On some level, Megan Fox knows she has a problem. "I don't want to have people get completely sick of me before I've ever even done something legitimate," she recently conceded. Yet this awareness isn't enough to restrain her ongoing, seemingly compulsive need to divulge personal details -- her previous relationship with a stripper, her bisexuality, her libido, drug usage, her "self-loathing" and other psychological issues:
"I am very vulnerable. But I can be aggressive, hurtful, domineering and selfish, too. I'm emotionally unpredictable and all over the place. I'm a control freak."
While Megan Fox's TMI has provoked a backlash -- even a boycott, from some outlets -- it sparked my attention, as such overly-intimate sharing is a self-defeating trap that too many women fall into. Indeed, as a dating coach, I find that it's one of the most common mistakes women make in early dating -- acting overly chummy, trying to create emotional bonds by prematurely and inappropriately revealing personal information with complete strangers. In Megan's case -- the strangers are interviewers and her public - but many other women make similar mistakes by opening up too fast and too soon with men they've only just met.
Fortunately, for Megan - and other women who are struggling with boundaries -- there's a fairly easy fix. Zip it! Don't feel the need to respond to every question. Don't accept every request for an interview (or date). Remember that silence and a smile is also an answer. I believe that words are like currency. When you flood the market with the currency of your conversation, you'll ultimately devalue the meaning of what is expressed.
Sherrie Schneider & Ellen Fein address this in The Rules -- specifically, Rule #19 ("Don't Open Up Too Fast") & #20 ("Be Honest but Mysterious"). Though aimed at advising women on how to act on the first few dates with a new man, such advice -- e.g. "Don't plague him with your neuroses!!!" -- certainly applies to handling nosy reporters, as well!
Whether she likes it or not, Megan Fox is cultivating a relationship with the public when she talks to reporters. "There are many ways to kill a relationship," say Schneider and Fein. "Getting heavy and examining everything is certainly one of them. Conditioned by therapy and self-help books to tell all, women tend to overdo it on first dates, bringing up past relationships, their hurts and fears, their alcohol or drug problem - all in an attempt to bond with this new man. This is deadly and boring."
Megan Fox's disclosures about her insecurities and sexual proclivities may -- or may not -- be "deadly and boring," but they certainly won't help her cultivate a mystique of class that other celebrities like Angelina Jolie, have mastered. How ironic, then, that Fox is often compared to Jolie. Yet Jolie herself took a TMI public persona and transformed herself into a CUAO (creature unlike any other) through a combo of good works and a "no comment" default mode to personal prying. So let's hope Fox takes a page from Jolie's playbook, by saying less and doing more.
A more elusive approach might even have side benefits for Fox's six-year on-again-off-again relationship with Brian Green. Too many women -- not just celebrities -- believe that cathartic conversations about the "relationship" will lend to a breakthrough while more often it prompts a break-up. I recently counseled one of my clients struggling with a tumultuous two-year relationship to avoid all heavy conversation, shorten phone calls and stop returning calls. Five weeks after we began her "Reticence Campaign" her boyfriend finally found his voice and popped the question. Their wedding is planned for Thanksgiving.