Apr 132010
Authors: Rachel Childs

The consequences of secret romances have been woven into stories and songs for centuries. Pieces like Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” have always warned of the dangers of hidden love.

Recent studies by CSU social psychology professor Justin Lehmiller concluded that modern-day couples in such relationships are just as endangered as the famous Montague and Capulet.

Miller presented his findings to a group of students in Clark A103 Tuesday. His talk is sponsored by Psi Chi –– The International Honor Society in Psychology –– and The Psychology Student Alliance for their annual lecture presentation.

A study of 225 people in secret relationships revealed that the largest reason couples go in-cognito is because of the fear of disapproval by their parents. Other couples kept their feelings secret because of marriage or because they were only “testing out” their relationships. Only one couple indicated that they actually found the experience enjoyable.

“People aren’t hiding their relationships because they enjoy it,” Lehmiller said.

Volunteers for the studies were in several different kinds of relationships, such as homosexual, interracial and those with a large age gap.

“Secrecy seems to have more negative outcomes in the relationship than positive outcomes,” Lehmiller said.

Another study surveyed 161 people over the Internet about their psychological and physical health and how secret they kept their relationships.

The same group was surveyed a year later to see how long they stayed together. Out of the 46 percent that responded, more than half were still together.

“It might actually be good to end a secret relationship in regards to your physical health,” Lehmiller said.

The study showed that members of couples that stayed together had more stress and less self esteem than those who broke up. Secrecy is suspected to be the cause of this stress.

“They definitely say secrecy was a reason they broke up,” Lehmiller said.

“I learned that secrets in all their different forms are toxic,” said senior psychology and chemistry major Chelsea Chapman, who attended the event.

Lehmiller conceded that some couples were forced to hide their relationships for fear of social ridicule or even physical violence.

“Not everyone has a choice when it comes to secrecy,” he said.

Staff writer Rachel Childs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:11 pm

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