Some types of secrets are actually fun: Things like low-key clothing brands and a little healthy gossip about celebs aren’t really harming anyone. But some kinds of confidentiality can be pretty detrimental to relationships, your lifestyle, and yourself. One such secret could be the relationship itself — and while some couples might have a perfectly good reason to keep their love on the DL, others run the risk of turning their relationship toxic. If you and your S.O. fall on this spectrum, check out these five tips for some guidance.

1. Think critically about why it’s secret in the first place. Relationships are as different as the people that comprise them, so there are a million reasons why a pair might choose to keep their connection a secret. No matter what your reason is, take the time to talk through this logic with your loved one. If you’re embarrassed of your significant other because of their personality, for example, that might raise some red flags from the get-go. Conversely, couples whose families might disapprove of the pairing for religious or cultural reasons are in a totally different situation.

2. Discuss the deets with your partner. Once you’ve established the reasoning behind the secrecy, it’s worth establishing some boundaries on just how covert your relationship will be. Are you not telling certain people? Is it just a social media thing? Will you attend events together? By being explicit about these parameters ahead of time, you’ll avoid confrontations (or worse: blowing your cover!) down the road.

3. Set a time limit. Depending on the purpose behind your secrecy, establishing a timeline will vary in significance. However, no matter the relationship, the truth has to come out at some point. Chat with your boo about when this time will be: Maybe it’s marked by a certain event, or you’d rather choose a specific date to get over the fear of telling your families together. No matter how you decide to do it, pick a time or milestone and stick with it.

4. Don’t taunt people with information. There is nothing worse than when someone tells you they have a secret but then refuses to tell you what it is. If you’re really committed to keeping your relationship on the DL, don’t put yourself in situations where you might have to lie about it or cross a boundary you and your S.O. agreed to.

5. Have a game plan for when someone confronts you. At one point or another, someone is going to ask you about your relationship status. Your answer might vary depending on who’s asking you, but you should definitely think ahead of time about what you’ll say. Nothing gives away the game like uncertainty over a question you should easily be able to answer.

How have you dealt with a DL relationship? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)