In my life, I have been blessed with many guardians. In addition to my wonderful parents, there are other adults who have taken the time to love and guide me through the dizzying seasons of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.
One such guardian is the mother of one of my dearest friends. During beach trips or long, late night talks, my friend’s mom gave me much advice in regards to my romantic relationships. Like many young people, I didn’t always want the advice. Although she advised me on a number of topics, the main lesson that sticks out in my mind is the sharing lesson.
Like many immature females, I felt the need to share my life story and all of its meticulous details with each new boy I met. At that time in my life, telling my “life story” consisted of talking about anyone I had previously dated. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that those guys hated listening to stories about other guys; yet, before I learned that lesson, I was the poster child for sharing too much, sharing too soon.
It was one of my missions to make sure my life was an open book to whomever I was dating (or interested in dating). One night, my friend’s mom candidly challenged me to stop dumping my story in every new guy’s lap – and her plea stuck with me. I had been telling each new male friend secrets they did not need to know – and likely did not want to know. Not only that, but I had not taken the time to learn if I could trust them with the deep parts of my heart. To this day, I cringe when I see young women flinging all of their personal information on young men. I want to shout, “Hold on to your mystery!”
In relationships, you will eventually need to share personal things about yourself, especially if you are considering marriage; however, your depth of sharing should be in proportion to the depth of your relationship. As you are first getting to know each other, you should guard the more personal areas of your heart (Proverbs 4:23). As trust begins to deepen and intentions begin to point towards marriage, deeper sharing is appropriate.
Think about your new relationship as you would a young plant. The plant needs water to grow, but if you pour too much water on it too quickly, the plant could die – it is not built to handle a flood. Relationships also need to develop slowly and naturally. When a year’s worth of sharing is poured into your brand new relationship within the first few months, it can overwhelm the relationship and wilt it to death. At every stage of your relationship, you should pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you both. After all, His timing is always perfect (Psalm 27:14). Some things may seem right in our own eyes, but He sees the big picture.
The deeper, more personal information you share, the more emotionally and/or spiritually bonded you will become – whether you intend to do so or not. Maybe you are sitting in a car at night, looking up at the stars, talking… that is a perfect setting to start spilling your guts. Being on the phone with someone in which you are interested at night is another time when inhibitions fall away… and our tongues can run away from us.
If it’s not the right time, too much emotional intimacy can harm a fragile, budding romance. Once you have privileged information about another person, an unspoken obligation to support him or her may be formed. If after two weeks, a girl tearfully shares her most difficult memory with a new boyfriend, he may feel overwhelmed and responsible for her well being when it is far too soon to make such a commitment. If after a few weeks of dating, a boy shares his biggest struggle with a new girlfriend, she may begin to feel the need to nurture him, and in turn, she may either smother him or develop an attachment too quickly to him.
Especially when there is no intention of marriage on the table, it is not wise to share deep weaknesses and hurts with each other. Trust and commitment need to first be established before you start sharing your load of burdens with each other. Trusted same-sex friends are appropriate for listening and supporting you. If you get in the habit of sharing too much with members of the opposite sex before marriage, it may be difficult to break the habit after marriage. And over-sharing after marriage can lead to emotional and physical affairs.
If you have been prone to over-sharing too much in your past, don’t fret; you can start fresh today. Ask the Lord to lead you in what you share and how you share, praying before each date or group activity. Also pray for guidance in guarding your heart and opening your mouth. Continually ask Him to be your King over your tongue and to guide you in what you should say. When you ask Him to lead you in wisdom, He will be faithful to answer you because you are praying according to His Word (James 1:5).
Do you have a tendency to tell others too much about yourself before your relationship matches that level of intimacy?