Secret Relationships Falter Fast
They're Not Hot for Long, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 11, 2005 -- Don't believe the hype about secret relationships. They're
better suited to soap operas, not real life.
"While romantic secrecy may appear to be mysterious and exciting, it may
also interfere with the quality and closeness of an ongoing romance," write
Craig Foster, PhD, and W. Keith Campbell, PhD, in the March issue of the
journal Personal Relationships.
Foster is on staff at the U. S. Air Force Academy's behavioral sciences and
leadership department. Campbell is an assistant professor at the University of
Georgia's psychology department. They led three studies on secret romantic
relationships; participants were undergraduates at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The students were quizzed about their relationships. Secrecy was the main
Secrecy Is Overrated
Hush-hush romances were more of a pain than a pleasure. Secret lovers had
the hassle of finding places to rendezvous discreetly. At first blush, that
might seem exciting, but the thrill wore off quickly. The logistics of secrecy
were ultimately a turnoff.
The mum's-the-word mentality was also a drag. Secret lovers couldn't tell
others about their relationships, and some envied couples who could be together
in public freely.
Secret relationships weren't all that hot, even at first, and they often
For instance, 46 out of 139 students on one of the study's surveys said they
had a secret relationship. Compared with those with out-in-the-open
relationships, the secret lovers thought about their partner less often. They
also reported more burdens and less satisfaction in their romantic
Even in today's society, many people try to keep relationships quiet. For
instance, homosexual, interracial, and perhaps interfaith couples may fear
social stigma, say the researchers. And cheaters aren't about to make their
The bottom line: "Secrecy is associated with decreased relationship
quality," write the researchers.
What if this Valentine's Day finds you in a secret relationship? Reconsider,
suggest the researchers. "Ongoing romantic relationships may benefit from
encouragement to reduce, or end, relationship secrecy," they write.