If the concept of oversharing had an identity, then Lena Dunham would be it. The American actor, author and creator of a hit TV show, called Girls, is world-famous for being uninhibitedly open with her audience. Not only does she share all the details about her personal life with her fans, but, often in the process, she also reveals information about the lives of others. Now, the ‘queen of oversharing’ is taking this trend to another level, with the launch of an email newsletter series, titled Lenny.
Log on to lennyletter.com, and the homepage defines it as, “An email newsletter, where there’s no such thing as too much information.” This description got us wondering whether that really was the case. In this age of hyper-connectivity and social media diarrhoea, is making information public about daily developments, really a concern? Experts say that it might be, at least when it comes to relationships, especially the romantic ones.
Incidentally, in 2012, while studying why people share so much information on social media, two researchers from Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, discovered that disclosing too much information gives humans the same pleasure as eating food, finding money or even having sex.
How much is too much?
Sharmila Prema (28), who is an air hostess, dated diamond exporter Nirav Patel (30) for four years, before they parted ways because of what the former feels “was a result of oversharing”. “Due to my job, I used to stay out of Mumbai for long periods. So, Nirav and I would remain in touch through video calls. I would tell him everything, even the minutest details,” says Prema. During those lengthy conversations, she would often end up revealing a lot of inconsequential information about her interactions with those around her, including her male colleagues, who, as per company policy, would stay in the same hotel as her. But little did Prema know that her honesty would backfire. “I don’t know how Nirav started imagining that I was cheating on him. The reason I gave him so much information about my life was because I didn’t want him to doubt my intentions,” she says.
Less is more
Relationship expert Vidya Bansode says oversharing might seem like a simple occurrence at first, but it’s far more complicated. At times, she says, it can lead to serious misunderstandings. “Whether to overshare or not depends on three major factors — your level of understanding with your partner, the maturity level of both the people involved, and a couple’s level of trust. The truth is keeping some secrets is good for a relationship sometimes,” she says.
Neha Mehta, a relationship counsellor, also advises against sharing intimate details about one’s past relationships with one’s current partner. “These facts can put off your current partner, and trigger jealousy. Also, whatever you share with your partner tends to become a point of reference for him or her to perceive you in the future,” says Mehta.
Not so bad, after all
However, oversharing in relationships also has a few benefits. In the case of Anshul Mhatre (33), a sound engineer, and his wife, Nafisa Mhatre (32), who works in the telecommunications industry, oversharing became the need of the hour. A few years ago, Anshul’s busy schedule used to keep him busy till late at night. “I never kept my wife updated about my plans. At times, I would not even take her calls. Then once, while working in a studio in the distant suburbs, I got so busy, that I didn’t answer any calls all day,” says Anshul, who only returned his wife’s calls when he was set to leave from work, at around 2am. By this time, Nafisa and his in-laws had already lodged a missing person complaint at the local police station.
“That night, she told me that I needed to change my behaviour, or I would jeopardise my marriage. I found out later that Nafisa had cried all day because of me. She thought I had met with an accident. That’s when I decided that I would share everything with her whenever I can,” he adds. Over time, this regular exchange of information, according to Anshul, has brought him closer to his wife.
At the end of the day, Mehta feels that communication is the key. Whether or not you should overshare depends entirely on how well you understand your partner. And talking to each other is the only way you can achieve that clarity. “To begin with, share your needs with your partner. Until you don’t clearly tell him or her what you want or what you’re thinking, you can’t expect your desires to be fulfilled. This is a must for a happy relationship,” she adds.
(Names of all individuals have been changed)