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Should I Tell My Partner this Secret or Is It Alright to Keep It to Myself?

I have really bad anxiety. I’ve never been diagnosed because I’ve never been to counseling, but I’m pretty positive I have social anxiety disorder. I created a fake stalker in order to get reassurance from others that I am worth something. It’s really just me texting myself. I also use it to ask people stuff about me that I am too scared to ask in person (ex: “are you actually her friend or are you faking it” I know logically my friends are actually my friends, but I have awful abandonment issues thanks to my dad. I need this reassurance in order to feel better about myself and affirm that people do actually care about me. I have extremely low self-esteem, as I’m sure you can infer. I have no support system within my family and growing up, I never really had friends until high school. I never want to ask people for reassurance because I do not want to annoy them or chase them away, so the stalker was the easy way out for me. I got pretty wrapped up in being that stalker and definitely got carried away.
I texted a person I was friends with as the stalker, but now we are dating. It’s serious and I honestly believe he is the man I will marry. He gives me the reassurance I need when my anxiety is bad and accepts me for who I am so I no longer need that awful stalker in order to function. He is helping me fix the way I think about myself also. I know the stuff the stalker said hurt him because he thought it was hurting me. I am alright with keeping the secret because I do not think he will understand why I did it. I barely understand why I did it. I also do not want to hurt him. I will never do it again. I have no need to. Does creating the stalker make me a bad person? Am I crazy for ever making it up in the first place? Do I need to reveal that it was me all along or can I keep this to myself? I can’t lose him and I don’t think he would ever be able to get over this lie.

A: I deeply admire the honesty you are displaying by acknowledging this part of your past. Here is the concern I have if you keep it secret. It means that you will have to carry the burden of this for your entire relationship. Beginning a relationship with a secret is not typically the best way because most people will then doubt who their partner fell in love with — the false image being presented or the authentic one underneath.

On the other hand the “stalker” was created out of a deficiency — and now that that has been fixed with a genuine relationship the need to pretend has dropped away. The question becomes if the secret you’re carrying becomes a drain for you to hide, of if you past is seen as something transcended as you are now more whole. You might not be dating if the “stalker” hadn’t initiated the contact, so in some ways it served the very purpose it was created for.

The decision rests on if you see your past as shameful, needing to be hidden, or something that grew out of a pain that you have worked to heal through your relationship.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Should I Tell My Partner this Secret or Is It Alright to Keep It to Myself?

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Should I Tell My Partner this Secret or Is It Alright to Keep It to Myself?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/03/02/should-i-tell-my-partner-this-secret-or-is-it-alright-to-keep-it-to-myself/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 26 Feb 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Feb 2018
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