What Is TMI on a First Date?

Take it from a card carrying oversharer… it can be tempting to let loose on a first date and reveal stuff about yourself that you have no right sharing with anyone other than a trained psychologist.

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There’s just something about the first date combination of nerves and burgeoning intimacy that messes with our minds, and makes us believe it’s safe to pull the lever on the confessional dam. The problem is that once that dam is opened, what rushes forth cannot be put back.

Once you share that story about how paralyzing and horrible your childhood was, or about the weeping sore you have on your ass, or about how your ex-girlfriend made you wear her panties and that their super tight fit left you with a low sperm count, it’s all out there in the open for your date to ponder. Probably reluctantly.

It’s best to rein yourself in, at least until you know each other a little better. Rather than going the opposite route and closing yourself off, though, try asking yourself these questions to determine just how much you should reveal about yourself.

What’s Your  Motivation for Sharing?
Sometimes I think we overshare as a result of low self-esteem. You might be so convinced of your extreme suckiness that you rush to tell your date all about it before she has the chance to discover it for herself, or before you have anything invested. This is the sack of shit that I am. Can you handle it? Didn’t think so.

Or maybe you feel so alone and frightened of your issues that you desperately want to share the emotional burden with a partner. If we’re going to get close, be prepared to share in my PAIN! Here’s a little taste of what’s to come.

Neither of these motives are particularly healthy ones. The only reason you should be sharing personal stuff on a first date is so that you can make yourself vulnerable as you get to know the fascinating new person you’re spending time with.

There should be mutual disclosure; she tells you stuff about herself, you listen and respond with stuff about yourself. That way your time together will become a gradually deepening conversation, rather than a dinner-long therapy session for one.

Is She Asking Questions or Sharing Stuff of Her Own?
Sharing doesn’t have to be a bad thing, provided it’s a balanced exchange. Everybody’s rate of opening up is a little different. Maybe you and your date are really comfortable with one another and it’s making you feel brave enough to put yourselves out there. That’s great! The key is to pay attention and feel out the vibe.

(This is all fine and good, but what if my date is the oversharer?)

If your date is the only one sharing, try not to feel pressured into talking about things you’d rather not. It’s totally fine to set your own boundaries, or tell your date if the conversation is making you uncomfortable. (You can do this by changing the subject or by simply saying that you’re not in the right head space to talk about really heavy things).

If she can’t seem to help herself, she’s probably really nervous. Have some compassion and try to give her a second chance.

What’s Her Body Language Telling You?
Is she facing you straight on with a look of interest in her eyes? Leaning forward a little? Maybe even touching your arm or hand? If so, continue sharing. If, on the other hand, she’s staring uncomfortably at her drink, or fiddling with her phone, or glancing towards the door every few minutes, you might want to change the subject to something lighter or more neutral.

Remember that first dates are supposed to be fun and casual. If all goes well, there will be plenty of opportunities for her to delve into the darkened pits of your soul. Have a few laughs! Spill wine on yourself and ask her to lick it off! (Don’t do that.) I’m just saying that you don’t have to take yourself so seriously. I’m sure you’re not as fucked up as you think, and even if you are, she probably doesn’t want to hear about it on your first date.

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