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Keeping Secrets: 6 Rules

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We create intimacy by sharing who we are, what we think and believe, and how we feel with each other. Mutual sharing is a most satisfying experience. A question to consider is, does total honesty always benefit your relationship? Open and honest communication is vital to the success of relationships; brutal honesty on the other hand is not. When is it okay to not tell the whole truth? There are times when an omission or partial truth simply avoids upsetting the other person unnecessarily. For example the response to the classic question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” perhaps should not be, “Yes, it sure does.” A more tactful, but possibly less truthful answer might be, “The other dress is more flattering.”

Scott Peck suggested 6 rules for withholding or keeping a secret:

1. Never tell a lie.

2. Remember that withholding the truth is always potentially a lie and a significant moral decision is required. (Not something to be done lightly)

3. Never withhold the truth for personal gain (to gain power, to be accepted or liked, or to protect your values from challenge)

4. Always base the decision entirely upon the needs of the person you are withholding the truth from.

5. Genuine love for the other person is required to responsibly make this decision.

6. Ask yourself if sharing this information will benefit or hurt the other person. (Remember that we are more likely to underestimate their capacity to handle the truth)