Why Oversharing on a First Date Is a No-No



Name: Jaclyn
Question: Dear Moxie,
I have recently reentered the dating scene and have so far experienced several first dates that have led to nowhere. My question is, how soon is too soon to reveal personal information about one’s past? When I am on a first date, the guy will inevitably ask if I have ever lived anywhere other than New York. I respond by saying “Yes, when I was 12 years old, my aunt took over legal guardianship of me and I moved in with her in Florida. I moved back to New York when I was 18.” The guy often responds with: “Was that because you were too much of a handful for your parents?” (That had nothing to do with it). I am starting to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t talk about my personal childhood issues on a date; the whole guardianship thing was depressing. I haven’t been on a second date in a while and wonder if it is coincidence that I reveal too much information about my childhood on the first date? Thank you.
Age: 25


Yeah, I’ve been on a ton of first dates (am. i. rite?) and I have never been asked if I’ve ever lived anywhere else. However, I have had men ask me where I was from originally, to which I reply, “Boston.”

Aaaand scene.  I don’t launch into some big long back story about how my mother died when I was seven and I used to stay with my aunt in The Bronx and decided at nine years-old that I wanted to live in New York City.  That story is interesting to nobody but me.  The men probably jokingly ask if you went to live with your aunt because the topic of guardianship (which means your parents were either dead or incompetent) is a huge bummer and they’re trying to lighten things up. Nothing is compelling you to go into detail about your move. You’re choosing to do that.

Your question in this letter isn’t your real question. You are very conscious of the fact that blurting our the topic of your guardianship is inappropriate. So the real question is: why do you do it? Now, I don’t have a degree in psychology or anything, but I do have quite a bit of experience with being a young child and being detached or disconnected from my parents. I’ve spoken many times of my issues. I’ve always used something – sex, usually – to ensure that I never have to be truly intimate with a man. Sex is a good barrier for me. It’s a shield. I use it to keep men at a distance or to distract them from my deeper issues. While I still see nothing wrong with sex on a first date, I’ve come to realize that I was usually sabotaging myself when I did it. I’m now learning to appreciate and enjoy getting to know man and letting him get to know me without any sex. Earlier this year I went on a few pseudo-dates with a man that involved not even a kiss. While he wasn’t interested in dating me, the upside was that I learned I was far more engaged without the sex and enjoyed the (one-sided) anticipation.

I’m just playing arm chair psychologist, of course. It could be that you’re connecting dots that don’t exist and looking for something to explain why you’re not getting any second dates. Here’s something interesting: most people aren’t getting man or any second dates. That’s just dating now.  Your blip of over-sharing might have nothing to do with it. That said, I would avoid the TMI on a first date, not because there’s any shame in what you experienced as a child, but because dating is a process. Let people get to know you before you reveal sensitive information so that they have a more well-round perception of who you are as a person. If you lay your cards on the table that quickly, whatever it is you reveal could end up defining you.




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9 Responses to “Why Oversharing on a First Date Is a No-No”

  1. Malienation Says:

    No bueno, OP. Regardless of how those guys feel about you initially, they’re uneasy at what they think may be lurking underneath the surface. They think you’ve got issues, serious issues. Transference of guardianship is not a trivial thing. It can be fairly traumatic even if the change of atmosphere is considerably safer and more stable. They don’t want to deal with any residual problems you may have in regards to relationships.

    Having noted that, I also have to agree with Moxie. You know this is inappropriate, and yet you do it anyway. Why? Are you looking for someone to unburden yourself to with respect to this part of your past?

    Finally, I have to say, Moxie, that I’ve always wondered why you moved to NYC. I mean, I get why some small-town girl from Podunk would want to move up to the Big Leagues, but I never got why a native Bostonian would so aspire. I mean, I’ve been to Boston. If memory serves, it’s kinda the Big Leagues as well. Ah, but the City That Never Sleeps…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  2. Noquay Says:

    My childhood was horrendous, I am a cancer survivor, my life was threatened over my research, the current jobsituation is not good and I will be resigning early from my six figure job as a result, and I’m selling out and leaving my town in less than a year. I tell no one until I know them very, very, well any of this, just that my family is deceased, which is truth. Since I am pretty much forced to date long distance, I will state that I’m open to relocating in the near future. That is all. Going through hardship, especially when young, can really strengthen ones character, forcing you to rise above the mire you were raised in. Recognizing that life isn’t working where you’re and having a well thought out plan is having insight. However, the outer world will judge you and judge you harshly. Especially on a first date, keep it light. If someone asks where you’re from, commonhere in the West and in Salk towns, just give a place name. Done.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. KK Says:

    Why not just say you grew up in Florida and New York? Fuck if you are scaring off a guy, think abiut yourself. You are making yourself vulnerable, revealing your childhood. You dont want to talk about a vulnerable part of your past with a guy who may make you feel bad. Make sure you trust the guy, then talk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Fuck if you are scaring off a guy, think abiut yourself. You are making yourself vulnerable, revealing your childhood.**

      Exactly. Flip it around and think of it less as you scaring them away or not (although that’s not wrong), and more as them earning your trust or not.

      I think in general, no one expects their date to have no baggage, but do expect them to have a handle on it – that if any kind of sordid past is mentioned, it’s done so briefly and succinctly. There’s no shame in, say, having cancer but you wouldn’t go on and on about how sick the meds made you to someone you just met (and you probably wouldn’t mention it at all on a first date except as “a health scare,” maybe).

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Selena Says:

    I lived in FL for 30 years. “Where are you from?” was a common question, because most people my age were from somewhere else. Guessing similar in NY, and most large cities? It’s a curiosity/ conversation starter, no one is pressing for details, so no need to give them to someone you just met.

    Not sure if the childhood details are the reason you aren’t getting second dates though if you are matter-of-fact about them. Could there be some other factor at play?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. TT Says:

    Explaining the backstory as you’ve explained it, if that was all that happened, would not discourage a guy from following up with more dates.

    To be quite frank, if you are attractive enough and everything else seems “normal” about you, most guys would keep following up.

    I suspect that you are acting in a way that is already giving signs that something is amiss about you, and then when the backstory is added,they cut bait. After all, why do they all ask this question? Also, why is the inevitable response always along the off-putting lines of “Was that because you were too much of a handful for your parents?” That all suggests that you are giving off some kind of consistent vibe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  6. Nia Says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure why the parental situation needs to be addressed at all on the first date.
    Do you feel this defines you as a person and it’s something that needs to be said *immediately*?

    If you watch Real Housewives of NYC, take a good hard look at Tinsley Mortimer. She was arrested for trespassing about a year ago because her ex had taken out a restraining order on her that she wasn’t aware of (…okay?) and she was on the property. It’s a major embarrassing moment for her, a socialite. She seems like a sweet, if not overly bright, person, but…

    For whatever reason, she borderline-compulsively brings it up almost right away when meeting someone new.

    You can almost see the distaste and discomfort on their faces as they go from “oh, new fun friend” to “don’t talk to her, she’s nuts”.
    Don’t be that girl.

    I moved to a very “boom” town about 4 years ago and one of the reasons was to be near my sister in case she needed egg donation from my eggs, or for me to be a surrogate for her. I do get questions (mostly from Lyft drivers, heh) because my town is one that people move *to* frequently, mostly for its spectacular mountain sports opportunities and high tech boom. So people expect “oh, for the mountains, fresh pow’, dude!!” In my case, I say “oh, for work, and my sister was starting her family at that time and wanted the moral support.” Boom, done.
    No need to get into the egg donation and WHY she would need these services and so on.

    Your story is something that people need to *earn* the right to hear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Your story is something that people need to *earn* the right to hear.**


      The Real Housewives thing reminds me of…my ex-‘s dad had this nightmare girlfriend who was mooching a bunch of money off him. I remember she came to his house when he had people over and brought her dog. Everyone was like, “What a cute dog! He’s so well behaved!” She was like, “Yeah, you shoulda seen him raising hell the other day when the cops came over for my warrant” (or whatever, something like that).

      Obviously that’s inappropriate, but the larger point being – why *would* you share something like that, and right when you meet someone, no less? I think you’re right that the OP sees this stuff as defining her, that it’s up there with telling people her name and what she does for a living. (And nightmare GF’s motivation was that she thought it made her sound cool or badass or something, I guess?).

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  7. AnnieNonymous Says:

    I agree with the others that the story about guardianship is way TMI. The guy is asking if she ever lived anywhere else because lots of New Yorkers are recent transplants. It’s a pretty common conversation I think, especially as recent grads move to NYC for media jobs, and it’s the natural thing to ask if LW’s typical date script involves talking about where she went to school or starting a new job. But anyway, LW should just talk about where she lived before she turned 12 and her family life became complicated. This isn’t hard to figure out.

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