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Can You Keep a Secret?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 | Tags: , , , , ,

Benjamin Franklin wisely stated, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

I can keep a secret. Anna and I call it putting it in the vault. And what goes in the vault stays in the vault unless you get express permission to set it free.  I once didn’t tell a spouse that one of his best friends was gay for TWO years.  He eventually found out, but not from me. I figured it wasn’t my secret to tell.

Over the years I’ve learned that not everyone follows the same sacred code of secret keeping.  “Please don’t tell anyone,” can mean a whole litany of things, depending on whom you’re speaking with.

For the very select few “tell no one” means just that.  If you have a such a steadfast confident among your inner circle, consider yourself very fortunate.

Some people must not think very highly of their significant others as “don’t tell a soul” doesn’t seem to apply to them.  (Maybe he really is a soulless bas#@*d? But why tell him a secret then??)

To some degree, I understand this and know that all manner of secrets are spilled over pillow talk.  A big generalization here, but experience has taught me that it can be dangerous to tell men secrets because they don’t have the same inner gauge about keeping their mouths shut.  “What?! You didn’t tell me not to say anything?!”  Women know it was implied.  Who hasn’t had that discussion on the way home?

I’ll admit, it can be tricky when you aren’t expressly told to keep your mouth shut. Say friend A is struggling with something that clearly shouldn’t be made public.  And perhaps you are grappling with how to best support him or her.  Is it then okay to tell friend B the secret?  I say it depends.  First consideration, how trustworthy is friend B?  Secondly – and this is a good test – will you feel guilty about opening your mouth if friend A catches wind?

What about when you hear a secret about someone you barely know?  If I’m hearing something about a relative stranger I bet it isn’t a secret at all. We’ve now stepped firmly into gossip territory.  But if you have stumbled upon something big, ask yourself, will it hurt that person if I spill the beans?

On the flip side, when I have a secret, something big or very personal, I try to keep it to myself.  If I’m bursting at the seams, I tell one or two people who haven’t failed me in the past.  If your loose lips have sunk my ships before, rest assured, you’ll get nothing juicy from me.

“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.” – Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants

Top photo by Cindy Lee 

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  • Tim Edwards

    My secret is I have a crush on both of you. ;) Hope you get back on US tv soon.