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November 18, 2009

How Much Do You Tell Your Friends About Your Significant Other?

He Said/She Said

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Photo Credit: PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton/Getty Images

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HE SAID: I have one rule that I expect women to follow regarding the sharing of information: only share personal, private, and potentially embarrassing information about me with friends of yours I trust. This means that however cute you may think the story is of when we drank the night away and I spent the early morning throwing up in the bathroom, I do not want your friends to know unless I tell them myself or they are in our “mutual inner circle”. Over sharing can kill a relationship faster than you can ask “how good was he in bed?”

My first lesson in over sharing was with a girl that I was absolutely smitten with. We had an amazing time out on our first date, and after a somewhat debaucherous evening, ended it by pouring ourselves into her bed. Two days later, she came back into the bar, said hello, slapped me in the face, and said to me “It’s a shame that you had to be such a big mouth; things would have only gotten better!” before she threw her drink at me and stormed out with her girlfriend. Where did this come from? Well, the night after we went out I felt the need to boast details to my co-workers. My friends loved the details, and sure enough—it got back to her that my mouth was big, I loved to brag, and I didn’t really care for or consider her privacy.

So what did I do wrong?

First, I failed to keep private details just that—private. Second, I misjudged who my friends were. I thought I was sharing my story with people I trusted, but in hindsight it was clear that my trust was misguided. Third, I was inconsiderate about the impact that sharing could have had on her. When I told the story of our date to my friends, I was not honoring her or expressing how into her I was. Instead, I was publically sharing intimate details the way that boys do to brag about the things they have done. The kicker? It turns out that one of my “friends” decided to embellish my story, told Heather, and started dating her right after she made it clear that she did not want to see me anymore. Coincidence? No. Life Lesson? Absolutely.

SHE SAID: My name is Diana and I'm an oversharer. My best friends get an earful, from the romantic way you won me over to the fight we keep having.

From chatting with my male friends, it seems that a lot of men grow out of bragging about getting laid around the same time as they actually start getting laid on a regular basis. But my girlfriends and I still excitedly gossip, analyze, and confess almost every dirty detail. I've learned to curb my impulse to over the years, and only two of my close friends are privy to all the details.

So why do we do it? When I share all, it's to give the full, well-rounded picture and to have someone to analyze and mull over my romantic situation right along with me. Most of my friends heard about my latest breakup a couple of days after it happened, but the two best friends got mid-breakup emails from me and offered words of advice and support the whole way through. And I was able to trust that advice and consider it seriously because I knew that they had heard it all, from all the reasons my guy was awesome, to all the reservations I had. The end result? I was more secure and at peace with the end of the relationship, and found it easier to brush off the "I'm SO sorry" reaction from acquaintances without feeling the need to explain myself.

While I wouldn't necessarily recommend my way of doing things to everyone, I do this it's fairly harmless as far as personality quirks go—though as someone who overshares in writing as much as I do to my friends, I suppose I have a certain stake in believing that. I do keep mum when I'm asked to do so and I try to be sensitive to keep my oversharing to a need-to-know basis...though clearly, my definition of need-to-know is a bit broad. I'm also transparent with the guys I date about my tendency divulge a lot...and I wouldn't say something to my friends about the relationships that I wouldn't say to the man in question. I also believe in being able to take it as well as you dish it—if you're going to bare all, you should operate under the assumption that your significant other is doing the same. Does this work for me? So far-—but for all I know, my exes are complaining to their buddies about it right now.

On the Soapbox

Abraham Lloyd is a divorced dad, closet geek, and aspiring author dating in New York City. He believes all men should own at least five jackets, know how to dance, and pay on a first date. You can tweet him at twitter.com/abrahamlloyd.

Diana Vilibert is Marie Claire's Web Editor, a chronic oversharer, closet romantic, and blind-date addict. You can e-stalk her at diana-vilibert.tumblr.com.


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