Can You Keep a Secret?

Why Does Keeping a Secret Weigh On Us?

When a friend tells us a secret, and asks us to keep it, our reaction isn’t always good. We might keep the secret, but we might also feel very burdened by it, even wishing that we’d never been let in on it. In fact, as research now indicates, it can even lead to physical feelings of burden.

The Huffington Post reports:

Keeping a secret doesn’t just take a toll on your mental health – it can also feel physically burdensome, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Tufts University found that people who know of another’s deep secret — for example, one concerning sexual orientation or infidelity – were more likely to perceive certain tasks as more arduous.

For one part of the study, participants were asked to remember a secret they were told — some were asked to remember a “meaningful secret,” while others were just asked to remember a “small personal secret,” Everyday Health reported. Then, they were asked to estimate things, including how steep a hill was and how far a distance was.

The people with the meaningful secrets “estimated hills to be steeper [and] perceived distances to be farther,” researchers wrote in the study.

And in another part of the study, researchers had people who’d recently been unfaithful to a partner rate how much that act of infidelity bothered them, Everyday Health reported. Then, they were asked to say how much effort it took to do tasks like give carry groceries upstairs, help someone move, or walk the dog.

The researchers found that the people who were more weighed down by their acts of infidelity were more likely to say that the everyday tasks required more effort and energy, according to the study.

“The more burdensome the secret and the more thought devoted to it, the more perception and action were influenced in a manner similar to carrying physical weight,” researchers wrote in the study. “Thus, as with physical burdens, secrets weigh people down.”

Recently, a survey commissioned by the skincare company Simple revealed that women tell secrets after 32 minutes, HuffPost Women reported. One out of 10 women in the survey said they are simply unable to keep a secret, while nearly half of the women said they’ve often felt the urge to tell a secret to someone else.

What do you think—what are the pros, and cons, of keeping secrets? Has anybody ever told you a secret you wish they hadn’t?

“Real trust takes real time.” – Reed ext. 5105

“Honor your own heart’s desire as strongly as you do others.” – Claire ext. 5242

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2 thoughts on “Can You Keep a Secret?

  1. Marc from the UK

    I can relate to this post, I have held a secret about an affair I had, and yes the weight did burden me, as much as this act caised me joy it also caused me sorrow, and yes the daily acts of life felt harder, I needed out of this relationship which eventually happened, however the foot print of my life plan was changed forever. I have taken a pragmatic view of those days and seen the positives of it all, I am by nature a caring and kind person so maybe the burden was harder? Is this a general rule that people who seem to walk all over other people and do not care are they burdened in any way? Surely we are not all alike? I have held a secret about a good friend of mine who’s partner was going to call their relationship to an end, yes it did happen, he was devestated but took it well and in a gentlemanly way, behaved impeccably with his ex, the knowledge I had about knwing it was going to happen and I never ever told him or other people, I was supportive of him and his ex, and it was a burden, but that put me in a no win situation if it ever came out I would of lost two people dear to me, the result they are living apart and now courting again! I am sure I have kept the respect of the lady in question for not spilling the beans, and that was respect earned, so a burden has paid off!


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