Why oversharing with friends can put your relationship at risk? Here’s how to draw the line

29 April,2024 09:30 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Aakanksha Ahire

Oversharing details about your relationship can damage the loving bond you share with your partner. If you have a habit of revealing every little bit of your relationship with your friends or family members, experts tell you why you must not

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Friends might not always give you the best advice, especially on dating and relationships. Yet, most of us have an obsessive habit of sharing every little detail about our relationship with close friends and family. Although venting to someone you blindly confide in might help, a regular occurrence of this can potentially end your relationship sooner or later, say dating experts and therapists.

Ruchi Ruuh (@therapywithruchi), a relationship counsellor and therapist, who has worked closely with couples to help them navigate the complexities of their romantic relationships, says, "Discussing relationship issues with others can be both beneficial and detrimental. Sharing problems with trusted friends or a family member can provide valuable, newer perspectives and emotional support. However, sharing intimate details with friends or family can lead to gossip, misunderstandings and perhaps judgement too."

Similarly, Karandeep Singh (@astro_karan), relationship counsellor and astro sage says, "Sharing relationship issues with others can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes friends can spot something you might have missed. However, sharing too much can lead to unwanted biases. People close to you might naturally favour you and have a limited understanding of your partner's perspective."

Revealing details to seek validation
From discussing arguments to personal habits, people often go overboard when sharing details about their love life with friends and family. "The people who share too many details are usually seeking validation for their role, maybe some advice but mostly venting their frustration for not being heard by their partners," says Ruuh.

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Due to a lack of communication and even understanding in a couple, one of the two or both partners choose to seek emotional support and comfort outside of their relationship. This makes them feel heard.

According to Singh, "Most people overshare as it helps them to vent freely and release their emotions. It makes them feel less alone and gain some much-needed support. Additionally, they also seek the support of others who might know you and your partner well as a couple and thus be in a better position to offer helpful suggestions based on your unique dynamic."

Oversharing can put your relationship at risk
People who tend to overshare might erode the trust in the relationship as they might be airing their concerns without the knowledge of their partners.

Singh thinks that one can share relationship issues with friends and family members, however, he says, "Choose your confidantes wisely. Look for people who are trustworthy, good listeners, and non-judgmental."

However, constant involvement of a third-party perspective can make matters worse as it may lead to acquisitions and conflicts. According to Ruuh, "It may lead to a complete breakdown in the direct communication between the couple who might start seeing their partner through the lens of the others."

A majority of the time, family and friends can bring or reaffirm the biases or give unsolicited perspectives that can cause further harm. Other people might get intrusive without understanding the nuances of your relationship. If too much focus is given to sharing and seeking advice externally, the couple might find it difficult to communicate.

It can erode the trust between both partners. They might feel betrayed or insecure, and the relationship can be damaged. Seeking constant validation from friends and family for little issues can create dependency and weaken the bond with your partner because you are no longer communicating your thoughts with them.

Also Read: Building bridges: How to have a tough conversation with your partner

The intimacy between you and your partner can also diminish because you are constantly feeling exposed and vulnerable in front of other people.

The decision to share details of the issues outside the couple should be a careful, cautious decision.

Setting clear boundaries for yourself
Singh suggests, "When it comes to how much to reveal, focus on the specific issue at hand. Don't unload every detail - explain the problem and how it's affecting you. Respect your partner's privacy by avoiding intimate details or airing dirty laundry. Most importantly, frame the discussion around finding solutions, not assigning blame."

"The amount of information you can share outside your relationship should depend on the level of trust you have in the person whom you are sharing it with. Always ask yourself if this information that you are about to share will harm or affect your partner in any way. Avoid topics that could potentially embarrass them or breach their trust. However, if there is abuse of any kind please confide in someone you trust," adds Ruuh.

She goes on to suggest, "Ask yourself what's your motivation for sharing this information. Are you seeking validation, advice or just venting out? Be sure to tell the person to avoid unsolicited advice or biased perspective. Always understand that there are consequences to every action. You sharing such details can harm the trust, and lead to gossip and misunderstanding."

Involving family in couple's issues
If you involve a family member make sure that your partner is aware of it. Respect your partner's privacy and share only what is appropriate. "Involving family can be helpful in certain situations. If you're facing major issues like abuse or addiction, seeking support from your family can be crucial. However, it's important to respect boundaries. Don't involve them in every argument or disagreement. The type of issues you discuss with your family can also be strategic. For example, if your family is directly impacting your relationship, discussing it together can be beneficial. Similarly, involving family in discussions about long-term goals like marriage or children can be a positive step," says Singh.

Ruuh suggests, "Seek advice more than validation. Make sure that you use this opportunity to understand your family's perspective and don't paint your partner black. People say nasty things without realising that it might evoke the empathy you are seeking but can harm your partner and effectively your relationship with them. Share with only the people whom you completely trust and encourage them to keep the information confidential. Be receptive to the feedback too. People spoil their relationships with friends and family as they fail to validate them completely."

Also Read: 'I thought I was the problem,' Why some people find it difficult to end a toxic relationship

Family can provide invaluable advice on subjects like finances, parental challenges, health issues, family dynamics or conflicts. They may also provide useful information regarding cultural expectations or things related to religion. "I think it's also important to note that family can also help couples deal with issues such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse. Don't remain silent on issues like domestic violence as it can save lives," adds Ruuh.
Where to draw the line?
"More than what you share, it's important to understand whom you share it with," says Ruuh. Usually, it's preferred that you don't share the details of your sex life, or your physical intimacy with someone because those are sensitive things to be shared with anyone.

Don't share about your partner's self-esteem issues, body image issues, their vulnerabilities because these are very personal to their person and they might not want these to be shared with anyone.

Try not to share your every argument, disagreement, or conflict because it can create dependency with the other person.

Conflict resolution in couples
Speaking to each other must always be encouraged because couples should learn to resolve the issues themselves. Ruuh suggests doing the following:

1. You should start listening to your partner more actively without interrupting them, and without forming your own opinions. Just listen to them and read their tone, body language, and emotions.

2. Always use 'I' statement instead of criticising or blaming your partner. Always take responsibility for how you are feeling and what your needs are.

3. Stay open-minded. People get defensive with their partners for obvious reasons, but it's important to understand the other person's perspective.

4. Look at yourself as a team and use this communication to collaborate. Make sure that you are referring to each other with 'we' rather than ‘you' and ‘me' because it's important that they feel like you are on their side and trying to work it out.

5. Take responsibility for your actions. Always acknowledge your role in the conflict. Say sorry, and apologise with sincerity whenever you commit a mistake. This will encourage your partner to do the same.

6. Whenever you are discussing something together be more solution-focused rather than dwelling on just the problem and spending hours discussing it.

7. If you think the emotions are escalating, take a break and revisit the conversations whenever you both feel calmer and are ready to communicate.

8. If you think the conflict is just out of your hands and you're unable to figure out a way out of it, consult a trained professional to provide you guidance. Facilitate communication between both of you. Go to a good couples therapist or counsellor and seek assistance.

Also Read: Dating an insecure partner? Relationship experts hold affirmations paramount

Addressing concerns about oversharing
Singh recommends doing a few things to communicate your concerns to your partner:

1. Pick the right moment: Don't bring it up when they're already upset.
2. Use ‘I' statements: Focus on how their oversharing makes you feel. Example: I feel uncomfortable.
3. Explain your reasons: Tell them why their oversharing things with others is affecting you. Is it because it threatens your privacy, or if it makes resolving issues harder for you?
4. Offer alternatives: Suggest healthier ways for them to vent (journaling, therapy).
5. Work together on solutions: Find boundaries that respect both your needs.
6. Be patient: Changing habits takes time. Offer support and celebrate small wins.

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