Privacy is the state of being unobserved; getting undressed for example. It is something one withholds from the public eye. Private matters are traits, ideas and beliefs about ourselves that we keep to ourselves. These might include our fantasies, feelings and daydreams. Private matters when revealed, either by accident or on purpose give someone more insight about the other person.

Secrecy is the act of keeping things hidden. This information therefore goes from private to hidden. Secrecy stems from keeping something hidden out of fear, embarrassment and guilt. Secrets consists of information that could cause someone negative damage physically, emotionally or finically. If the secret was then revealed it would then cause harm to the one keeping the secrets.

A rule of thumb to help distinguish the two is to ask yourself: is the fact about me important in this relationship at this time?

Disclosing private information all depends on how much you trust that other person. Whereas disclosing secret information depends on the relationship and the information itself.

Privacy and secrecy are different and knowing the difference can be crucial in relationships. For example if you are talking to a friend of the opposite sex or decide to meet up with this friend, you don’t tell your partner because you class it as part of your private life. You’re not purposely hiding this information from your partner, however if they were to find out it would look that way.

In this case even though nothing romantic is happening you would still feel guilt and ashamed hiding it from your partner. But the reason you hide it is because you are aware your partner will want you to stop.

In this context a secret is something kept from someone else to protect your behaviour you don’t want to stop but you know your partner wouldn’t approve of. Therefore a secret is something that if revealed could cause negative consequences on ourselves.


Privacy is a choice we make boundaries on what we choose to reveal or not reveal about ourselves. What we choose to keep to ourselves may be things that we want only for ourselves.

Using the same example as before if you choose to use this friend of yours for advice on your relationship, but you know your partner will dislike you sharing intimate details about the relationship than this is private information. Privacy is an agreement between two people.

Keeping a secret could potentially damage a relationship if it is then revealed.

Grace x

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