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There's a Difference Between Privacy and Secrecy

Privacy is good. Secrecy is bad.

By Aria WhitePublished 3 years ago 3 min read

Several months ago, I matched with a guy on the Bumble dating app. I didn't realize it when I first looked at his profile, but the field where employment information goes was empty. I didn't know what line of work he was in or what company he worked for. The first time we spoke on the phone (prior to our first date), I asked him what he did for a living, and he was really vague. He said he didn't want to tell me where he worked yet because he didn't know me very well.

Fair enough. Sharing your employment information (or any personal information) with strangers you meet online is something to be cautious of, so I get it. But I still found it a bit odd he was being so evasive. After all, he trusted me enough to tell me other things about himself. Nonetheless, I bookmarked his hesitancy to talk about his work in my mind.

He finally told me where he worked on our second date. His line of work? Customer service for a local company I am semi-familiar with. Nothing that screams "I have to keep my job a secret!" Apparently, he thought if I knew where he worked, I might try to drop by the office and get locked up for stalking him. (Even though he said he works from home...) I thought the whole thing was really strange and felt even less confident in his ability to be honest with me when he was reluctant to talk about other issues I thought were important, and he seemed to perhaps be a bit emotionally unavailable.

This got me thinking. In the initial stages of dating, it's fine to be reserved and guarded until you feel like you can trust a person. But there's a difference between being private and being secretive. This goes for any relationship, whether it's a new romance or one that's been years in the making. Even platonic relationships should have a comfortable level of transparency.

The difference between privacy and secrecy is that privacy is protective and secrecy is deceptive. One prevents you and your loved ones from being hurt, and the other keeps people from knowing the truth.

As an example, let's say a guy you meet has his social media profiles set to private. Many people (myself included) do this when they don't want outsiders to have access to their personal information or be privy to what's happening in their lives. I set my pages to private in order to protect my children. So if a guy you're dating has his pages set to private, but he's willing to connect with you once trust has been established, no worries there.

If, however, he has his pages set to private because he's hiding something, and refuses to let you see, that's a red flag. And obviously, it's hard to know in the beginning if someone is being private or secretive, so here are a few differences between privacy and secrecy to watch for in a relationship:


  • Privacy is only sharing information & photos with people you trust
  • Privacy is only disclosing things about yourself with people you trust
  • Privacy is withholding details, photos & information from people you don't trust, but not denying that they exist


  • Secrecy is telling half-truths or being completely dishonest with people
  • Secrecy is withholding information about yourself and your personal life from people you're in relationships with
  • Secrecy is denying parts of yourself or your life that exist

Essentially, people who value their privacy don't want the world to know everything about them and their lives but are willing to share with those they love and trust. For example, I'm truthful about the fact that I have children, but I only let certain people into my children's lives. I'm a private person, but I'm honest.

On the contrary, secretive people hide things about themselves and their lives, even from those they claim to love. An example of this would be if I flat out denied that I have children. Secrecy is avoidance or denial of the truth. For this reason, a secretive person does not make a good partner or friend.

If someone you're dating refuses to talk about their personal life, try to decipher if it's due to privacy or secrecy. Actions speak louder than words and behavior patterns don't lie. Once you've established whether or not there's trust in the relationship, act accordingly. A good partner will let you into their lives once trust has been established. But a no-good partner who is secretive? They will be very hesitant to open up and be transparent with you - ever.

Remember: privacy is to protect, secrecy is to deceive.

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About the Creator

Aria White

Aria White is an author, mental health advocate, narcissistic abuse survivor, and relationship expert. Her first book, "Dear Me, I've Missed You" is available at Amazon and other book retailers. Follow her on Instagram @authorariawhite.

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