When it comes to our closest relationships, most of us like to believe we know everything about the ones we love. Unfortunately, people are often very good at hiding things when they want to, and occasionally the nagging feeling that you are being left in the dark will linger. When you suspect someone you care about may be keeping secrets, how you react can determine whether or not you ever find out the truth.
Look for signs to back up your suspicions. Pay attention to stories that seem as though they have too many details or that contain a lot of pauses. These can be indicators that something is being concealed, according to Janine Driver, president of The Body Language Institute and author of “You Say More Than You Think.” The more obvious the signs, the more likely your suspicions are correct.
Examine what you know and attempt to determine on your own what you might be missing. Consider whether or not the secrets being hidden are directly related to you, or if they are simply matters the one you love might prefer to keep private. Remember that sometimes people need to keep things discreet until they work out certain issues for themselves. For instance, a best friend's undisclosed struggle to conceive is not on par with a husband's affair.
Gather your evidence if you decide you need to confront the secret-keeper. Make a list of your suspicions and information you have to back up your gut feeling. Prepare yourself for a conversation that will likely be uncomfortable, as the person you are confronting has likely been under a great deal of stress in keeping this secret, according to author and life coach Martha Beck.
Run your suspicions by a third party before going any further. A friend or co-worker who doesn’t know the person you suspect of keeping secrets would be preferable. Gaining insight from someone not involved in the overall situation might help you determine the validity of your suspicions before the confrontation.
Address the issue. If you determine this is a secret you need to know, confronting your suspicions head-on can help prevent further secrets and lies down the road, according to private investigator Danine Manette, author of “Ultimate Betrayal.” Approach your secret-keeper with what you know and what you suspect as calmly and rationally as possible. Being too aggressive might cause your secret-keeper to go on the defensive.
Take time to digest what you find out. If the person you care about refuses to open up, consider how valuable this relationship is. There are some matters people are simply uncomfortable discussing, according to psychologist Fredric Neuman. You have to decide if this is one of those situations, or if what is being hidden is in fact going to be detrimental to your relationship.
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Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.