How To Avoid Oversharing
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My favourite episode of Girls is the fifth from series two. The protagonist, Hannah (Lena Dunham), finds herself at the doorstep of a man she doesn’t know to apologise for using his bins to dump rubbish. The man is an incredibly handsome doctor (Patrick Wilson) who has recently separated from his wife. Mid-conversation, she goes to kiss him; he kisses her back, they have sex, she ends up spending the day at his house and then a day turns into a couple of days. They laugh, they f*ck, they eat, they sleep — they know so little about each other and yet so quickly create a world in his house that belongs just to them. On what turns out to be Hannah’s final night there, she uses his luxurious power shower and passes out due to the intense steam. He finds her, wraps her up in his dressing gown and puts her on the bed. Hannah, finally feeling so safe and comfortable with a man, cries. She opens up and starts to tell him everything — all her fears and insecurities; all her past mistakes and bad habits. He begins to squirm away from her on the bed and a close-up of his face shows the fear in his eyes. It’s all become too real. She’s said too much. The affair is over.
The episode came under for fire for being unrealistic. But I think it’s an incredibly realistic depiction of dating in your twenties. It’s almost a dream sequence of what could happen every day when you’re young and single and so little is planned or anticipated. A chance encounter could lead to an intense affair with a stranger because we’re all drowning in uncertainty and looking for a lifeboat of any shape or size. How hard and fast those intense relationships can rise from nothing and how quickly they can be kicked down and demolished.
As Hannah lies on his bed, letting all her feelings spew out, I want to shout at her. I have been Patrick Wilson in that scene, sitting on the bed, finding out too many things about someone and wishing they had stopped talking two sentences earlier before they cracked open the entrance to their psyche and let in a garish light I wasn’t ready for. I have also been the person who says too much, who hits her head the day after a third date when he hasn’t replied to her text and a thought comes to her: “Oh God, I said too much last night. I said ALL OF THE THINGS.”
A good first date is like good cocaine. You’ll want to talk and talk and talk until you feel like your throat has closed up and there is nothing left to speak about. The next day you’ll be hungover from words and stories, a result of a conversation binge. You’ll find yourself tracing your way through the ordnance survey map of the evening, recalling what routes you both took, what you discovered and what was revealed.
Only on first dates is it possible to explore the unchartered anecdotal lands of “my first piano lesson” or “the things my great grandfather did for science”. But the eagerness to find out everything about each other and the openness you create can lead you into a false sense that nothing is off-limits, that all things should be unpicked. Well – they shouldn’t. Sometimes, you should know when to keep your mouth shut.