Is there such a thing as oversharing in a relationship?
Honest communication lies at the heart of every great relationship, but do you really need to share everything with your partner? Jo Middleton discusses whether oversharing is causing more harm than good
Have you been watching First Dates on Channel 4? I absolutely love it, but sometimes I’m a little surprised by just how much some people are prepared to share on a first date. Admittedly, it may be a self-selected sample and perhaps you need to be a little bit of an over-sharer to volunteer for the show in the first place, but still.
I watched an episode a few weeks ago, for instance, where a flamboyant woman in her 20s was on a date with a man of a similar age. They had barely looked at the menu before she said she had an announcement to make.
‘I’m just going to put it out there,’ she said gravely, looking like she might be about to announce that she had a second head tucked under jacket. ‘I’m going through a divorce.’
Cue a very awkward silence while her date digested the information.
More than anything, I’d imagine, he was contemplating the fact that she felt the need to announce this in such a dramatic way before they’d even got as far as their prawn cocktails. Was she telling him because she’s not over her ex? Is it some sort of test? I can’t help but feel that oversharing in this way, just minutes after meeting someone, is going to raise more questions than it answers.
Then, of course, you have that awkward stage in relationship when you’ve been dating for a few months. You’re starting to feel like you know your partner fairly well; you’ve met each other’s parents and friends, and none of them were serial killers.
For many people, including me, this is a dangerous phase. It’s often a time when testing starts to creep into the relationship, consciously or otherwise, and sometimes there’s a feeling that the next level of intimacy can only be achieve if you reveal some kind of deep, dark secret about yourself.
I’ve definitely been guilty of oversharing, as I wrote on my blog a little while ago. Mine stems from that heady mix of insecurity and a longing to be loved – a combination that manifests itself as a sexy little blend called, ‘neediness’.
Because that’s the risk, isn’t it? The media, books and film advise us that communication is key but don’t we sometimes go a bit too far? In our pursuit of openness and honesty do we risk looking desperate? And did that First Dates 20-something discuss her divorce in the name of honesty or was she looking for attention or acceptance?
I’m not saying that we should be deliberately hiding things about ourselves in our relationships. Honesty is vital, of course, but there are some things, some internal monologues that should surely stay just that, internal. In a society where we’re encouraged to share everything, everywhere, all the time, could it be that we’re all victims of oversharing?