Dear Fellow Traveler,
I am somebody who maybe shares too much. For as long as I can remember I’ve been this way – I tend to not filter my words and I share how I’m feeling very honestly, all the time. Sometimes to the point of embarrassment. When someone asks how I’m feeling, I respond, oftentimes with more details than they’re probably wanting. Sometimes this is a really good thing. I have built really deep friendships because I’m this way. Sometimes it has been a painful thing. When what I share is rejected or used to judge me.
It took me a long time to realize that not everyone is comfortable sharing at the level I do or comfortable receiving what I share. I’ve been told by dates that I scared them off by going too deep too early. I didn’t really understand this at the time … I felt like I was just being honest about who I was and it wasn’t emotional, I was simply telling the truth of my history or past because it’s a part of who I am. And I’m curious and so excited to learn more about them. I wanted to show my scars (proudly and not in shame), in the hopes they’d show theirs and feel comfortable being authentically them? But I’ve gotten a tiny bit more guarded through these experiences … I know now to wait a hot minute before I give too many details, but if I’m excited about someone, sometimes it’s really hard for me to filter.
A friend recently called me out about this. I was telling her about a guy I’d crushed on who was finally single and had asked me out. However, he had been very clear, he’s not looking for a relationship, and knowing that I’m in a very different place, I had come to the decision I needed to text him and decline his offer for dinner. I told her what I was planning to write him which was something along the lines of ‘I really like you but understand we’re in different places and feel like I need to decline, yada yada.’ She told me I didn’t need to say anything like that and I definitely didn’t need to tell him I liked him, that sharing my feelings would be too much.
She proceeded to tell me that my oversharing was likely scaring men away and that if she received a text like what I was planning to send from someone, it would turn her off immediately. She even said her therapist explained that people like me (‘blurters’) tend to share what they’re feeling right then and there because they want to get it off their chest and they don’t really care about how the other person might feel to receive that information. Needless to say, I did change my text up some. But what she said really stung.
I know I want to be more considerate of other people but I also want to be true to who I am. I believe real, raw honesty is the best way to be, even if it hurts. Even if it means 98% of the men I might date don’t want to be with me due to this. (I’m looking for my 2% anyway.) But … am I just being … selfish? Is my over-sharing really unkind to other people? What’s the balance here for someone like me?
I’ve often thought that my greatest assets could also be considered my greatest curse. If I am reading your words correctly, I think you may be in a similar boat, here.
Upon the initial reading of your inquiry, let me just say I am proud of you. It requires a lot of courage to be this way and I deeply appreciate honesty and openness from people. This impressed me that you are wired this way. And you’re right, when someone is open and honest, your first-step initiation of sharing opens the doors for some very rich and powerful exchanges and connection between two souls, which is likely the reason you’ve been able to foster some deep and meaningful relationships.
However, from your writing I suspect that this aspect of yourself is not something that you find a great deal of pride in. I suspect you simply accept it as a truth, albeit negative or neutral… It’s clear you aren’t hailing it as a positive thing, which makes it a conflict of soul. And for that, my heart grieves a little for your situation. However, I also believe not all is lost! It could be a mind-set change that can occur in you, a process you choose to embark on towards settling into your own skin and/or a learned appreciation for your specific personality wiring that can all change this lack of pride toward your “oversharing”.
I am not saying it will be easy or quick, per say, but, I am also not saying it will be long and hard; that I do not know. I don’t know what life circumstances or self investigation you will or will not experience or employ in order to arrive at a place whereby you, too, can find a deep joy in this aspect of yourself. However, I suspect there may be something to ‘flesh out’ here too – as oftentimes, when one is “stung” by certain words, it usually signals a cue to take that wound and investigate it, seeking internally for the possible truth you weren’t ready to hear that someone has dropped on you.
I know I am one who values honesty and openness – therefore it creates a pride and wonder in me for people like you. I also know, as you stated, others are not always as comfortable with this. I truly believe this stems from a lack of work done in self-awareness in themselves, which makes them uncomfortable in their own skin. They aren’t free to be honest and open with themselves because they are still hiding and protecting themselves from what they perceive others may think of them – they possess a lack of ability to be vulnerable. And when others lack this sense of safety in even themselves, then when someone such as yourself comes at them with all these expressions, this can feel a little overwhelming, or like an affront to them – threatening them – or leaving them feeling a little lost (which just makes them uncomfortable) on how to respond.
Which brings me to what may be the cause of your being “stung” by your friend’s words. While she is right in assessing how she may respond and assessing how some (maybe even most) men might respond, I don’t think this is something you should shy away from. You shouldn’t feel the need to compromise a beautiful and powerful quality of yourself in order to try and connect with those types of souls (souls that might be threatened by this behavior). In all actuality, your oversharing is likely protecting you from yet another superficial connection that you wouldn’t find fulfilling anyway. You’d always be seeking to deepen a connection that they aren’t ready (nor prepared) to deepen if you were able to curb this trait more. And that would leave you always feeling like you’re forced to settle for less than what you really want – deep and honest expression. But it sounds like you were explaining, wholeheartedly, why you were choosing to decline the date. I only see this as kindness to the receiving party. And I applaud your actions and intent.
However, she may be onto something with the desire to “get things off your chest” and equating that to an aspect of selfishness.
I don’t know definitively if that is what’s happening here, but perhaps a knee-jerk practice of oversharing does alleviate you in some manner. The way I would try to see this, is before hitting send, reread your words. Did you consider the other person who is about to receive your expressions, and imagine, to the best of your ability, their perspective on how your words might affect them (or even if you received this message, how you might feel)? Did you put yourself in their shoes upon rereading to try and envision how they would hear them and how they might internally respond? I am not saying you are going to get the ‘being in their head’ part right, but I am saying this exercise, in my own communication, this practice has definitely caused me rethink certain words or phrases in order to soften the (likely hard) truths I am about to deliver – which sounds like you had to do, leading me to deduce this may be the cause for the sting of her words.
I’ll reread my words upwards of 2-50 times in order to genuinely consider their perspective. Sometimes I have to wait to send the message all together because I know I am not in a place to consider their perspective with integrity at that moment. But I (try to) make it a priority to always consider their perspective. This upfront work before delivering my message is my way of extending kindness to them. You can honor your gift and value of ‘oversharing’, but you also can be considerate in the process.
We oftentime hail being “true to ourselves” at the expense of a consideration to others in our society today. But both are true. We should be true to ourselves, and we also should be kind and considerate to others. There is a point when both seem like they are in conflict, but doing the work of attempting to place ourselves in another’s mind, can create on opportunity where both concepts converge together to create an even more, honest and yet, fully considerate expression.
I don’t know the full details of what your text to the guy was, so I can’t comment on whether this was ultimately the case. However, if you took only your view of expression into consideration, then it is likely that may be why your friend’s words stung. If that was not the case, and you often consider how your words will affect the other party, then perhaps it’s as simple as doing the work to really come to appreciate this quality in yourself that you have convinced yourself is “wrong” or “bad”. Either way, you’ll be one step closer to doing the good work of learning yourself. And you can thank your friend for allowing you to uncover some deeper truths.
Until then, keep your wonderful, open and honest heart pumping and oversharing just the way it is. We need more oversharers in today’s world in order to unlock deeper connections with each other. Let’s just be sure to consider others in this process.