By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
For those of us in the world of dating, we may have a hard time distinguishing between vulnerability and oversharing. If we withhold too much information about our pasts, the good and the bad, our date may perceive us as too shy or not willing to open up enough and trust them
But if we overshare too quickly, say, tell them very personal information on the first or second date, we run the risk of scaring our date.
As Christians dating other believers, we may perceive the other person as, essentially, a free counselor, when we should in reality maintain healthy emotional boundaries.
This YouTube video about oversharing and emotional boundaries discusses how this may look different on a case by case basis. Some Christians may open up more quickly than others, because God has a different plan for each of us.
With that being said, we’ll dive into a few ways to know the difference between oversharing and vulnerability.
We’ll also look at what Scripture says when it comes to relationships and apply it to this idea of vulnerability vs. oversharing
What Does Scripture Say about Vulnerability?
As I mention in nearly any article I write on singleness and dating, the dating world in the Bible virtually did not exist.
The Bible was written thousands of years ago when people experienced arranged marriages (Matthew 1:16-25), marriages with a kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 4), and in many cases the marriage of someone for love (Genesis 24).
We don’t really witness a whole lot of courtship behavior, and if we do, it doesn’t last a terribly long time. The exception to this would be Jacob’s marriage to Leah and subsequently Rachel, when Laban makes him work seven years apiece for him to marry them.
Nevertheless, the Bible does have a lot to say on relationships and on marriage. And the reason we date someone in the Christian world is because we intend to find a significant other whom we can share a marriage and life together.
In particular, let’s look at a good example of vulnerability versus oversharing when it comes to the person of Ruth.
Ruth, a widow who had lost her husband (for reasons unspecified), encounters her kinsman-redeemer Boaz.
For those unfamiliar with the term kinsman-redeemer, Boaz was a relative of Ruth’s mother in law who had a legal obligation to help a family member in need. And Naomi, also without a husband, was in need.
Naomi has knowledge of Boaz’s kinsman-redeemer status, but she doesn’t have Ruth mention this to Boaz right away. She only has Ruth do so after Ruth establishes Boaz’s kindness toward her. He protects her, does not allow any of the workers to harm her, and allows her to take a bounty of food home to Naomi (Ruth 2).
Because Boaz has shown himself to be a trustworthy and kind person, Ruth (and Naomi) knows she can trust Boaz with the news that he is her kinsman-redeemer. She only does so after she’s established his character and understands that she can trust him with this information.
What Does Scripture Say about Oversharing?
We have a great example from Ruth, but do we see any Bible verses or passages in which we can learn about the dangers of oversharing?
Let’s look at the example of Samson.
Samson hooks up with a certain woman named Delilah. Anyone who has remotely heard of the name Delilah and the Bible knows she is anything but trustworthy.
In fact, Delilah strikes up a deal with some Philistines. In exchange for money, she’ll uncover the secret to Samson’s seemingly super strength.
Several times she goes to him to try and extricate this information. Samson lies each time until eventually she nags him into sharing the true “secret” to his strength, the length of his hair. We know that Samson’s strength actually comes from the Lord, but because he divulged this information with someone untrustworthy, his strength leaves him and he suffers massive consequences (Judges 16).
We should also note that Samson wasn’t really duped. Every time she asked him, “Tell me the secret of your strength so your strength can be subdued,” and when he answered something like, “Tie me up with ropes that haven’t been used,” and then Delilah proceeds to tie him up and says, “Hey, the Philistines are here,” Samson should’ve caught onto her grand plan.
But he allows his emotions and his carnal urges to overpower his judgement and he overshares. He tells an untrustworthy person personal information.
And in the end, it results in disastrous consequences.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/clownbusiness
How to Tell If We’re Oversharing
Obviously, we aren’t planning on dating a Philistine woman any time soon (at least, I hope not). But how can we tell if we are exercising trust and vulnerability versus oversharing too quickly with someone who should not know certain private details about ourselves?
This website lists a few examples, but each person’s case may be different from others.
Let’s dive into some surefire ways to avoid oversharing.
First, monitor the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
If you feel the Holy Spirit convict you not to share something intensely personal early on in the relationship, trust those prods.
Part of the reason someone may overshare too quickly is because they want to create intimacy early on by putting all of their baggage and past on the table. What they may fail to recognize is this puts a lot of pressure on the other person. With emotional boundaries crossed early on, they may experience information overload and may get cold feet.
Listen to the Holy Spirit, and if he tells you, “Not yet,” on sharing a certain topic, abide by his instructions.
Second, analyze your date. Have they proven themselves to be trustworthy of information. Or do they seem like the kind of person to use private information you’ve shared like a weapon once things go awry in the relationship.
Like Ruth, determine his or her character first.
Finally, in all things, remember to consider others greater than yourself, and honor one another. If we overshare, we actually dishonor the person. When we overshare, we’ve decided one of a few things:
1. That we want to “test” the person early on to see how they handle vulnerable information.
2. That we want to create emotional intimacy without having to go through the steps of building a relationship first.
3. That we want to put our needs in front of their level of comfortable and in doing so, choose to ignore boundaries.
No matter what the case, all of the above have an underpinning of selfishness. If we want to truly cultivate a godly relationship, we need to do just that … cultivate it. Build it.
Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit and through the development of the relationship, we can learn to be vulnerable, whilst bearing in mind their emotional boundaries.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) Den (releasing July 2020), Dear Hero (releasing September 2020), and Dear Henchman (releasing 2021) Find out more about her at her website.