Have you ever been on an airplane, when the stranger in the next seat started to tell you their life story. Or admitted they’re having trouble getting pregnant – a secret they’ve never shared with anybody? You’re definitely not alone. According to several experts interviewed by CNN, strangers on airplanes commonly share things they’d never tell anybody else. Why? Partly it’s because you’re strangers. Since you know nothing about them and have no connection to their life – they figure you can’t possibly judge them, and even if you do judge them, it won’t matter – because once the flight lands, they’ll never see you again.
Another reason strangers on a plane share their deepest, darkest secrets is the act of flying itself. Even if you’re not afraid to fly, experts say that most people have moments of fear during a flight and think – however briefly – “Are we going to crash?” Once people start thinking about life and death, a lot of old doubts, fears, secrets, and unfinished business begin bubble to the surface. When you’re stuck next to somebody for hours –and see each other’s white knuckles every time there’s a little turbulence - you’ve already shared a secret: your mutual fear of flying. So, it’s just one tiny step to sharing the other “big” secrets in your lives.
According to psychotherapist Dr. Tina Tessina, if the stranger sitting next to you does share a secret, you should take it as a compliment. It means they trust you, look up to you, and believe you can be helpful. In fact, all they probably want to hear you say is, “I know a lot of people who’ve gone through that – so you’re not alone. I know it’s really hard – but everything’s going to be okay.”