I often get emails from women who are in seemingly “secret” relationships with men. I’ve also been there and I would think many can say the same. These so-called relationships are typically great, ideal in every way, except, well, it’s not public. It’s secret. For one reason or another no one knows about the relationship except maybe a very select few. When I saw a tongue in cheek article about this very thing this week, I decided perhaps it warranted a little more discussion. Especially since I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Love is a strange thing isn’t it? What we’re willing to put up with for one person we hardly can tolerate with another. But can you help who you fall in love with? No, I don’t believe you can. Can you help what you do with it? Yes, definitely. We have a choice. We have free will. No one is coercing you to stay with someone who doesn’t treat you like you deserve, so why do we do it? We all have our different reasons, it could be ego, it could be love, it could be low self esteem, or maybe they’re everything you ever wanted, your soulmate. But first, how do you know you’re a “secret”? What is it and what is it not? Seems pretty obvious, no? Well, not always.
Are You Their “Dirty Little Secret”?
Well, it should be pretty obvious right? I mean if you’re not in a “public” relationship then you can safely assume you’re his “dirty little secret”, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Some people don’t like to share their personal relationships with others until it becomes serious, I’m one of those people. Until there’s something to share, I don’t share. It’s no one’s concern but my own and a select few. But that’s more about discretion than keeping a “dirty little secret”. It also isn’t something mutually secret like an “arrangement” or “friends with benefits”. What’s the difference? Well, a “dirty little secret” is when you basically are there for their pleasure but after an extended period of time you still aren’t in their life in a real way and you want to be. It’s not a “dirty little secret” if you’re both on the same page. So how do you know? Well, ask yourself:
- does he only come see you for sex and emotional support … when HE needs you?
- is he a big talker? do his actions match his words? does he break his promises?
- do you ever go out to public places together where people you know might be or are you always at home or not so public places?
- how does he treat you in public situations? does he avoid you or does he treat you like everyone else?
- are you an important part of his life? do you play a significant role?
- do you only see each other late at night?
- is he always “too busy” to provide you with any real type of attention?
- do his friends and/or family know about you and him?
- does he introduce you as his “friend”?
- do they “sneak away” to come see you?
These are a few questions to ask yourself. If he doesn’t treat you like someone special in his life PUBLICLY then you might just be his “dirty little secret”, sorry to say. But you already knew that didn’t you. I certainly did, but I enabled their bad behavior because there was love there and love conquers all doesn’t it? Ya sure, only in the movies.
A “Secret” Relationship ISN’T Romantic
This isn’t “Romeo and Juliet” people. A secret relationship isn’t romantic. You deserve better than to be someone’s “dirty little secret”. Someone should be proud to be with you. I’m not talking about when you’re first dating and getting to know each other, I’m talking about when you’ve established an ongoing presence in each other’s lives. If months go by and they haven’t made it official and official is what you want, then it’s time to ask some questions. Are they enjoying the best of both worlds? Having their cake and eating it too? THEIR emotional unavailability isn’t YOUR problem.
Although it’s nice to hear that they love you and cherish you, does that really mean anything if they don’t want to share it, and you, with others? Aren’t they proud to be with you or are they ashamed of your relationship? What are they hiding and why? You don’t deserve that. No one deserves that. But I know first hand how hard it is to be in that position with someone you love and have such an incredible connection with. Trust me, I know. It isn’t easy. But at some point you have to let go and be true to yourself. Have some self respect. It’s oh so difficult but oh so necessary. If you’ve stated the desire to be in a public relationship and they don’t give you one then you need to move on to someone who will treat you like you deserve. Rip off that bandage and do it quick. You’ll be happy you did! Plain. Simple.
READERS: Have you been a “dirty little secret” or have you had a “dirty little secret”? Tell us all about it in the comments!
Your Sister in Dating Bliss,
Single Dating Diva
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I was the “other woman” once. It’s a shitty feeling. Wrote all about Darren on my blog.
It’s not fun being the other woman, I completely agree, but it’s a choice. It’s important to figure out why we do it.
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I am a romantic gesture kind of guy. As a result, I believe, women commit to me far sooner and much more deeply than my commitment to them. I enjoy women and enjoy spending time with them, however I rarely have deep emotional feelings for them The women I’ve dated, on the other hand, seem more than willing to create a fiction around me despite the times I tell them “I’m not ready to be exclusive.”
This is, of course, only my experience, but it has been so common I am amazed. “I love you” or its pseudonyms, get offered with no reciprocation and they don’t seem to care.
Thanks for your comment! I think in your case it’s important to be clear early on about your intentions. The rest is up to them, if they disillusion themselves it’s on them as long as you’re always VERY clear about where you stand.
I don’t necessarily push the issue after telling them initially I am seeing other women. I make it clear in the beginning that I am and never claim to be exclusive, but many decide I “must” be exclusive and just not telling them. I might go out with 2 or occasionally three women in one weekend day, for example, but they all tend to think there is no way I am seeing someone other than them.
Like you said, that’s on them.
You’re wrong. You’re lying to these women through misleading behavior, and excusing yourself because you told them once, early on, that you would not be exclusive. Reminding them you are dating other women is not “pushing the issue” – it’s being honest at a very basic level.
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In the new cat & mouse world of online dating it can be so hard to know if he’s playing it cool or if your kept on the DL! Not much you can do but pay attention to the cues you gave and fasten your seat belt.
I completely agree, it’s really hard to know where someone stands which is why it’s important to always seek clarity and see how his actions make you feel, if something feels “off” it usually is!!
I’ve been on the receiving end of it and done this to women that I’ve strung along. It’s horrible either way. I did it to two women because both relationships were in their infancy and knew that one would fall by the wayside. Justice was done in that both spurned me a day apart, for differing reasons.
The trademark excuse was that I was always very busy and kept to a routine that gave me control over what was happening. I also quickly learned to not have any woman I was seeing as a Facebook friend, the risks were insane.
It is a form of narcissism, but it was also very practical to “date in parallel”.
The truth of the matter is that when a man loves a woman, he wants the whole world to know about it.
If he doesn’t want that, be afraid…very.
Thanks for the comment. If you’re dating more than one at the same time you should be clear that you’re not being exclusive, it’s only fair to everyone and gets you off the hook easier. In my opinion people should just assume someone is seeing other people unless they’ve explicitly stated otherwise, but that’s not always the case. But I agree, if a guy is crazy about you and doesn’t want to shout it from the rooftops that’s a red flag.
It’s not a “relationship” if someone is keeping you a secret. Now, if you’re just dating for a hookup yourself, then who cares? It’s not about depth in that case. But if you are looking for a relationship and that person KNOWS THIS… well, respect yourself more and WALK AWAY. 🙂 Great post Ms. Diva! Love you!
There’s no better feeling than NOT being a dirty little secret! It’s so satisfying when you meet his friends or family and they already know all about you – obviously he’s serious enough about you to gush to his friends. And every girl deserves that feeling, so don’t settle for less!
Great post! I was in this situation when I was young and didn’t know the repercussions, and it wasn’t fun. I tried to convince myself that he loved me, he said he did, but really, if he was keeping me a secret, that’s not love. It is not what I wanted, it was what he wanted. Love is about merging your lives, not compartmentalizing them.
I actually just listened to an episode of “This American Life” (the Valentines Day episode) from 2013 in which this guy is dating a young woman who he really likes, and comes to find out he’s actually her “secret” boyfriend when he hangs out with her and her “real” boyfriend one weekend. No one wants to be in that kind of scenario, however, I thought he made a good point in the episode when he said, sometimes you do things just because you want to be somewhere so much, i.e. with someone so much. You’ve made a great point here that someone who doesn’t prioritize you, isn’t worth your time. The only hard part of that is letting someone go you might really like. In the end, it is the best thing to do, no matter how hard. Great post!
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