How to Tell if You’re in a Lowkey Relationship: 11 Simple Steps

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The first time I heard someone talk about lowkey relationships, I was in my twenties, and it sounded like a strange new relationship status… like swingers or gender fluid. Now that I’m a bit older and have a lot more experience with relationships, I’ve had a few very happy lowkey relationships. 

It can be difficult to know if you’re in a lowkey relationship, a secret love affair, or just with a partner who doesn’t want to commit. I’ve learned a few pointers to help you decide what kind of relationship you are currently in. After all, nobody likes confusion and miscommunication in a relationship, so you’ll want to figure out sooner than later what your partner’s level of commitment is… and determine where you stand.  

What Are Lowkey Relationships?

In lowkey relationships, both partners keep their relationship out of the public eye, though a few people they are closer with are aware that the two are together. It’s not a secret relationship; instead, the partners don’t necessarily announce their relationship to the world with social media and public gestures of affection.

Unlike an affair or secret relationship, a lowkey relationship is about the couple’s comfort level, not about hiding from others. It is not about being deceptive or hiding the fact that you are with someone. Instead, it’s about focusing on you and your partner and avoiding the world outside, except for those few people you consider part of your inner circle.

Essentially, you and your partner are in a private relationship and not a public one. Those in lowkey relationships tend to only display their affection in private or in the presence of their inner circle of people. Hanging out in public and public displays of affection are not how this couple shows the world (or each other) they are together. 

When I was in my first lowkey relationship, I was somewhat confused about the parameters of the relationship. It felt different from an affair, where nobody knows because the relationship is forbidden. But like Romeo and Juliette, my significant other and I chose not to reveal our relationship to the wider world.  

His friends and my friends knew. Most of our family members didn’t. Our reasoning was simple: we wanted to focus on each other without any outside distractions.

Why would someone choose a relationship like this? Why choose a private relationship? 

Reasons for Entering a Lowkey Relationship

Some of the reasons for my own lowkey relationships included: 

  • Taking the Time to Get to Know Each Other

Let’s face it—life is filled with uncertainty. Often, we find something beautiful, like a new relationship, and we don’t want to jinx it by telling others. After all, you are just starting to know each other better. Perhaps you are both somewhat unsure of whether the relationship will work or not, and you prefer to discover the road without having spectators from society. 

  • Avoiding Public Opinions

There’s a saying that all it takes for a dream to die is to tell someone. People are opinionated creatures, and while this isn’t necessarily meant in a negative way, we are swayed by others’ statements. 

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Unlike an affair or secret relationship, a lowkey relationship is about the couple’s comfort level, not about hiding from others.

A new relationship is fragile, and if your distant friends don’t approve of him or her, you may choose to keep it private until such time as you both feel more assured about your relationship status.

Some people also enter a relationship that is lowkey since it suits their introverted relationship needs

  • Not Subscribing to Public Expectations

If you are very independent, you may wish to create your own expectations and boundaries in your relationship. However, society has its own set of expectations or roles that it wants us to fulfill. Women are supposed to marry, have children, and be obedient to their husband. This may sound like old reasoning and some people would argue that this kind of expectation is long dead and gone—it isn’t. 

A lowkey relationship can offer a way to escape public expectations because these could place strain on a relationship. 

  • You’re Having an Affair

Okay, so you may be having an affair, and this is the reason your relationship needs to stay lowkey. This kind of lowkey relationship becomes a secret relationship since it’s about hiding the relationship because the relationship could hurt others. 

  • Your Relationship Is Forbidden

When your relationship isn’t socially or otherwise acceptable, or you are in a relationship with a coworker (like in the military service) and such a relationship isn’t permissible, you may opt for a lowkey relationship to hide the identity of your lover or to ensure you both can continue the relationship. 

Couples who have different sexual identities that may be frowned on by their culture or religious orientations may also resort to a lowkey relationship to hide the relationship from those who would report them and judge them, but they share it with those close to them who approve of their decisions. 

Is It Lowkey or Just an Affair? Telling the Difference

While an affair can be lowkey, some lowkey relationships are simply covers to ensure the guy has easy access without the mess of a public relationship with you. You’ve ended up in an affair without knowing it. So what are the warning signs that what you thought was a private relationship has turned into a full affair?

  • Lies

When you catch your partner out on multiple lies, they are hiding themselves, not shielding you from public opinion. Lies are deceptions, and this is usually a good indication that he’s lying to you too. 

While he doesn’t have to tell the world you’re together, he should be willing to own up when someone close to you asks about your relationship. 

  • Public Avoidance

In a lowkey relationship, your partner may choose not to show public displays of affection, but he shouldn’t avoid you entirely in public. Avoidance indicates shame, and nothing is more shameful than being in an affair with someone who is leading you on since they don’t love you

Despite avoiding you in public, he may also be jealous and stalk you when you don’t know he’s doing it. If you are together, he may watch you with covert jealousy. 

  • Personal Information Blackout

Your partner should trust you, and while the relationship is lowkey, he should be comfortable with you being around him and his life. When he hides his phone while typing text messages or takes all his calls outside, he is hiding the truth from you, and this always points to other lies. 

  • He Avoids You When You’re Apart

In an affair, your partner will choose to fuss over you while you are busy making out or spend the weekend at a romantic get-away, but he will ignore your messages and calls for hours as soon as he is back in his other life. When you’re not physically accessible to him, he ignores you. 

How to Tell You’re in a Lowkey Relationship

When I began to question the status of my lowkey relationship, before I knew what it was, I checked for signs of just what my relationship was like. There are a few telltale signs of being in a loving but lowkey relationship. 

1. More Time Together

Keep track of your time investment. Do you spend more and more time together exclusively, avoiding socializing with friends or family? Perhaps you notice that he likes your company most of all, that he frequently wants to be intimately close to you, or he tells you that he’d rather chill at home with you than hang out with his friends. 

2. Private vs Public Lives

Which relationship has the most value to you and your partner? Do you have SMACKDOWN lives in public where you argue and resort to name-calling? Then you’re definitely not in a lowkey relationship. When your partner is quick to reject you and your ideas, he is probably playing you and an A-grade manipulator. 

When your battles are calmly dealt with in private, you are in a lowkey relationship. Like your relationship, your disagreements are also conducted in private. 

3. He Doesn’t Disclose to Others

A man who’s in a lowkey relationship will admit to being in a relationship with you, but he won’t get baited into sharing details with his buddies or others. He won’t tell them all about you or what you two do together. Your relationship is verified but private. Your partner doesn’t carry guilt for denying you since he didn’t; he’s just not going to tell everyone every single thing about you. 

4. Trusted Friends Are Informed

Unlike an affair, your lowkey relationship partner will be more open with their closest friends, and they will take you with them for social gatherings with this intimate group of people. While he may not take you to the work Christmas party, he will do a movie night with his longtime school friend and you and your dearest bestie. 

5. He’s Not Shy about His Love When Alone

A lowkey relationship partner becomes really affectionate and romantic when you are together. He will caress you while making the morning coffee or he will give you a kiss on the back of your neck when he steps out of the shower or shows up for dinner. 

6. He Always Puts You First, Even in Public

When you’re in an affair, your partner will walk away if you need them in public. A lowkey relationship partner will always put you first. While they may not want to constantly tell the world you are together, he will always be there when you need him in public or private. You are his priority, not a secret to be kept. 

7. He Expresses His Affection in Private

Most couples will change their Facebook status as soon as they hook up, proclaiming they are “in a relationship with (whomever they are seeing),” but your lowkey relationship partner will rather use love names for you in private and enjoy your time together than splashing it all on social media. 

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Those in lowkey relationships tend to only display their affection in private or in the presence of their inner circle of people

For him, social media is dangerous and does more harm than good to a relationship. His expression of love is in person, not on a public network. 

8. He Slowly Moves the Relationship Forward

Ever wished a guy would ask you out only to have him take forever to do so? While this guy may just be shy and not necessarily heading toward a lowkey relationship, there are other reasons for taking it slow

A man in a lowkey relationship may choose not to rush into the relationship. Since there are no outside pressures pushing you along, he may want to become friends before he becomes your lover. He considers your relationship before any other needs. For him, the longevity of the relationship is most important over an exciting but expendable relationship or affair. 

9. He Respects Your Independence 

Most women hate a clingy guy. They hate being pressured or told what to do, but they end up in public relationships like this because society tells them its okay

A lowkey relationship partner does the opposite. He respects your independence, and he wants you to have enough time alone to meet your own needs. Likewise, he doesn’t exclude you, but he also wants to have time alone for his own activities and hobbies. 

While you may have shared interests in hobbies, you and your partner don’t take up the same hobby because one of you is already doing it. Instead, he’d wish you a lovely Saturday morning at the yoga studio while he stays home and watches football. 

10. He Has a Timeline for Making Your Relationship Public

A lowkey relationship is often about having time to really get to know each other without having public opinions involved. However, nobody can constantly live in “hiding” with the one they love. When he has a plan of keeping it lowkey for a set period like six months, he is open to owning up to the relationship. You are not a dirty secret he wants to keep hidden. 

This shows maturity and ownership of his commitment to the relationship. 

11. You Make Decisions Together

Since a lowkey relationship is about you and your partner and not about the world outside, you will be much more committed to each other. Your decisions are shared because you have reached that state of commitment. By making decisions together, you deepen your experience of the relationship. 

Final Thoughts on Lowkey Relationships

While a private relationship isn’t for everyone, there are many solid reasons why someone may want to consider engaging in a lowkey relationship.  It offers couples the chance to experience true intimacy, without the prying eyes of the wider community.

You can still inform your closest friends about your relationship, while keeping it quiet from those who don’t approve or would actively seek to break you up. Or those who just love to throw their two-cents in via social media posts and “dislike” buttons.  

Life is hard, but your love life shouldn’t be. Your relationship should be the soft place where you can fall, and your partner should be willing and able to catch you.  Not sure where life has hit you hardest? Read our article on whether life is hard and decide for yourself what you want to believe.

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