You never truly know anybody. Every person has a secret life, even if it's just their hidden fantasies, and if you ever get to see inside their head, sometimes you find things you never imagined were there. How can you be so close to someone for so long and still not know who they are? It is more common than some of us want to believe. It's almost a certainty that, at some point, your loved ones will hide something important about themselves from you.
It is a good bet that most of us live at least three distinct lives - one that is for public display, another for those closest to us, and one that is "for my eyes only".
The right to privacy, which is highly valued in our culture, is critical to upholding one's sense of individuality and personal autonomy. Most of us exercise this psychological right throughout our lives, maintaining a hidden cache of secret thoughts, fantasies and desires that we share with no one.
Even in most psychologically and emotionally intimate bonds, it is not uncommon for people to harbor a few secrets. Even so, discovering that someone you have such a connection with is holding back something can threaten the integrity of the bond. The experience of betrayal in a trusting relationship can be extremely powerful.
If it causes so much pain and troubles, then why do we keep aspects of ourselves concealed from all others? We learn very early in our lives that we possess the psychological power to withhold parts of who we are, to create a covert inner life. At the same time, we begin making decisions about who to let into our private world and who to keep out.
In part, these determinations arise from one's developing sense of...