Oversharing Syndrome – the Truth About Too Much Info

by Andrea Blundell

Oversharing can feel good in the moment, but can have not so great consequences. So why do we keep doing it?

Compulsive vs intentional oversharing

Yes, we can all purposely overshare when we are outraged or upset, and want people on our side. And you just have to look at social media accounts to see oversharing being used as a calculated tool for attention.

But brushing off ‘oversharing syndrome’ as simply a form of selfishness is often way off the mark.

Oversharing can all too often be a smokescreen for a serious psychological issue, including things like anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder. And the first hint can be whether you can control your blather or not.

If you compulsively overshare before you can stop yourself, and are left feeling ashamed afterwards? It’s time to take your oversharing seriously. 

What is driving your compulsive oversharing?

oversharing1. Oversharing and anxiety.

Talk impulsively when nervous in an attempt to seem normal? But the more you overshare, the more anxious you become, the less you can stop blathering?

Social anxiety leads to what one set of research studies calls “self-control depletion”. The more anxious we are, the less control we have over impulsive behaviours. [1]

Or social anxiety can mean you feel you ‘have to’ share things to fit in. But it makes you uncomfortable, so you try to talk your way out, only making things worse or sharing even more details.

2 When you overshare to avoid, not create, intimacy.

A common assumption is that we overshare to try to force people to like us. But chronic oversharing can also be a way to push others away.

  • Is your oversharing creating a ‘persona’?
  • Is it like you are watching yourself talk from a distance?
  • Do you find you embellish some details and hide others?
  • Do you overshare more around people you don’t really like?

Then you are using oversharing to create a wall between your real self and the other person, in a complicated form of avoiding intimacy.

oversharing3. Good old loneliness.

We tell ourselves we are fine. Of course we aren’t lonely. We love our own company and we don’t care that we never talk to our family anymore and live alone.Then we get out to a social event, open our mouths, and it’s one big overshare.

Loneliness can leave us connection starved. And our brain knows connection is important to our survival. Our own need to feel connected can override our social skills.

Research from the perspective of evolutionary psychology suggests that loneliness “may have evolved as an aversive state that, like hunger, thirst, and pain, promotes behaviour change to increase the likelihood of the survival of one’s genes”. [2]

4. Low self-esteem and talking too much.

Do you find that the more you like someone and want them to like you, the more you blather? Like to that cool new colleague from New York? Or the attractive barista at the local coffee shop?

It can be an unconscious way to try to prove you have value, hiding low self-esteem.

5. Intensity addiction. 

Do you fall in love quickly? And make instant friends that you call ‘soulmates’? And does this involve immediately sharing all your intimate details and thoughts through hours of talking, that you see as ‘bonding’? Only to fall out of love just as fast, or cut out those same friends when you see ‘the real them’? 

Yes, relationships require being open. And bonding can involve telling our dark secrets. In a research study looking at whether people prefer those who hide negative secrets over those who are open about them, 80% of participants preferred to date a ‘revealer’. [3]

But sharing is one thing. Rushed oversharing, where you share your whole life story in a matter of days and use it to block out the world and mesmerise the other? And show a total lack of personal boundaries? It’s being too intense, which is often linked to borderline personalty disorder.

6. Oversharing and the victim mentality

Overshare the same story to whoever will listen? About how hard your life was, and who did you wrong? Have the details changed over time, but you’ve convinced yourself that it’s still a fair portrayal of all you suffered?

The victim mentality means you gain your sense of power and agency by making others feel sorry for you.

It’s not to say you didn’t suffer bad things. Many people trapped in the victim mentality did indeed have childhood trauma. But it is to say you are not facing up to the fact that you are an adult now with free will, and you have to choose to take responsibility for your healing.

How can I stop oversharing?

It helps just to recognise your real intention for oversharing, and the root cause. Journalling is useful here, as is mindfulness, a practice that helps you recognise what you really think and feel.

With things like low self-esteem, or conscious oversharing to win attention, self help books and courses can help you work through healthier ways to feel good about yourself.

But if your oversharing hides pretty serious issues, support is highly advisable. You might want to start with forums, online support groups, or in person support groups. But, particularly with things like severe anxiety, BPD, and childhood trauma, working with a counsellor or therapist is highly advisable if you want to see real change.

Time to stop talking and start listening to yourself? We connect you with some of London’s most highly rated psychotherapists and counselling psychologists. You can also find UK-wide registered therapists on our booking site, as well as online counselling you can book from anywhere. 


Have a question about oversharing? Or want to share how you got yours under control at last? Use the comment box below. 

Andrea BlundellAndrea Blundell is the lead writer and editor of this site and is a chronic over sharer. 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes

[1]. Blackhart, Ginette & Williamson, Jessica & Nelson, Lyndsay. (2015). Social Anxiety in Relation to Self-Control Depletion Following Social Interactions. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 34. 747-773. 10.1521/jscp.2015.34.9.747. 

[2]. Cacioppo, J. T., Cacioppo, S., & Boomsma, D. I. (2014). Evolutionary mechanisms for loneliness. Cognition & emotion28(1), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2013.837379.

[3]. John, Leslie & Barasz, Kate & Norton, Michael. (2016). Hiding personal information reveals the worst. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113. 201516868. 10.1073/pnas.1516868113.

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