10 Differences Between Keeping Your Relationship Private & Keeping It A Secret

Lots of couples prefer to keep their relationships private and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you’re doing these things, you might be taking your “privacy” to the extreme by being overly secretive about your relationship.

  1. You deliberately avoid mentioning your partner. Every story you tell is always about “I” and not “we”… even if your partner was directly involved in the event. It’s normal to want to maintain some autonomy when you’re in a relationship, but when you have to twist and turn the way you speak to make sure that you don’t give away the fact that you’re dating someone, you know exactly what you’re doing and you know that it’s wrong.
  2. You say you’re single when you’re asked about your relationship status. When someone asks if you’re seeing anyone, no one expects you to whip out a flash drive with a PowerPoint presentation of “The Entire History of Me & My One True Love.” But saying you’re single when you’re not is sketchy as hell. Whether you’re lying to keep thfe attention of the hottie at the bar or because you worry about what your friends will think, it’s still a lie and your partner probably wouldn’t approve.
  3. You’re active on social media but there’s no trace of your S.O. Not everyone puts their entire life on Facebook and Instagram, so it’s understandable that you might not want to upload selfies with #MCM every week. But if you can’t go a day without sharing your thoughts and camera roll with the world, you can’t tell me that it’s just a coincidence that your partner doesn’t even exist according to your social media profiles. Obviously, it’s different if your significant other has specifically asked you not to post about them, but generally speaking, it’s a little weird to write status updates about ingrown hairs but not your live-in boyfriend.
  4. No one in your social circle has interacted with your partner. If you’ve been dating for a year but they haven’t met your friends or family, why the hell not? Long-distance couples get a pass for this one, but for most serious couples, it’s weird when the people who are closest to you have no physical proof that your partner is a real, flesh-and-blood human being. Maybe it’s really because the circumstances just haven’t been right yet, but if you’ve been a legitimate item for more than a few months, it’s time to ask yourself why you’re hiding your partner from your loved ones.
  5. You refer to your boyfriend or girlfriend using a more platonic term. Do you introduce your romantic partner to your buddies, colleagues, and acquaintances as your “friend?” Do you switch from calling them “babe” to calling them “buddy” as soon as there are people around? If so, you’re being secretive about your relationship rather than private. If neither of you is ready to use labels yet, just introduce them by their first name; if someone asks you about your relationship to each other, you can easily say you’re dating to avoid any awkward conversations without downplaying what your partner means to you.
  6. You hide your partner’s social media activity about you. Not being a Facebook fanatic yourself is one thing, but it gets weird when you start untagging yourself from photos and status updates your partner posts. Like everything else in a relationship, communication is important here — if you don’t like any photos of you to appear on social media or your boss wouldn’t be happy with you being tagged as being in a nightclub on a Tuesday night, just tell your partner. If you don’t, it just looks like you’re trying to bury evidence that you’re together.
  7. You take your anti-PDA stance to extremes. Not wanting to stick your tongues down each other’s throats on the subway? Normal. Jerking away when your partner affectionately squeezes your hand on the subway? Not normal. Not everyone wants to be on top of each other while in public and that’s understandable. It gets sketchy when you don’t want any interaction with them that would give away the fact that your relationship is more than platonic — that’s not being private, it’s being weird.
  8. You treat your partner like a “bro” in public. Lots of couples have a “best friends” vibe as well as a romantic vibe, so it’s not ridiculous for you to playfully poke fun at each other during a game of dive bar pool or share a congratulatory fist bump when they tell you about how they nailed their presentation at work. What is ridiculous is when the only interactions you’re willing to exchange in public are the same ones you’d share with your guy friends. You know and they know that it’s just a poorly disguised attempt to make it seem like you two are just buddies, and I guarantee it makes your partner feel lousy.
  9. Your secretive ways are one-sided. Maybe you’ve both agreed that you’re not ready to let people know that you’re together yet so you’re on the same page about keeping your distance (both physically and otherwise) in public. But if you haven’t had that talk yet, or you’re going against your partner’s express wishes to make it a known thing that you’re together, they’re probably not cool with you acting like your relationship is a filthy scandal.
  10. No one’s actually sure if you’re in a relationship or not. Even people who are quiet about their love lives still make it known to their friends and family that they’re in a serious relationship. If the people closest to you ask questions that imply you’re single, either they need to pay better attention or you need to be more clear that your partner is, in fact, your partner.

Benefits of keeping your relationship private

While being secretive about your partner or your relationship strays into shady territory, exercising caution and keeping the nitty-gritty details private can actually bode well for long-term potential.

  1. There’s so much less pressure. The more other people know about your relationship, the more opinions they’re going to have about it. That’s why keeping your relationship private is such a good idea. It means that every little hiccup doesn’t automatically spell catastrophe for your family members, best friends, colleagues, etc. Instead, it’s all about the two of you, which is just how it should be.
  2. You don’t get caught up in superficial stuff. You know those couples who post each other so much on their social media accounts that they might as well just merge into one? It’s gross and obnoxious and it’s clear those couples aren’t as happy as they’d like everyone to believe. “The time spent posting on social media is time taken away from face-to-face contact with [your] partner,” clinical psychologist, Dr. Carla Marie Manly tells Bustle. “And, all too often, it’s genuine face-to-face contact that is lacking in a romantic partnership.” A private relationship is much more likely to be a happy one.
  3. You’ll be able to think more clearly. Because everyone in your lives doesn’t know much about what’s up with you and your partner other than that you’re happy, they can’t really throw in their two cents and cloud your head with their thoughts and opinions. Comments from the peanut gallery will only make you confused about your own feelings, but keeping your relationship relatively private will allow you to really think about how you feel and what you should do in a given situation. That’s the best possible scenario.
  4. You can’t compare yourselves to anyone else. Have you ever told a friend about something happening on your relationship, only for them to reply that with their partner, things are this, that, and the other way? It leaves you wondering if maybe you’re not progressing the way you should or that your relationship is somehow lacking because it’s not following the same path. That’s ridiculous! No two couples are the same and by keeping your relationship private, you’ll be more likely to remember that. “Although largely unconscious, a constant comparison works against our own mental health and the health of our relationships,” Manly says. You don’t need that kind of negative energy in your life!
Averi is a word nerd and Brazilian jiu jitsu brown belt. She's also a TEFL/TESOL-certified ESL teacher and an equine enthusiast. Originally from Pennsylvania, she lived in Costa Rica for a while before moving to Australia. In addition to her work as a writer and editor for Bolde, she also has bylines with Little Things and regularly writes for Jiu-Jitsu Times.

You can follow Averi on Instagram @bjjaveri or on Twitter under the same handle.