Saturday 31 January 2015

On Oversharing

I am back from asking complete strangers with which political party they identify most strongly. So far nobody has said, "I most strongly identify with the Social Kingship of Christ the King." That would be awesome. Of course in Scotland such a person would probably turn out to be a Covenanter who never got around to dying.

It is Seraphic Single Saturday, and I have had a request to talk about oversharing about men and dates. Thus this post should make a nice companion piece to yesterday's post, which was about talking to men. Today's post is about talking to women about men, especially the ones who most interest you.

If you enjoy talking about your friends to other friends, you can bet that at least some of your friends enjoy talking about you. And, despite what juicy things my friends might be sharing about me,  I would be the first person to say that this is not all bad. It might even be good. Generally I talk about only people I care about and/or think are very interesting. Meanwhile I strive not to say anything critical about someone unless I have been terribly hurt or shocked, in which case I may start doing the tango along the border of righteous anger (virtue) and detraction (vice).

But I am not telling you this to encourage you in your gossip, but to remind you that others are gossiping about you, and the only way to control what gets said about you is to be prudent in your words and actions.

Unless you are naturally taciturn, the more you like a man, the more you are likely to talk about him. Dwelling on the subject of him will give you so much pleasure, you will not notice the growing boredom of those around you, especially if they have never met him. A few details are okay, and I think a woman in a new relationship should be able to talk about the chap for the length of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, but that should be that.

Incidentally, if you complain for hours to all your girlfriends about how the guy you are dating is pressuring you for sex, and you suddenly stop complaining about him but don't break up with him either, everyone will assume you have given in. Sorry, but come on. Pick one and only one, preferably the most loyal or silent, of your female friends to confide in about your sex-and-chastity woes, swear her to the most abject secrecy and do not breathe a word of all this outside the confessional, therapist's room or doctor's office. Oh, and I think you should break up with him, too.

But to return to the gentler world of Cath Soc, the Newman and the Trad Mass society, you really must be careful what you say about anyone in a group of 200 or fewer people, for in such a small environment, what you say will very likely get back to him, and not necessarily in the form it left your ruby lips. You really, really, really should not share personal stuff anyone tells you about their past, their family, and their deepest, darkest secrets to anyone else. And this includes the stuff men tell you on dates. Smart men don't marry women they can't trust, and if you can't be trusted, no smart man is going to marry you. Thus, whatever you tell your friends about men, keep it positive and rational.

Don't say: Ugh! I never want to see Scooter again. He bored me senseless about skeet-shooting.
Say instead: Scooter is very much into outdoor sports. I think he'd enjoy meeting girls who are too.

Don't say: Skip is so fantastic, I want to marry him right now and have his babies!!!
Say instead: I really enjoyed my date with Skip. He's a great guy with a good sense of humour. I hope he calls again.

Don't say: I always thought Sully a tough guy, but it turns out it's just a front he developed 'cause his father beat him black and blue and his brothers made fun of his interest in art!
Say instead: I really enjoyed my date with Sully. He's a deep character. He knows a lot about life, and he has a real interest in art.

Believe me, I know how crazy and impossible this sounds. But I promise that it gets easier with practice and with age. The older you get, the more you understand that people are not really interested in positive stuff, like how utterly fantastic Skip is, but glom onto negative stuff, like what a pain in the butt Scooter is. But nevertheless if you tell people positive stuff about other people, they begin to think  that you are a positive person. And if you constantly tell them negative (if interesting) stuff about other people, they may start feeling negatively about you.

So what can you do? You have so much to tell, but you are not sure if you should tell it.  I recommend my old friends the pen and paper. Get a little girl's diary with a lock, if you can find one--there are computerized versions now (!)--and write all about your dates to your hearts' content. You could also begin a computer file although I don't recommend a blog. No matter how anonymous you are, and how anonymous you make your dates, if you go public, someone will find out who you are. One of my brothers once realized that the girl he was on a date with was the author of a dating blog he enjoyed reading. Can you imagine? Well, I suppose you can if you were ever mentioned on "Seraphic Singles."

Alternatively you could pay your therapist, who is bound to professional silence, to listen to you enthuse or emote for an hour. Or you could visit your housebound grandmother or aunt, if you have one, and tell her all about it. Or maybe you could even visit a sympathetic older married female friend with grown-up children or no children at all, preferably one who is not in your immediate social circle. Older married women have their own romantic life sorted out and settled, and so take more of an impersonal interest in other people's romances than Single women within the same dating pool. They can listen and enjoy without feeling the impulse to tell someone else except, perhaps, their husbands. 

Incidentally, anything negative a married friend tells you about her husband, short of violence, you must never repeat to anyone else. Never. Not even to your own husband. He doesn't want to hear it anyway. Husbands don't like the idea of wives discussing them with other men's wives. Meanwhile, don't tell married women stuff you don't mind their husbands knowing, just in case they don't share my philosophy. However, do not panic about this too much, as husbands tend to forget random news snippets offered to them by their wives.

How to put up with other people's oversharing is a delicate issue. It horrifies me to know that some married people actually violate the sanctity of their marriage bed by discussing what goes on there with their work colleagues. Less culpably, perhaps, since they are after all just "partners" (at best) or whoremongers (at worst), "partners" and whoremongers sometimes do that too. You are well within your rights to say "TMI" to such people and cover your ears in a jokey way the first time, and then to inform them more seriously that you are not comfortable hearing sex talk at work the next time, and then to have a little meeting with your manager or HR officer on the subject the time after that. I believe making people hear about one's sexual exploits (or lack thereof) is a form of sexual harassment.

In social life, there are no managers or HR, so just say "TMI" and cover your ears. After you do this five times, Chatty Cathy or Chuckle Charlie will get it. If s/he doesn't, s/he isn't really your friend is s/he?


  1. How can there POSSIBLY be no comments on this one?! :-D

  2. Because I only just read it!

    "Unless you are naturally taciturn..."

    You bet I am! If I am interested in a guy, not even my closest friends will hear me breathe a word of it (and if I do, I won't mention his name, and I'll probably only mention it to women who don't know the guy anyway.) I'm not sure why I'm different to other women in that respect. Whenever I've had a crush I've felt like a complete idiot because of it, and so I usually don't feel like announcing it to the world.

    Hmmm. I wonder what people might be saying about me behind my back. My suspicion is not much -- I don't think I give people reason to chatter about me in a way that they wouldn't if I were right in front of them.

    Thanks for the Seraphic Saturdays! I had a pretty unSeraphic week which included:

    1. An extended heated discussion with a friend about the nature of male-female friendships and mixed-faith romantic relationships;

    2. My engaged friend trying to convince me (without me asking her too) that Mr X has a thing for me even though I've only met him a few times, he's never contacted me, and he's dated another girl since meeting me;

    3. The renewed disappointment of realising for the millionth time that Mr X is definitely not interested (thanks for reminding me, Engaged Friend);

    4. My younger sister being pursued enthusiastically by a good young Catholic guy (because, you know, wah wah wah why do guys never pursue ME wah wah wah maybe I'm too tall or my nose is too big or maybe it's because I'm over 22 and Caucasian).

    So yeah.

    But! Planning my first trip to Europe, which is a plus.

  3. Thank you for putting into words what I really should have known in my heart/followed!

    I too, generally keep completely mum about any crush I have, recently however, had friends do the 'he really likes you' thing (same as you, Julia) about someone I like, but have never, ever been approached by. And now I am sorry I talked about him as much as I did. We did go out once, but it's not meant to be and we both know it.
    Next time, mouth completely shut!

    Funnily enough, I tend to find it's waaaay easier to chat with men and ask them about themselves when I'm dancing (social ballroom/Latin stuff) - more than likely because A: you might never see them again, but if you do, you are already friends because you share a mutual love of dancing, and B: because I'm at dancing to dance, not to find a good Catholic spouse.

    The Art of conversation is something I'm slowly learning as generally I like listening to other people talk. Mind you, if you start me on one of my favourite subjects.......

    I also recommend keeping a journal, I have for years, and I talk to it quite a bit!

  4. Singles are in the news -- though I feel kind of bad for this fun-sounding family being featured this way.
    "Barbara Foley never imagined her daughters would be single at ages 36, 38 and 40."

  5. Julia, I can relate. I'm sorry for the things you are going through.

    I also have always kept my mouth shut about my secret crushes (I used to chat about men I disliked instead, which was weird), but you know what? All my friends had known before I even said a word. Yes, I made remarks about men in general, but without mentioning the person. Perhaps I was giving out other signals, like making a sad face, blushing, whatever.
    And what did my friends do? Two things: some of them warned me against my crush object and gave me bad time each time I talked to him as we bumped on each other accidentally. The other group tried hard to set us up and insisted my being more proactive. The reality was he didn't love me back (although he liked me a lot), of course. I was close to psychical breakdown, as a result, because, regarding my friends and the use of their knowledge, it seemed that my feelings never counted in both ways. Not to mention the violation of my privacy, argh!

    OK, those were my 20s. At times I complain about my present life, which is not at all romantic, but I'm pretty happy those days are gone.

    Europe? What a great idea! Which countries will you be visiting?

  6. Update: I have just come back from Sunday Mass and for the FIRST time ever I heard Single (unmarried) people were mentioned during the Universal Prayer. Whoa!

  7. Between your two posts, I find that I will swing widely between saying way too much and then not really speaking at all (in some cases friends asking if I was upset or something). And I severely regret both behaviours, I'm trying to learn to act like a normal human being for once.
    -Anon for this comment.

  8. Pearlmusic, I plan to be in Krakow for WYD next year, and I will travel more widely in Poland because I have family in the north and in the south. I will also be in the UK (England and Scotland) to visit more family and for a study opportunity that I might get. I hope to amble over to Spain, Italy and France after WYD. I'd love to stay in Europe for a long time, but I think that two months will be the most that I can afford. I am also in the process of applying for EU citizenship so perhaps that will have been granted by the time I make my trip.

    Clare and Pearlmusic -- friends, hey? Engaged Friend means the best, but she doesn't realise just how hard I've had to work to remain rooted in reality about Mr X. Engaged Friend is right, up to a point -- I think that Mr X was interested in me at some stage, because he liked to talk to me and made an effort to be around me. But that was a year ago, so come on. She says that maybe it's the distance that makes him hesitate (we live 133 km away from each other) but I say that's rubbish because after meeting me he got into a relationship with a girl who lives 537 km away from him. Okay, they have since broken up, but my point still stands -- Mr X is clearly capable of pursuing a girl he is really interested in no matter where she lives. And that girl is not me.

    1. Julia, you will have to visit me!

    2. I will indeed! You know what? (Since you are Canadian you will probably get this) I am blown away by the short distances between cities in the UK. Even London to Edinburgh is only 665km. I'm used to thinking of a standard distance between cities as being about 878km, which is the distance between Sydney and Melbourne.

    3. I think Australians have even more tolerance for long distances than Canadians do. I rarely go any further (all at once) than the distance between Toronto and Montreal, which takes seven hours by bus, five to six hours by train. The journey from Edinburgh to Toronto by plane is shorter than the trip from Toronto to Montreal by bus!

  9. I've been working on quelling the urge to tell girlfriends every time a likely fellow shows some interest. In some ways, this is less fun than having a gab-fest each time, but it's way more peaceful ;-) Also helps me to stay rooted in reality!


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