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AIBU?

Find strangers sharing/oversharing? Does this happen to you too?

51 replies

speakout · 18/09/2022 09:33

Does this happen to you? OK I am on holiday so lots of time for thinking and social observation, but realise strangers have a habit of divulging personal information very quickly to me. It has happened this week several times, but happens a lot at home too.
I have chatted to several strangers in the past few days, and keep the chat to the weather/flight times/ good local restaurants etc, but then find people spilling private details of their lives very quickly- marital problems, worries about alcohol consumption, how their teenage son has been stealing jewelery/, how they are worrying about their daughter's divorce/upcoming surgery for fibroids.
I look at these conversations and wonder why this happens- I don't ask or probe, and happy to have a small chit chat about the day to day, but so often dives deep within a very short time, often within 2 or 3 minutes.
Do I look gullible? Do I have a therapists face? I am aware this doesn't happen to everyone- am I giving out weird vibes?
Curious as to whether this happens to others.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

32 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
25%
You are NOT being unreasonable
75%
OrangeFlowersAreLovely · 18/09/2022 09:42

I find people like this tend to be overbearing and very needy. Avoid!

mamabear715 · 18/09/2022 09:43

I don't know, OP, but it used to always happen to me too, & still does on occasion. Maybe patience / politeness? Even though inside, we want to run away? ;-)

Sparklingbrook · 18/09/2022 09:44

I get this quite a bit. I have always worked in jobs which involve a lot of talking to people I don't know so I wonder if I give off some sort of amateur therapist vibe without realising it.
Even if they are sharing, I'm not but I don't really mind it, other people's lives are fascinating sometimes aren't they?

UserNameNameNameUser · 18/09/2022 09:48

It happens to me all the time!

Recently I was with a friend, who was on the periphery of the conversation, when someone had started to divulge details of their marital issues within 2 minutes of otherwise normal small talk. Friends reaction after the person left was literally “what the hell just happened? That’s not normal!”.

I think I just have that kind of face?

NuffSaidSam · 18/09/2022 09:49

It happens to me too. Some people just like to share!

over50andfab · 18/09/2022 09:50

Like on MN then?

Some people prefer to share with strangers things they might not want to share with close friends and family. Or they’re looking for an unbiased view. Sometimes it can help normalise something to share it eg poor mental health. Some people are more reserved and happy to just talk about the weather, others are more open and some will share every detail of their life. Maybe they have no one to talk to?

Many reasons really. If you don’t want to engage then change the conversation to something you prefer to talk about or leave/talk to someone else.

TiffyTaffy · 18/09/2022 09:50

I have that kind of face too!

You have to be a bit rude (it’s not rude but it feels like it) and discourage them when they start. Don’t make eye contact or listen. Turn away.

J0y · 18/09/2022 09:51

I don't think I'd care that much if I were away. You can respond Gosh how awful like a robot and that'll wind them down or if you say something really supportive with empathy they'll open up.

I know some people do overshare but they feel safe to share with you ironically. They see you as a safe ear.

over50andfab · 18/09/2022 09:52

OrangeFlowersAreLovely · 18/09/2022 09:42

I find people like this tend to be overbearing and very needy. Avoid!

Or maybe desperate/lonely or frightened

J0y · 18/09/2022 09:54

NuffSaidSam · 18/09/2022 09:49

It happens to me too. Some people just like to share!

Yes, my boss was surprised that I was ''so open'' about the fact that I'd left my x. I don't see it as open. I see as ......... what happened. A timeline. Same as her saying well I did my third year abroad in France in 2007, that was the year I left my x. It's no biggie. But it happened. I think I was a bit surprised that she was surprised!! But I'm not going to start talking in riddles. ''That was the year I relocated abroad with my dc, for a fresh start''.

KassandraOfSparta · 18/09/2022 09:55

OrangeFlowersAreLovely · 18/09/2022 09:42

I find people like this tend to be overbearing and very needy. Avoid!

Not often. But when my youngest started school we had a social evening one Friday night for the new parents in the school with cheese and wine as a sort of get to know you event, was 80% mums.

One of the mums moved within 2 minutes from general chit chat about the name of her child, where he went to nursery and which class he was in to telling me about her abusive ex-husband and her restraining order. She did the same to several other people that evening. Very odd woman.

speakout · 18/09/2022 09:56

Glad it isn't just me!
I am aware enough to remove myself , and don't let others invade my boundaries, I can see it may have something to do with anonyimity- yes a bit like mumsnet.

OP posts:
J0y · 18/09/2022 09:59

@KassandraOfSparta wow, it's so shocking to me that you consider the FACTS of somebody's life making them very odd. That was what she was going through. Do you think it doesn't happen? Plenty of women were talking about how perfect their lives were no doubt, indirectly. Heaven forbid anybody keeps it real, admits that not everything is perfect for them. How ''odd''..

KassandraOfSparta · 18/09/2022 10:09

Come on. In a room where everyone else is making conversation around "I'm Ben's mum, yes he's in Mrs Smith's class, he goes to football on a Saturday at the leisure centre, I think I recognise your child from dancing" you do not immediately plunge into stories about how you had to flee your violent ex who was a drug user, are back living with your mum but your stepdad is an arse, you have a restraining order on your ex etc etc.

Not saying those sorts of subject shouldn't be discussed but you'd really share that sort of stuff with someone who you'd known for TWO MINUTES? And yes, it would be equally inappropriate with someone you'd known two minutes to start banging on about your new Range Rover, or how the handbag you have cost £4k.

speakout · 18/09/2022 10:13

KassandraOfSparta · 18/09/2022 10:09

Come on. In a room where everyone else is making conversation around "I'm Ben's mum, yes he's in Mrs Smith's class, he goes to football on a Saturday at the leisure centre, I think I recognise your child from dancing" you do not immediately plunge into stories about how you had to flee your violent ex who was a drug user, are back living with your mum but your stepdad is an arse, you have a restraining order on your ex etc etc.

Not saying those sorts of subject shouldn't be discussed but you'd really share that sort of stuff with someone who you'd known for TWO MINUTES? And yes, it would be equally inappropriate with someone you'd known two minutes to start banging on about your new Range Rover, or how the handbag you have cost £4k.

I agree, and uncomfortable knowing that you will likely know these other school mums for several years to come. Information like that can't be untold.

OP posts:
verdantverdure · 18/09/2022 10:17

I think sometimes it's just them @speakout. They do it whenever they get the chance.

But, just as something to think about, it happens a lot to my friend who has extremely overbearing parents. They ask her the usual polite questions but if she actually answers any of them with more than a sentence or two, her mum will say "can I stop you there?" and change the subject to something she wants to talk about. Consequently conversation is very one sided with them and due to this lifetime of training to be a good listener my friend often gets trapped by bores and people with problems.

speakout · 18/09/2022 10:21

verdantverdure · 18/09/2022 10:17

I think sometimes it's just them @speakout. They do it whenever they get the chance.

But, just as something to think about, it happens a lot to my friend who has extremely overbearing parents. They ask her the usual polite questions but if she actually answers any of them with more than a sentence or two, her mum will say "can I stop you there?" and change the subject to something she wants to talk about. Consequently conversation is very one sided with them and due to this lifetime of training to be a good listener my friend often gets trapped by bores and people with problems.

A very good point- I see elements of that in my own life. I do tend to listen more than talk- a learned behaviour from childhood.

OP posts:
Dreamingcats · 18/09/2022 10:22

I've met a couple of people in my life who I have immediately wanted to tell all my troubles to. They all have in common:

A) a very kind way of speaking
B) a way of listening that makes you think they really care about what you're saying. They give their whole attention.
C) older than me. Makes me feel they are wise and know the answers!

On the other hand, I've had people confide in me when I haven't really wanted that. I don't think I was particularly encouraging, but I assume they were lonely and a bit desperate to talk to someone.

ultimateforks · 18/09/2022 10:23

I get this too, although I don't mind as I love a bit of gossip Blush

I've often been told I have a friendly face though so I assume it's down to that, I'm always the first person to be sat next to on a train or bus etc. too

Wish I could develop some RBF for those situations though!

SwordToFlamethrower · 18/09/2022 10:50

I overshare with strangers bc I know ill never see them again and they tend to give you good advice.

My friends I tend not to share much with. Too many have turned on me and then used confidential info against me.

Example being disclosing domestic violence to friends. Leaving the relationship and then being told by same friend I should be ashamed of myself and should sell all my worldly possessions (like my tv) before claiming benefits.

Strangers tend to be more sympathetic in my experience.

speakout · 18/09/2022 11:12

Strangers may be sympathetic, but I don't always trust others to be wise.
Digging deep is best done with a therapist.

OP posts:
MmeHennyPenny · 18/09/2022 11:12

I find strangers and acquaintances over share with me.I must have a deceptively sympathetic face. I really wish they would not. I am sure they must regret it afterwards.
I can’t sit on a train without getting someone’s, usually harrowing, life story.
The woman in the fishmonger’s told me a long involved personal story a few months ago. I notice she avoids serving me now.
I only went in for a bit of salmon and fish scraps for the cat. I came out feeling like I’d been slapped around the head with one of her plaice fillets.

Spanielsarepainless · 18/09/2022 11:15

All the time. After sharing details of cancer, a complete stranger said she didn't ever do this but I had a healing aura. Having volunteered in a hospice helps!

PooWoo · 18/09/2022 11:16

I think a lot of people find it easier to share with strangers. Sometimes people just need a friendly ear but don't want any other repercussions (of even advice or help) after that particular conversation so it's easier sharing with a stranger.

(I've just discussed at length my toddler's nappies on MN...talking of over sharing...)

Sparklingbrook · 18/09/2022 11:18

I met someone on the sidelines at a junior football match for the first time and got chatting, for some unknown reason without asking I ended up getting her whole labour and childbirth story. Confused And how she didn't breast feed saying 'oh no these are my husband's toys' (pointing to her chest). I saw her every week for ages and that's all I could think of.

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