How to Get Someone to Tell You a Secret

Two Parts:Building TrustKeeping the Secret

Many people have secrets or things about themselves they don’t want others to know. Those secrets can be something as simple as they have a new job to more serious matters such as divorce.[1] But getting someone to tell you their secret can be difficult. If you want someone to open up to you, building trust and showing that you can keep secrets may get her to tell you the secret.

Part 1
Building Trust

  1. Image titled Get Someone to Tell You a Secret Step 01
    Enjoy sincere conversations. Have conversation with the person that are sincere and cover a range of topics. Talking about meaningful things to the person can help her subconsciously connect her to positive feelings about you and make her more likely to open up to you.[2]
    • Incorporate different topics into your conversation. Keep it lighthearted and funny at times and balance that with more serious matters at others.[3]
    • Be as sincere as possible without appearing fake. For example, if your friend having trouble in your relationship in a way you cannot relate you can assure her and say “I don’t totally understand how you’re feeling, but I am happy to talk about this however much and in whatever way you need.” This would be better than simply saying “I know exactly how you feel,” especially if you don’t
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    Listen intently. Listen closely to what she is saying during your conversations. Reference what she’s said other times you talk, which shows to her that you are paying close attention to her and her needs.[4]
    • Ask questions during the conversation, which can show that you’re listening closely to what your friend is saying.[5]
    • Notice differences in her tone or demeanor, which may indicate she is hesitant about something or it is difficult for her. You can gently probe by asking “is everything alright?” This will give her a chance to let you know if anything is wrong.
    • Don’t push your friend to tell you anything with which she is uncomfortable. This shows her that you are trustworthy and genuinely there for her.
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    Talk about yourself, too. Make sure to talk about yourself during your conversations. Give little bits of information about yourself as you feel comfortable, which can in turn put her at ease and show that she can confide in and trust you.[6]
    • Discuss different topics with your friend including serious and lighthearted matters. This can help her your similarities and may make her more likely to confide a secret in you.[7]
    • Sharing can really help establish a relationship of trust between people, especially if both individuals are comfortable talking about themselves.[8]
    • Keep what you talk about and share commensurate with what your friend shares. Oversharing and not sharing enough may undermine you ability to get her to tell you secrets.[9]
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    Receive her unconditionally. An integral part of building trust in any relationship is accepting the person unconditionally.[10] This may make her more likely to divulge secrets to you.[11]
    • Don’t push or even force her to do or say something with which she isn’t comfortable.
    • Assure her in any way you can. For example, if you know she isn’t telling you everything and is keeping secrets, you can say “Just tell me whatever you can or want.”
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    Be reliable. Make sure to be there and honor commitments with your friend. This shows her that she can rely on you at time, including telling and keeping secrets.[12]
    • Follow up on any commitment you make to the best of your ability. Showing that you are reliable even with the most basic things helps maintain trust.[13]
    • If you cannot honor something, give your friend plenty of notice and make to explain the circumstances and then apologize.[14]
    • Make sure to not pass judgment on anything she tells you. This can help her more readily come to and confide in you.[15]
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    Show your independence. In conversations and interactions, show your friend that you are independent and able to think for yourself. Demonstrating that you are not susceptible to outside opinions or pressure to talk about her can help show that you are reliable, sincere, and trustworthy. This may make her more likely to tell you her secrets.[16]
    • Don’t repeat gossip you’ve heard about her or other people. If you do, this could make her wonder what you say about her when she’s not around.[17]
    • Assert you opinions without being overbearing to show your friend that you can hold your own with others and are not susceptible to influence by outside forces.[18]
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    Maintain discretion. Likely the best way to gain your friend’s trust and get her to tell you secrets is maintain complete discretion on all matters she discusses with you.[19] Avoid divulging information she’s told you to others or making light of it in other conversations you have with her.[20]
    • Keep anything you think might be sensitive to your friend to yourself.
    • Ask if you are not sure if you can say something to others, but know this might undermine her trust for you. For example, if she tells you she is pregnant, just ask “should I keep this to myself or are you sharing the news with others.”[21]
    • Respect her wishes with whatever her decision on relaying information is.[22]

Part 2
Keeping the Secret

  1. Image titled Get Someone to Tell You a Secret Step 08
    Ask her to divulge. If you know your friend has a secret, just ask her to tell you. No matter her decision, accept and move on from it.
    • Ask in a patient and non-confrontational manner.
    • Assure your friend you want to know because you support her and that you will keep the secret to yourself.
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    Support your friend. Many people who harbor secrets may be in trouble or feel like they are beyond help. Ask them if you can help and then support them in whatever way they need and want.
    • Research shows that holding on to secrets can cause physical and emotional distress.[23] Tell your friend that if she wants to talk to you about her secret it may make her feel better.[24]
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    Stay silent. No matter the temptation—if the secret is very happy or very serious—do not divulge your friend’s secret to any other individual. She likely has a good reason to keep the secret and may only want those closest to her to know what’s happening.[25]
    • Avoid all temptation to tell the secret, which can have serious consequences for your relationship.[26]
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    Speak to an authority figure. If you feel the need to divulge the secret because of its serious nature such as abuse, an affair, or health issue, speak to a professional or someone in authority. Make it clear that you need advice on how to handle the situation.
    • Avoid using the person’s name or too many details that could indicate the person’s identity.
    • Consider speaking to a professional such as a lawyer or police office about the secret and how to handle it.
    • Discuss your feelings with someone who doesn’t know the person who has divulged their secret.
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    Share your own secret. If your friend shares a serious secret with you, consider reciprocating and sharing one with her. Knowing that she is keeping your secrets may make you more likely to hold on to hers as well.
    • Make sure the secret you share is similar to hers. Remember it’s not a competition, but meant as a measure to assure both of you.
    • Say, “Please keep this to yourself, but I understand how you feel. I have a secret, too.”


  • Make sure you are ready to hear the secret, no matter its truth. Acknowledge that it might overwhelm you. If you feel are worried you might overreact to the secret, wait to hear it until you feel more prepared.
  • Practice your response privately until you feel calm and confident. If you know that you have a tendency to respond strongly, train yourself to dampen your facial and bodily responses.


    • Be aware that telling another person’s secret can seriously harm or end that relationship.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Diary and Secrets