Yes, You Might Be Being “Too Much.”
You’re on a first date with a tall, dark-haired cutie.
You’re vibing, and you kinda feel like you might like him already.
But then: He asks you how your last relationship ended, and you freeze — do you give him the short version or the long version (you know, the one where you tell him about your Joker-from-Batman ex and all about the nightmare that was your recent breakup)?
If you tell him about the breakup, is he going to think that you’re “too much”?
But — if he’s going to leave when he finds out anyway, then you might as well just put it all out on the table on the first date, right?
That way, it will hurt less when he decides to leave. Might as well get it out of the way sooner rather than later. You don’t care about him enough for it to really hurt yet.
Besides — you want a partner who accepts you for ALL of you, right? Joker-from-Batman ex and all?
You do. And you totally DESERVE a partner who loves and cherishes every single bit of you.
But first: I have something I need to tell you.
I say this with love, because I used to BE you.
But . . .
Oversharing on a first date might FEEL like vulnerability and authenticity, but it isn’t the same thing.
Oversharing isn’t vulnerability — it’s actually a sign that we need to strengthen our boundaries.
Did you know that oversharing on a first date is actually an anxiety management strategy?
At its core, oversharing is a strategy that our subconscious mind has cooked up, unbeknownst to us, to manage the anxiety we feel about being vulnerable and getting rejected.
Not knowing a person very well is scary. It feels vulnerable. What if they don’t like us? Will they reject us? What if we get hurt again?
We’re afraid that what we perceive as our “flaws”: our history with our awful ex, our divorce, our health struggles, or our ageing bodies will make us unworthy of the unconditional love we desire from a partner.
So what do our brains do?
They try to protect us from future rejection by getting rejection out of the way early.
They overshare, and by oversharing, they try to skip to the ending so they can see how everything turns out.
By oversharing, our brain is hoping that by sharing too much, too soon, we’ll “scare off” anybody who doesn’t want to deal with the things that we’re afraid will make us unloveable.
Sound at all familiar?
Here’s the thing: Oversharing too much, too soon, is actually a form of self-sabotage.
By sharing big, scary things on a first or second date, we’re actually sharing too much, too soon.
We don’t meet a stranger in line at Trader Joe’s and start telling them all about our tricky custody battle with our awful ex. So we don’t need to tell our date (who’s essentially an internet stranger) all about it, either.
I love you, AND: It isn't appropriate for us to share all of our vulnerabilities with a stranger upfront. It's too much closeness that they haven’t earned yet.
As much as we might wish there was, there is no true way to hot-wire authentic connection.
Deep acceptance and emotional intimacy are things that are built slowly, over time.
Healthy sharing happens when we reveal ourselves to new people little by little.
We begin by sharing something small, and we wait to see how the other person handles our vulnerable information. If they respond well, we then might choose to test the waters by sharing something slightly bigger, and then we wait to see how they handle our share. We also watch to see whether THEY share with US: healthy sharing involves consent, and it’s is a two-way street, rather than a one-lane road.
Similarly, healthy sharing happens gradually, over time: just like we wouldn’t tell our seat-mate on Delta flight 783 our credit card information, neither should we be sharing our deepest fears, insecurities and traumas with Ted from Tinder on our first date.
When we don’t follow this gradual, back-and-forth pattern of sharing, we attempt to “skip to the ending” before we’re there.
This is when we end up bonking a stranger over the head with our health problems and our dating problems and our childhood traumas.
And instead of bringing our dates closer to us, this too-much-too-soon sharing actually drives the people we want to date AWAY from us.
True closeness can’t be hacked. And when we try to fast-track it, we end up pushing people away and CREATING the rejection that, at the heart of this pattern, we’re so deeply afraid of.
Even if those very same people may have been able to accept our sharing if we had waited to share.
Our brain, of course, doesn’t know any of this.
Our brain just wants to keep us safe, and it wants to feel close to people. And so, by oversharing, our brain actually thinks it’s helping us.
Unfortunately, like my 3-year-old nephew, what our brain doesn’t know is that, by “helping,” it’s actually just creating a big ol’ mess.
If you recognise yourself and your brain in the above, I just want to let you know that it’s okay.
It’s not your fault that your brain has been trying to protect you by oversharing. It’s just a thing our brains do when they’re trying to keep us safe.
Luckily, we can train our brains to re-learn a different response to feeling vulnerable: one that ACTUALLY keeps us safe.
We can learn to practice having BOUNDARIES, which means learning to share ourselves with new people gradually, over time.
We can learn to live with the UNCERTAINTY and the VULNERABILITY that comes with getting to know somebody new, and not knowing whether or not they’re going to like us.
We can learn to LOVE and to ACCEPT the parts of ourselves that parts of ourselves that feel tender — the fears, the past hurts, and the parts of our story we’re afraid that nobody will love — and to begin to believe that we ARE worthy of being loved and accepted just as we are by the right partner.
These practices are skills, and they aren’t intuitive. They’re learned initially, and then cultivated over time. They need to be practised.
This process can feel scary.
This is why the trickiest skill for us to learn will be that of TOLERATING UNCERTAINTY — this is the skill that will get us through the scary period of learning a new approach to love.
Whether you choose to embark on this journey or not, what I’ll tell you now is:
It’s okay to go slow. It’s okay to not know how everything will turn out. It’s even okay to say, “I’m not ready to share that yet.”
AND it’s okay to show up on dates, and to ease in, and to rest in the assurance that the RIGHT person will (eventually, in appropriate timing) love you for ALL of you — including your health problems and your dating problems and your past pain.
This is all a dance. Give yourself permission to breathe into it a little bit. Give it time.
I’m cheering for you.
Of course, as much as I would like to, I can’t teach you everything in a blog post (EVEN IF I REALLY wish I could!).
This is a sliver of the deep inner work I do with my private coaching clients inside of my 1:1 coaching program.
The things we talked about in this blog post — dating pacing, boundaries, self-trust, and learning to tolerate uncertainty, even when it feels scary — are relationship SKILLS, and they can’t be learned by reading alone: they need to be learned by DOING, and through guidance with an experienced mentor.
If you’re ready to learn these relationship skills, and to take this work deeper and to learn the “how-to”: I’d love to invite you to apply to work with me 1:1.
You can apply here.