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How to Tell If You’re in a Low Key Relationship or a Secret Affair

Being in a secret relationship is very different from simply keeping things low key for an understandable reason. You don’t deserve to be hidden away! 

Low Key Relationship

We’ve all been there. Out of nowhere, someone tells you that they’re having a great time with you, but they want a low key relationship for now. What does that even mean? Are you now in a secret relationship?

You have a major crush on someone and can’t help but think about them every second of the day. Finally, they notice you and you end up seeing more of them. Things advance a little and you’re spending even more time together.

You’re walking on air at this point. Then, they share this low key relationship desire with you. You can be forgiven for pulling a confused face. [Read: What is casual dating? How to know for sure if you can handle it]

What is a low key relationship exactly?

It’s perfectly fine to be in a low key relationship if that’s what you both want. This means that you’re taking things slow, not rushing into anything, and being casual about it all. You’re not declaring your love for one another on every social media platform.

You might be seen out in public together occasionally, but it’s not a regular thing. You might have mutual friends and hang out as a group. But you’re not introducing them to other friends and family just yet.

Some low key relationships are exclusive, others aren’t. That’s something you should decide between yourselves. Of course, the problems begin when that conversation doesn’t happen and one of you thinks things are progressing more officially than the other.

However, sometimes the line between low key and hidden relationships can be extremely blurry. [Read: 10 things you must always remember when you’re in a casual relationship]

What is a secret relationship?

Now we know that a low key relationship is literally just keeping things a little on the down low, let’s see the differences between this and a secret relationship.

In a secret relationship the two of you are dating, and for some reason, one or both of you want to keep the relationship a secret from the world. You don’t go out publicly, you don’t text each other in front of others, and you definitely don’t go tagging each other on social media.

So literally, a secret relationship is a “relationship” that honestly isn’t a relationship just yet, for whatever reason.

If one person is keeping it a secret and the other isn’t, there is going to be a lot of frustration. The person who wants it to be a secret might also panic if you’re seen together in public and urge you not to talk about what’s going on. [Read: 26 sexy, secret love quotes about unspoken affections]

Can a secret relationship actually work?

Secret romances may seem exciting, but in reality, they may prove to be fatal for most relationships. Such scenarios only look good in soap operas and movies. In most cases, secret relationships are a product of unfounded fear and sometimes, even sheer cheating. [Read: How to tell if someone is using you – The signs a user just can’t hide]

However, a low key relationship can sometimes be a good thing, if it’s what you both want. If you’re someone who wants to shout it from the rooftops and can’t help but burst with excitement and tell your friends about your latest date, you’re going to struggle with the low key relationship idea.

The point here is that you’re both laid back about it. You’re not rushing. You’re not keeping track of how many dates you’ve been on, or what everything means. There is no label on a low key relationship, because you’re seeing how things go. [Read: 15 hurt-free rules to date casually without getting hurt]

The reasons why someone would want a secret relationship

You’re better off being single than hooking up with someone who is into secret games and secret relationships. Well, unless that’s what you’re looking for too!

Here are some of the common reasons why people want to keep their relationship a secret. [Read: How to have a casual relationship without getting hurt or betrayed]

1. They’re cheating on you

Now this one is the most obvious of them all! Your new partner may sugar-coat everything and agree with whatever you say. All is great, that is until you decide to introduce them to your parents or friends.

People who are cheating on you or using you as a side-piece always have an excuse ready to throw at you because they’re just not interested to meet “your” people or introduce you to theirs. This new person may even hesitate to take you to public places and may insist on going to a sheltered and secluded place because it’s “more romantic and intimate.”

You may not be spending nights over at their place either, no person who’s cheating would want to get caught cheating, would they? [Read: All the signs you’re someone’s sidechick when you believe you’re his main girl]

2. They’re still with their ex

People who aren’t quite finished with their former flame will unquestionably jump hoops to hide their relationship. The idea that they can have their cake and eat it too is tempting.

Your new partner may be feeling uneasy about letting go of you, because they’re not sure what their odds are with their on-off relationship with the ex. [Read: Are you being benched by someone? 17 signs you’re clearly being strung along right now]

3. They’re crazy!

Your new partner doesn’t have any rational reasons behind why they want to keep the relationship a secret. They only know they want it to be a secret romance.

You’re a closet lover in their eyes, and their kinky fetish of secret love could give you more reasons to be confused than feel happy. If your love becomes all closed up like a cupboard, you should move on.

4. Gasp! They’re married!

Married people will do anything to keep their extramarital relationship covert. They probably don’t answer your call when they’re at home. They answer your texts quickly occasionally, but they always seem busy even if they’re just watching some new series.

You’re probably meeting only around their workplace, or spending weekends on out of town getaways. [Confession: I dated a married man and here’s everything I’ve learned from it]

5. They’re not sure they’re into you.

You may be shouting from the rooftops, confessing your undying love for this person. But your new love doesn’t want to shout, let alone speak about your secret love.

The simple truth is that they’re not sure of their feelings for you. Give them some time and even after that, if they’re unable to do date you publicly, end all relations with this person. The longer you stay, the more pain and insecurity you’ll experience. [Read: 15 painful signs they’re not into you and it’s time for you to walk away]

6. They’ve fallen in love with the ex of someone close

Another possible reason for keeping a relationship secret is because a person has fallen in love with a close friend or family member’s ex. These are both bro and girl code no-no’s!

If you’re the ex of someone this person is close to, you have to understand that your relationship is very unlikely to work out, simply because of the problems that will occur once everyone knows about it.

You’re basically forbidden fruit. [Read: What is a toxic relationship? 53 signs tor recognize love that hurts you]

7. They’ve fallen in love against parental wishes

This is similar to the point above, but probably has even worse consequences. A person may want to keep their relationship a secret if their parents wouldn’t or don’t approve of who they’ve fallen for.

This can be for lots of reasons that we won’t delve into here, but going against parental wishes can have serious fall-out. [Read: How to tell your parents you have a boyfriend and do it right]

The good side: Two good reasons to keep a relationship a secret

Every relationship is different and not all the people who want to keep their relationship a secret are villains. Sometimes, it becomes essential to hide a relationship from your immediate world. Here are some of the reasons why you should keep a relationship hidden for good.

1. You work together

When you’re scorching bedsheets with your work colleague, it may not be a wise decision to bring it out in the open at the workplace, unless you are pretty sure of your relationship and want to go ahead with it.

Revelations about your office love may spell the end to your professionalism, as many organizations do not entertain co-worker romances.

And how weird is it for everyone else working with you two if you guys decide to call it quits and break up in a month? [Read: What you need to do when a relationship with a coworker ends]

2. After a recent break-up

Breaking up with someone you’ve loved for a long time is a painful experience and if your new partner has broken up recently, it becomes a part of your own relationship.

Your partner may have been deeply in love with their ex, and may have jumped into a relationship with you, without fully realizing it *cue rebound relationship music*.

And now, this person may find it awkward to introduce you to their friends or family, in fear of being seen as someone who moved on from a long term relationship in no time.

Have a conversation with your partner and find out if you’re a spontaneous rebound or if there’s even hope for true love. If they can’t reassure you about their affections, or are still confused even after a few dates, you’re on shaky ground. [Read: The signs you’re the rebound guy she’s using to get over her own guy]

How to have a secret relationship

If after all this you think that a secret relationship is the way to go, or you fall into the one of the categories where it’s a good thing to keep things low key, here are a few pointers on how to get it right.

1. Stay away from social media

That means now cryptic posts, staying away from your phone when you’re drunk, and not accidentally forgetting that this whole thing is supposed to be a low key relationship in the first place!

If you’re friends on social media, be careful how many times you like each other’s posts as people can often figure it out that way. [Read: Social media and relationships – The good, the bad, and the ugly]

2. Seize opportunities, but be discreet

Being in a low key relationship or even a full-on secret relationship doesn’t mean you have to lock yourselves away. If you see an opportunity to head out and have fun together, take it. You just need to be discreet.

3. Be honest

This means being honest with one another at all times. It’s not fair for one person to think the relationship is progressing and the other keeping it a huge secret.

Also, if someone asks you about the relationship, own up and be honest. If you don’t do this, you’re keeping it a secret for shady reasons. [Read: Why you should tell the truth even when it hurts, and why it matters]

How to deal with a secret relationship

If you’re pretty sure there isn’t a low key deal going on and instead you’re hidden away, it’s time to wave goodbye. Seriously! You deserve better.

Sit down with them first and ask why they feel the need to hide your relationship, or whatever it is. The chances are you’re not going to get a very reasonable answer to your question, because there isn’t one.

If someone wants to spend time with you, wants to sleep with you, wants to share intimate and personal moments with you, this should not be hidden away. Of course, that doesn’t mean oversharing and telling everyone every single detail. But it does mean that it’s not the world’s biggest secret either. [Read: What it could really mean if someone wants a secret relationship]

Come on, how does it make you feel? That they’re ashamed or scared what people will say? How ridiculous a fear is that? If someone you’re spending time with wants to hide the fact, then, sorry, but they have to go.

Raise your hand and wave it in a goodbye gesture. It’s the only way to go. [Read: The signs you’re wasting time in a one sided relationship

When should a low key relationship turn into something more high key?

That’s the million dollar question.

We all move at different speeds when it comes to love. If you’ve had a conversation and identified the reasons for wanting to keep things low, then you’ll be fine with that for a while. However, there will come a time when perhaps one or both of you wants to move things up a gear.

If your partner doesn’t want that to happen and they’re happy with the low key relationship you’ve already got, think carefully about the future. The fact that you want to kick things up a notch means that you’re not happy with the low key thing anymore. [Read: How to read the signs when your casual relationship is starting to get serious]

There should be a certain amount of give and take here. At the end of the day you still need to be happy at the speed your relationship is moving and how visible or otherwise it is to others. You don’t have to be one of those couples who constantly posts cute photos on social media or declares their love for one another at every turn.

But you do should have a certain amount of identity as a couple that goes beyond the low key version after a while. If this doesn’t happen, maybe this relationship isn’t the one for you in the end. [Read: Are you two a couple? 14 clear signs it’s going in the right direction]

The only way you can figure this out is to sit down and talk about it. Be honest and open about how you feel and what you want. You can’t be shy here. Be truthful to yourself. Maybe you’re happy with the low key relationship mold and it’s fine. But if you’re not, it’s time to speak up.

[Read: Casual dating vs. serious dating: What’s your dating speed for now?]

A low key relationship is usually a short-lived thing before it develops into something a little more high profile. But there is a very big difference between being low key and being a secret.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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