“How do I stop oversharing with other people? I feel like I struggle with compulsive oversharing. How do I stop oversharing on social media or when I’m feeling nervous?”
This article will dive into what causes oversharing and what you can do if you struggle with this issue. You will learn some practical ways to stop oversharing and replace this behavior with more appropriate social skills.
Oversharing information can make other people feel uncomfortable and anxious.
Once you tell someone something, you can’t take it back. They can’t “unhear” what you tell them, even if you regret it afterward. Revealing private information can skew their first impressions of you. It can also make them question your boundaries and self-esteem.
Finally, oversharing doesn’t actually promote healthy relationships. Instead, it tends to make other people feel awkward. They might feel pressure to “match” the sharing, which may cause discomfort and resentment.
Oversharing can also hurt your reputation, especially if you overshare on social media. We all know that once you post something online, it’s there forever. A single photo or Facebook post may haunt you many years later.
People overshare for many reasons. Let’s explore some of the most common ones.
Anxiety is a common reason for oversharing. If you feel anxious around other people, you might start rambling about yourself. This is likely a reaction to the desire to connect with someone else.
However, you then might recognize that you’ve shared too much, and you try to overcorrect your mistake by pulling back or apologizing incessantly. This can make you feel even more anxious, which can make for a frustrating cycle.
See our guide on how to stop feeling nervous around people.
Boundaries refer to the limits within a relationship. Sometimes, these boundaries are explicit. For example, someone may tell you outright what they are or aren’t comfortable with.
If you’re in a relationship without many boundaries, you may naturally overshare. The other person might feel uncomfortable, but if they don’t say anything, you might not realize you’re doing it.
‘Reading the room’ means being able to gauge how other people think and feel. Of course, nobody can do this with complete accuracy, but it’s important to learn the essentials of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication refers to things like eye contact, posture, and tone of speech.
If you’re not sure where to start, we have a guide that reviews the best books on body language.
If your family openly talked about everything, you might be more likely to overshare yourself. That’s because it’s what you know- it’s what feels normal and appropriate to you. And if your family encourages and enables it, you may not recognize the behavior as potentially problematic.
Oversharing usually comes from a place of wanting to feel close to someone else. You might share information about yourself because you hope that it will encourage the other person to do the same. Or, maybe you’re hoping your story will make them feel closer to you.
But true intimacy doesn’t work on a rushed timeline. It takes time and patience to build closeness and trust with someone else.
Here’s how to make close friends with someone without oversharing.
Poor impulse control and limited self-regulation are key ADHD symptoms. If you have this condition, you might not recognize when you’re talking too much. You might also struggle with misreading social cues or have low self-esteem, which can lead to oversharing.
It’s important to learn how to manage your ADHD. See this comprehensive guide by Help Guide. If you’re not sure if you have ADHD, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They can assess your symptoms to determine if you meet the criteria for a diagnosis.
Have you ever sat with a sobbing drunk friend? Or woken up to a rambling text? If so, you know just how easy it is for someone to overshare their life story without them realizing it.
It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol can cloud your judgment. These substances can lower your inhibitions and impulse control. They can also reduce feelings of social anxiety, which may increase the tendency to overshare.
Social media breeds oversharing, especially if you follow other people who tend to display every detail of their life.
In psychology, this phenomenon is sometimes known as confirmation bias. In other words, you “confirm” that what you’re doing is okay by finding evidence showing that other people are doing the same thing.
There’s a difference between opening up to others and oversharing. You might struggle with oversharing information if you do any of these behaviors.
In healthy relationships, it takes time to build safety and trust. Over time, when both people feel comfortable with one another, they disclose more and more information naturally.
Closeness requires validation and empathy, and it takes knowing the other person to have those things. People who overshare may try to expedite this process. They may reveal overly sensitive information about themselves to try to build intimacy quickly.
If you’re not sure if this applies to you, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you convinced you hate small talk?
- Do you often share personal stories the first time you meet someone?
- Has anyone ever told you they felt uncomfortable by what you shared?
- Do people sometimes avoid eye contact or withdraw from the conversation when you talk?
Answering “yes” doesn’t necessarily mean that you overshare. It could also mean that you struggle with social anxiety or poor social skills. But these answers are a good starting point for increasing your self-awareness.
If events from your past haunt you, you might try to release some of your tension by talking about it. Usually, this is subconscious. While there’s nothing wrong with processing your feelings, it’s generally not appropriate to do this with someone you don’t know very well.
Sometimes, people overshare because they want other people to feel sorry about them. Most of the time, this desire isn’t malicious. It’s more about wanting to feel understood or connected to someone else.
How can you tell if you want someone else’s sympathy?
- Do you ever tell someone something shameful because you want to feel comforted?
- Do you post about relationship fights on social media?
- Do you talk about negative events to strangers or coworkers regularly?
This can be a symptom of social anxiety or insecurity, but it can also be a sign of oversharing. If you overshare, you may experience doubt or regret right after you reveal something to someone. This can be a telling sign that you recognize the information may have been inappropriate.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying social media. These platforms can offer excellent opportunities for you to document your life and connect with your loved ones. But if you turn to social media for posting every picture, thought, or feeling, it could be a sign that you overshare.
Here are some examples of oversharing on social media:
- You “check in” to a location almost everywhere you go.
- You post videos or photos that may embarrass other people.
- You share overly intimate details about your relationships.
- You use social media as a way to publicly vent about your feelings.
- You document almost every event in you or your child’s life.
The best way to know if you overshare is if other people tell you! Usually, this is a sign that they are uncomfortable with your behavior.
If you feel like you must blurt things out, you may struggle with compulsive oversharing. This can happen when you feel a need to get things off your chest, and the only way to release that need is by talking. If you compulsively overshare, you may feel ashamed or guilty over your behavior.
If you identify that you overshare, there are ways to change your behavior. Remember that awareness is the first step towards change. Even being able to recognize the problem allows you to reflect more on how you want to improve it.
We just reviewed the common reasons why people overshare. Which ones resonated with you?
Knowing why you do something helps you recognize your patterns. For example, if you know you overshare because you want attention, you can start thinking about what triggers this need for attention. If you think you overshare because you have anxiety, you can reflect on the situations that make you feel most anxious.
“How do I know what’s appropriate to talk about?”
As a society, we tend to agree that certain topics aren’t appropriate to talk about unless you’re very close with someone. Of course, this isn’t a hard-fast rule, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re trying to stop oversharing. These taboo topics include:
- Religion (unless someone simply asks you if you identify with a specific religion)
- Medical or mental health conditions
- Personal details about coworkers (while in the workplace)
- Money (how much you earn or how much something costs)
These topics are taboo because they tend to be emotionally-charged and controversial. You don’t have to avoid them altogether, but you might want to reconsider talking about them with someone you’re just getting to know.
Active listening means giving your complete attention to someone else during a conversation. Instead of listening to talk, you’re listening to understand and connect with someone else.
Even if you think you’re a good listener, it’s always a skill worth improving. Active listeners are less likely to overshare because they know how to pay attention to social cues. They can intuit when someone might feel uncomfortable.
Active listening includes many features like:
- Avoiding distractions when someone else talks.
- Asking clarifying questions when you don’t understand something.
- Trying to imagine how the other person might be thinking.
- Withholding judgment.
For specifics on how to work on these skills, see this guide by Edutopia.
Oversharing can be a discharge of intense emotions. If you feel like you don’t have anywhere to release these emotions, you may take them out on anyone who appears to listen.
Instead, think about creating a space where you can openly share whatever is on your mind. Some ideas for this include:
- Meeting with a therapist regularly.
- Journaling about your day or feelings every night.
- Having a specific close friend or partner who is willing to listen.
- Venting to your pet every night when you get home.
The next time you want to reveal something personal about yourself, pause.
Instead, ask yourself, how is this information connecting us right now? If you can’t answer this question, it could mean that your story isn’t appropriate.
The next time you experience the urge to overshare, write it down in a note in your phone. Get it all out. Just don’t send it to the other person. Sometimes, just the act of writing down your thoughts can help relieve some of the anxiety.
If you want to share news online, try to do it when you’re not feeling extremely passionate about the issue.
Whether you feel happy, sad, or angry, ask yourself, how intense is this feeling on a scale from 0-10 right now? If you identify your feeling as higher than a 5-6, wait. Your emotions might be clouding your judgment, which can lead to impulsive behavior.
Mindfulness refers to being more present with the current moment. It’s a deliberate act. Most of us spend most of our time thinking about the past or obsessing over the future. But when you’re present, you’re more likely to feel calm and attentive. You’re more likely to embrace whatever that moment brings.
You can start adding mindfulness to your routine in small ways. Lifehack has a simple guide for getting started.
This strategy can work if you have a close friend, partner, or family member who knows about your problem. Ask them to gently remind you when you’re oversharing. To make things easier, you can develop a code word that they can use to call you out.
This method only works if you’re willing to listen to their feedback. If they let you know you are oversharing, don’t ignore what they say or argue back. Instead, if you’re unsure why they think that way, ask them.
It can be uncomfortable if you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s oversharing. If this is the case, here are a few suggestions.
You don’t need to match someone else’s oversharing. If they tell you an overly personal story, that doesn’t mean you also need to talk about your past.
If you don’t want to talk about a certain topic, you can respond by saying:
- “That isn’t something I’m comfortable discussing right now.”
- “I don’t want to talk about this today.”
- “That’s too personal for me to share.”
Most of the time, people will get the hint. If they don’t, it’s okay to remind them that you don’t feel like talking about this issue. If they start to press back or become defensive, it’s perfectly reasonable to walk away.
If someone keeps oversharing information, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, stop giving them your time and attention.
Don’t ask open-ended or clarifying questions. This usually prolongs the conversation. Instead, give them a simple, I’m sorry, that sounds rough, but I’m actually about to walk into a meeting, or That sounds wonderful- you’ll have to tell me about it later.
Many times, people overshare to gain some kind of reaction (even if they aren’t aware of this motive). If you responding with a neutral expression or generic acknowledgment, they might recognize their behavior is inappropriate.
If someone overshares and wants you to overshare back, try to be vague. For example, if they start talking about their relationship problems and they ask you about your relationship, you might respond with an answer like, we don’t always get along, but things are good.
Even if someone overshares in a conversation, don’t make the problem worse by gossiping about their behavior. This is especially important at work. Gossip is cruel, and it doesn’t actually fix anything.
If someone keeps oversharing (and they don’t respond well to you talking about it), it’s okay to put up some distance. You deserve to have healthy and meaningful relationships. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re the only person who will listen to them. There are many other people, therapists, and resources they can use to get support.