Tips for preventing over-sharing – Learned the awkward way.
It was our third night at an intimate guest ranch near Steamboat, during the last week of the season with only 15 guests. Eight of us newly acquainted vacation friends who had shared a dinner table the night before were bonding over after-dinner cocktails. Two or three drinks in, the old “let’s share something random about ourselves” game began, one by one, around the table. (This always sounds like a good idea at the beginning.)
First up was Steve from Bermuda who follows and films whales for a hobby. He leans down, rolls off a sock and lifts his foot. There it was: he had webbed feet. It seemed fitting since he was the one with a special fondness for aquatic life.
Next was Sue from Florida who shared her story about her psychic encounter, Mary from Denver who shared with us about her fear of touching ice, Katy from Texas with her memories of being at the resort on 9/11 and Tina originally from Montana who revealed that her husband once lived in an igloo.
Then Patty from California, after her describing her quite powerful executive job (just shy of showing us a pay stub), described a late night encounter she once had with a woman on a business trip. The night before we had learned her bra size. Suddenly it became so quiet that I noticed the sounds of country music and clanking dishes from the kitchen.
It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable our new friend’s lifestyle, as I have many friends of all persuasions whom I adore. And it wasn’t that I was now able to visualize her 34G breasts all too clearly. No, we simply learned too much, too soon.
One by one, each chair chirped against the wood floor as it backed from the table, as the group mustered artificial yawns and stretches and announced that we were calling it a night. As George of Seinfeld would have explained it, our vacation friend world had now collided with the way, way too personal world. And it was awkward.
The next morning I wondered if Patty realized how awkward the night before had become after her sharing moment. I don’t think it crossed her mind.
So, to help those unfamiliar with sharing boundaries, here are some general topics to avoid with new acquaintances (no matter how good of an idea it seems at the time):
- How much money you make.
- Anything remotely sexual.
- Your opinion on any isolating political topic.
Trust me, I’ve overshared more times than I’d like to admit, but as a general rule, I really don’t want to know how much money you make or the size of your jock strap until I’ve known you for at least six months. And even then, I’m not sure how much I’d like to know.
When was your last oversharing/too much information (TMI) experience?
I’m missed several of your posts – problems with WordPress as I don’t get emails on Lame Adventure posts either. I read a really good devotional today about dementia and thought of you and your mother. I would have loved to forward it to you, but can’t seen to find your email. Oh well, I hope all is going well in your world. 🙂
BTW – I loved this post. We’ve all been there 🙂
This post was a bull’s eye about what’s TMI. A few weeks ago I went out for drinks with a member of my posse who is going through tough times. She had already started pounding martinis on an empty stomach by the time I arrived. Quickly, she began to loudly reveal intimate details about herself. It was one of those evenings where I stayed very sober and died a million deaths as I tried to get us out of there. She had no recollection of anything the next day, but suffered a hangover in sensurround. She asked me what happened. I shared a few of the gruesome facts. We’re not going back there for about five years.
Glad you’re back. I wondered about you.
Yay! You’re back. And funny as ever. 🙂
I remember we had friends over to dinner one night (a married couple) and they started arguing about their sex life. It was a ‘block the ears and whistle moment’. Too much information! I never had asked them back.
Say hello to Steamboat from me, they used to know me there as Rowdy Rosie!
I reminds me of a concept I heard from my mother, who grew up in pre-World War II Dallas-Fort Worth.
She didn’t believe it was a good idea to discuss religion and politics (sex had not been invented yet) in “polite company.”
I have to admit that in my Baby Boomer youth, I thought that was pretty old fashioned.
But now I regret the loss of the “polite company” concept. It wasn’t such a bad idea.
Polite company consisted of people you didn’t know very well. As one of my teachers said they were just people who got on a bus with you.
And they might not be enthralled by a seatmate’s dating or medical history.
You might discuss personal issues or feelings or odd experiences with spouses or siblings or old friends. They would know your politics and proclivities. They might either sympathize with you or cut you some slack.
But in polite company it might be best to start the conversation with the weather and then move on to the price of tea in China, assuming few if any members of polite society favored launching nuclear weapons over the price of tea in China.
Good to see Life on Wry reporting for duty. Funny how your ranch photos on Facebook made the experience appear so pristine and equine. Now I read the true story : )
So good to see you posting again! And I got a chuckle out of this one. I had a similar experience with someone who was teaching me the ropes at a new volunteer job, and we were alone. He proceeded to tell me the details of why his lover would only be a one night stand and I really didn’t know what to say! But I had 1 more hour with him, so I think I said “that’s too bad” and changed the subject. Sometimes you have no choice but to be with the person that shared too much and figure out how to steer the conversation!
As my grandma used to say, “a little mystery is a good thing.” 🙂