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Privacy VS. Secrecy

Episode #783

Are you struggling with the fine line between privacy and secrecy in your relationships?

Do you find yourself wondering how to rebuild trust after a breach?

In this episode, Doug and Andy dive into the complexities of secrecy, privacy, trust, and transparency in relationships. Explore the difference between privacy, which is healthy and necessary, and secrecy, which can erode trust and connection. Gain insights into practical strategies for fostering open communication and rebuilding trust in your relationships.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to navigate the delicate balance between privacy and secrecy while cultivating transparency and trust in your relationships.

Discover the importance of making and keeping agreements, both with yourself and your partner, as a foundation for building trust.

Explore the role of vulnerability and accountability in repairing trust after a breach, and gain actionable tips for creating a culture of honesty and openness in your relationships.

Hungry for more?

Head over to our BONUS page for special access to some of the deeper tactics and techniques we’ve developed at The Powerful Man.

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Doug Holt  00:00

Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of the TPM Show. And I am once again joined by my very special guest, Mr. Andy Torr, and he’s one of our master coaches. And he is here for this week delivering one of our flagship programs, The Alpha Reset, an experiential program. So very delighted to have him here. And guys, you’re going to love this conversation. Andy, thanks for being here, man.

Andy Torr 00:22

Oh, Doug, always a pleasure to chat with you.

Doug Holt  00:23

Yeah, you brought up a really good topic that I don’t think we ever touched on, on the show. We’ve done over 700 episodes as you know, but the idea of privacy versus secrecy, tell me a little bit more about what you’re thinking?

Andy Torr 00:35

Well, there’s so many guys who come into The Activation Method, who are really, they’re either having the experience of a spouse who’s keeping secrets about something, or perhaps they’re keeping secrets about something, right? The most common way this plays out is usually in the form of an affair, you know, whether it’s an emotional or physical affair, and there’s a lot of secrecy going on in the background. But it can be very difficult terrain to navigate, because it can be a little bit uncomfortable for us when our partner has a life that is separate from us. You know, they go out into the world, they have communities of friends, they have their work, that sort of thing.

And if we have maybe a need for attachment, then it can be very easy for us to get into a story of like, well, I need to know everything about what’s going on in your life in order for me to feel safe with you. Right? And although I understand where that comes from, it can come across as a little controlling, or perhaps very controlling, right? Or perhaps if our partner is attached, and she needs to know everything about us, then there may be a need for her to really feel like she needs to know all of the details of us.

Doug Holt  01:41

Yeah, it becomes like a codependency. Right?

Andy Torr  01:43


Doug Holt  01:44

And it shows up for a lot of the men, the men that I work with, when they — I get it right, they’ve had to — back up a step. They’ve discovered their wife having an emotional affair as an example. And all of a sudden, I need all of your social media logins, I need to check everything. We’ve had guys clone their wives’ phones, and are checking all the messages, and sometimes for good reason. But oftentimes, this man now is showing up as controlling, but also very needy.

Andy Torr  02:10

Very needy.

Doug Holt  02:11

Yeah. And that is not a sexy thing for a woman.

Andy Torr 02:13

Yeah. I mean, in the workplace, this would be performance management, wouldn’t it? Like, you’ve made a big mistake. And now we’re going to scrutinize your performance and make sure that you have a high degree of accountability. Maybe that works in the workplace, doesn’t work so well on the relationship. Now, secrecy can be a very damaging thing to a relationship. Basically, secrecy says, I’m keeping this to myself because if somebody finds out, then somebody’s going to get hurt, either me or somebody else.

So a very common example is the guys who look at pornography, right, that can be a secret of thing because there’s judgment associated, right? If somebody finds out that I’m doing this thing that I’m going to get judged. And if I get judged for my secrets, then I’m going to feel disconnected, and that’s going to put me in shame. And shame is a very, very powerful emotion. And so whenever we keep secrets, and whenever we experience judgment, or we fear judgment, that’s a recipe for shame. So I have a personal commitment to myself that I don’t keep secrets. There’s nothing that I do that I would not be able to tell my partner, the first lady about.

However, I am entitled to a degree of privacy. Right? So there are certain things that are just mine that I get to have certain friendships. So I get to have my phone, my email, I get to close the bathroom, the door to the bathroom when I use it. You know, there’s not an environment in the relationship where everything is known. So calibrating those differences between privacy which each of us gets to have, and privacy is I get to have the space to myself, but if somebody sees me in this space, then there’s no negative consequences. It’s just that I got to have this time to myself. I get to have my dignity. Secrecy is there’s negative consequences if somebody finds out about this.

Doug Holt  04:02

Yeah, and it was funny you said the bathroom because I was going to use that as the analogy, and I’m going to be a little gross here, guys, but everybody poops, right? So people can know you’re using the bathroom, but you can also close the door. And that’s the difference between privacy and secrecy. You’re not hiding anything. The thing I think is really critical here for someone trying to make this distinction is if your partner found out, would there be a backlash? Would you feel shame, guilt, anger, those kinds of things about yourself? And oftentimes, what this creates when people are holding secrets, and you like me, we don’t hold secrets with our partners and I don’t hold secrets — I can’t think of anybody really, unless it’s a birthday gift, right? But the thing is, is that puts a little bit of a barrier between those two people, right, so it makes connection more difficult. And as you, we call it, the glass.

We use the analogy of a pane of glass between two people. So guys if you’re watching this right now, you get the idea. Andy and I are sitting across from each other. Imagine a pane of glass between us. And if I’m keeping a secret, it’s like me throwing mud on that glass. You know, I throw a little bit of mud, I can still see Andy, right, but it’s a little bit. But over time, it gets a little bit more blurry and I can no longer see Andy. And the same analogies with your partner, and you can’t see each other, you can’t feel each other. And it’s because you’re hiding things from each other with one another, and you’re scared that they’re going to find out.

Andy Torr 05:28

And of course, that creates a lack of safety in the relationship, doesn’t it?

Doug Holt  05:30

Yeah, absolutely.

Andy Torr  05:31

We always end up talking about safety whenever we get together. The fundamental need for every human being is to feel emotionally safe and connected to the people around them. So when we are in relationship to our loved ones, we have a responsibility as the leader of the relationship, as the man to create an environment of safety to be the protector. There’s lots of different ingredients that go into safety, but one big one is not keeping secrets. That doesn’t mean you don’t get privacy, right? But it does mean that you get to be open and honest about the areas in which you’re struggling.

Doug Holt  06:03

Yes. Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s the thing I also think is so interesting, Andy, when I think about myself, but mainly the guys that we coach. Because you and I have been doing this for so long that mostly passed that stage. What I mean by that, so the guys have an understanding, it’s not like we don’t screw up, we screw up all the time, we just have mechanisms in place to course correct much quicker, right?

An argument with my wife that used to last a month, now takes a matter of seconds as an example. But we still argue, we still have disagreements, we come back to center. And it’s the same thing with the secrecy and this privacy is when you want to provide safety, it’s really about the energetic, the energy that you’re bringing in to the relationship. And if you’re keeping secrets away from your partner, then really what you’re saying to her is, I don’t trust you to really fully accept me. And what she’s going to pick up on is, I don’t trust her in that sense.

Andy Torr 06:58

100%. And so it’s from the perspective of looking at our side of the street, we can say, well, how am I creating the conditions in the relationship for her to maybe feel like she has to keep secrets? Am I coming in with a lot of criticism? Am I coming in with judgment? You know, am I making her feel like I’m controlling her with what I need? And in that environment, it would make sense that she might feel like she can’t be fully — she can’t have full disclosure, because she’s going to experience the shame and the judgment from us.

So how are we approaching the relationship? How are we showing up? Are we creating the circumstance? And this is very common with guys who experience a partner who has an affair, emotional or physical. Say, oh, my wife cheated on me. And she broke our vows and all that stuff. And the first question to ask is, how did you create the circumstances for her to become hopeless in the relationship and to look to somebody else for safety and connection? And that stops them in their tracks.

Doug Holt  07:57

Because they hate hearing it. Right? Because they’ve been playing the victim card, because playing the victim gives me attention. It puts the blame on somebody else. It’s not my fault. That’s the easy card to pull every time.

Andy Torr  08:07

100% And blame is very easy, right. It’s much easier to blame somebody else than it is to examine our own stuff.

Doug Holt  08:16

Yeah, absolutely correct. So I want to dive into this a little deeper, and change course because I can imagine the guy’s listening to this going, yeah, but you don’t get it. My wife had an emotional affair. How can I trust her again? You know, she’s keeping secrets, I’m going to keep my secrets. And we all, too often what I see Andy is one, you got porn, right, two, you can have another woman on the side or something along those lines, the affair you mentioned. I also see a lot of guys hiding money.

A lot of guys are hiding money, because if she’s going to leave and take half of my money, now I’m going to start stacking money elsewhere, or we’ve had guys ask their bosses to hold off bonuses or moving money into cash or other assets that when the divorce could happen, she’s not getting it all and that kind of mentality. Let’s talk a little bit about, not that, but how do people come back? From these secrets being discovered?

Andy Torr  09:11

Yeah. That’s sort of a form of doomsday prepping, isn’t it?

Doug Holt  09:13

It is.

Andy Torr  09:14

We’re preparing for the end of days, you know, move the money and all that stuff.

Doug Holt  09:17

And then you create it.

Andy Torr  09:19

Of course. Absolutely. Yeah. So how do you come back? What I hear so much from guys coming to The Activation Method, especially after a partner has been unfaithful, is I just want to trust her again. Right? I just want to get to that place down the road where I can trust her. And what do I need to do to be able to get to that destination of trust? And the response that I always have is trust is not a destination, trust is a journey. Trust is a — it’s a decision, a day to day decision to make the decision to trust our partners.

The reason why trust is difficult is because it’s a risk. If we take an emotional risk to trust somebody else, and that trust gets betrayed, then of course we get hurt. So there’s vulnerability there, right? And vulnerability feels very raw, it’s very difficult for most men to experience vulnerability because it is an emotional risk. So trust is challenging. And a lot of us, and I certainly was like this, Andy 1.0 was like this, where the only trust that exists is the trust for the other person. There’s actually four different types of trusts. There’s the ability to trust yourself, there’s the ability to trust someone else, there’s the ability to trust a process, like The Activation Method or even the process of life, right. And then there’s a spiritual trust. There’s the — whatever we believe in, the Divine, whether it’s God or Buddha, or whomever, the ability to trust that.

And so trust, for me, is a practice. It’s a decision that I make every single day to first and foremost, trust myself. You can’t give what you don’t have. So how am I going to trust my partner, if I’m not actively trusting myself? The fastest way to build trust, and we teach this in The Activation Method, make and keep agreements with yourself, right? Make and keep agreements with yourself, if I say, I’m going to do my Alpha Rise & Shine, and I get up, and I do my Alpha Rise & Shine, there’s a subconscious conversation that happens that says, oh, hey, Andy, you said you were going to do the thing, you did the thing. You can really trust yourself to show up, and we deposit a little bit of trust capital in the bank. And over time, if we deposit enough trust capital, then that turns into confidence.

Similarly, if we say, well, I’m going to do my Alpha decompression, and I don’t show up for that, because I’m too busy. And I put other things in the way, then the subconscious conversation says, oh, well, you said you wanted to do the thing. You didn’t do the thing. So I guess you must not be important enough, right? It’s almost like a conversation with your inner child, or whatever that is. And you take a little trust capital out of the bank. So making and keeping agreements with yourself, is the fastest way to develop the practice of being able to trust yourself.

And once you get really, really good at that, it’s much easier to be able to trust other people, because you’ve got some reps in. It’s the same with emotions. If I do the emotional work and I understand what disappointment feels like, for me in my body, then I can connect with my wife’s disappointment when she’s experiencing something that’s disappointing, then I can show her empathy. But if I’m not connected here with my emotions, then how am I possibly going to connect with her emotions?

Doug Holt  12:19

Yeah, it’s also — I love that. And it’s also what we see in other people we have to find in ourselves first.

Andy Torr  12:25


Doug Holt  12:26

Right. So, if for some reason I’m not trusting you, the question I come to immediately is what is inside of me that I’m not trusting? And there could be areas, right? Like, some guys could just crush it. I trust myself completely in business. But maybe around the Twinkies, you know, I don’t, or the cupboard, or whatever else it is. So trust can come in categories, but it also can be holistic.

Andy Torr  12:48

Absolutely. And a big area where a lot of guys struggle is that we get taught early in life not to trust our emotions, right. So there’s this strong experience that we have this emotional experience, and for whatever reason, whether it’s childhood programming, or maybe we’ve been in a profession where emotions are discouraged, and it’s all intellectualized, we don’t trust those feelings. And so there’s a part of ourselves that we are disconnected from. So there’s a practice of learning to trust yourself. And then once you get really good at that, then you can learn to trust other people a little bit better as well.

Doug Holt  13:21

I love that. And also, a guy listening to this right now, one of the things that I always tell the guys too is find micro ways to trust. Make it easy for yourself. This is going to build over time. And as you said, it’s not a destination. And it’s going to fluctuate here and there, and it could, hopefully it doesn’t, but there might be other issues. And especially for a lot of the guys, when there’s been an infidelity or a violation in trust, you know, I’ll say, “Okay, where are you not trust being trustworthy?” And he’ll go, “I’m always trustworthy.” I’m like, “Dude, you told me a little bit ago that you’re hiding money. That’s a secret. You’re not 100% right.” Like, “Oh, crap, you got me.”

And then what’s one micro thing you can trust her with? Small thing, right, to allow — She wants to build trust, you have to have two people. But what’s one micro thing you can start doing? You don’t have to all of a sudden say, I completely trust her forever. That doesn’t have to happen. You could choose to do that. But you could also just what’s the smallest, easiest step that you can take to build that trust again?

Andy Torr  14:20

And we get to lead by example as men. So if you want to be able to trust your wife again, then you get to show up in a way that is trustworthy, right? So here’s an example. I just got off an activation method call, and one of the guys… So, we’re into end of January now. And this guy said, you know, I finally took down my Christmas lights. Yeah, it’s been a few weeks, but you know, the weather was warm enough and I got up on the ladder, and I took down the Christmas lights. And I got a note from my wife that said, “Thank you for taking down the Christmas lights.”

He had said a few weeks ago that he was going to take down the Christmas lights. It took a minute for him to actually do the thing. But then he did the thing that he said he was going to do, he kept his word. He made an agreement and then kept the agreement and she noticed as women tend to do, and she appreciated that. And so what that note actually said is, thank you for showing me that I can trust you. How you do anything is how you do everything. If she can trust him with the Christmas lights, then maybe she feels like she can trust him with bigger things.

So when we have this consistency of I’m giving my word, I’m keeping my word. And I’m doing this over and over and over and over and over again, then guess what that builds? That builds a really nice foundation of trust in the relationship. And we’re leading by example, we’re leading the relationship. And so when we behave in a way that is trustworthy, then we inspire our partners, our kids, and other people to behave in a way that is trustworthy as well. So it goes back to that question, right? What are you doing to create the circumstances in your relationship for your wife to behave in a way that is untrustworthy?

Doug Holt  15:51

That’s 100% true. And a lot of guys will just focus so much on the business, right, that they no longer have the complete, you know, the five territories that we talked about which are self, health, wealth, relationships, and business. Guys usually have the business one nailed down for the most part, right. And they don’t trust the process of really allowing themselves to go into all those five territories and really be fulfilled. And their wife now feels left alone a lot of the times.

Andy Torr  16:19

Yeah, absolutely. So how do I show up in a way that builds trust at home? Well, if I say I’m going to be home at a certain time, you know, am I always late? Am I always making excuses about why I’m not home at that time. Or am I keeping my word and I’m showing up? That’s just a little micro way to be able to build trust. And we can also appreciate our partners when they show us that we can trust them in a little way.

Doug Holt  16:43

Yeah, I mean, it’s big. I mean, even in work, I always give people that we work with a hard time. And we were joking about this earlier today, off camera, is if someone says they’re going to be there at 08:00, I expect them to be there by 08:00. And if they show up at 08:30, I always say like, hey, good evening, or good afternoon or whatever, you know. Just giving them a little bit of a hard time. But it is those micro commitments, because eventually people, when it comes to trust, and I’m just — wherever it is, be in the relationship or outside, they’re going to learn, hey, Frank, doesn’t do this.

So I associate Frank with I can’t trust what he’s going to say. So if he says eight o’clock, or he says he’s going to do the thing, Christmas lights, or whatever else it may be, I’ve lost my trust and faith in Frank. And that’s what that person’s personality becomes. And you apply that to the marriage, it can be just as bad.

Andy Torr  17:28

Yeah, absolutely. And when there’s been a big breach of trust in a relationship, like an affair, it can be very, very difficult. And it’s very easy to paint with a broad brush. She cheated so therefore, I can’t trust her at all. Right? Okay. If we really dig into that, and we probably need 25 podcasts to dig into that, Doug, because every relationship is different, you know. But generally speaking, if there has been a major breach of trust, it doesn’t mean that that person cannot be trusted in any way at all. It means that they’ve behaved in a way that’s created distrust because they were in pain.

So if we can separate that, and we can say, okay, where can I trust her that’s working well, and where can I appreciate that she’s showing up in certain ways, and where can I acknowledge that? Then that allows me to not completely resent her and not completely write her off, but to understand that she took an action. And maybe it was a deeply hurtful action. But that doesn’t mean that there’s a complete lack of trust in the relationship.

Doug Holt  18:25

Yeah, it’s also going back to the analogy of someone showing up late. Eventually, that person accepts that identity, right. And you can do the same thing with your partner, if you keep talking to them about how untrustworthy they are, and you’re doing it over and over again, they’re going to keep showing up as untrustworthy, because they may accept that identity of themselves. And I remember my wife early on in the relationship being jealous, right? I was around a lot of attractive women during the day. And, you know, she would eventually ask, like, Hey, are you cheating? Are you doing something?

And one time I turned to her and said, I’m not cheating, I haven’t done anything. However, if you’re going to treat me as if I am cheating, I might as well be. And that really hit her hard of like, hey, if I’m going to get the punishment for cheating but not the potential reward, if you will, you know what I’m saying? Then why don’t I just do the thing? Because I’m getting the same outcome. And I think a lot of men miss that. And they treat their wife as less than because they want to punish her, because they’re hurting so bad inside I want to make you feel as bad as I feel. And what they’re doing is their wife could be accepting that identity that this is who I am. And they’ll repeat the action again.

Andy Torr  19:39

Yeah, absolutely. So we look at the action that was wrong rather than casting that person as a villain, right. It’s, you did something wrong, not you are wrong.

Doug Holt  19:50

Yes, [inaudible 00:19:51] character issue.

Andy Torr  19:52

And that’s the difference between shame and guilt. Guilt says I did something wrong. It can be corrected and apologized for and maybe it’s really painful, but it’s an action. Shame says I am bad. And I’m not worthy of connection. So as much as possible, we want to, in our own internal work, stay out of shame and move into guilt and look at our actions, and also focus on the actions of the people around us, and not cast them as villains or put labels on them.

Doug Holt  20:20

I love this. Andy, let’s leave these guys with two to three things, insights that they could take out of this podcast or this episode, and apply to their lives today.

Andy Torr  20:30

Well, gosh, we talked about privacy and secrecy, and then we got into a conversation about trust. So we’ve kind of been all over the place. It’s been fun for me. I think the big thing for me, and this is a personal practice for myself, I don’t keep secrets, right, period. Now I have clients who tell me things that are very confidential, so there’s privacy there. But I don’t keep secrets myself. If I pass my phone to my partner, she could look at every single conversation I have. And there’s text messages on there with female friends that I have, and all kinds of stuff. She could look at my browser history, and it’s squeaky clean, because I don’t keep secrets, because I just don’t want to make my life complex in that way.

Doug Holt  21:12

Yeah. And I just want to clear it up if I can for you, because I can see somebody saying that you’re saying that porn is horrible. [inaudible 00:21:18] the browser history. You’re not saying that, but you’re saying squeaky clean is, whether you look at porn or not, the first lady’s going to know about whatever it is you’re doing.

Andy Torr  21:27

Sure. And every relationship is different. So if there’s an agreement around pornography, that porn is acceptable and you both got to look at it and enjoy it, and maybe you look at it together, wonderful. If there’s an agreement in your relationship that porn is a deal breaker, well, then you know how to show up. So the agreements just help us navigate.

Doug Holt  21:43

Exactly. I absolutely love that. I always make a joke when I tell people and I do it, because it’s just easier for people. But I say, you know, I just don’t lie, because I just forget things. So keeping secrets is just not something I do.

Andy Torr  21:54

It just complicates our lives unnecessarily.

Doug Holt  21:56

100%. Something else that guys can do I think here is look inward. So the second thing, I love Byron Katie. She does something called The Work, everybody can Google it. But one of the key aspects, I remember when I first did this, Andy, the key aspect is, I’ll use the trust thing. My wife, Erin, I’ll say I can’t trust Erin, she’s untrustworthy. And part of Byron Katie’s thing is turning it around. List five times that I have not been trustworthy or five… Look for the evidence. And you start listing it out. I remember myself doing this the first time [inaudible 00:22:28] shit, shit, crap. Oh, man. Now I’m faced with this one instance where my wife may not be trustworthy. But now I got five things that I’ve not showed up as, as trustworthy.

Andy Torr  22:41

Exactly. So is she a reflection of me?

Doug Holt  22:43


Andy Torr  22:44

And am I creating an environment in the relationship for her to feel like she needs to keep secrets because she can’t tell me because she’s afraid to.

Doug Holt  22:51

Yeah. And it’s also be careful of throwing stones if you live in a glass house.

Andy Torr  22:56

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And the third takeaway, I think, was just around trust, right, that trust is a practice, trust is a decision, you know, moment to moment. And so if there has been a breach of trust in the relationship, repairing trust is okay, I’m going to decide to trust you in a small way. Right? Maybe I trust you around our kids, or I trust you to do what you said you were going to do in a small way, and I’m going to appreciate you for that, and I’m going to build on that. And also part of the practice of trust is how are the ways in which I can trust myself? And am I really building a solid relationship of trust with me? And if I am, then that makes trusting other people and other things, life, you know, other instances much easier.

Doug Holt  23:34

I love it. I love it. Thanks so much, Andy, for all that you do, man; for the movement for the guys, these 13 men that are going to go home to their children, their partners, their communities, their businesses better men. I just really appreciate you and all that you do.

Andy Torr  23:47

Oh. Thank you, Doug. Always a pleasure to be here.

Doug Holt  23:49

Awesome. Gentlemen, as we always say in the moment of insight, take massive action. Look at your life, take those three steps, go back. Where can you be rebuilding trust? Where are you keeping secrets? Take inventory, and it’s time to clear house. Guys, have an amazing day, and we’ll see you next time on the TPM Show.