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Distinguishing Between Privacy and Secrecy in Romantic Relationships

By Carly Sackellares, MSW

Imagine this: you've just begun a new relationship, and it's like a fairytale. Your partner is kind and understanding—they feel safe. Then somehow, it seems the safer you feel, the more annoyed you feel. Your inner-child may be saying, "Finally! I can do anything, I can unleash my crankiest self, and this person won't leave me because they love me."

Carl Jung first introduced the idea of humans having a shadow—a secret dark side of ourselves. Chapter 2: Fanning Your Fantasies Inspired by Potential Partners’ Profiles in Naked Online describes it this way:

Jung believed that socializing ourselves requires keeping certain aspects of ourselves in a metaphorical shadow. Learning to refrain from swatting someone when we're angry sends villainous parts of ourselves into our shadow, which is good because we can't go around swatting each other all the time and survive as a society-herd-pack-pod. We are social beings, and belonging is important to us.

We may shut down our cranky inner-child moves. Then when we feel safe, those moves begin to awaken and we feel confused.

For a long time, therapists have known that romantic dances trigger unfinished infant/parent dances. When we learn to shut down parts of ourselves in our family system, it may feel important to keep these parts secret. Fast forward to your incredible, loving, and safe romantic partner. No wonder you may begin to feel the urge to temper tantrum!

When we feel safe in a romantic relationship, perhaps for the first time, the idea of “hiding” our cranky baby may feel frustrating. The inner-child may think, “I don’t want to keep those parts secret! I want my partner to know ALL of me!”.

I offer this quote from Dee Wagner:

Chi for Two® partner practices help us sense the important difference between privacy and secrecy.

The key is in finding ways of healthy self-expression. Healthy self-expression can be private and not secret.

When you do the Mindful Online Dating Workshop, you have peers to share the journey with. The perfect place for temper tantrums is within the therapeutic relationship. Join a workshop, sign up for a session. Reach out, I’m here. You can reach me at or (678) 242-9519.

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