As a rule of thumb dual life leads to a lot of stress. It comes from a deep rooted desire of not being free in the real world. In some cases one might argue that certain situations were forced on you, but one always has a choice to come clean. Also double life comes with double or more costs. One needs to travel a lot, need a lot of free time to manage the commitments, always be cautious of not spilling ones bean, ensure that whatever words you share are consistent with your previous lies (and who knows which version). Also you need to maintain boundaries: the closer you come to someone, harder it becomes to hide in plain sight. The diversion tactics become so ingrained that you will be unable to answer a straight question. Some people find maintaining one life difficult, I wonder with twice the complications & hundreds of secrets how does one manage. Not to mention the risk of exposure, blackmailing, and being outcast in professional or personal front.
Yet why do people do it? Does living on the edge give people the thrill to sustain it (esp. true with philanders)? Or they get their alternative lifestyle, sexual orientation, gambling, drugs or drinking that any cost is justified? Is the shame, guilt & deceit worth it?
Most study shows that successful people & those in high stress environments are more likely to have a secret double life. Some say success gives people a sense of entitlement. After gathering all the laurels, recognition & financial success, they try to create secret fantasies of their own. Their money & influence allows them to make it grander than others. Some say that it is because it is a secret cry for help and that some people secretly sabotage their own success. However I believe it’s because success brings more public scrutiny and gives more reasons to hide. Stress encourages people to find a release value and living out a fantasy often tops the list. After all most dual lives start with a harmless, playful, lively & forward looking fantasy.
Everybody has special fantasies and it’s normal and harmless. It could be as simple as pretending to be someone else while on a vacation, doing role-plays or just taking a temporary break from everything. I have heard homemakers hire a babysitter and spend a day meeting strangers (platonically) and pretending to be bachelorette again. Incidentally it is perfectly OK to have a different set of personality in your professional and personal life. As a matter of fact people with roles as auditor, celebrities or with public/client dealing have an expected personality and a real personality. So when is it OK and not-OK to lead a double life?
Often people have an inherent duality and an individual’s inability to integrate the two inconstant, reverse factors lead to this kind of behavior. One step leads to another and lying takes over their lives. The question is when does the obsession becomes excessive, unreasonable and dangerous and takes over. Having a secret is perfectly normal but spending all your time & resources in managing & hiding it is crossing the limit.
PS: I don’t have anything against gays or queers, for most households these are taboos and people realize that no amount of persuasion will help them retain their family as well as their lifestyle together.