3 Ways To Stop Ruining Your First Dates By 'Oversharing'

Word vomit can be unavoidable when wracked with first-date nerves. Here's how to avoid letting it get the best of you.

Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | July 02, 2024

Imagine going on a first date with someone you find incredible. There's an instant connection, and hours fly by. Time stops in their presence, and you keep talking, not wanting it to end. Gradually, your light-hearted banter shifts to deeper topics like insecurities and difficult childhood experiences.

When you finally stop, an awkward pause fills the air until your date checks their phone and suggests it's gotten quite late. As they deliver polite goodbyes and leave, you hear your mind go, "Ah, I did it again, didn't I?" The rest of the day is filled with guilt, regret and embarrassment.

Oversharing happens when you disclose too much personal information in a conversation, often more than what's appropriate for the context or the relationship between the individuals involved. This can include discussing intimate details, personal problems, or private matters that might make others uncomfortable or overwhelmed—especially when it's your first encounter, like a date with a potential romantic interest.

Here's how you can stop oversharing and make your first dates embarrassment-proof:

1. Take Mindful Pauses And Ask Relevant Questions

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology indicates that social anxiety can lead to the depletion of self-control. This may lead to impulsive behaviors such as excessive talking to cope with nervousness. People might talk more when anxious to fill the silence and alleviate their discomfort.

While social anxiety is often a driving force behind oversharing, it isn't the only reason people divulge more details than necessary. Clinically anxious individuals are also overly sensitive to rejection. During a conversation, if they sense the other party's interest waning, they might try to rekindle it by sharing intimate details about their lives. This heightened sensitivity and the urge to maintain connection can lead to oversharing.

If you notice yourself getting anxious or oversharing, take a moment to breathe deeply. Calm your nerves by pausing for a second or two and then refocus on the conversation.

Ask a relevant question about your date instead of clambering back into your oversharing spiral. For instance, "I had a challenging childhood, but that's enough about me. What about you? Do you have a favorite childhood memory?"

2. Shift The Focus On Your Date

Be mindful of not misinterpreting social cues. People often project their own intentions onto others, leading to misunderstandings about how interested others are in their personal stories. This can lead to oversharing. To better understand the situation, it's helpful to keep the focus on the other person. Here are three ways to do it:

  • Keeping the conversation going. Start by asking open-ended questions such as, "Tell me about a memorable trip you've taken." This encourages your date to talk about themselves, which can distract you from your own anxiety and keep the conversation flowing. Focusing on the other person helps you stay engaged and reduces the pressure on yourself.
  • Listening actively. Active listening plays a crucial role in this process. Give your date your undivided attention, avoid distractions and try to genuinely understand their words and non-verbal cues. Nodding, making eye contact and using verbal acknowledgments like "I see" or "Tell me more '' show that you are genuinely interested.
  • Using reflective statements. Reflect on their stories by paraphrasing or summarizing what they've said. Use responses like, "I can see how passionate you are about your work. What do you find most rewarding about it?" to show engagement and encourage them to continue sharing.

By following these tips, you can make your date feel valued and understood, fostering a stronger, more meaningful connection. Additionally, you'll manage your own anxiety better, gain insight into the topics they care about and learn how to reciprocate without venturing into areas that make you uncomfortable.

3. Identify Red Zones And Green Zones

Another study emphasizes the importance of avoiding risky topics too early in relationships, such as sharing personal secrets, discussing past relationships, or discussing sensitive issues. Discussing these topics prematurely can trigger strong emotions like fear and anxiety in your partner. These feelings can affect how they interact with you, potentially leading to discomfort and misunderstandings.

Before the date, decide on the topics you consider "red zones"—things you'd regret sharing with someone you just met. These are topics you wouldn't want an almost stranger to know. You can reflect on past encounters and identify topics you regret discussing so you can avoid them in future conversations. Conversely, identify your "green zone" topics—neutral subjects you feel comfortable discussing that showcase your authentic self.

Additionally, prepare a mental list of safe, engaging topics such as hobbies, travel experiences, or favorite books and movies. Having these go-to topics will help guide the conversation toward areas where you feel more at ease, reducing the pressure to share personal or sensitive information.

By preparing topics beforehand, you can maintain a comfortable and enjoyable conversation, making your date feel valued and understood while managing your anxiety. This approach ensures a balanced interaction that fosters genuine connection without venturing into uncomfortable territory.

Do you often find yourself anxiously oversharing? Take the Anxiety Sensitivity Test to know if you need support.

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