Event Title

Intimate Secrets: Do Men and Women Differ?

Presenter Information

Rachel Milburn

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Major

Psychology

Start Date

5-21-2015 6:00 PM

End Date

5-21-2015 6:30 PM

Abstract

Within intimate relationships, some degree of secrecy is normal and beneficial. The most satisfied and long-term partners tend not to disclose everything to each other. But what types of secrets do people keep and does the content differ based on gender? Researchers have identified gender differences in the frequency of secret-keeping but have yet to explore potential differences regarding types of secrets. The purpose of the current study was to identify the most common types of secrets in couple relationships including potential gender differences. In order to participate, individuals had to be at least 18 years of age and involved in a couple relationship for at least two years. The survey contained questions to assess demographic characteristics, self-concealment (open and close ended questions), and relationship characteristics (e.g., satisfaction, commitment). Participants were 391 (189 male, 202 female) ethnically diverse individuals who were in predominately heterosexual relationships (93%). Responses to the open-ended questions about secret keeping were qualitatively analyzed using the constant comparative method. The types of secrets most commonly kept by men included past relationships and experiences, infidelity, and something that may hurt their partner if shared. The types of secrets most commonly kept by women included past trauma or sexual experiences as well as emotional and physical infidelity. For both men and women, secret-keeping from a partner was associated with greater dissatisfaction in the relationship. We extended the literature by identifying the types of secrets most commonly kept by men and women.

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May 21st, 6:00 PM May 21st, 6:30 PM

Intimate Secrets: Do Men and Women Differ?

Within intimate relationships, some degree of secrecy is normal and beneficial. The most satisfied and long-term partners tend not to disclose everything to each other. But what types of secrets do people keep and does the content differ based on gender? Researchers have identified gender differences in the frequency of secret-keeping but have yet to explore potential differences regarding types of secrets. The purpose of the current study was to identify the most common types of secrets in couple relationships including potential gender differences. In order to participate, individuals had to be at least 18 years of age and involved in a couple relationship for at least two years. The survey contained questions to assess demographic characteristics, self-concealment (open and close ended questions), and relationship characteristics (e.g., satisfaction, commitment). Participants were 391 (189 male, 202 female) ethnically diverse individuals who were in predominately heterosexual relationships (93%). Responses to the open-ended questions about secret keeping were qualitatively analyzed using the constant comparative method. The types of secrets most commonly kept by men included past relationships and experiences, infidelity, and something that may hurt their partner if shared. The types of secrets most commonly kept by women included past trauma or sexual experiences as well as emotional and physical infidelity. For both men and women, secret-keeping from a partner was associated with greater dissatisfaction in the relationship. We extended the literature by identifying the types of secrets most commonly kept by men and women.