Do I have to confess my lustful thoughts to the person I lusted after? I'm dealing with the sin of lust (and the commonly related sinful behavior linked to it). I know I need to repent of this, ask God for forgiveness, and cut it out of my life. But there are times I doubt if that is enough. Do I need to tell people about the things I've done even if it hasn't directly affected them if at all?
The purpose of confession is to face the fact that we sinned -- that we are not going to hide from that fact. Unacknowledged sin destroys us internally. "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." (Psalms 32:3-5). Confession is made to the ones we harmed by our sins. Since all sins are against God, the first and most important confession we need to make is to Him (I John 1:5-10).
Often the one in sin realizes how badly his sin affected his relationship with God and so he desires the support of his fellow Christians in approaching God. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).
When our sins harm another person, we attempt to correct the problem as a part of our repentance (II Corinthians 7:11). However, in this case, your sin has been harming yourself. Other people have not been involved. Telling someone that he or she has been the focus of your lust would cause embarrassment and harm your normal relationship as friends or coworkers.
Therefore, this is a matter to fix within yourself. Confess your sins to God and correct how you see other people. Don't cause additional harm just because you feel guilt and feel you need to be punished.
Thank you, sir.