Sex & Relationships

Ask Sharleen: When Does Sharing Become TMI?

Sharleen Joynt—opera singer, fellow Canuck, former Bachelor contestant and all-around cool girl—answers your most pressing matters of the heart. This month: how to deal with oversharing and undercleaning

Sharleen Joynt Flare

(Illustration: Spiros Halaris)

Dare to Share?
I have a tendency to share a lot of details about my relationships with my friends and coworkers. I’ve come to find that people judge me or feel the right to tell me how I should or shouldn’t have acted. This also pushes people to see me differently and I feel like they take me less seriously because I honestly haven’t done so well on the dating front. Sometimes I’m excited or want to vent, but I know I need to set boundaries when talking about my relationships so that people don’t view my partner differently—and to protect what I’m building. How much is too much to share?

Sharleen: While sharing relationship details can feel like a surefire way to connect with people, you can easily be misunderstood or judged if those people aren’t proven, tried-and-true besties. On the flip side, some folks can’t listen to problems without trying to solve them, so it could be more about them trying to feel useful and less about you being judged. Based on the fact that I can very much relate to your issue, I imagine you overshare because you yourself are not a judgmental person. If someone were to tell you something similar to what you’ve been divulging, you’d likely serve as a rapt audience or sounding board rather than a condescending know-it-all. I see this as similar to the “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” scenario. If you excitedly tell a friend or co-worker about a recent date you’ve been on and they proceed to judge you on that very information, keep your distance in the future. Period. I know holding back can be difficult, and this is something I’m working on myself. But remember: you share this information out of a desire to connect with people. There’s no point in sharing and not connecting. Save the juicy details for kindred spirits—not those who equate information with ammunition.

The Case of the Layabout BF
I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for a year, and we just moved in together. So far, so great! Except for one major issue: he’s unemployed and has loads of free time, while I work long hours in a high-pressure job. He’s an actor and earned enough money on his last job that he can afford to take time off, so money isn’t the issue. It’s that I feel resentful about all the time he has to do the things I wish I could do: spin class, long brunches, working on satisfying creative projects. I might feel more kindly toward his daytime activities if he were more helpful around the house. I’ve tried gently broaching the subject, but he gets defensive. Also, I can’t really begrudge him his time off. I’d luxuriate at the gym sauna in the middle of the day too, if I could (though I’d also clean and cook healthy dinners). How does a person dissolve resentment?

Sharleen: Your frustration with your BF’s lack of help with housekeeping is a matter of cohabitation growing pains; it shouldn’t be confused with your frustration over his schedule. If “clean” means something different to him than it does to you, no amount of his free time will change that. You’ve just moved in together, presumably because you were already compatible, so now it’s about how you mesh while under the same roof. Try to enjoy this stage. You’re learning each other. The resentment is a different beast. Career-wise and therefore schedule-wise, I can relate to your BF. On the surface, an actor between gigs has it pretty sweet. But along with that free time comes a lack of job security, the pressure of auditioning, the constant anxiety about what’s next. Your weekdays look very different from his, yes. But you have what sounds like a career. You know where your next paycheque is coming from, and you can make long-term plans according to the structure and resources your job provides. The comfort and security these things give your life should not be underestimated and, if you think about it, could be grounds for your BF’s own resentment. So while at this moment he has the free time and funds to pursue whatever fulfills him, it comes at a different kind of cost. I assure you, between spin classes and creative projects, he ponders where his next paycheque will come from. Let him keep busy and be happy while he does. I say all of this with the presumption that he’s motivated to get gigs and contributes his share. I assume you knew he was an actor when you moved in with him—and that his lifestyle would differ from yours. Now that it has proven to be true, don’t hold it against him.

More from Sharleen Joynt:
My Friend is a Train Wreck, Should I Stop Her?
When Should I Stop Making the Next Move?
My BF Is a Heavy Pot-Smoker, Should I Leave Him?
How Do I Get Back in the Dating Game After Years?
Dating Rich and Ditching the Friend Zone
Why Is My BF Icing Me Out on Social?