A great man recently said “the key to a great sex life is discretion’. Not being a big proponent of discretion myself, I can’t really comment on that, but it did get me thinking about secrecy in sex and relationships. In my checkered past, I’ve had one public relationship and a lot of secret dalliances [...]
In my checkered past, I’ve had one public relationship and a lot of secret dalliances and I’m still not sure which one was the way to go. In the case of the beloved Snickers, we were in the same social circle so everyone knew pretty much everything that happened between us from the moment we began. It seemed as though everyone had some kind of vested interest in our relationship; kind of like our own little cheering section. It was nice in a lot of ways but not so nice at the end when I realized that just as everyone knew what was happening between us, everyone knew what was happening between him and a certain tramp. But that’s another story.
Ten years later I had an equally long dalliance with a man who was also in pretty much the same social circle (why it was a dalliance rather than a relationship is another post for another day). In this case we didn’t do things like arriving at/leaving parties together or being openly affectionate with one another. Nobody ever knew for sure what was happening between us but they made assumptions. And since this is Toronto and people love to chat here, those assumptions inevitably turned into gossip. Ah, gossip. The bane of my existence and yet another post for another day.
Looking back, I would say that my approach in both of those scenarios was a bit off; in the case of Snickers we were way too open, in the other case I’d say we were way too secretive. It seems that being too open and being too secretive just stir the people around you into a frenzy of news-carrying. But is there a middle ground between offering up your relationship as fodder for the rumour mill and clutching it to you like a closely-guarded secret? On the one hand, love and relationships should be something happy and to be celebrated, but on the other hand, they are too delicate and intensely personal to be shared indiscriminately with the masses.
So what is the right approach? And is this something we should even be concerned with? I’m inclined to think that if you’re spending a lot of time trying to determine the appropriate level of discretion or secrecy in your dalliances, there are only two reasons for this – you fear gossip or you’re up to no good. I may be way off base here, but I never really understood why I need to be concerned with what people know about me or my life unless they’re talking about something I’ve done that I’m ashamed of or I shouldn’t be doing.
In my experience, it’s the men who insist on the secrecy and it’s because they’re juggling multiple girls and want to avoid drama. And I’d suspect that when a woman insists on secrecy it’s probably because she’s looking to avoid being called a ho. In both of these cases, it’s really more about the fact that people refuse to own their behaviour and be honest about it than what other people have to say about it, isn’t it? If there’s ever been an altruistic reason for wanting to be secret about a relationship I’ve yet to encounter it.
At the end of the day, I think the answer lies in the wording. Being discreet is okay, being secretive is something else. The benchmark I always use is this – I look over at the man taking his post-coital snooze beside me and ask myself, would anyone know enough to inform me if he died? A little melodramatic, maybe, but it works for me.