Mandy Kloppers

Why people live double lives

Not being true to yourself

I am privileged in that people reveal many of their secrets to me during therapy sessions. One thing that I have found to be far more common than I expected is the existence of double lives. Many people feel pressure to convey a certain image to others and this means they end up suppressing their true desires.

It is quite common for people to have secrets and double lives are on the increase. We live in a judgemental world where many of us feel we cannot be true to ourselves. Our insecurities and fear of rejection and humiliation prevent us from owning our hidden personality traits and behaviours.

One common example of a double life is infidelity. On the one hand a married person wishes to be seen as faithful and moralistic. But on the other hand there are these urges and desires which pull a person in the opposite direction. Inner conflict arises And can be the cause of great stress for the person.Cognitive dissonance occurs when there is conflict between the way we would like to see ourselves and the way we actually are. When these two images are not the same-conflict arises.

Cognitive dissonance

One way to deal with cognitive dissonance is to split and dissociate so that there is a gap between the two lives. Compartmentalisation is one defence mechanism that people use to cope with a double life without feeling guilt. A double life can offer comfort to someone who is under immense pressure to be seen as powerful and successful. A double life offers an opportunity to live the life they really want rather than the life that is expected of them from others.

The more society places pressure upon us to be a good citizen, a faithful spouse, a perfect parent and an upstanding person all round, the more double lives will continue to exist.

Mandy X

Photo by MadalenaPestana