How is your day?
January 25, 2018 7:54 AM   Subscribe

How much do you tell your boyfriend or girlfriend, or partner about your day?

I noticed that I'm the type of person that likes to talk and give a lot of details about the daily events that go on in my mostly boring life, as well as any mostly inane thoughts that I might have during my day. I was wondering how much do people "normally" share?

I was dating this man for three months, and he didn't seem to have much to talk about, since he wasn't working much at the time and was spending most of his time at home. I was curious about his day to day life, but when I asked him to tell me more about it, he said that he didn't have much to talk about since he was, quite literally at home. Before him, I dated someone who'd text me to tell me that he was taking a nap, or that he spent a few hours watching a tv show, so I think that's what I got used to. So, I don't know if I was too intrusive with this most recent ex - is it controlling to ask someone how their day was and what they did, or to share any interesting thoughts that they might've had? I want to share the details of my daily life with someone, and have it in return, is it something abnormal to want?
posted by phoiyikas to Human Relations (36 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't say it's abnormal to want detail but I'm also a person who thinks it's kind of boring to give lots of detail about my day when I don't feel like I did much (or just worked a lot in my case). I would probably ask if the person was annoyed by me sharing and also say that I like little details about their day even if it's "I watched a youtube video about cats and scrubbed the toilet". I think this is one of those situations where people can do things differently without one way or another being bad.
posted by brilliantine at 7:59 AM on January 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I want to share the details of my daily life with someone, and have it in return, is it something abnormal to want?

No, but like most things it's a balance. Some people aren't sharers like that. I have an SO in an LDR and we email longish emails a few times a day that get down to the minutia of whether we had interesting dreams, what we had for lunch and how's the weather as well as other stuff like things we learned about traffic lights and exchanging music and jokes we heard. To me, this is normal. I'm someone who communicates a lot with a lot of people and I enjoy this. However not everyone is like this. Some people just don't do it naturally and some people actively dislike it (for personality reasons, or for "this was not rewarded behavior" reasons) so it's worth trying to tease out why your guy is reticent. If you were still with this guy I'd offer suggestions for how to tweak the communication you have, but since you're just asking an open-ended question I'd say "Yeah, sharing details is normal but that doesn't mean not sharing them is ABnormal"
posted by jessamyn at 8:00 AM on January 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

My bf and I have discussed this in the past because I didn't grow up in an environment where my days were asked about. Our days are usually the same with our 9-5 job so it also seemed pointless to me to ask about it. He's grew up in the opposite way, and it matters to him that we make these conversations, so now I make a conscious effort to ask about his day when I can remember. There's no right or wrong though. You have to find your own normal.
posted by monologish at 8:02 AM on January 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'll be interested in others' answers on this too, since it's something I feel like my partner and I don't yet have a handle on.

For me, the *last* thing I want to do after a long and stressful day is come home and relive it all by telling my partner about it. Plus, he doesn't know most of the players or the nuances of my job, so I'd need to add 20 minutes of exposition to any story I tell.

That said, sometimes things at work happen that affect me emotionally, and I struggle to find ways to talk about them without giving the whole backstory. I'm good at sticking to feeling words and first person, but it just doesn't feel the same.

He seems more comfortable with giving me the exposition before the story, and I often struggle to pay attention, probably because I'm dying to segue into "decompression time."

So yeah, we usually spend between 2 and 15 minutes total at the end of the day sharing work stories, unless something big happened. There are probably a few days a month where we don't report out on our days at all.
posted by kinsey at 8:16 AM on January 25, 2018 [17 favorites]

There's a whole spectrum that I would consider "normal." But for the sake of data collection:

Me (27yo, cis female) and my long-distance bf (27yo, cis male) generally only share major updates via text. Things like "[My dog] is at the emergency vet" or "My flight got diverted and I'm in a different city than intended, oops" or "All moved into my dorm room, check out the view." If we don't have anything important to share we'll still check in, but not necessarily with a blow-by-blow of the day.

Texting about naps and TVs seems way at the heavy-contact end of the normal spectrum, and I think my bf and I are pretty far at the light-contact end. Different strokes for different folks -- as long as both parties are comfortable with the amount of contact, that's what counts.

It's not controlling to ask about someone's day, but it would be controlling/unkind to be pushy about the type of response you get. If he just answers, "It was a good day, hope yours was too!" then be satisfied with that, you know?
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:19 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

There are some people who talk about their job, their coworkers, their employees, refer to them by name, and tell me all about the interpersonal workplace issues they deal with.

I am just a more private person and feel no need to talk about details I deem irrelevant or uninteresting, so none of my friends could tell you the name of my managers or coworkers.

It depends on what you regard as interesting and worth discussing.

There’s no “normal” here. It is just what different people’s comfort zone is. That said, I don’t like to have the burden of someone else’s interpersonal workplace drama dumped on me. Part of it is because I just don’t want to listen to someone vent about that kind of thing. Part of it is because I am not going to reciprocate.
posted by deanc at 8:20 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

My husband talks a lot about his day -- I especially enjoy when he talks about a technical problem he had at work (with details elided as not everything is fit for non-staff's ears) or talks about something interesting he heard on a podcast.

I give basically no detail because for the most part my days are boring and same-y. I might discuss particularly funny or aggravating interactions, that's about it.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:25 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Agreeing that there is a spectrum and sometimes you and your partner might not be aligned, especially at first. My spouse and I live apart most of the time for work but we keep in touch throughout the day via texting. If anything notable happens while he's at work, for example, I know about it by the time we're both home and video calling, but I still usually ask how his day was. Sometimes he has lots to say and gives me a rundown of [incident] or [hilarious lunch time story] or [business idea that was on his mind]. Sometimes he says, "pretty good, you know the best bits" or whatever and leaves it at that. I'm the same. Sometimes when I get home I have a million things to talk about and if he doesn't ask how my day is because he's busy or tired or whatever, I'll give him the highlights and filter out the less interesting stuff, but if he asks, I'll launch into everything in my head.

It depends on moods, timing, how much we were able to chat during the day, etc. Our expectations seem to be aligned, but even if they weren't, I think it's just a matter of finding your comfort zone or your happy medium and that usually happens over time.
posted by gursky at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

For me, "How was your day?" means primarily "how are you feeling?" and secondarily "did anything interesting happen?" "Interesting" is in the eye of the beholder, and I usually only find work events interesting if they're either a significant departure from the usual (I met with a client!) or if they're still affecting me after I leave the office (we were slammed all day and I'm totally drained).

It's the same in other conversational contexts; some people answer "how was your weekend?" with "fine, nothing special," while others will talk for five minutes about raking leaves and everything they ate.

It is fine to want to share lots of stuff about your day; it's also fine to feel like it's not particularly interesting enough to share. Neither of you were wrong, it was just a conversational incompatibility.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

Sometimes men perceive talk about your difficulties as asking for help resolving them. So it might help to clarify from time to time I really enjoy debriefing/ decompressing at the end of my work day. Thanks for listening.
posted by theora55 at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

IME it depends partially on how much time you spend with the SO, as well as how much time you've spent with them in the past. My partner of 13 years and I give each other a sort of rundown at the end of most days that could be as simple as a thirty second "eh, the usual" or as involved as a serious two-hour conversation about interpersonal ethics. If one of us is travelling it might be as brief as a one-sentence text.

There is no "normal." Ask for what you want, and try to be aware of what the other person wants.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:56 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I kind of live in my head a lot, so I don't share a whole lot of what I do during the day (work, usually). But if something exciting happens or I kick ass at a specific project or something like that, I'll tell my husband. He is generally more of the higher end of the sharing spectrum; he'll text me about the cats or about a package that arrived (he works from home) and he definitely shares a LOT more about work than I do.

I process most of my stuff on my own, he processes his stuff by talking about it. It works for us because we've been conscious about what each of us needs/wants. He's okay with me not really needing to talk about my day much and I'm okay with hearing minute details about whatever.
posted by cooker girl at 8:57 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thinking about it, my partner and I do layers of check-in each day.

Within 5 minutes of regrouping, one of us will ask the other about their day. Answers here are very general*, such as 'good, but I am tired' or 'wonderful' or 'not bad'. I think this is to gauge the immediate mood or needs of the other.

*Unless something big or of note is at the top of our minds, then we talk about it right away.

Then we each break off into our tasks (entertain kids, do homework, cook dinner, tidy).

Over dinner, we talk again. Everyone is asked about their day. Kids generally don't have good answers here, so we might prompt them with info we know about their day or ask specific questions (strangely 'Are you learning about bears' always seems to elicits some new information). Us grown-ups will give some details or anecdotes now that we have settled into home life.

Lastly, just before bed, one of us might mention a larger work issue: a goal we are setting or a direction our workplaces are moving. We just unload this larger issue before bed, chatting idly about it before we pick up our books.
posted by Sauter Vaguely at 9:11 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Agreeing with the differences in wanting to share, but also the desire to listen. If someone's a good listener, you can find yourself saying more and getting into more detail. If your partner asks questions about prior days and issues, stringing together issues that crop up, you're probably more likely to share more. And also how you and your partner feel about sharing problems - is it a burden you don't want to pass to others, do you see it as whining, or is it venting for feedback, or releasing steam and looking for comfort?

Also there's the fact that you'll probably share more early into relationships and less as you get into certain grooves, though long distance relationships might prompt more sharing, as you're not with the person and you can't share little things with ease, as you would with someone you live with and share a similar schedule.

My wife and I go through peaks and troughs in communication, some of it coming back to the interest (or annoyance) at work, some of it with how busy we are. We also have highs and lows with sending emails back and forth during the day. For a while, we were sending daily emails with stories of things throughout the day, but that subsided as we got busier in the day, and now we're sending shorter messages. But we try to talk in the evening, but not right before bed, or we'll be up for another half hour with big things on our minds.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2018

I think "normal" varies and whatever works for you and your partner is whatever works. I'd say that our typical family sharing level is "general feeling about the day, and one highlight". Usually the three of us run through our day completely over dinner and then move on to other things.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:53 AM on January 25, 2018

It certainly is controlling if, after asking your partner about their day, you tell them what you think they should have done differently. If they want to hear that, they’ll ask.

Offering solutions to problems they have faced may or may not be welcome.

I’m willing to talk about my day if I’m not likely to get one of those responses and if something interesting has happened. Are you doing either of those things?
posted by Anne Neville at 10:54 AM on January 25, 2018

This was a challenge for me and my ex. She liked to talk about her day a lot. The problem was that most of the details felt like complaining to me. She would say that she wasn't complaining, but she was sharing her feelings about her day. This might have something to do with why I'm divorced ;)

Long story short, whether or not you are on the same page about how you talk about your days is probably a good proxy for whether or not you communicate well in general. A mismatch could be a sign of a larger problem. I don't think there's normal or abnormal though. Just different.

I don't generally like to talk about the mundane details of the day, but I'd happily talk about thoughts you had, things you read, or interesting conversations you had.
posted by diogenes at 11:08 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

about work? Less than two sentences each unless something spectacular (good or bad) happened.

Part of this is my wife is a therapist, so she can't talk about work, and she's a therapist so I don't want her to have to essentially do her job as I talk about my day.

Most "how was your day talk" is complaining, and after over a decade together, we've learned it doesn't make either of us happier or less burdened to unload that on each other.

We talk, a lot, just not about out individual work days.
posted by French Fry at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2018

My partner and I have renegotiated this one a bit over the years, after we figured out that it was an area where we were speaking right past each other. (For me, being asked "how was your day" or asked about some specific aspect of my life every once in a while makes me feel cared for. For him, it was an avenue of attack from an abusive parent, and so he didn't realize that there was a way to do it without it feeling intrusive or combative. We've found middle ground but really had to dig in to get there.)

At this point, most days when I get home after work, he finishes up whatever he's doing and then we sit together for a few minutes and have a catch-up on our respective days. Just the highlights, a few sentences max, unless something is super-interesting. Today, for example, my update is likely to be something like "I found [screwup Y] at work and it was a pain to fix but I think we have a solution, otherwise it was a pretty chill day. Oh, and I had lunch with [friend] and we talked about hanging out this weekend, so later on I'd like to figure out when you and I are having date night, so I can plan around it." Sometimes if Screwup Y was interesting in a way I think he'd like to hear about, or Friend A told me an interesting story, I might dwell on that in more detail. He'll probably do the same - he doesn't work, but will tell me a few sentences about the personal project he worked on, or an article he read that he thought I might like, or whatever. We might ask each other a question or two. And then I will also ask for a report on the cats' days, because for some reason we both find that hilarious even though the answer is basically always "They slept, they ate a food, Boy Cat yelled a bunch for no apparent reason and then fell off a shelf."

In fairness, though, we also both follow each other on Twitter and chat there throughout the day, so chances are that we already have a pretty decent sense of each other's days. The post-work hangout is mostly just a way to spend a few nice moments focused on each other before we drift off to our own projects, and also a chance to share whatever particularly juicy work /friend/family gossip tidbits we might have edited out of our social media presences.
posted by Stacey at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2018

I don't think this is a situation where an empirical "normal" exists, or would be particularly helpful if it did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:56 AM on January 25, 2018

As you've probably gathered this is less about "am I normal, am I expecting too much to want more or less of this, are my feelings about this right/wrong" and more about "let me figure out my preferences, whether they align with my partner's, how important this is to me, and whether my partner can meet me where I need to be on this."

I don't think it's a minor thing, as you're hearing from these responses a partner who wants to be more communicative is going to feel isolated and lonely with a partner who doesn't meet them there, and a partner who wants to be less communicative is going to feel smothered and intruded upon by a partner who can't meet them where they are.
posted by mrmurbles at 12:01 PM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's not controlling to ask someone about their day, unless you're like accusingly asking for a moment-by-moment accounting.

I will say that when I was unemployed and ashamed about that, that question would set me on edge-- due to my own shame, I'd hear accusations and judgement where there might not have been any intended.
posted by kapers at 12:11 PM on January 25, 2018

I think it's a really helpful question to both ask and provide in the beginning stages of getting to know someone; what they get up to with their free time and what they have to say about the people they interact with regularly speaks volumes about what kind of person they are and whether you'd be compatible long term. I'm personally wary of people who are very secretive about this information, but as you can see by the varied answers: to each their own.
posted by OnefortheLast at 12:49 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd imagine many responses are colored by personal experiences; both what they are used to and by and from learning from the past and others; imagine the surprise of finding out your partner spends hours at the bar each night after assuming time to themselves meant engaging in their hobbies or watching tv, or that unemployed meant drug dealing etc. only after you moved in with them!
I feel it's better to err on the side of caution and too much information rather than too little when it comes to deciding upon the most significant relationship in your life, and if you were uncomfortable with the amount of communication by your ex, then that's ok, you don't have to second guess not changing your preferences to ones you don't like for another.
posted by OnefortheLast at 1:26 PM on January 25, 2018

I am in an LDR right now and we ask each other about our days...pretty much every day? A lot of the time nothing particularly interesting has happened, but it's like the poster above says: how was your day often really means > how are you feeling? It can be anything from 'oh I'm just about to pack some lunch for work to this really amazing opportunity just came up...or whatever!

I really enjoy sharing the minutiae of the day with him, compared to my ex, who loathed 'small talk'. Like, I would come in from work just wanting to talk about low key things that had happened and he wanted to talk the meaning of life kind of stuff. So it's definitely not an abnormal thing to want :) Maybe that's what makes you feel connected and I didn't know how much I missed it until I met the current guy.
posted by Willow251 at 3:27 PM on January 25, 2018

I tend to talk more about my day than my husband does. I usually have a story or two to tell, while his response to my asking about his day is "Eh. It was fine." I think it's because a) I tend to talk more than he does, and b) I'm a librarian in a public library, and thus encounter lots of different people and situations in a given day, while he's a customer-service-over-the-phone guy, so he has less variety in his day. (I also enjoy my job more than he does his, so that may be a factor.)
posted by sarcasticah at 7:57 PM on January 25, 2018

Personally, I have a tough time comprehending being in a loving, committed relationship and yet NOT caring about what goes on in your partner's life. Yet, I know that some people just don't want to hear it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:04 PM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

I want to share the details of my daily life with someone, and have it in return, is it something abnormal to want?

It's not abnormal to want it, but I think it's best to not really expect it on your terms. And realistically, even in a healthy relationship, I think it's sometimes not totally unhealthy to suppress the need to be heard all the time.

I want to protect my relationship from the threat of me being labelled as a complainer so I'm pretty editorial when it comes to sharing my day-to-day with my SO. Part of this comes from having been in relationships with people who didn't know how to respond to things outside of their experience, and worst case scenario it makes them resent you. Or, sharing your day-to-day just invites them to deem you weird and boring. I know better now, and am strategic in not giving people the opportunity to do that to me. Particularly because my SO and I don't live together, it's best for me to not place a spotlight on how boring or repetitive my life is because that would be at least unconsciously offputting to him.

My SO and I have very similar jobs in the same specialized field (albeit at different organizations), so we're both tempted to unload on each other. It's nice to be around someone who understands your field's inside baseball, but I'm not about to abuse that. I try to keep it to talking shop but steering clear of the emotional aspects of the job.

We're human, so it's impossible to avoid venting, but when it happens I'm extremely careful to not offer solutions. This isn't about walking on eggshells - it's more that I'd rather prioritize my demands on my partner's emotional labour and not burn up goodwill on complaining about things they don't care about.
posted by blerghamot at 8:42 PM on January 25, 2018

Plus, he doesn't know most of the players or the nuances of my job, so

this is the nut of it for me. If you really want to know how somebody's day went in detail, you need to do your homework, know the depth of what you're asking. I remember talking to a paramedic once on a film set. It was late and everybody was exhausted. He suddenly said, "I'm pretty sure I'm in for a divorce. I just can't talk to my wife anymore. She always wants to know how my day was. But I know if I tell her it involved pulling two dead children out of a car wreck, it'll freak her out. I wish she'd just talk about her day."
posted by philip-random at 11:46 PM on January 25, 2018

For Georgia and I, it has varied a lot over the years. Partly due to changes in how we interact, and partly due to changes in our respective work situations. Early on, I loved having her tell me about the problems she was facing and what not because it was mostly technical, so not only did I get to give her needed space to unload, but also got to learn interesting stuff about how things are done in her field. Even so, we'd only really get into more than a basic overview a few times a week at most. Most days it was closer to "How was your day? Just the usual.."

In her new job, there is so much fucking politicking more than five minutes of it drives me fucking batty. Worse, it drives her batty also, so she needs to vent and I'm not so great at dealing with it since it seems like constant complaining about things I literally cannot understand no matter how much I want to. It's incredibly frustrating. We tried intentionally limiting the length and frequency of the more complainy stuff, but that just leaves her feeling worse since there is more she wants to say. Needless to say, it has not been great for our relationship, having led to much dissonance betwixt us since there seemed to be no happy medium possible and it has led to me being completely clueless about some things that are affecting her life in a fairly major way. Talking more about it revealed that there may indeed be a solution that works for both of us, but only time will tell whether it really does.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's possible for people with different ideas on this to have successful long term relationships, but it helps immensely if the partners involved don't have super stressful and emotionally draining jobs. Georgia and I are usually fairly good at communicating and working stuff out (though as little as we actually talk sometimes, people might be surprised to hear it!), but this one thing has probably been the hardest to get somewhere we can both be happy with.
posted by wierdo at 7:33 AM on January 26, 2018

I'm not so great at dealing with it since it seems like constant complaining about things I literally cannot understand no matter how much I want to.

I don't find that I really need to completely understand the details of a loved one’s circumstances before I can be interested or feel and show sympathy.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:56 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Mr. Moonlight also talks a lot about his day. I know his colleague's names, what they've been up to (a little), and also very generally what he did that day. I tell him similar information.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:02 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

My husband and I never shut UP telling each other random details of each day, through texts, and then we recap in person. I never thought anything of it, except I’ve slowly discovered that many of my friends share very little of their days with their significant others. I find myself wondering what the hell they do say to each other, frankly. Neither of these ways is “bad,” I guess, but a mis-match in a couple could be quite distressing for both parties, I imagine.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:37 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

It doesn't hurt that early on in our relationship my now husband and I watched a movie together that had the line "How Was Your Day?" intoned in a silly way. So most evenings we reconnect by intoning "How Was Your Day?" in that silly way (what silly way you ask? Like Athol Fugard as reported by Spalding Gray in Swimming to Cambodia, that way).

But both of us seem to understand that it's not that either of us really needs a report. What we need is to connect and for us talking in an easygoing lighthearted way makes us feel connected. All that's really needed is to get the ball rolling. It doesn't matter if we talk about our day or space turtles (actual topic of conversation one time, are they likely, are they indeed probable? After all it's an infinite universe). It matters that we are talking and using the talking to send positive feelings and attention each other's way.

It sounds like you, like us, feel connected by talking. I think that's pretty common. Should you one day find yourself in a relationship with someone who's not clicking automatically with the talking as reconnecting I think it's fine to be explicit about it. "Hey, talking at the end of the day makes me feel connected to you. It doesn't really matter what we talk about, but it makes me feel lonely to speak in short sentences then lapse into silence." Then work together (TOGETHER. share the emotional labor!) to find topics, prompts, games, whatever that get the two of you talking and feeling connected.

There are people who don't like a lot of talking. Those people might not be a match for you (or me! Hopefully my husband will stick around long enough that I never have to have a different romantic relationship. If I do "companionable silence" is not going to satisfy unless it's just breaking up large chunks of talking and sex).
posted by Jenny'sCricket at 1:10 PM on January 26, 2018

I think there is a very, very wide range of "normal" behavior here. I'm not someone who talks about daily minutiae very much, with my wife or anyone else. When I was a kid, my mom used to ask me how school went and I'd respond "schoolish." I just don't think it's particularly interesting. If something unusual, noteworthy, or relevant to something else happened I'll generally mention it, but otherwise I don't. If I had an unusually stressful day, I just want to come home and veg out, and not re-live it.

I'd add that I don't think this is necessarily even a function of how much a person is willing to discuss other subjects. I'll happily talk about my opinions on various things; I'm not especially buttoned-up about my feelings. But if someone started pressing me for details about my day on a regular basis pretty soon I'd say "I don't even know what tell you," because I literally would not. It would never, ever occur to me to text someone to tell them I am taking a nap.

But your way of doing things is OK, too. You weren't being controlling, and neither of you is abnormal.
posted by breakin' the law at 2:30 PM on January 26, 2018

I don’t know about “normal”, but it’s certainly not weird to want what you want. And it’s completely fine to want to know what your partner is up to (in a non-stalky way), and to ask. It only gets controlling when you go beyond that if the other person doesn’t want to share.

You should ask, you should explain what you want, and ask whether it’s ok or might happen. Then you will have to decide whether you’re happy with the answer or not.
posted by tillsbury at 6:50 PM on January 26, 2018

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