The Psychology Of The Overshare – And How To Be Healthily Vulnerable

Prince Harry's revelations keep on coming, but he's not the only one prone to TMI.
Jane Barlow - PA Images via Getty Images

Much of what we’ve learned about Prince Harry in the past week has been against our will, and the information just keeps on coming.

His book, Spare, is due out on Tuesday January 10, and thanks to some rather over eager Spanish booksellers, excerpts have already leaked.

Autobiographies are known for being revealing, but the royal has used his to share some pretty intimate details about his life. And then there are the TV interviews he’s doing in the UK and US, which delve into even more detail.

Alongside the recriminations and regrets about his relationship with his brother, father and stepmother, Harry has also revealed details as wide-ranging as how he lost his virginity to an older woman behind a pub, the number of people he killed during his second military tour of Afghanistan, and the fact he had a frostbitten penis during William and Kate’s royal wedding.

It’s little wonder Spare is on track to become one of the bestselling royal memoirs in British history. But were all the details in the book strictly necessary to disclose to the world – or is Harry in the midst of a major overshare?

While we can’t relate to his royal existence, how many of us can confidently say we haven’t done a TMI in our own lives at some point. Niki Davis-Fainbloom, a sex and relationships expert and senior writer at Practical Psychology, says there are several reasons for this kind of behaviour.

Why do people feel the need to overshare about their lives?

“People may overshare because of a desire for attention or validation, a lack of boundaries, a need for emotional regulation, social norms that encourage sharing, or mental health issues,” Davis-Fainbloom tells HuffPost UK. Oversharing can also be a way for people to gain attention or admiration from others, or a sign of a lack of healthy boundaries in relationships, she adds.

“Sharing personal information can help people process their emotions and feel more connected to others. In some social groups, oversharing may be considered a normal or expected behaviour,” says Davis-Fainbloom.

And sharing can have its benefits: a problem shared is a problem halved as the maxim goes. But, ideally, the confidences need to be mindful and measured.

What emotional state are we in when we overshare?

Most people experience strong emotions when they overshare. Davis-Fainbloom says these may include “a need for validation or attention, feelings of vulnerability or insecurity, or a desire to connect with others on a deeper level.”

It is possible these emotional states may arise as a result of personal challenges or significant life events, and oversharing may serve as a coping mechanism to process and regulate these emotions, points out Davis-Fainbloom, who wants us to know these feelings are a natural and important part of being human.

“Sharing personal information with others can be a healthy and appropriate way to process and regulate emotions, connect with others, and gain support,” she says. But before sharing intimate details, we should ask ourselves why we feel the need to do so. “Reflecting on the motivations behind the desire to share can provide insight into how to approach self-disclosure in a healthy manner.”

We should also consider the potential impact of what we’re about to say on other people – and ourselves. “Maintaining healthy boundaries and practising self-care can also help to ensure that self-disclosure is done in a way that is respectful and considerate of oneself and others,” says Davis-Fainbloom.

What’s the difference between an overshare and being healthily vulnerable?

These two are too often conflated, according to Davis-Fainbloom. “Oversharing refers to the act of sharing too much personal information, often in an inappropriate or reckless manner. On the other hand, vulnerability refers to the willingness to be open and honest about one’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences, even when doing so may be difficult or uncomfortable.”

Both involve the sharing of personal information, but the key difference lies in the intention and context in which that information is shared.

“Oversharing may be motivated by a desire for attention or validation and may not consider the impact on oneself or others. Vulnerability, on the other hand, involves a willingness to be open and honest about one’s experiences in a way that fosters deeper connections and understanding,” says Davis-Fainbloom.

“When done in a healthy and appropriate manner, vulnerability can be a powerful tool for building trust and fostering meaningful relationships.”

Why might someone like Prince Harry feel the need to overshare?

We must always consider the different factors that contribute to an individual’s tendency to overshare. “In the case of Prince Harry, being a public figure and having experienced significant personal trauma may contribute to his desire to share personal information as a means of coping with emotions or connecting with others,” says Davis-Fainbloom.

“It is also worth noting that individuals who have experienced trauma, particularly in childhood, may be at a higher risk for developing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD,” she continues.

“These conditions can potentially affect emotional regulation and lead to the tendency to overshare. It is essential to consider these circumstances when assessing an individual’s behaviour and seeking to provide support and understanding.”

Talking to a mental health professional in these circumstances can really help – Prince Harry has been open about having therapy himself. And if you (or someone you know) is struggling, the resources below may also be useful.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on