When is it TMI??


When is information, too much information?

I’ll give you a few examples;

Scene: Five friends, sitting down to dinner together. I realize my friend’s new boyfriend has never had Thai food before…

Me: Oh! So you’ve never had Thai food before? Please allow me to help you order! This will be so much fun!

My friend: Yeah, he doesn’t get out much and is very set in what he likes to eat. Nothing green!  

The new boyfriend looks at me helplessly, probably hoping I don’t think he’s a total dope based on my friend’s description of his eating habits.


Scene: Meeting my friend’s date for the first time…

Me: It’s very nice to meet you! I’ve heard a lot of good things!

My friend, speaking to her date while pointing at me: This is the girlfriend that told me that if I wanted to make our relationship work, maybe I should stop breaking up with you.

My friend’s date was busy eating an ice cream sundae and once the words were out of her mouth the spoon began viciously shoveling ice cream into his mouth, probably to keep him from screaming in agony.


Scene: Sitting around chatting with my friend, her new boyfriend, my husband and one of her ex-boyfriends, whom she parted with under good terms. Everyone is within earshot when she turns to me and says…

My friend: Yeah, I’ve been waiting for my period to come now for about a week. I’m all crampy, so I’m guessing I’ll get it soon. I sure hope so anyway.

There wasn’t a lull in the conversation, like you’d expect, but the number of eyes that cut in our direction was unmistaken and noticed by everyone. except the woman hoping to get her period soon.


If you’re wondering if this was all from one friend, you’d be right. In fact, it all happened over the course of one evening, within the timespan of just a few hours. By the time the evening ended, I was exhausted and my face ached from feigning a smile. There was nothing I could say to her that night about her behavior or her remarks and later on when we spoke, I just felt it would be more trouble than it was worth to point out how embarrassing she was to herself, her new boyfriend, her ex-boyfriend and my husband. No one missed a single thing she said and I wondered if she spent her social life, squarely parked under a rock.

No one can be that gauche and not know they are being socially awkward and giving out Too Much Information.

Openly insulting someone in the presence of friends, especially someone you are having an intimate relationship with, is never acceptable behavior, but divulging an embarrassing observation or private conversation is definitely TMI. Put yourself in that person’s shoes before you regurgitate anything similar to the above mentioned scenes.

How would you feel if a friend disclosed your poor eating habits in front of a group of peers? Would you be okay with that? Would you laugh, or think it’s funny?

How would you feel if your loved one had previously disclosed information about the private nature of your intimacy with a partner right in front of someone you were meeting for the first time?

How would you feel to hear your loved one talk about personal and private grooming habits in the company of mixed friends? Would you just consider he was very open about shaving his pubic hair for instance, or would you think that this was information he should keep to himself or maybe just between the two of you? Well, that’s how everyone feels when you talk about getting your period.

How do you know when it’s TMI?

What if you don’t consider any of this to be TMI?

I looked this topic up on the Internet and the overall advice was to tell your friend that what she’s doing is TMI. But that doesn’t give me a single solution or exercise she can use for future social outings. How can I tell her that sometimes she just needs to stfu and not say anything if all she can do is disclose details that aren’t normally discussed during a social gathering?

It brought to mind an incident that happened with this same woman not long ago. She was incensed when she thought she was the object of sexual harassment. She was so angry about what had transpired that she had written up a document to present along with her complaint. I listened to the entire incident and honestly, it sounded like innocent joking among friends. Obviously, this man considered himself to be friendly enough to poke fun about a subject and he trusted her friendship enough that he felt no problem doing it.

How is it that she can be sensitive enough to claim sexual harassment, but she has no idea how to conduct herself in public? It makes me wonder if someone simply misunderstood something she shared and expounded on it. That doesn’t make it correct, but I can see where this might happen organically.

TMI topics could be numerous, but I think common sense and decency regulates certain topics as TMI when in particular social settings. I think the best advice I can give for anyone suffering from an inability to carry on polite conversation is this; if what you’re about to share wouldn’t embarrass you if the tables were turned, then try sharing it. If you get an eye roll, a blush or a strained smile from your friend, then temper your topic and talk about something else, something safer. Never overshare.

Gee, how ’bout those Raiders, huh?

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to When is it TMI??

  1. Sorry, none of those things would’ve bothered me if they had been said about me. I do think that she was lacking empathy about her new boyfriend and would be better off paying more attention to his feelings. The fact that he was shy about things is the important thing.


  2. You’re right, she has no filters and remains a state of public embarrassment because no one has the heart to advise her on etiquette. I think you either have to take her like she is, or just make sure you’re having private get togethers.


  3. Pingback: Rule Seven: Respect Privileged Information | Women in Contemporary Relationships

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