Secret Romances are Unhealthy

April 20, 2010 by  
Filed under health

People who keep their relationships secret may face damage to their health as well as their relationship over the long-term, a Colorado State University psychology professor says in a published set of studies that came out last year.

The research, by Justin Lehmiller, assistant professor of Applied Social Psychology, is the first to look at the health issues surrounding secret relationships. This is information could someday help the psychology profession with couples counseling.

The studies appeared last year in the November issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

“We found people who keep relationships secret tend to be less committed. Secrecy seems to limit how close you can get to a partner and whether they can become a central part of your life,” Lehmiller said.

“Such people also reported worse physical health outcomes and lower self-esteem. The data suggests that one of the reasons for this seems to be that keeping a relationship secret is stressful. It makes people nervous and anxious and scared. We suspect that when people chronically experience those negative emotions, that’s what undermines your health.”

People in secret relationships reported more frequent symptoms of poor health, such as headaches, loss of sexual interest/pleasure, low energy and poor appetite. They also had worse self-esteem, or more negative feelings about who they are as people.

The new book “Game Change” reports suspicions about Bill Clinton’s post-Lewinsky affairs, especially ill-advised given his history of heart problems.

Previous research has suggested that keeping a flame a secret makes it burn hotter, but the study’s author says secrecy can act like more of a wet blanket.

Lehmiller said: “We know that being in a secret relationship is challenging and may have negative effects on both the relationship and the partners’ health.

Perhaps having oomph in your relationship means not keeping it a secret and being comfortable about who you are with.

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