The night I kittened, I was talking to a friend about my current friend-with-benefits, who I've been calling The Major-General on Twitter (because he's played that role twice). I've made the decision to not name him here or anywhere online for Various Reasons, but it isn't A Secret that we have something going on; anyone who sees us interact in person knows, though they tend to assume we're dating. I get a lot of sidelong "How long have you guys been an item?" when he goes to get another drink or whatever.
And my friend said "Yes! It's the difference between secret and private!"
And I was like YES.
I mean, I have a bunch of reasons, such as my exes have actually had people call the places of work of people who don't support them unquestioningly, and have done various and sundry other creepinesses, so I don't want to expose anyone to that.
But it is actually a big huge deal to me to be able to be private.
Judah was a spotlight person, and that meant a lot of our relationship was pretty public. The aftermath was MASSIVELY public, given that I needed word spread that he was a rapist... and my exes, Michael in particular, were massively performative when it was public that we were dating, but before we went public, it was a huge secret I dare not tell. So. Living with an unwanted spotlight on one side and Big Secrets on the other. Whiplash. And being forced to be so public about everything since Judah...
It was, at first, just a delicious little non-harmful secret when I started up with the Major-General. Just "I know a happy-making thing no one else knows!"
And then it became "...I don't have to tell anyone."
The only people who need to know who I'm schtupping are Adam and Mat. I don't have to tell anyone else. The only people he has to tell are the other people he's schtupping. (And, uh, his housemates are aware, oops. We mostly hook up at my place now.) And he's not super performative anyway, so that works out really well for both of us.
Secrets feel toxic to me; they have since I was a kid. This isn't a secret. This is the first chance I've had in years to be private.
And I am taking it and loving it. <3 There is an unexpected freedom there.
(If you know who I'm talking about - and if you've been to a party we've both been at, you almost certainly do - please don't ID him in comments. I am totally fine with you knowing, but it is really nice to not have strangers all up in my business!)