The Grey Area Between Privacy, Secrecy and Shame In Relationships

Many people don’t like others all up in their business, and it’s easy to understand why. Especially when it comes to romantic relationships, most of us don’t want our private affairs to become fodder for public dissection. I saw the recent news about Hollywood stars Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling’s secret wedding, and it got…


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Many people don’t like others all up in their business, and it’s easy to understand why. Especially when it comes to romantic relationships, most of us don’t want our private affairs to become fodder for public dissection.

I saw the recent news about Hollywood stars Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling’s secret wedding, and it got me thinking about this whole privacy thing. Though the rumour itself was denied, Mendes and Gosling are no strangers to secrecy. The couple has two children and during both pregnancies, the world was pretty much unaware that they were expecting.

Gosling and Mendes aren’t the only ones to have pulled this off. Scandal leading lady Kerry Washington, who is now expecting her second child, pretty much got married and had her first baby behind the paparazzi’s back. It seemed like she went down the road to buy bread and came back with a ring and child. You could have blinked and missed the whole thing.

These scenarios raised this question in my head. When does keeping things on the low cross the line from privacy to secrecy, or even shame? Certainly, with celebrities, you can understand the clear rationale behind closely guarding private matters. They already live their lives in the public eye, and their audiences can be ravenous. It’s a tall order to thrust a new life into that spotlight and having strangers with cameras all up in your face isn’t really conducive for emotional, life-changing moments like weddings and births.

Yet, this was the same story Iyanya used to eat Yvonne Nelson’s stew. If you’re Yoruba, you’ll understand what that means. If we believe Yvonne’s story, the Kukere master gave her the speech about keeping their relationship private because it was special, and celebrities were susceptible to amebos who would only come between them, only for her to realise that he wanted (and was enjoying) multiple waists.

Even more confusing, is Average Ade down the road forming fear of paparazzi when it’s time for you guys to hold hands in public. I’m not the hugest fan of PDA, but simple affectionate acknowledgments like a kiss here and there, or even holding hands, are hardly on the same level as having sex on the beach and making out on the side of the road. I mean, people are into different things and a wide variety of stimuli turns people on, but I doubt holding hands offers a particularly wild experience.

Or maybe Regular Remi has told you that she wants to keep things on the low because your relationship is too special to become a subject of gossip. Oshey. Keeper of Secrets. You can like to password protect your passion, and rig your texts and call history to self-destruct in five seconds like Mission Impossible.

Anyway, over to you guys. Are you with the Gosling-Mendes approach? Even more interestingly, I want to know if you’ve ever been ashamed to “claim” your partner. If so, why were you with them, you monster? On the flip side, have you willingly or unwillingly been “kept on the low”? Why did you agree to it and how long did the private arrangement last? You know the routine. Express away.


  1. Lipglossmaffia
    Uuuuuuh, nice topic.
    Hmmm… I am an extremely private person and I think it depends how you and your partner want to play it out. I have always preferred to have my relationships on the downlow. Only closest frends and family can know about it. Funny enough, I love PDA but i’d rather let people assume than to say, “hi, this is Lagbaja my boyfriend”. I even cringe at the word “girlfriend”. I ghosted a guy once for using that word in public. It scared me.

    I really like my privacy. And the private arrangement is still on(i think, lol)

      1. Lipglossmaffia
        Lol, yes. It is actually. I’m hiding it from prying eyes. My closest friends and family are aware though( just in case he turns out to be serial killer) and i’m not shy about PDA. I just prefer not to issue a public statement that I’m dating.????
    1. Simi
      This is so me! I cringe at the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. Never have I introduced him as that before or introduced myself as that before. We are both private people who like some PDA. And yeah, I think the arrangement is still on. We never set out to be so private, it just happened that we were both the same way and just flowed into it.
  2. Ejura
    hmmmm this “let’s keep the relationship private” thingy has always been one kind to me. especially if none of us is royalty or Brad Pitt. Why shouldn’t people know we are dating? Its one thing to not be all mushy everywhere and be discreet (which I still see no ish with but I am a shy person so I can’t do it 🙁 ) and another thing to hide it. Like why shouldn’t people know I am your girl? For what purpose? I no fine reach your level abi kini? It is rubbish abeg
  3. Exclusive
    Funmi! Hi dear,

    I’m all for Eva and Ryan’s approach. They are celebrities all right but I think they get a pass to a life they can call theirs too. Some fans have no chill, they want to know EVERYTHING. You have a window to their craft, but their life? That’s a whole different thing and they can choose to share. Or not.

    Now for average Ade and Regular Remi, I guess you just make sure both parties are on the same page and it’s not because one does not want to be publicly associated with another.

    People have different reasons for even the most seemingly unreasonable things like being and staying with someone they don’t want to be linked with. Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but well, quite a number of things in the world don’t.

    1. Funmi
      Yup, we’re getting somewhere. If you don’t want to “claim” oga or aunty in public, perhaps (consciously or subconsciously) you don’t want to be seen with them?
  4. Hephie Brown
    Different strokes for different folks. I come from a place where they say “ti isu eni ba ta, aa fowo booje”. If your yam sprouts, eat it in secrecy. I havent been to my hometown in 3 years. And my parents live there. My folks come to Lagos to see us whenever they’re less busy. It works well for us. In fact when next I go, ill wear my most normal clothes and carry natural hair. You see, its a crime to “arrive” around there. Now, relationship wise, I was always open. Check my facebook account from like 4 years back, i was love doctor. Everyone must know who I’m dating. and how happy I am. But it always ended. And people I barely knew will be counting relationships for me. Guys I didnt date will be gloating. Girls will be forming fake sympathy. It was exhausting. 2015, my ex of about 8 months ago got engaged in a grand manner and trust people to send me photos saying “is that not your “friend””? sigh. Rude people. SO now, people have fought me, in fact typing the word “bae” on a social media platform feels weird but well so has he. Why am I being secretive? really hard to explain. What if we break up? or what if it’s jinxed? What if someone doesnt like me being happy? I can point out a few…I only say “my boyfriend” in front of married folks. or few friends..I dont know why..working on it tho.

    Jealousy is as powerful as Juju. If people see you are being too happy the things they wish you in their hearts collectively might just happen to you.

    1. Funmi
      This is quite Nollywood of you. Enjoy your relationship abeg. You don’t have to shout from the rooftops but you might be slightly paranoid. Patience Ozokwor isn’t going to jump out of the shadows and steal your bae.
  5. chaka khan
    I like my relationship being private but not a secret.for me its like a turn on when nobody knows whats going on between us.i have made too many mistakes relationship wise and i have learnt my lesson!
      1. Lipglossmaffia
        As far as i can take it, . But here is the thing, only people who are important to me would know. I wouldn’t tell an acquantaince or a colleague or a client or a neighbour or an old school. I don’t see why they need to know. Lol, it’s classified information and they need to have proper security clearance(p.s I’m a crime TV junkie, forgive the analogy). And as someone wrote here earlier, as long as both partners are on the same page about how private they want to keep it, it’s all good. Yeah?
  6. S
    Absolutely love this article.
    I’m all for low-key relationship, the media ruins everything.
    And for us Regular Remi’s who aren’t plagued with paparazzi, i think it’s healthier to keep a relationship extremely private.
  7. mynameisnotChioma
    I personally think if it’s just starting out, not everyone has to know. I think you and your partner and a select few is good Coz people are nosy and you start hearing things. However I think it’s best to discuss with your partner how you guys want to handle the situation. I’ve denied being involved with someone before simply Coz we worked together and that was the agreement we came to but he got offended as he thought I was ashamed of him. Which took me by surprise because we had discussed it. Another experience of this whole privacy issue was with a recent ex. When we just began dating, I went to like a hen party and we played games, one being rating guys We knew, well his name came up and I didn’t say anything, let’s just say he had a lot of fans. My cousin kept giving me cheeky grins. Anyway, fast forward a few days, maybe a week later, a woman at the party found out we were dating Coz she asked him. He said yes, she brought up the party saying I didn’t say anything and so he was like why? I think he got the wrong impression, I personally just wanted to hear people’s opinions on my man (now ex) I didn’t say anything because it was my business and the people at the party who I felt needed to know about my relationship with him already knew (the cheeky grinning cousin and a friend) Besides, I was with him half the time we saw these people so it’s not like we were hiding it.
    I think deffo discuss it with your partner. But I’ll still only tell the people I want. Not everyone matters.
  8. ME
    Nice article. I’m on d team #veery private, and I could be secretive when I want to. I believe my relationship is about me and my partner and no one else. I don’t owe anyone an explanation abt what goes on in my relationship, who I’m seeing or why. I’ll def never mention ‘bae’ on any social media platform or flaunt his pics or any pic of me and him chilling by d beach or sturvs like dt. Relationships are sacred and should be treated as such. In our social-media-addicted generation, pple are too concerned abt getting approval from other pple by way of Likes, comments and opinions that they don’t know where to draw d line anymore. Let d private remain privately tucked away from public eye and opinion. Only d pple that mater most in my life (parents, siblings and d innermost circle best friends) will ever get a chance to know d dude that’s got my hrt and that’s as far as it’s ever gona get. So yea,I’m d Group admin of Private/Secret group, buh def not shame. As long as He knows more than anyone how proud I am of him and how honoured I feel to have him in my life, nothing or no one else matters buh that.
  9. Funmi
    Seems like the same topics keep coming up. I’m not a bae pic poster but some of these comments seem like you and your dude will have secret codewords and eye twitches to identify each other in public. Being selective with social media posting is not the same as not telling people you’re in a relationship or trying to hide that. To a lay geh like me, it looks like you’re eeping your options open. Where do you draw the line?
    1. Lipglossmaffia
      Hehehe, you’re so funny. Lol twitches. That’s a good one. It’s not that deep naa.You can keep it private and still tell other people that you’re not interested in seeing them. For instance, when a girl tells a guy that she can’t date him because she has a boyfriend, i find that pretty shady because that means, if (god forbid) potential guy was to kill her boyfriend she would date him. Lol. I’m digressing.
      I still don’t think keeping your relationship private means keeping your options open. We’re all adults. It’s not like a full blown marriage that is in everybody’s face would even stop any part of a couple from having extra marital relations…
  10. Theshygirl
    I’m totally into not loading your relationship. I’ve learnt from experience that when people know so much about your relationship they put mouth in all matters with stories that touches.
  11. Abi Sanni
    Ryan Gosling is married? there goes my hottiee 🙁 Yvonne and Iyanya? Have I been under a rock?? _0_

    For personal reasons, I prefer to be quiet about my relationship in the beginning of it and especially when my parents do not know about it. So, social media and the rest won’t see a single things. Those that need to know will know. I am also not a big fan of showing everything to the world. But the once in awhile, here and there is nice. Holding hands, pecks and so on are a total yes yes for me.

    That being said, if a man tells me he wants us to keep our relationship private and no one at all knows ( including my friends and his) then ha! it is best to pick my bags and RUN!!! He is up to no good.

    BTW, where is OD? Is he still on TNC?

  12. Larz
    I have only ever posted my rship on social media once and that was becuz we had a big bday party (30) of my ex and we took photos that was obvious we were together. Having said that, if u r in my social circle them u will know I am in a serious rship.
    On a ranting note, I absolutely hate it when ppl you haven’t seen in months or years seem surprised (or worse upset) you r dating/ engaged or married without them knowing. Am like how u suppose take know. U be winch?
  13. Sharrap
    Really, where is Od?
    I miss reading his controversial comments, and i actually learnt so much from him.

    Ok, for this topic, I am also a private person. Once in a while, i upload pics online and do stuffs, (because bae likes it). If i had my way however, no one will know about us, except of course,people that matter.
    Let’s keep it private abeg. This world is just full of haters and gossips. I think that’s just me anyway. I don’t have anything to hide, neither am i ashamed of him. I just would rather not blow the trumpet and use “sekere” to announce my relationship.
    I am trying to get better though, cos he is the PDA person. I hope to get to that stage, beht i am def not in a hurry to. Lol

  14. OG
    lol I personally think there are no issues in regards to having an open relationship.
    I believe if both parties are on the same page and know what they both want, it really won’t matter what anyone feels or thinks.

    When you’re married to whoever, would you still not acknowledge that you have a spouse?

    I think most people who decide not to be public with it are abit insecure of what they have or perhaps they’ve had their fingers burnt before.
    A true and well meaning relationship should not burdened with privacy, imo that’s pretty dodgy.


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