Communication researchers say nearly everyone—more than 95% of people—reports having a fact or bit of information about themselves that they don't reveal to anyone. (The other 5% probably aren't being honest when they say they don't have one, experts say.) And many struggle with whether, when and how to tell.
Some people, like a self-described "CIA operative," kept secrets about their work life from their families for years. One man had to keep his whole life a secret when he was "a fugitive sought by the FBI for seven years (wanted for freeing mink from fur farms.)"
We tend to think of secrets as skeletons in the closet, yet they aren't all negative, experts say. Sometimes we keep a secret to protect a loved one or a relationship. And we keep secrets from different people. There are the ones we keep from family members or other individuals, and then there are the ones the whole family knows and conspires to keep from everyone else.
How do you decide whether to reveal a secret?
Tread carefully here, experts say. If telling the secret will hurt someone and produce no benefit, then it shouldn't be told.
Had an affair decades ago? If it's long over and your marriage is good, mum's the word.