly in a "secret spittoon."

My stance is that most secrets are no good. Tell everything and be honest if asked. Full disclosure baby. Let me say that again D-I-S-C-L-O-S-U-R-E.

Why do people "fib" or consciously omit any memory to that first kiss with so and so, or that bit of heavy petting with X, Y, or Z, or all three for that matter? Why not tell about a secret fortune, or of a private connection, or of 'this' or 'that' swept under the "carpet." C'mon, tell it all! 'X' marks the spot baby! What is to be gained from not being straightforward and simple? Be yourself. Perhaps then, the real "you" will surface, albeit much quicker...

Why worry over what X will think or do or who X will run and tell? Who cares. I tell it like it is, and how it should be.

Let us now debate this hypothetical situation:

X has a crush on Y. Fearing it might "complicate" matters, X decides not to tell Y of her family fortune, her childhood crush on Tom Cruise and of her prior eating disorder. Should she?

Well, yes. Money will not complicate matters on these facts, since X must be certain that Y is after X, not her fortune or forthcoming inheritance. On the childhood crush, what is the problem there? We all have had a crush or two, and frankly I used to like feet (my how some things never quite change), and what does that have to do with anything? Am I ashamed? Hell no. Does it complicate things? No. It is a simple, normally adjusted, turn-on. Simple. Have I told this to anyone? Well, how many readers do we have, editors, etc.? Am I worried of negative interpretation on that? Nope. It's me. You like me, or you don't. On the eating disorder, it depends. It depends? Yes. Wait a minute there, aren't you contradicting yourself? No. Listen up. Something like that may stem from extremely private facts of abuse, neglect, obsession and what have you. Perhaps this is best kept under a confidential hat until a person of 100 percent trust can listen, interpret and be a friend. To be sure, sensitive information has no place at all in the halls of rude, insensitive motor mouths and human newspapers. Mind you, this is no contradiction. I have merely qualified my position. This is a separate, closed, highly "reserved" category, if I might be so lame as to continue the wine metaphor from before.


It is all about N.T.K Baby! Everything given on a NEED TO KNOW basis! Guys come and go and the secrets are all one has to keep in the closet. If the relationship ends abruptly because he has some fetish the two did not yet discuss and she has those bones sticking out of her feet and has not had a pedicure in God knows how long. He decides he cannot go on, and why should the secrets come out of her closet, only to taint her reputation. So, she had three abortions, was a blonde and had a crush on his best friend. Why should he know that before he knows he wants to keep her as his girlfriend and they both decide on COMMITMENT?

How much information is too much? When do we bypass the N.T.K. rule? Well, we can give more information than is really needed once we know the commitment is permanent or if we feel like risking our reputation by letting our skeletons come out of the closet. I think it has to be equal. He gives, she gives; that is how two people decide if they even like each other.

So your girlfriend stubs her big toe, it turns black and all icky. We meet for lunch to discuss our He Said / She Said column, and I happen to wear open toe shoes with my freshly manicured feet and my candy red nail polish catches your quick eye, and your girlfriend sees that! What becomes of it? She starts accusing you of going out with someone else because she is now "damaged material" and a fight ensues. When the only thing entering your mind is that we have a deadline and an article and it is easier to discuss in person than other ways. N.T.K. ALERT!!! You told her too much information and now her imagination is running wild. She spies on you and then it goes a step further. She now questions your trust.

We are all human. We have jealousy if we are around someone we really like/love. It is only natural to become competitive with any other comparative sources. If we know the inner most details of that person we like/love, then it only complicates that already innate sense of jealousy.

In my earlier day, I, too, believed that total complete honesty was the way to go, but then I graduated from high school, and I know now that it is not always the best rule.


First, I do not have a fetish and to add more, it is silver polish, not candy red. :o) Moving on, I would never be so shallow as to stoop to the depths in your hypothetical. Come on, I am not that superficial, and where did we manage to get off on highway number three? This is about secrets! What on earth are you referring to? Granted, I kind of see the point about how secrets, even when honest and fairly harmless, can be exploded into major catastrophe, but that was a bit much on your part. If I put water in the freezer for X minutes, it will freeze. People, on the other hand, are governed by many more intervening variables. I think that you have supplied us with a false equation.

What about the consequences of not being open? What if, say after nine months of dating, he or she finds out that you have HIV? Then what? Does that fall under the purview of "N.T.K.?" While it would appear that your view is that less is definitely more, I have to disagree. Full disclosure is the best policy, generally. Perhaps if you could define for me the boundaries of "N.T.K.", and whether it is objective or subjective, and how "bypass" is possible, and whether this exception is applied evenhandedly, I might see the light. But for now, sorry. It all seems like a Janus-faced sliding scale to me.

On commitment, I would definitely want to know all of that. How can you commit and make a good judgment without full and frank disclosure of material facts? It would seem to me that knowing the person, and being comfortable with all of that is the condition precedent to commitment. No? Okay, so to quote you, the best policy is for me to tell a few things, and then you an equal amount, that way it is possible for two people to decide if they even like each other. Sounds great! Glad we are on the same page here!

On competition, it is healthy, promoting sophisticated changes from the inter-personal, to global economic markets. Competition promotes durability. Oh and by the way, lastly, OSH hardware has brooms on sale this week. Perhaps you would like to buy one for your "innate jealousy" comment. How do we get from secrets to jealousy, and perhaps other negative feelings? I maintain my position, that is, disclosure, generally, is the best. Learning information way late can only cause negative things to happen, perhaps even triggering that "innate jealousy" and other terribles. This is Timmy Stiglitz, and I'm out.

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