“To tell or not to tell. That is the question.”

Secrecy is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups who do not have the “need to know.”

What is kept hidden is recognized as the secret.

(But a person with a secret may want or need to tell it to another not affected by secrecy.)

“Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”?

The discussion of secrecy can often be controversial, depending on the content or nature of the secret, the group or person keeping the secret, and the reason behind the need for secrecy.

Persons often attempt to consciously conceal from others their own selves or acts or transgressions because of shame or guilt, or from fear (perhaps of violence), or from being rejected by another.

Secrets may be intimate to a single person, or sometimes part of an issue within a family, the “family secret.” (See Vital Lies, Simple Truths by Daniel Goleman.)

Disclosure of personal secrets has its pitfalls. Yet keeping a secret may be healthy and advantageous to one’s psychological self.

At the same time, secrecy can be a major source of human conflict, involving lying in order to not reveal. This can also lead to a number of psychological repercussions.

Sophocles: “Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all.”

Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, once said “Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

Scripture: “…and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num. 32:23)

Yet if it’s a one-time transgression, perhaps it might be worth keeping that secret. Some therapists, however, might say honesty is important if there is to be healing in a relationship. Nevertheless, sometimes there really is more damage caused by a telling.

And the answer to the original question? One must weigh the consequences, both to self and to someone else. Will either be better off?



  1. When deciding whether to keep a secret my criteria is whether or not one will create harm.

  2. The Gautama Siddhartha quote you referenced is one of my favorite quotes of all time. I, personally, believe that keeping small secrets prove more beneficiary than telling every minute thing to your partner. However, I believe in society that we deserve to know the truth and not have secrets kept from us by the government. These ideas I have may be a bit hypocritical and I often find myself believing more than one idea simultaneously. I’ve read that this is the early stages of madness… Or maybe it’s open-mindedness and not drawing distinct lines but blurred ones. Great article, though. I like your writing style and am going to enjoy reading more from you and learning from fellow bloggers. It’s the beginning of a new journey for me!

  3. If I had cheated on my ex, and it was a one-time thing, and I was willing to figure out the work necessary to restore the relationship, I probably would have kept it a secret. Telling her would have done more damage (in my opinion.)

    Good post.

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