As much as you love sharing your juicy secrets with your friends, it can go from “Ooh” to “Ew” in a snap. CHERYL LEONG tells you when full disclosure can become an issue.

Are you over-sharing?
Avoid over-sharing between friends: here’s some boundaries that you can set. Image: Getty Images

There is such a thing as over-sharing, even among close friends. If you’ve been too free with your sharing, you risk becoming a “too much information” (TMI) friend.

Andrew Bryant, founder of Self Leadership International in Singapore, explains: “We cross the line when we share information that puts a burden on the other party. Over-sharing is when you don’t consider the impact of your revelations on someone else. For instance, if a close colleague tells you she’s having an affair with the boss, you’ve become privy to information you might not wish to know, and are now forced to keep secret.”

Don’t go there
Politics, religion, money and sex are basic no-nos. Also, what may be deliciously scandalous to you, may be difficult to stomach for others. Andrew says it’s best to check if your friend is comfortable with your conversation topics and where they may lead. “If she starts falling silent or becoming fidgety and awkward, it may be a signal for you to take a step back from sharing. Respect her feelings and be sensitive.”

If you’re on the receiving end….
If your friend doesn’t recognise the boundaries, drop her a hint or two with these expert tips:

USE HUMOUR
Try saying: ‘Hey, I cannot promise you I will keep my mouth shut if you continue to let me know so much.’ It’s a gentle way of telling her  “Enough!’”

BE FRANK
Tell her you wouldn’t have shared the same information if you were her.

FRAME YOUR FEELINGS
Let her know that while you appreciate that she feels comfortable enough to let you in on the intimate details of her life, you’re not comfortable with the information overload.

SET BOUNDARIES
Meet your TMI friend once a week for girl talk. This is the only time she’s allowed to unload to her heart’s content. Experts call this benign neglect, a cooling-off period where you leave your friend alone to sort out her thoughts instead of running to you all the time. It helps to normalise the friendship – and gives you a breather from her over-sharing.

This article was originally published in Simply Her May 2012.