How To Know If Your Partner Is Hiding Something From You, According To Experts
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You're going about your business, happily in your relationship, when suddenly there's a subtle... shift. Maybe it's something they say — or don't say — but there's a little tickle in the back of your mind that says something's off. Some instinct, maybe even subconsciously, is setting off alarm bells that your partner isn't being totally forthcoming. In a situation like that, it can be easy to override your gut and decide you're just being paranoid, which is why asking yourself how to know if your partner is hiding something is probably a smart move. This way, you're not tempted to just shrug it off and can actually get down to the bottom of what may or may not be going on with bae.
Now, that's not to say you have to tell each other absolutely everything. As NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter tells Elite Daily, "Each partner is allowed a certain degree of personal privacy. That's healthy and normal in a good relationship." The problem usually has to do with why they feel like they need to keep something from you, she says. "When the partner is hiding something from you, there's a problem,” Winter explains. “It means that your mate is fearing your reaction. Hiding information is a protective move. Either your partner fears your reactivity, or they've done something so horrific that you'll (rightly) be upset." All this said, knowing how to spot the signs that something is up and your partner is holding back is very important. Here's what the experts say to be on the lookout for.
1. They’ve become secretive.
Has your partner started shutting down when certain topics come up? Or have they just withdrawn in general? If so, Winter says withholding is a sign that they're hiding something. “Whether the withholding is emotional, physical, or in the form of communication — your partner is acting odd. Worse yet, you're not given any information as to why. This means your partner is trying to establish distance so that you won't be able to discover the root cause of the problem,” she explains.
2. Their texting behavior changes.
Another common warning sign that your partner isn’t being totally forthcoming, according to Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, relationship coach and creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method: Breakup Recovery, is when their texting behavior suddenly changes. “These things are often very slight differences that can be excused,” Silva tells Elite Daily. “If one person is emotionally synthesizing their day and the other responds with an emoji or letter, that might be a sign of losing interest or a poor communication pattern.”
3. They refuse to talk about past relationships.
Are some topics off limits, like your SO’s past relationships? If so, Silva says it may be because they're hiding something. “Someone who refuses to talk about their past relationship failures when they were expressive in the past can also mean they are hiding something,” she says. Also telling is how they respond when you ask them about their past relationships. “When confronted by something that is bothering you, their communication is expressed through moodiness or attitude or the ‘silent treatment,’” says Silva.
4. They are over-the-top with their emotions.
Like suddenly going cold, a partner who becomes over-the-top with affections in an out-of-character way could be a sign that they're overcompensating to try and hide something, warns Winter. “[If] your partner is suddenly excessive and effusive with their emotions. They're doting on you, being way-too-sweet, and telling you how wonderful you are. Perhaps they're text-bombing you with loving messages or saying how much they love you. This means your partner is compensating for what they know is about to occur. You're being primed to be receptive to upcoming negative information that directly impacts you, and the relationship,” she says.
What to do about it.
Is there anything you can do if if these signs are hitting a little too close to home? Winter says yes, and it's all about confronting the issue while also making it clear that your partner has a safe space to open up.
“Prepare yourself. You might not like their answer,” warns Winter, but if you really want to get to the bottom of what your partner is withholding, you also need to make sure they feel like they can tell you. “In healthy relationships, we have to be able to communicate without fear of repercussion. If either partner feels unsafe in revealing the truth, they'll hide the truth,” she explains. “Establishing ground rules for safety in truth telling is a foundational principle for healthy partnership. Though you may not like what they have to say, it's far better that you know what's going on. Establishing a protocol of honest sharing will allow you to deal with the situation, rather than react to it.”
Winter is right; there is a real possibility you won’t like what they have to say, but it’s better to just get to the bottom of the problem than dwell on whether something may or may not be going on. Even if whatever they're hiding isn't great, it’s better to know than to be caught in a loop of suspicion — and possible gaslighting — that will actually hurt more in the long run. Get in front of the problem so you can decide how to move forward in a way that’s best for you. You got this.