Sex Secrets: What we hide from our partners and why
When asked what traits they look for in a romantic partner (or in their lives), honesty is often at the top of the list. We all want honest partners, but we hide a lot in our relationships, especially when it comes to our sexual lives.
How many people keep sex secret? What are they hiding from their partners? Why are they hiding this information from their partners, and why?
The results of a recent study in the journal sexuality & culture were published. Researchers conducted a survey of 195 college students to find out their sexual secrets. The online survey asked participants to complete 39 items about their sexual secrets, including their motivations for keeping them secret, how they felt about disclosing these secrets, and what their past experiences were.
36 percent of the participants said that at least one sex secret was kept in their relationship. More than half (55%) of participants said that they had shared sex secrets with a partner in the past.
Participants shared secrets about many things, but the types of secrets they kept varied based on gender. The most common secrets that women kept from their partners were 1) a history of sexual victimization; 2) an emotional cheated relationship with a significant other; 3) an interest in BDSM; 4) pornography and 5) enjoyment of sex toys.
They hid the most common things for men: 1) pornography, 2) having had a threesome previously, and 3) having emotional cheated on a partner.
There were also differences in the reasons women and men kept sex secretes. Women were more likely than men to tell their partners they kept secrets, while men were more likely keep them secret because they fear their partner might not understand. It makes sense that women and men would have different motivations for keeping the information secret.
Another reason for keeping sex secret was fear that their partner might reveal the secret, shame, or worry that it could end the relationship.
Most secrets are disclosed in face-to-face discussions, then by text or phone. Some participants claimed that their secrets were revealed by family members and friends. Others also reported that they were discovered on social media or accidentally found while looking through the belongings of their partners.
Most people reported having positive experiences with disclosing their sex secrets. Many said that they felt relieved and appreciated by their partner. Some reported feeling disapproval from their partner, regret and/or a breakup.
These findings are however limited as only US college students were surveyed. It is possible, and likely, that the types of sex secrets that people have (and why they have them) can change as they age. They can also differ significantly between cultural contexts.
These findings show that people can keep their sexual secrets private and there are many reasons to do so. It is clear that sharing your sexual history can be beneficial and valuable.