Today I read an article in the July issue of Elle, True Confessions: Why Women Gossip. The author discussed women and sharing, or over-sharing as the case often is with ladies. For the most part, I agreed with much of what she wrote – there are an abundance of women that are guilty of revealing far too much personal information about themselves. I learned not to overshare years ago, after being burned once or twice (actually it was more like a dozen times, I tend to learn by banging my head against the wall repeatedly). Nothing teaches you a lesson better than getting screwed over by your own mouth. So for the most part I keep personal matters to myself, (although my sister and husband are privy to pretty much every facet of my life, but family doesn’t count, right?).
The article attempted to explain some of the reasons why females feel compelled to overshare, and cited numerous studies, including one that found women who shared released higher levels of progesterone, which can reduce stress (conversely, studies have also found that excessive sharing of problems can lead to anxiety and depression. There’s always a yin and yang with these ‘studies’). The author also briefly touched upon the connection between oversharing and gossip. To me the two are hopelessly intertwined. Those times that I got burned by telling someone too much information? Yeah, those were a result of the person I confided in turning around and gossiping to someone else.
All in all, while the article wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, I found it interesting. However, I don’t think the phenomenon is limited to women. Men are just as guilty.
During my employment as a recruiter, I found the men in the office were just as likely to participate in the rumor mill as the women. Hell, often times they were the ones to get the gossip going in the first place. But once that was done, all they had to do was sit back and wait. The difference between men and women, in my opinion, is that dudes know women are more venomous about gossip, therefore all they have to do to get the ball rolling is mention a choice tidbit of information, after which they can sit back and watch the fireworks. They were like the match that lit the office fire, and the ladies fanned the flames. Of course, not all the men participated in the nonsense, but then again neither did all the women.
The misconception that females are the ones to overshare and gossip, while men don’t, is simply untrue. The difference is that they don’t do it as long as we do. Women dissect gossip. Guys are very wham bam about it. You could view this in one of two ways, a) guys are more concise in their gossip, or b) they aren’t as detail-oriented as women.
Last week my husband and I sat in the living room in our ‘talk position’, me on the loveseat, him on the couch, facing each other. At some point we really need to change our arrangement, because the leather is indented in only these two spots. If we’re going to have butt prints, they should at least be uniform and on each cushion. Anyway, he was relaying a conversation he had with a friend, in which they discussed a third party, also a friend. During this conversation, they determined that the third person had told each of them a different story about something, the reason for the discrepancy was likely because the wives of the other two guys are close. Without going into the details of the conversation, here’s my response to what my husband told me:
Me: Oh my God, why did you say that? He’s totally going to tell his wife!
Husband: No he won’t.
Me: Oh yes he will.
Hubs: No, he isn’t going to say anything because (redacted).
Me: Do you tell me everything?
Hubs: (wide eyes of disbelief, trying to determine of I’m asking a trick question) Of course baby! I tell you every little thing!
Me: Exactly. And he’s going to tell his wife.
Oh yes, you can bet your bottom dollar he told his wife, because dudes gossip, especially with their partners. My husband laughs and shakes his head whenever he hears me on the phone with my sister or mom, chatting about this and that. I’m not sure why, because he does it too. I always know when my husband is about to tell me something about another person, because he lowers his voice to a whisper. Now, if we were in public, and the other person was there, then that would make perfect sense. But he does it at home when the only ears around are mine and the dogs. I guess it’s his subconscious telling him…huh, I thought I had some proverb about gossip and the devil floating around the back of my brain, but I guess not. Anyway, countless times my husband has come home and told me some bit of information that floored me, because those revelations came from other guys. They talk about their lives, their wives, and each other. Just like women. The difference between their gossip sessions and ours is time. They swap info and move onto other topics. Women tell the tale and then break down every single detail, examining it piece by piece.
Google saves the day:
It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper. ~Errol Flynn