You would think that people would be excessively defensive when it comes to their most personal secrets and – while that is often the case – there are also a surprising number of occasions in which people seem eager to share them with relative strangers.
Telling a secret is cathartic, and I suspect that explains a good part of this strange eagerness to disclose. If there is something that you feel you need to keep private, it must be connected with some topic of anxiety for you. Whenever you are reminded of the secret you are keeping, you are reminded of the anxiety or shame or doubt that is the motivation for the secrecy. Telling a secret is thus a form of psychological unburdoning. This may explain why psychiatrists have such a lucrative trade, or why websites like PostSecret do not lack for material.
While sharing a secret can certainly provide a strange combination of thrill and relief, it doesn’t follow that this unburdoning is a good idea. You may feel an early sense of trust and connection with a person, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually use your secret in a way that harms of embarrasses you, whether by accident or by design.
The balance, then, is between trust and caution in a world that will not always treat you kindly.