A Piece of Advice

I feel guilty for hiding my relationship, what can I do?

3 mins. read

Topics: Inter-racial,Inter-caste,Inter-class,Inter-Faith,Age Gap,Starting Out,Dating,Getting Serious

I’m sorry you have to hide your relationship. I imagine it wasn’t easy to ask this question; it’s one that many unconventional couples have to deal with. It’s essential to remember that every couple’s circumstance is unique to them and no one understands it better than they do. So, as you weigh these possibilities, remind yourself that there’s no intrinsically good or bad answer. Allow yourself to reflect on your unique situation and what feels best for you.

You could choose to reveal your relationship: According to relationship research, there are various potential disadvantages to keeping your relationship a secret. First, hiding a relationship is linked to feeling less self-confidence and self-respect, greater emotional distress, and lower emotional and physical wellness. Second, couples must work hard to disguise their relationship, and there are several examples of how they do this. When they’re in public, they may make it look like they’re simply friends and change how they act toward one another, such as minimising public displays of affection. They could be more careful about what they say to avoid disclosing their romantic relationship to others. There might be hassles involved in making special arrangements to see one another without being spotted, being unable to connect as often as they’d like, and having to deceive people in their lives. And third, secrecy prevents couples from finding and enjoying validation they might receive if they ended their silence, either in their community or amongst family and friends.

If you do decide to reveal your relationship, you and your partner might want to think about who you’ll tell. Research suggests that some people are open with everyone about their relationship, whereas others make distinctions between who they’ll disclose to, such as telling friends but not parents, or informing some relatives and not others.

You could choose to continue hiding your relationship: Relationship experts have also highlighted an important possible downside to being open about a relationship – couples can face painful opposition that varies in severity, from stares or social condemnation, to the loss of support or rejection from loved ones, to the risk of serious injury or the loss of their lives. Depending on the kind of social and familial responses a couple expects to confront, they may decide that, as hard as secrecy may be, it’s ultimately less distressing and hazardous than continuing to keep their relationship hidden.

If you decide to keep your relationship a secret, please know that though you may feel bad about this, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s clear from your question that you wish you could be more open and authentic, and I’m guessing that you’re likely hiding your relationship not because you want to, but because you feel you have to. The only wrong here is that you and so many other untraditional couples don’t receive what you greatly deserve: Safety, support, and the clear message that your relationship is perfectly normal, healthy and welcome. My thoughts will be with you and your partner as you navigate this decision.

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Did You Know

46% of youths fear discrimination or public shame when in an unconventional relationship.