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What impact does self-disclosure have on relationships?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Willful (deliberate, conscious) self-disclosure will always have an impact on the development, maintenance, and deterioration of relationships. That is the way most people are wired. The impact of those disclosures will be positive or negative depending on a variety of factors. 

Self-disclosure is important to relationships which are developing. Obviously sharing one's deepest secrets and desires (whether they are good or bad) with a virtual stranger can be off-putting, intimidating, or even frightening. Gradual and mutual revelations as relationships/friendships develop help foster trust and understanding. Shared goals and experience always increase the connection between people, and revelatory disclosures can deepen that connection. Of course, the reverse can also be true, as the listener may not react favorably, for whatever reason, to the disclosure. This reaction generally results in diminished or even severed relationships.

Maintaining healthy relationships is also largely...

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