How to Tell If You’re Oversharing (and How to Stop It)

November 30, 2021

Being authentic and personable is great! Constantly unloading on everyone around you is not.

The line between private and public information has never been more blurred, whether you blame reality TV, social media, or perhaps a global pandemic steadily chipping away at all of our emotional states.

Chances are good that at one point or another, you’ve been guilty of oversharing, which the New York Times describes as “exclusively talking about personal matters and neglecting to volley the conversation back and forth.”

So: Do you use Facebook like a personal diary? Do your coworkers know every intimate detail about your last relationship? Does every conversation somehow turn into a personal monologue? It’s great to be authentic and personable, but you might be going too far with how much information you unload on those around you.

What’s wrong with oversharing?

Too much oversharing can have serious consequences, as psychotherapist Amy Morin writes in Forbes:

You might put yourself in physical danger by revealing too much to the wrong person. You could alienate people who feel uncomfortable by the amount of personal information you share. And recounting your problems to people who don’t have your best interest in mind may lead them to take advantage of you.

Even if you have the best of intentions, oversharing doesn’t actually promote healthy relationships, according to licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Arzt. Instead, oversharing “tends to make other people feel awkward…they might feel pressure to ‘match’ the sharing, which may cause discomfort and resentment.”

So, how can you identify the line around sharing too much, and how can you stop yourself from crossing it?

The reasons behind oversharing

Why do you feel like you can tell your hairdresser anything? Why does the stranger next to you on your flight now know about your partner’s commitment issues? Why, why, why are you telling your coworker about that embarrassing thing you did in seventh grade?

According to Morin in Psychology Today, there are five main reasons behind oversharing:

1. A false sense of intimacy

2. Solace in a stranger

3. A misguided attempt to fast-track the relationship

4. Poor boundaries

5. A hasty effort to make someone else feel comfortable

So, when your hairdresser is in your physical space, it creates a sense of intimacy that might not really be there. You’ll never see your flight seat-mate again, so you feel comfortable using them to get things off your chest. And maybe your coworker was the one who started sharing embarrassing stories first, so now you’re digging into your own past to make things less awkward. Identifying the reasons behind oversharing can help you avoid it in the future.

Signs you’re oversharing

Obviously the lines around oversharing depend on a number of contextual factors, like your relationship to someone or where you are physically. Aside from people directly telling you that you’ve gone too far, here are some indicators that even your friends are thinking, “TMI.”

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