A friend of mine was telling me that he recently went out for some drinks with a group of his buddies. All the guys are over 40 and all married with kids except for one guy, who is divorced and recently remarried. My friend explained that although all the guys were very happy for him in his second marriage, something was really bothersome: the guy was sharing intimate details of the sex life of him and his new wife.
What I'm wondering is, (and my friend was wondering, too) why do people feel the need to share explicit details of intimate, sexual encounters? What do they gain by oversharing?
Back in college, when sex and love and romance was new to everyone, maybe sharing this kind of information was understandable. I mean, let's be honest, that's what young men and women do. They are excited and energized about these new experiences, and because of immaturity, they can't wait to tell all. Another time someone might over-share is when they are in relationship that involves casual sex and nothing else. It's easy to focus on the sex when that's pretty much all the relationship is.
But what happens when you really really fall for someone? Do the rules of sharing change? Of course they do! Over-sharing cheapens the relationship and makes it seem sleazy. And sleazy is the last thing you are thinking when you fall in love with someone, right? Love means keeping those details between two best friends and two best friends only. Knowing that it's a secret between just the two of you makes the relationship even more deep and meaningful.
Sharing your sex life is also disrespectful to the relationship and to the other person. How do you think this guy's wife would feel if she knew that her new husband was discussing details of their intimacy? She would probably feel like her husband has no respect for their privacy or for her. She would probably feel embarrassed. And, she would probably feel extremely hurt. If this guy thought about her feelings, would he still be so eager to share? It's hard to say.
I can't judge and say that this guy isn't a good guy. So, what reasons would he have to start opening up about the sex he is having with the woman he loves? A few things. Maybe he is just really happy and he doesn't realize his inappropriate behavior. Also, he could still be bitter about his former wife. Let's say they had a sexless marriage—all because of her, and maybe bragging about all the sex is his way of acting out and reassuring himself and everyone else that he is now getting sex on a regular basis. Or, maybe he feels the second wife doesn't deserve the respect of discretion like the mother of his children did.
Regardless of the reasons people might overshare, the bottom line is (and this is according to my friend) it doesn't work anymore. We aren't in a fraternity or a sorority house sitting around rehashing last night's party and who we hooked up with. We are grownups with kids and responsibilities, and hopefully we have matured enough to focus on the deeper aspects of our relationships. In other words, not only does no one want to hear about your escapade in the hotel elevator, but it makes you sound insecure—like you still care and need to be validated that a woman (or man) still wants you. Furthermore, no one wants to hear it. Now, all the guys who know the new wife are thinking about those intimate details every time they see her. That is just wrong.
Remember that there is a kind of sharing that everyone wants to hear: your true friends would love to know that you are enjoying life, that you found someone you adore, that he or she is making you happy, and that you feel loved again. The sex part is implied. It is entirely unnecessary. In other words, share all you want. Just leave it out of the bedroom!
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.