How much is “too much” information?


SecretsI read today that Jerry Springer is hosting a new dating show (um, yes…THAT Jerry Springer).  I pictured men and women throwing things at each other and guests being pregnant with someone else’s baby, likely a cousin.  But that’s not what the show is about.

The show is called “Baggage”, and it offers a chance for three contestants to win “the perfect date”, but only after revealing their three worst faults.  They carry bags on stage representing these faults.  Then they must try and defend the faults to the potential date.  After two contestants are eliminated and one is left standing, the potential date must reveal his or her own baggage.  Oh, and the first three contestants include a shoplifter, a woman who relies on psychics, and a control freak.

Anyway, I started thinking about the idea of revealing baggage on a date, and if it’s a good idea.  I must admit, I tend to hold back.  I would rather someone get to know me and do a slow reveal.  Even a few months into the relationship, I am still silent about some things.  I won’t go into them now, of course.  I don’t know you well enough.  (But I’ve never stolen anything.)

I know that keeping silent about my weaknesses has held me back in dating.  Many times, guys have gotten frustrated and left.  I would rather protect myself than be vulnerable and possibly hurt.  Obviously, that never works in building a relationship.  But then, when do you reveal your baggage how much do you share?

I’ve been out with a few 12-steppers who told me up front about their battles with drugs and/or alcohol.  One guy couldn’t remember 5 years of his life. 5 YEARS.  That was a reality check for me.  I know it’s part of the process to be open and honest about addiction battles, but I found myself feeling extremely overwhelmed and not wanting to know any details.  I usually grabbed my coffee and moved on.  But obviously, it took a lot of guts to share that with me, a virtual stranger.  How did they get the courage?

And so then, why is it so hard for me to reveal any baggage I carry, no matter how small?

Overall, I think it depends on the person you’re divulging the information to, how important they are to you, and how much you trust them.  Which takes time to build.  So realistically, isn’t it okay to wait a while before sharing that you have financial problems, or that you still talk every day to your ex husband, or that you tend to keep busy at work to avoid any real intimacy with friends and partners?

What are your policies when it comes to dating and revealing faults?  Do you tend to share everything up front with a “take me as I am” attitude, or do you prefer the slow reveal?  And where do you draw the line at what you share?

About Kelly Seal

Kelly is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She blogs about dating, relationships, and sometimes peanut butter. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter @kellyseal or through her website


  1. says

    Ha! Yes…heard about the nipples. Bravo Fishy, that’s great. Ok, I will admit to shaving my toes. I have gross dark hair there. Whew, I feel better now.

  2. emily says

    hehehe. i always make the mistake of getting into INTENSELY political banter on an early date. is it TMI to know my stance on No Child Left Behind or undocumented aliens? Maybe.

  3. says

    I never thought that I needed to share my toes shaving with anyone, that’s why I shave them isn’t it?

    I just don’t date that solves all my baggage problems. If I do meet someone I tend to spill most everything right away. I figure if they stick around I might explain some of it. Not the toe shaving however.

  4. says

    I used to be a take me as I am girl, and then completely closed off, which really turned men off. Eventually I went to something in the middle, until I found someone I could really trust. I didn’t open up to him right away, but pretty quickly, because I had a good feeling about him. I think you’re right, you have to develop trust. Middle ground is a good balance.

    On another note, that Jerry Springer show called Baggage actually sounds like an interesting show. I may have to check it out!

  5. says

    Being too reserved has been disastrous for me lately… I let it rip with GEE because I got tired of holding it back. It worked out well, though… TMI is a case-by-case, person-by-person decision.

  6. says

    I’m kind of in the middle of the road. I’m not comfortable opening up right at the get go but then I get a little uncomfortable if I feel like I’m holding back too much. Hard to find a happy medium.

  7. says

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Emily – yeah, I’ve made the mistake of thinking dates always share my political views since we are in a liberal city. Found out the hard way that they don’t.

    Jen – Good point about the toes. Too late now, the beans are spilled.

    Date Girl – thanks for sharing, and I am definitely tuning in to watch Mr. Springer!

    Miss Alpha – I agree, but sometimes I think I still hold back too much. I am working on this a lot with my current BF.

    Tina – welcome! Yes, still hard for me to find the happy medium. I think it really depends on the person you’re sharing with.

  8. says

    Wow, it sounds like a crazy show. With the lineup you mentioned I’m pictured an audience screaming “take the control freak!” Having been married for so long I really don’t remember when I anything that was very personal, but I’m kind of a reserved person so my bet was that I waited a while.

    I do think that sometimes with all the talk shows on television that people get used to hearing very personal things about strangers and sometimes get the impression that it is acceptable to share too much to soon. I don’t really know how it is in the dating world, but even with new friends I’m surprised at some of the things that are shared with me by people that I don’t know very well.

    I guess once a relationship gets to the point where not revealing something is preventing the relationship from moving forward then it’s time to confess.

  9. says

    Thanks Tina…I am actually excited to watch this. Of course, it is reality TV and Jerry Springer, so how could it actually go diplomatically?

    And I think you put it best when you stated:

    “I guess once a relationship gets to the point where not revealing something is preventing the relationship from moving forward then it’s time to confess.”

    So, sometimes we get in our own way I’m afraid.

  10. says

    I think when it’s obvious there’s a connection, people share more right away. But a connection is often misinterpreted, and that leads to over sharing and no second or third date.

    People need to share more I think. I remember telling my wife on our first date about my “stepson” who I was raising with my ex-girlfriend. Why would I do that? Because the girlfriend I had before her gave me so much grief about it. And let me tell you, it killed me. She made it so hard to see him and her. Once we broke up I vowed to just let people know right away. And that seemed to work, but probably because my wife to be was the right girl for me.

    So I think it has more to do with the connection and if people like each other right away.


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     But that’s not what the show is about.
    The show is called “Baggage”, and it offers a chance for […….

  2. Какие нужные слова… супер, блестящая мысль…

     But that’s not what the show is about.
    The show is called “Baggage”, and it offers a chance for […….

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