How Much Privacy Can I Have In Love?


Love can only thrive if there is trust. If you’ve imposed limits on what can and cannot be known about you, a love relationship will be difficult to say the least.

When two people are in love they are united. If privacy is important to maintain your ‘boundaries’ as a person, love will feel like a potential violation or intrusion.

Let’s explore the psychological issues involved in trying to maintain ‘privacy’ in a love relationship. Most people I’ve met over the course of my professional career who were focused on securing privacy in a relationship had ‘reasons’ for wanting it so badly. In most cases, such a person knew what it was like to have their boundaries violated.

While growing up, early forms of self-development involve and require secrecy and privacy. Having the option to keep a secret and maintain inviolate personal space helps mature a person’s sense of self. These experiences also help the young person develop a respect for the boundaries of other people.

When this personal ‘space’ is violated by people who fail to respect the developing individuality of the child or adolescent, privacy and secrecy become even more important in an effort to compensate for the loss. When such a person becomes an adult, privacy will be more important and probably more comfortable than intimacy and sharing.

Taken to its inevitable extreme, privacy becomes ‘distance’ and ‘defensiveness’ in a love relationship. In this state of mind, ‘normal’ efforts to get closer and be more intimate can be easily misinterpreted as intrusions and violations of personal space.

This kind of misunderstanding means trouble for a couple. There will probably be quite a few struggles for ‘control’ in the relationship. The easiest way to have privacy while in a love relationship is to ‘control’ the actions of your lover. Rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, things you can talk about, things you can’t talk about, personal space you are not privy to, and on and on.

For lovers who are interested in intimacy more than privacy, these efforts at control will prove frustrating and limiting. Normally, a developing sense of independence for both persons in a love relationship is conducive to growth in the relationship. This involves freely being yourself in a relationship that can accommodate two distinct people.

The difference between independence as I’ve described it and an enforced need for privacy is, independence is a mutual goal that promotes a growing love relationship. Privacy is usually demanded by one person in a love relationship, although it may be adopted by both persons over time. Demands for privacy in a love relationship require a defensive separation in love that does not promote the growth of the relationship.

Giving up your need for privacy and control over the amount of intimacy in your love relationship is going to require a bit of personal change. The first step of course is to admit to yourself that your demand for privacy in your love-life was and continues to be a problem.

From there you’ll have to keep reminding yourself that your discomfort with intimacy exists because of violations and mistreatment that occurred in your earlier life. Once you’ve identified the ‘after-effects’ of not being allowed to have some secrecy or privacy growing up, as the source of your need to compensate with a demand for rigid privacy, you’ll know what to work on now and in the future.

As always, if it feels overwhelming and the discomfort turns into hurt and emotional pain, a little guidance from a competent psychotherapist will come in handy. Stay focused on what it is you wish to accomplish for the greatest benefit.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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