September 2019
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the intersection of openness, intimacy, and privacy as it relates to me


icon: "distance (two hands (from two people) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

So a friend of mine told me something that had an intense emotional impact on me (and was then unavailable for conversation), and I talked with another friend about it to try to process it. Several days later, the first friend told me that they wanted it kept secret. So as not to lie by omission, I told them that I had already told a mutual friend of ours as it literally did not occur to me to think of this as a secret, or to think of the friend as the wrong person to talk about my feelings with. The first friend is upset with me now because they feel I broke their confidence. So that this doesn't happen again, let me issue the following PSA:

I do not understand social assumptions regarding privacy. I do not know what qualifies as 'private' to you if you have never told me. If you have never told me that something you are sharing is private, expecting me to know that is not okay. If you want me to keep a secret, tell me it's a secret. I cannot know what you want to hide. And if you want me to keep things secret, don't tell me you want to be open with everyone.

In most cases this should be irrelevant. Most events are not going to affect me in a way that mentioning you specifically is important. For instance, if you describe a fight with your partner and that sparks memories and feelings in me, the specifics of your situation are not relevant and I wouldn't feel a desire to share them. However, if something happens between us or if something happens that could change or end our connection, then mentioning you specifically is relevant because our connection is unique and my feelings about it are going to change based on who you are and the history of our connection. If Kylei was moving away, that wouldn't feel at all the same as if Heather was moving away. If they didn't tell me "keep this a secret" then it wouldn't even occur to me to keep it to myself because I'd be thinking about it a lot and I'd want to discuss it and/or write about it.

If you ever ask me to keep something in confidence, I would do it as a matter of course. In any case whether you tell me it's private or not, I am not going to tell an abuser, authority figure, or dangerous person something that makes you vulnerable to them. That would not be me sharing my feelings with someone I love and trust, that would be me exposing you to danger for no reason. Of course I would not do that!! but if you have never told me that a person is dangerous to you, and I love and trust them, then I may unknowingly do that. This is why I must be told who not to talk to about something you want kept secret. In the rare case where I want to share something that involves you, I am willing to suffer a loss by not sharing if it will keep you from feeling hurt.

If you want me to default to not talking about you at all, tell me and I'll do that. That will seriously impact my desire to be close to you, because I loathe making secrets out of things that have personal meaning to me (like my close people). I would never have a secret lover, for instance, because that would feel torturous to me, and would disrupt my intimacy with everyone else I cared about. I don't want to be told lots of secrets, because the sheer amount will cause me extreme distress considering that my memory might make me fail at that point. But conversely, if you're gonna keep secrets from me about things that would impact our relationship, I can't trust you. So, secretive people do not work for me as close friends. I can be casual friends with secretive people and even love them, but I cannot be close to them.

For me, there are literally hundreds of people I am okay with knowing the details of my life. I warn my lovers that if they want to be a large force in my life they need to be okay with me writing about them (about their actions and their words to me) in my LJ. The exception I will make is that I will lock it if it is something they don't want shared publicly, and/or use a pseudonym. This is something I try to mention fairly early on, as it's extremely important to me. I spent my first relationship not talking about that person with anyone and it hindered my growth and nourishment extremely.

I have one friend who values privacy very much. They have made this clear to me. I ask them which people I can talk about them with and what I can talk about, unless I'm being very vague (vague being something like "a friend of mine was talking about media consumption"). This is possible mostly because we have a very specific methodology of sharing with each other. I could not be happy with that situation if we were in a more intimate relationship, because people who affect my daily life are part of my story. I would need at least to be able to talk about them (without checking) with a few people they had vetted. If I love you and invest continually in you, what happens in your life is a part of my life. I need to be free to be open about my life with the people I trust at the very least.

I value having a circle of people (most of those in intimacy practice) who all know each others' business, who all call each other out and point out when someone is getting off track. This is why I put myself in uncomfortable situations for intimacy practice and have conflict resolution that is witnessed. if I fuck up, I want everyone to know about it, so that if there is something I could learn, I have the greatest chance that someone will teach me. I would rather be embarrassed than ignorantly problematic.

In short, here are your privacy choices with me:
-anything is fine to share unless otherwise specified.
-anything is fine to share with identifying information removed. (this doesn't work if people know you well enough to guess)
-nothing specific is okay to share unless specific permission has been granted for what to share and with whom.

or come up with your own preference and ask me and I'll let you know if I can do it, and then you can make an informed decision.

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Comments
rubyelf ══╣╠══
I'm fully aware of this, except that it's not really dangerous, because there really isn't anything in my journal that would do much other than piss off my mother and offend my sisters. My husband and my daughter know about it and I don't have any friends. So if my family and the few other people I know discover me here, it's not exactly going to wreck my life, because I don't have one. No scandals. Married, not cheating, no drugs, nothing to hide, really. If I really thought I needed to worry I'd make my journal friends-only. If someone actually takes the time to bother to track me down here, they're welcome to go ahead and read whatever they find. And if some employer doesn't want to hire me because they somehow find out I write smutty fanfic under a nickname, I probably don't want to be working for them anyway because I don't want to work for any place that needs to Google Search their employees' Facebook pictures of their cats.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.