Call Us Out-Of-Touch, But What Exactly Is A Sneaky Link?

Another day, another dating trend? You better believe it. But this time the trend isn't as toxic as ghosting, benching, breadcrumbing, or the abusive love-bombing technique. Instead, this trend has the chance of being really empowering if you go about it the right way. We're talking about sneaky links.

According to the all-knowing Urban Dictionary, the term "sneaky link" and the definition it has today, first came about in December 2020. In 2021, HXLLYWOOD released the song "Sneaky Link 2.0." By the end of that year, the term made the rounds on TikTok, meaning it had officially arrived and our culture was embracing it.

A sneaky link is a rendez-vous you have with someone, but you don't want anyone to know about it, so you keep it completely secret. Of course, sneaky links are nothing new. In 1998, "Sex and the City" had an episode called "Secret Sex" in which the women discussed the men they secretly slept with and the reasons why they chose not to share these particular sexual escapades. While having a sneaky link is one thing, being someone's sneaky link is a whole other ballpark. As much as sex can be fun — especially if it's a secret — it's not without its complications. So let's dig a little deeper into this dating trend and whether or not it's worth it.

The pros of sneaky links

Having sex with someone that you don't tell anyone about can be really exciting. When we have something in our lives for us and us alone, it's not only thrilling but can feel sacred. People tend to be judgmental, even our friends and family, so having a sneaky link is a way to enjoy yourself with someone and not have to deal with input from others. Just look at Romeo and Juliet — They had a great thing going until their secret was revealed, and we all know how that tragedy ended.

"Beyond the attraction and excitement of the relationship itself, the secrecy amplifies the intensity through the shared secret," clinical and counseling psychologist Elisabeth Shaw told Body + Soul. "It can make the arrangements for meeting, and the time together, more exciting and intense ... time is limited and the circumstances in which you meet are restricted ... you meet purely to connect, and that is very engaging."

While sneaky links tend to be sexual in nature, that doesn't mean that a relationship can't blossom if that's what you're both hoping for. Even if it does reach relationship status, you can still keep it secret and sneaky, so that the intoxicating feeling of having something covert can continue. That's the allure after all. 

The cons of sneaky links

No good thing is without its downsides, so this is where we need to address the cons of sexual secrecy. If you and your sneaky link are both aware of the status you hold in each other's lives, that's great. But if you have a sneaky link and they think they're something more or vice versa, that's where things get complex, and feelings can be hurt. Secret hookups are only equally enticing when two people are in on the secret.

A 2009 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that concealing relationships (even if neither person is cheating on someone else), can negatively affect one's health. Not only is commitment to each other jeopardized — something that may not be a concern if your sneaky link is just a casual situation — but the secrecy can lead to lower self-esteem and physical health issues. Now if those are the possible consequences for both people enjoying each other as sneaky links, just imagine if your sneaky link finds out you're keeping them completely under wraps. Toss in the chances of them (or you!) catching feelings, and you have a disaster on your hands.

Sneaky links can be beneficial, but without communication, they can be detrimental. There's nothing wrong with keeping parts, or all of your sex life to yourself, but you do want to make sure your sneaky link knows where they stand with you. That's the best way to really enjoy your shared secret.