Pssst … Can You Keep a Secret?

Psychiatrists and lawyers keep clients’ secrets for a living. On the flip side, gossip columnists dig up secrets and shout ’em out loud. Whether it’s your own secret or someone else’s, are you able to (or should you) keep it on the down-low?

Don’t spill the beans!
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you should keep a secret or let it out. We narrowed it down to three easy rules. Keep a secret when …

  • Someone is going to benefit from the secret.
    Don’t tell your best guy friend that his crush is actually showing up because you talked her into a setup date instead of a “study group.” What he doesn’t know won’t rattle his nerves. You have the thrill of the secret -- and they hook up.
  • Keeping the secret is more fun than telling the secret.
    Why spoil things when your mom plans a big surprise for your dad’s birthday and it’s your job to snap the photo of his face at the crucial revealing moment? It’s not juicy, but it’s still cute and fun. Keep that secret under wraps!
  • A friend makes it clear you are not to tell anyone her secret.
    Your BFF tells you she finally started her period but she doesn’t want anyone else to know? This is cardinal friendship stuff. Keep your lips zipped! Bonus: The more secrets you keep, the more you’ll be entrusted with yet more secrets. Shhh.

Let that cat out of the bag!
Some secrets need to be told. Big or small, silly or serious, eventually someone has to tell someone. Spill a secret when …

  • The secret absolutely requires parental input.
    That hot guy your friend has been talking to online -- you know the one -- happens to be 22 years old and married. And she’s planning on meeting him next Tuesday. Talk. Now. Whether you tell her parents or yours, someone needs to know.
  • Telling the secret means everyone wins.
    You’re attending summer school, and you overhear a teacher tell another teacher that most of the questions on the next exam are coming from the textbook’s footnotes. Spread that sunshine!
  • The secret is harmless, possibly untrue but entirely colorful.
    Someone told you the cutest guy on the rec league is Robert Pattinson’s second cousin. Is it just gab? Feels good to tell and no one gets hurt? As long as sharing a secret is all in good fun and not a nasty rumor, go for it!