If you’ve been a perennial hoarder of secrets in your relationship, it will feel like an ominous challenge to break the protective veneer that has made you feel safe and less vulnerable. Suddenly becoming transparent overnight will feel jarring to you and your partner, so don’t be impulsive when revealing a significant secret to your partner.
Be straightforward, but kind and compassionate. Carefully evaluate the circumstances, such as the timing, location, mood, and mental and emotional state of your partner. If the information is something that might create distress between the two of you (such as infidelity or bankruptcy), you may want to consider having a third party present, such as a couple’s counselor or therapist (or an accountant or lawyer to go over financial options).
However, even though at the front end exposing a secret may seem daunting, even terrifying, the relief people feel in the end has positive effects for the individual and the couple. The research by Slepian, Halevy, and Galinsky demonstrated that those who unburden a secret feel happier, more authentic, and closer.
Exercising transparency, honesty, and forgiveness are essential for sustaining your personal well-being and the health of your relationship. Even if your partner can’t bring themselves to love you through deceit, “owning” your truth will set you free and on a personal path toward better physical and mental health—and not just in your relationship. Hopefully, it will encourage you to be more truthful in your future relationships with loved ones and family as well.