The most common secret? Romantic feelings for someone other than a partner according to a recent US study.
Scientists have long thought that the hardest part of having a secret is the need to hide it. But researchers who examined more than 13,000 secrets in 10 studies, identified a different source of distress: “The problem with having a secret is having to live with it and think about it,” explains Michael Slepian, an expert in social psychology who led the study.
Secret-keepers ended up dwelling on whatever it was they couldn’t tell, which made them feel inauthentic and disingenuous, Slepian says.
Dwelling on our secrets also turns out to be physically disabling: “We found that when people were thinking about their secrets, they actually acted as if they were burdened by physical weight,” Slepian says.
So should you take that weight off your mind by sharing? Possibly not, according to one study which showed that when people are told an emotional secret, on average they blab it to two other people.