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Too many questions

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 6, 2009 10:26 AM

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A question about questions.

Q: This is short and to the point; I'm sure other folks are in this situation as well. I have been with my boyfriend for 5 years, we own a home together and are happy. Despite our current state of happiness, people continuously ask us if or when we are getting married. Some go as far as to ask us when we are having children. Why do people think this is appropriate to ask? I usually follow up with a simple answer, something along the lines of "we're happy the way things are" or "we take it day by day" but that can lead to more intrusive questioning like, "well, don't you think about it?" Why can't people respect our answers and stop asking? When we do it, they'll be the first to know.

-- Stop Asking, Revere

A: SA, the rules of small talk have always seemed odd to me. It’s taboo to ask people how much money they make, but for some reason, it’s totally acceptable to ask them why they’re not married and what they plan to do with their reproductive organs.

If you’re single, people ask if you’re dating. If you’re dating, people ask about marriage. If you’re married, it’s kids. And if you have kids, it’s, “Are you going to have another kid?”

I usually get this question from single. They feel that when they’re asked about dating, they're forced to lie to make their situation seem better than it is to make the question-asker comfortable. As in, “No, I’m not dating -- because I’m just really busy.”

It’d be great if we could answer all personal questions honestly, no matter how uncomfortable it made the question-asker. Like, “We’re not getting married because our married friends seem bored.” Or, “I’m not pregnant yet because I’m having trouble conceiving.” Or, “I’m not dating because I have a tiny rash on my behind that I’d like to clear up before I get naked again.”

I give most people the benefit of the doubt. I think most people ask personal questions because they’re curious -- and because, really, what else are they supposed to ask you about? But there are folks who ask for the wrong reasons. Some need to know that you want what they want. They need to be validated.

All you can do is answer and smile. Say, “We’ve been focusing on buying property,” or “We’re doing the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell thing.”

It’s annoying. But I don’t see any way around it. Just try not to let it get to you. And know that at some point in your life, you’ve been that annoying question-asker without even knowing it. We all have.

Readers, thoughts on answering these personal questions? Share here.

-- Meredith

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185 comments so far...
  1. My husband and I have heard the conception question many times. For me, it's difficult to answer because I have had a miscarriage. I hadn't announced my pregnancy yet. People think this question is appropriate, yet they don't know how much pain they can cause an individual when they ask.

    I am sorry you are getting these annoying questions. I know some people who simply do not believe in marriage. I have heard them answer the question in that fashion. They don't need a piece of paper to validate their relationship.

    I hope you are able to simply answer in a manner which you are comfortable and blow it off. I'm sure you are happy with the way things are. It is none of anyone else's business how you choose to live.

    Posted by RITKat August 6, 09 10:44 AM
  1. People are always going to ask questions.
    Just do what you've been doing. There is no way around it.


    Posted by EastCoastGirl August 6, 09 10:45 AM
  1. Shouldn't this be under the Miss Manners column? LAME

    Posted by big dummy August 6, 09 10:45 AM
  1. For the particularly persistent, "When are you going to stop being so nosy?" tends to work.

    Posted by Maggie August 6, 09 10:48 AM
  1. I agree that some people are trying to validate their own choices when they ask these questions. My husband and I don't plan to have children. Some people get very defensive and ask "why not?". When we tell them our reasons, they come up with an argument for every one. They want very much to convince us that they are "having their cake and eating it too." So now, I don't even give reasons why. I just say maybe we will in our next lifetime.

    Posted by bostowyo August 6, 09 10:49 AM
  1. Nosy people are annoying, but anytime you live in a way that is outside of the norm (long-term relationship with home ownership without being married), you will be asked these questions. If you are truly happy with your situation, then you shouldn't let it get to you. But are you truly happy with the situation? Might be worth exploring why these questions bother you so much.

    Posted by JK August 6, 09 10:50 AM
  1. There are myriad wise-guy answers to "are you getting married?":

    - No we want to stay happy
    - No we don't want to incur the tax penalties
    - No why should we ruin our sex life?
    - Based on your experience why should we?
    - We're still working out the 100 page pre-nup
    - Marriage is so 20th Century
    - Living in sin is so much more exhilarating
    - No we don't want to get divorced
    - No we purchased a house and have been together for 5 years but we're not that serious

    Feel free to pilfer any of them.

    Posted by Hico & Ross August 6, 09 10:52 AM
  1. I think no matter what situation you are asked about (buying real estate, getting married, having kids, going to a restaurant, whatever...) your response should always be “I have a tiny rash on my behind that I’d like to clear up before I get naked again.”

    For example:

    Person 1: Hey, did you get a chance to see "Funny People" this weekend?
    Person 2: I have a tiny rash on my behind that I’d like to clear up before I get naked again.
    Person 1: Uhhhhhhhhhhhh......................

    Posted by Perderf August 6, 09 10:54 AM
  1. I absolutely LOATHE these questions, too. People don't realize how rude it is. I just accept it, but I usually have some stock answers.

    I just hate people that keep focusing on what your "next step" will be. How come you have to always be planning the "next step"? I feel that so many people are concerned about "what's next" and forget to live in the moment.

    What do you ask somebody who is retired and all set? "When are you going to just die already"?

    I was with my wife for around 6 years before we married, around 4 years before we got engaged, and we still don't have a house, so that's the typical question we get, especially from her family. They are so concerned about us settling down, especially because her siblings have "settled down" in upstate NY, have houses, and children.

    The funny thing is that we are married and do not have children and are planning on doing a lot of cool things that her siblings can no longer do due to having kids already. It's almost as if there's something wrong with you if you do not meet the right person, get married, have a kid, buy a house, and live miserably ever after.

    Posted by YouAreAllMySons August 6, 09 10:56 AM
  1. SAR.....don't take offense when they ask. Just tell 'em you guys are fine with "shacking up" and enjoy the awkward silence and then they will change the topic.

    Gas not Gears. Get 'em with the door. Increase your carbon footprint.


    Posted by byubba August 6, 09 10:56 AM
  1. I'm with Meredith: "We're happy with the way things are right now."

    Just of curiosity, though: Why aren't you married? Do you plan to get married? I'm interested that you don't say that in your letter at all.

    Posted by sara August 6, 09 10:56 AM
  1. Just answer their questions, why so offended?
    I don't think it's a big deal.
    Suck it up.

    Posted by josh August 6, 09 10:58 AM
  1. "Stop Asking", take a week and really listen to yourself talking to other people. I bet you ask a lot of similar questions of other people and don't think twice about it.

    I moved all around this country growing up, and in pretty much every other place I've lived, small talk was very common, very innocent and very friendly. Yet here in New England, a common ice-breaker question is greeted with scorn and annoyance. Perhaps you should learn to answer the question politely and then steer the question onto another subject. Or perhaps you should realize that the question asker (gasp) might just be interested in your life and want to know more about it -- and they (gasp) ask questions about it.

    Lighten up, people. The economy sucks, we had a long winter, pretty much NO summer and people are having to do a lot more with less. Give the gift of kindness and enjoy a chat with a friend, or make a new friend. It doesn't cost anything and just makes the world a kinder place.

    Posted by K August 6, 09 10:58 AM
  1. I feel for you, I really do. I don't want children, and people always ask "Why". The answer I refrain from giving is "none of your darn business". I think Meredith is right, what else do you talk about? It's like when you're in college and people ask "what's your major?" Not that it's anywhere near as personal a question, it's just a life question. What are your plans? It just feels so invasive when people ask those questions though. I suggest coming up with a standard answer and use it every time. Good luck!

    Posted by nan August 6, 09 10:59 AM
  1. Let them ask and you can just give them pat answers like "We are not planning a wedding." or "We are not ready for kids yet." If they pursue it further just say that there is nothing deeper in your answers than what you told them already and if they are not truly rude they should leave it alone at that.

    Posted by techdood August 6, 09 11:00 AM
  1. i feel that the question they're really asking is... "when are you going to give up this carefree lifestyle i'm jealous of and be more stessed out and financially strapped like me?" i flat out asked my family to stop inquiring about when the kids are coming because it was upsetting my wife. (we want kids we just realize we arent financially there yet and are somewhat bummed out by the fact) but STILL they can't help themselves..... its a sickness.

    Posted by jimbojones August 6, 09 11:01 AM
  1. I agree that it's annoying, but also agree with Meredith that it's best to just give people the benefit of the doubt and answer them politely, then eliminate any opportunity for prying follow-up questions by immediately steering the conversation away from yourself. Something like this:

    MS. NOSEY: "Oh, you've been together 5 years, huh? Well, what are you waiting for??"

    YOU: "We'll we're happy with the way things are now. Oh I love your shoes by the way, where did you get them?"

    Just remember that we live in a culture in which people generally reveal way too much personal information about themselves to virtual strangers. While this does not mean that you should feel the need to do so, you can hardly fault the Ms. Nosies of the world for assuming otherwise.

    Posted by Rae August 6, 09 11:02 AM
  1. Is this a rant or a question?

    Most people are probably just asking you about your lack of marriage because they are curious. You are doing something that deviates from their idea of normal, so they want to know why. They aren't being necessarily being judgmental, they are just curious. I do the same thing whenever someone tells me they are a vegetarian.

    Of course, there probably are some (particularly family members) who are trying to give you unsolicited advice. There is definitely a real difference between being married and living together (see yesterday's letter, and one a week or two ago where a woman bought a house with a man and they are breaking up). The choice of whether you get married or just live together can have real consequences, and family members and close friends often stick their noses in such matters. That's life. If there is someone who's driving you crazy, you should tell them to shut up about it.

    Of course, some people are judgmental, but pay them no mind.

    I've known a number of people who did exactly what you are doing. They all ended up getting married when they decided to have kids.

    Posted by two sheds August 6, 09 11:03 AM
  1. Ugh - I've been there! My husband & I owned our home and were together for 12 years before we got married. At least our unmarried state led to fewer questions about kids! And as the years passed, we got fewer questions about getting married - I think people eventually got used to it. I think lots of times, people are just looking for conversation topics - don't take it personally (although I agree with Meredith that some people are looking for validation of their own choices). When I get questions about kids now, I go with the honest answer that will embarrass the asker: I got my tubes tied! Why no kids? Again with the honesty: I don't like kids. That pretty much shuts them up.

    Posted by M&M August 6, 09 11:05 AM
  1. I get these marriage questions often. Sometimes--depending on how much i (dis)like the person or how many times a particular person has asked--I answer that it is up to us, or something we'll decide on our own, or I just say, "I don't know" and change the subject.

    However, Meredith is wrong. We don't all ask these intrusive questions. I pay particular attention to this, because I find it to be so rude. Many people do ask intrusive and rude questions, but others don't. These others make conversation on their own.

    Questions I also hate include asking unemployed acquaintances about job searches, asking cancer patients in remission about their health, and asking asking children about their parents' divorce.

    Posted by done August 6, 09 11:05 AM
  1. I've been in a relationship for 5 years as well, and get this question a lot too. Try this next time someone asks you about getting married:

    "We're waiting until we meet the right people"

    Its' hilarious, and always stops people in their tracks. Trust me, they'll change the subject immediately.

    Posted by dizzle August 6, 09 11:07 AM
  1. It never ends. When are you getting engaged? When is the wedding? When are you having kids? When are you buying a house? when is the baby due? When are you having the next kid? When are you moving into a bigger house? etc, etc, etc. "When we decide that we want to." is the only response that has ever shut anyone up for us, and that is a just a technique to stall. I try not to ask someone a personal question unless I could accept being told the worst honest answer possible. I wish people would live by that rule!

    Posted by merilisa August 6, 09 11:08 AM
  1. SA, take a chill pill. People who care about you see you on the brink of an exciting, happy, life changing moment (marriage) and they want to celebrate with you when it happens. The anticipation is killing them! So instead of getting upset, just smile and let them know that you're happy as you are and "maybe someday" you'll tie the knot.

    Try not to get worked up about such a simple question asked with the best intentions. Everyone wants to attend a wedding. Answer positively and turn it around on them with, "how's your love life going?" and a wink.

    Posted by Don't worry, be happy! August 6, 09 11:08 AM
  1. Your question reminds me of something I was reading this morning:

    At 20, you care a lot what people think
    At 40 you don't care (I am 40 - this is totally true for me)
    At 60 you realize that no one was thinking about you anyway

    Weddings and babies are fun, happy topics. That's why it comes up in conversation.

    Posted by older and wiser August 6, 09 11:09 AM
  1. “Can’t say that I do” Haiku

    Passive aggressive happens
    So, when are you due?

    Posted by valentino August 6, 09 11:11 AM
  1. I look them straight in the face and tell them "I can't have kids". It usually shuts them up and makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable. Which amuses me.

    It certainly teaches them a lesson about asking questions.


    Posted by Ceej August 6, 09 11:12 AM
  1. Simply turn the tables by asking “Why do you ask?” This puts the discomfort back on them as they need to justify or explain why they felt the need to ask a personal question. If they follow up with yet another stupid question or comment, then you hit them with a showstopper like “Although I’m flattered that you are that curious about my personal situation, I’m afraid there is no one single answer to it.”, then make the Joey Tribiani “Smell the fart” soap opera acting face. Rinse and repeat as needed until the annoying questions cease.


    Ok, now that we've handled the ms. manners ettiquette letter, let's have the real Love Letter blog for today, please.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss August 6, 09 11:14 AM
  1. One idea: have an anniversary party for yourself and your significant other and invite all your friends! When people ask about engagement, say you're happy how you are and you want to celebrate 5 years of a wonderful relationship. It's worth celebrating your commitment even without a ring on your finger. Eventually, your friends will get the idea that cohabitation without marraige is your thing, and they'll stop asking.

    Posted by Don't worry, be happy! August 6, 09 11:14 AM
  1. People are just plain rude. It's like they almost want to hear a negative reply when they ask you WHEN, WHERE, WHO, WHAT, WHY

    Who's business is it anyway? Not theirs!

    I get so mad when people ask me those aformentioned questions.

    Mer, you are SPOT on!

    Posted by Mells August 6, 09 11:16 AM
  1. My sister constantly has to answer the question "When are you having kids." And she says "It's not for us" "We have careers we like," etc. And people give her shocked looks like how DARE she not want to follow society and be a mother? And you now what? It sucks. Next time, tell them to mind their own business!!! Or ask them why they feel the need to know? Answer their question with a question that makes them realize they are asking something inappropriate.

    I'm glad you are happy with your life as it is! That's great!

    Posted by peonylovesthepru August 6, 09 11:17 AM
  1. I would say "What a unique question, we haven't even thought about it. What do you think?"

    They will immediately feel embarrassed for asking something so personal and then they are on the spot...

    Posted by indiglodoe August 6, 09 11:18 AM
  1. Well.....When ARE you going to get married?
    Together for 5 years, own a home together and are happy. What's the big deal?There are a LOT of really good reasons why you should, especially when it comes to taxes, Social Securtiy, employee benefits, health insurance, etc, etc, etc. What good reasons do you have NOT to get married?
    Seems kind of silly if it's one of those things where you 'don't believe in it' or 'don't need a piece of paper to prove your love/commitment'. It's a practical matter and a reasonable question.
    Asking about having kids on the other hand is more personal and could lead to hurt feelings. So that is definitely off limits.

    Just Do It!

    Posted by DrK August 6, 09 11:22 AM
  1. Please consider getting over yourself. Most of these questions are mere pleasantries, along the line of "what do you do for work?" or "what do you think looks good on the menu?" Those asking do not really care all that much what your actual answer is. Only two types get offended by such things. The first is the icy, born-and-bred New Englander. In much of the rest of the world, people demonstrate a friendly interest in one another (and their good manners) by doing crazy things like: (1) saying "hello" when passing someone, even a stranger, or (2) asking questions when spending time with friends which suggest an interest in the friends and their activities. The second group is people who are not comfortable with themselves and their decisions. Many object to being asked about their lifestyle and choices because they feel defensive about them -- they don't want to have to engage in any internal debate. A question means they have to think about themselves, to go outside of their comfort zone. If you were happy and comfortable, you would be happy and comfortable saying, "it's a choice I've made, and I am very happy with it." You do this to others every single day, you are just not defensive about the same things others are defensive about.

    Posted by JC August 6, 09 11:26 AM
  1. I would call a spade a spade and just say "I consider that question intrusive." If you want to get snide about it when someone asks you when you are planning on whatever it is they want to know about, you can answer "About the same time you stop asking intrusive questions and invading my privacy."

    Posted by littlekinger August 6, 09 11:27 AM
  1. I was in a long relationship and got these types of questions all the time. My best response? Answering a question with a question.

    "So, when are you guys going to get married"
    "When was the last time you and your spouse had sex?"
    "Why are you asking me such a personal question?"
    "Well I thought it was OK since you just asked me such a personal question."

    Of course you need to consider who you are speaking with.

    Good luck with the nosy people. They just have no clue so they need to be stopped in their tracks.

    Posted by Ask Mr. Know It All August 6, 09 11:27 AM
  1. People arent going to stop asking those questions because we are awkward, pre-programed sheep and thats what we've been programed to do by society. Its like when people feel the need to complain about the weather all the time and they are never happy. They live in New England, but I hate the snow or June was too cool and rainy, and now its too hot and muggy. Its the drivel we all put up with on a daily baisis.

    You will forever be judged against what mainstream society is doing so either accept it and move on with your happy life or make it a mission of yours to correct everyone who asks you.

    Posted by sexual chocolate August 6, 09 11:29 AM
  1. I think the best reply to nosy questions is to just pause a moment and then say, "Why would you ask me that?"

    Posted by Nonpareil August 6, 09 11:30 AM
  1. Ya know, I love to make people uneasy…uncomfortable in their own skin…put them in a position to think fast and come up with a quick retort. It’s a hobby. Because conversations can be so rigid, like a Hallmark sympathy card, I choose to shake things up and force others to come out of their shell. If you don’t like it, go suck an egg…or toss me out of your life. Then you can diet exclusively on comfort and toast. Nobody really gives a sh#t about when you’ll get married or the status of your uterus. They just want to jar you into a more lucid state so they can finally have an exciting freakin’ conversation with you. Shut up, play along and ‘take the piss’. At the end of your life you get points for shocking people.

    Posted by valentino August 6, 09 11:32 AM
  1. sounds to me like you're bitter that you haven't been asked or the question wouldn't be so bothersome!

    Next time let the conversation go like this: "So when are you two getting Married?"
    You: "I don't know, maybe you should bring it up with Fred? Lend him the $20k for a ring and me the $50k for the party"

    That hint should get your Fred on the right track!!

    My dear, there are worse questions that could be asked. Like, why did you choose to have an abortion in the 31 week of justation. Try a nice PC answer for that one. I go with: "B/c I am the effen Anti-christ!" That is better than the horrible unlucky truth!!

    Posted by BlameMe August 6, 09 11:35 AM
  1. I am in the same situation as you are - five years of dating someone, currently living together - and we are asked about marriage plans all of the time. It is annoying, especially since I am more keen on eloping anyway. I feel that most who ask are genuinely just trying to make small talk, rather than being nosy per se. I usually respond by saying that we are perfectly happy with how we are living our lives together and I leave it at that. If they persist, I'll smile and politely repeat myself. People tend to get the hint.

    Posted by T August 6, 09 11:39 AM
  1. I get that question at times and it doesn't bother me much. It's just small talk.

    It only gets annoying on two occasions:
    1. After a holiday or other special occasion people look at you anxiously and ask if you finally got 'the ring'.
    2. People who hardly count as acquaintances assume they will be invited to your wedding and tell you they need to know soon because they wanted to book this trip to the Bahamas next summer but couldn't in case they had to go to a wedding, *hint hint!*.

    Posted by Notmarried August 6, 09 11:39 AM
  1. It doesn't matter what your choices are. People are always going to ask questions about stuff that is none of their business. Everybody does it on some level, and Everybody gets asked annoying questions. Even if you ARE married, and you have the appropriate number of kids to satisfy them, they questions won't stop. "When are you getting your tubes tied?" "Why aren't you breastfeeding?" "Don't you think he's too old to be breastfeeding?" "When are you going back to work?" etc.. etc.. For some reason, it's just something that people do. You're not that special and frankly (unless it's your mother) nobody even really cares about your answer. So get over yourself and don't be offended. Answer the question in any way you please - or ignore it for that matter - then forget about it and move on.

    Posted by Big A August 6, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Some people do ask those questions to simply make conversation and not to be intrusive into your personal life. I think the people that find the marriage question intrusive are people who are having problems in their relationship and they're not ready to admit, that they might not be ready to commit to that person forever....which is pretty akward if you've been with that person for a long time.
    With regards to the baby question, again, the majority people who find that question intrusive are people having problems. Some people are more than happy to share this information.
    I don't think it's always fair to group the question askers in to one group as being rude and intrusive..

    Posted by bgcomreader August 6, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Thanks for posting, JC. I completely agree. Another decision I made a long time ago was to just tell people "Wow, good for you" or "It sounds like you really like that" or "I'm happy you made a decision" when they tell me they did something that I may not 100% agree with but it's obvious that it makes them happy or they are really into the decision they made. It's sort of a nice way of minding my own business and showing support for a friend or colleague.

    I always enjoy trips outside of New England because people will actually talk to you. The responses to this question are fairly typical of the New England attitude:
    "When are you going to stop being so nosy?"
    "That pretty much shuts them up."
    "Its' hilarious, and always stops people in their tracks."
    "This puts the discomfort back on them"
    "They will immediately feel embarrassed for asking something so personal and then they are on the spot..."

    Think about being treated like this by someone else that you know -- casually, intimately, co-worker or just someone on the street. What image are you projecting? What impression are you making? You never know if the next person you meet is going to be your new best friend for life, help get you the dream job you've always been looking for, give you a hot stock tip, make you laugh really hard, watch your dog when you have to leave unexpectedly or just become someone who is good to talk to. You might never see them again. When you slam the door immediately on the conversation, nothing at all constructive ever happens.

    Really, people, concentrate on making the world happier and you'll feel better about yourselves, too.

    Posted by K August 6, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Amen to JC (#33). Get over yourselves people. 99% of the time the person asking isn't being nosy, they're just showing an interest in you and they mean no harm. As a rule I don't ask people these types of questions (primarily because I don't care, but also because I don't want to be thought of as SO RUDE), but I don't really care if someone asks me. I have a 10 year age difference between my two kids, so for about 8 years I was getting asked when we were going to have a second one. My answer: "Don't know, maybe never." No further explanation needed. Seemed to work okay for me...

    Posted by DT August 6, 09 11:44 AM
  1. I hate when people ask these kinds of questions, it's so hurtful, rude and demeaning. They should be called on the floor and beaten. DH and I have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year, and every time I hear the question I want to sob and kick someone.

    A few fantasy comebacks include:
    1) "How's YOUR sex life."
    2) "What's wrong with my life now?"
    3) When are you going to lose all that weight?
    Or the basic "That's a hurtful question."

    Posted by ml2620 August 6, 09 11:49 AM
  1. here's a thought: be honest and tactful at the same time. also, take back the control of the boundaries of what is alright to talk about and what is not.

    example: when asked when you're going to get married, reply that it's a private matter, but thank you for asking.

    once word gets around, only the truly epically rude will try and ask you that question again.

    here's the lesson: just because others think it's reasonable, you don't have to. you can do what you feel is appropriate. however, be prepared to lose some of those people you once called friends -- many people will not be able to handle honesty and integrity, and just being told "no, i won't answer that to your satisfaction."

    don't worry, they were fair-weather friends anyway.

    Posted by lordclod August 6, 09 11:53 AM
  1. Honestly, I think people are ridiculously over lysensitive sometimes!
    For goodness sake, when people ask you, "so, are you guys going to get married", just smile and say "things are fine the way they are". No need to get overly sensitive. Most of the people who ask this question are just doing some social small talk. Get a backbone! Stop letting a silly question get your knickers in such a twist!

    Posted by Settle Down Ms. Oversensitive! August 6, 09 11:53 AM
  1. I once dated a guy for 8 years. His family was constantly asking why we weren't married. Finally I answered: "I'm keeping my options open. Pretty sure I could do better than your son, and I don't want to settle" ...they never asked again.

    Posted by hi jeff!!!! August 6, 09 11:55 AM
  1. People don't realize that they can be bringing up a difficult subject for some people when asking those questions. Especially the "When are you having a baby" question. One of my close friends was having an extremely hard time getting pregnant, several miscarraiges and failed attempts using fertility methods to get pregnant. People would ask her constantly when she was going to have a baby and it was painful every time. She is a very private person and didn't want to share the issues she was having with anyone... It's really nobody's business, however, they feel it is...

    Posted by Kachia August 6, 09 11:58 AM
  1. To be honest, SA, you sound so uptight and prickly that I don't think I'd ask you this question - or any others. In fact, you sound like someone I'd actively avoid talking to!

    Take a deep breath and smile. People are trying to be nice. They aren't asking to offend you - they are asking because they are trying to reach out to you and engage you in a conversation on what they perceive to be a happy topic. People do all sorts of offensive things when they are trying to be nice - like give a family with a life&death peanut allergy a plate of Reese's cookies, or invite an unemployed person on a vacation they can't afford. Take it for what it is.

    And if youre relationship is so rock solid...why do you get crazy-defensive when people ask you about it?

    Posted by Fievel August 6, 09 12:01 PM
  1. This type of question is definitely intrusive and can be hurtful.

    As RITKat pointed out (and sorry to hear about your loss), some haven't had kids because they haven't been able to get pregnant or have miscarried but that isn't necessarily something they want to talk about.

    I used to be in a long relationship in which I wanted to get married and he didn't (I shouldn't have stayed as long as I did but that is another story), which was upsetting for me and wasn't something I wanted to discuss with many people. (And it was frustrating how much more often I was the one being asked when are you getting married, especially because he was a few years older than me. When people like our dentist asked I would say "I don't know, why don't you ask him.") Yes JC, sometimes people are not comfortable with their decisions, but they shouldn't have to discuss it with anybody who is curious.

    Or sometimes people just don't want to get married, have kids, etc and don't consider it polite small talk to be asked to defend or explain those choices.

    Most people probably don't mean to be rude, but I think it should be pointed out that these aren't such nice questions. Hoss, great idea to use “Why do you ask?” - friendly, not defensive, but sort of changes the subject and could make the questioner reconsider being nosy.

    And by the way - to K and JC, if you live here in New England I wonder why since you don't seem to like us New Englanders. I never understand people who choose to live in a place then insult the locals.

    Posted by L August 6, 09 12:01 PM
  1. #7 -
    "Living in sin is so much more exhilarating"
    LOL. That is hilarious. I am going to use it. My bf and I have been together 7 years and we get this question ALL THE TIME. People just don't have anything better to talk about.

    Posted by Sinful and Loving it August 6, 09 12:01 PM
  1. Ugh...the kids question. This is more of a rant than anything else, but I'm SO TIRED of getting that. A.) I'm not even married, B.) I probably actually can't have kids, and C.) it's good that I probably can't have kids because I wouldn't want them anyway.

    "No, I don't hate kids, they're fine...I just don't want any...I dunno, I just DON'T.... I like my life the way it is...Well, I want the time to travel, volunteer and work at a career I love...I'll borrow my godkids when I feel the need to be maternal...blah blah blah..."

    Can't tell you how many times I've gone through that spiel.

    Fortunately, I'm not easily offended, but could definitely see someone else being offended by the kids question, especially if they can't have them. But more importantly, I think maybe society needs to accept that there really isn't a "social norm" anymore. People live together for years before getting married. Some people never marry. More and more people are choosing not to have children. I personally don't care if people ask me the questions, but for the same people to keep harping on and bringing up the same questions and then asking, "But...WHY?!?" does get annoying after a while. Ask once, I'll give you an answer, and let it GO. I get you love being a mother and I truly am happy for you that that's your thing. And yes, I'm already well aware that I'll "be missing out on the joys of motherhood."

    Well, you'll be missing out on the joys of sipping a pina colada on the beach of Fiji while taking care of your children. My man and I will miss you!

    Posted by K the Great August 6, 09 12:01 PM
  1. #21, Dizzle, hilarious! I wish I'd thought of that during the 12 years I lived with my now-husband.

    Posted by Kate's Nonna August 6, 09 12:03 PM
  1. Just stare at them. STARE.

    Posted by BobL-FF August 6, 09 12:03 PM
  1. I love what Meredith has to say about the rules of small talk! I say if older relatives can ask when marriage or a child is happening we all get to ask when are they going to die.

    Posted by itsmylifegetyourown August 6, 09 12:06 PM
  1. One friend had a really great reply he said I could use. When I was dating and people asked, he said, just answer, "Well, we don't hate each other enough to get married yet."

    Posted by Amy August 6, 09 12:07 PM
  1. I'd stop getting so worked up about it. People consider this sort of thing "small talk". I'm not saying some of the questions are appropriate but they are typical. People use them to make conversation. If you don't want to answer...don't...and change the subject.

    I need more than this to get me through a Thursday.....

    Posted by Kathleen August 6, 09 12:08 PM
  1. Questions never stop. I am retiring next month -- and people have been asking me if I can afford to retire? Nope, I'm just winging it! Duh!!!

    Posted by Carol August 6, 09 12:09 PM
  1. I've been married for 5 years and have no interest in having children--thankfully, the hubby and I are on the same page. But family members and friends are very upset and cannot understand why we don't want to. They can't even fathom the idea of not having kids once you're married. I'm 31; whether I change my mind or not is totally up to us. For right now, my answer to them is "I'm an extremely selfish person; I have too many things I want to experience." Boy, that shuts them up. I just laugh inside, but I also know how annoying it can be--especially when certain family members tell everyone they know: "I give her until (month) to get pregnant. If she's not by then, there's no hope for me to be a grandparent." While I'm standing right there. Oh, I know how obnoxious people can be... I feel like all of those questions people ask--marriage, kids, etc.--people ASSUME they have a right to know. I feel your pain, LW, but really there's not much you can do but come up with a witty comment to shut them down. Good luck!

    Posted by Beenthere August 6, 09 12:09 PM
  1. I don't understand why people are together if they don't want to get married. I don't understand people who are married who don't want kids. I don't understand why anyone should care though. Its really none of my business. I wanted to have kids when I was 16. I wanted to get married to every girl I went out with. I scared some of them away because of that. But I found the right woman who wanted to do these things with me and we are very happy. But you can do what you want to do. Its none of my business.

    Posted by glambake August 6, 09 12:13 PM
  1. I'm assuming the people accusing the writer of being oversensitive are the same jerks who ask intrusive questions in the first place.
    Ive always heard these questions in regard to choosing not to have kids. M is right, its all about validation and people wanting you to want what they want. Rather than pandering to the asker's feelings, I point blank say, "because I don't want any." Generally blunt, honest answers tend to make the nosy people go away and not ask again.

    Posted by SoxFanInIL August 6, 09 12:14 PM
  1. You don't sound very happy to me at all. Perhaps it hits a nerve when the ask. I think you want marriage and kids.

    Posted by Paul from Wellesley August 6, 09 12:14 PM
  1. Methinks LW and many of you full of yourself citizens of Dorkville (i.e. Commentors) would also get upset if someone asked you some other conversation starter question as well.

    Ice breaker: "Hot enough for ya?"
    Insecure person: "(blushing and flustered) No." (running away with the following thought bubbles bouncing around his/her head: "What a jerk! Doesn't he realize that I'm fair skinned and have a gladular disorder that makes me perspire a lot. How dare he call attention to it with such a personal remark!")

    My advice: Lighten the fark up.

    Now give me back the 10 minutes of my life that you just wasted with your silly rant about how you don't have the stones to handle direct questions about topics that you flip-flop on or constantly regret or have doubts about.

    Posted by Hadie Nuff August 6, 09 12:15 PM
  1. Sara (#11) - if you're not being ironic, I think I love you!

    Instead of trying to change other people's behavior, change your reaction to them. People are always going to ask what the majority of the world thinks is an innocent question, and the prickly minority will think to be intrusive. Learn to let it go.

    The miscarriage stories are very sad...my condolences.

    Posted by emmj August 6, 09 12:15 PM
  1. SA,

    People ask overly-personal questions because their parents didn't teach them good manners when they were kids.

    Parents, please take note.

    Posted by TallGirl August 6, 09 12:16 PM
  1. ever since I had my daughter 16 months ago, i have fielded the "when are you due" how far along are you" is it a boy or a girl"....the list goes on and on! No, you jerks, I have had 2 babies, ate whatever I wanted during those times..never bothered to exercise after birth and I look fine but with the scars of childbearing...I of course, just smile and say no, i'm not even pregnant.....it makes them squirm and makes me feel better about the insulting question

    Posted by Judgenot August 6, 09 12:22 PM
  1. Dear Hoss--

    I just want to tell you that your comment today is amazing. Thank you for brightening my day. I'm loving the Joey Tribiani reference. Hope you have a great weekend.

    Oh, and to the LW--

    Obviously these types of questions are annoying, but as many people stated, it's just a part of life. Try not to let it get to you, and just tell them whatever makes you most comfortable in that moment.

    Posted by Kristen August 6, 09 12:23 PM
  1. Thanks everyone for the comebacks! I've been living w/ my bf for 5 years now, dating for 11. What people don't realize is, we were very young when we started dating, bought a house before getting married (oh no! we did things out of order!) and now have to save up to get eloped, like we want to.

    I just hate the question because it reminds me of the fact that we're not in a financially stable state to get eloped like we want to, and because people follow up the question sometimes with "doesn't he WANT to marry you?" like he's some kind of jerk!

    Posted by living in "sin" August 6, 09 12:24 PM
  1. You CAN say “We’re not getting married because our married friends seem bored.” There's absolutely nothing stopping you from saying that. Just be prepared to handle the "honest" reply about 30-somethings who are still clubbing.

    Posted by zitface August 6, 09 12:25 PM
  1. For the "why don't you have kids" question I think a great answer is "I/we hate sex. We just don't turn each other on very much. Never have. So we avoid it."

    Posted by Bee Bee August 6, 09 12:27 PM
  1. Maybe they are just hungry for chicken cordon bleu and cake.

    Posted by lolita August 6, 09 12:32 PM
  1. "And by the way - to K and JC, if you live here in New England I wonder why since you don't seem to like us New Englanders. I never understand people who choose to live in a place then insult the locals."

    My comment was not meant to insult and I apologize if it did. Your statement actually illustrates the point I was trying to make. I AM a local. I do live here. I have for well over a decade, and will until I die. That actually makes me a local. My comment doesn't mean that I don't like those who were born here. I simply point out that people who were born here have a different value set than that which is typically found elsewhere, that's all. It often includes, for instance, considering people who were not born here to be outsiders no matter how long they have been here. It's a neutral fact easily observable to anyone who has lived elsewhere that New Englanders are less friendly to strangers and have a more highly developed sense of privacy and conversational boundaries. That's fine, but everyone doesn't share it, which explains in part today's question. This is a city with a population including many transplants from elsewhere, and this is one example of the culture clashes that can develop.

    Posted by JC August 6, 09 12:32 PM
  1. So, Meredith's last point was spot-on. Whether we know it or not, we ALL ask these type of questions because we are programmed to be curious about other people. Also I agree with comment #13... ever been to the mid-west?? People from Minnesota have to be the nosiest people on the planet.

    The best way to handle your situation is to come up with your standard, gracious response, use it and change the subject to other topics. If you are here looking for some validation to a rant, i.e. to support for your lifestyle choices, none from me, sorry.

    Posted by lilmonkeybean August 6, 09 12:38 PM
  1. I have a cousin who had cancer as a child. She is alive and healthy now, but her chemo treatments as a child cause infertility problems for her and her husband now. Most people outside of her close friends and immediate family don't know her chemo left her sterile, yet they always feel the need to ask her when is she going have a baby. I feel so sorry for her, but to her credit she always brushes it off and smiles.

    My heart goes out to her, she is strong woman, works as a registered nurse, and I know she would make a terrific mother.

    Posted by Bob August 6, 09 12:41 PM
  1. I agree wih JC (#33), DT (#45) and anyone else who has said - get over yourself, people are either asking because they have a genuine interest and want to get to know you better or are just making small talk. Personally, I usually don't ask those types of questions because I know some people do get offended, but don't really mind when people ask me. Yes, sometimes people may ask a question that hits a nerve (particularly with the kids question), but I don't think it makes them rude or nosy. If you're happy in your relationship and not in a rush to get married just say that.

    Me thinks the lw doth protest too much. As someone else mentioned sounds like maybe things are not completely blistful and that is why the question feels so intrusive. Of course you may just be a private person, so if you really are happy just say so. Believe me people don't care as much as you think they do.

    Posted by cc August 6, 09 12:46 PM
  1. #70, if you are the letter writer, then why don't you simply answer that you are saving up for a nice wedding?


    Posted by DrK August 6, 09 12:48 PM
  1. "It's none of your goddam business."

    Posted by SoThere August 6, 09 12:52 PM
  1. We got married just shy of the 4-year mark. We also got this question all the time. Our standard reply was, "I promise you'll be the first to know." If people persisted, I'd say, "When gay marriage is legalized in all 50 states." (We're hetero). With the swifter people that usually switched the conversation into a political one. The not-so-swift people just got confused.

    We ended up eloping and surprising everyone. We invited everyone to our house for a "holiday" party and they arrived to find a "Just Married" sign on our door and to discover it was our wedding reception. That was fun! We heard over and over again, "I can't believe you two did it... we'd all given up on it ever happening."

    Now I get the children question, which I think is hilarious at my age (44). To that I reply, "The next baby I will hold will be my grandchildren - and hopefully not for a long time." Having so many friends with infertility problems, I think this question is really nosy and I would never ask it of anyone!

    Sometimes I'll get someone who's persistent, "but you're not too young!" "but you're such an awesome mother!" "but you and hubby would make such great babies together!".... and when I say, "I'm all done with that" they try to convince me it's not too late. This is more likely to happen with my 40-something girlfriends who have young children - I think they want me to join them on the playground. But when they were in their 30s traveling the world and building their careers, I was up to my eyeballs in diapers. Now it's my time to travel and work.

    I am more patient with my friends, but agree it gets wearing at times, as they try to debate all my reasons. I do get the impression they are simply trying to think through for themselves whether they want to go for another one. Or maybe it's simply that parents of young kids are boring and have little else to talk about?

    Posted by anecdotal evidence August 6, 09 12:52 PM
  1. "And by the way - to K and JC, if you live here in New England I wonder why since you don't seem to like us New Englanders. I never understand people who choose to live in a place then insult the locals."

    I've lived here well over 10 years. I want to move, but I have had a decent job. Also, with the real estate market the way it is, it would be quite a financial disaster to move on. The company I work for hires a lot of international people and transplants from other parts of the world, so I'm somewhat insulated. Also, moving to Central Mass from Eastern Mass is like moving to an entirely different place where people are certainly more like the rest of the country than the area inside 128.

    Bottom line, though, when I can at least break even on my house and find another decent job, there's not much keeping me here. I already know the refrain:

    "Don't let the door hit you on the way out"

    But seriously, self-examination is a good thing. I don't get how being known nationally as a bunch of standoffish prudes can be considered a point of pride.

    Posted by K August 6, 09 12:57 PM
  1. Some of the postings are hilarious. People are very rude, their parents didn't tell them to not ask personal questions. I'd answer them with a smile and a wink and tell them 'it's a biiiiiig secret' - that will shut them up. Or 'Im getting married the day after the Pope marries......people who ask you when you are going to have children are way beyond rude and deserve a strong answer: 'why would you ask that?' or 'It'a a personal thing between Harold and me.' or 'it's a biiiiig secret'. The posters here who think you are over-reacting are probably the people who would ask you those questions. I have to work until I'm 70 and you'd be shocked at the # of people who question me about they. Why, don't you have enough money, etc.

    Posted by Rose August 6, 09 12:58 PM
  1. I find a good response to this question is: "We are getting married just as soon as you get divorced." Or, "Based on all of the problems you've told me marriage entails, I have no interest in joining that boat."

    The problem with our society is that 99% of people are "followers" and need everyone to act the same way they do to feel validated. For some reason, happy single people and happy unmarried couples threaten their cookie cutter way of life. Do what you want and don't even answer their question. Or say, "We've discussed this so many times, you already know my answer." They won't ask you again.

    Posted by RedHead27 August 6, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Re: #76, "I have a cousin who had cancer as a child . . . her chemo treatments as a child cause infertility problems for her and her husband now. . . they always feel the need to ask her when is she going have a baby. I feel so sorry for her, but to her credit she always brushes it off and smiles."

    It is your cousin's experience which makes her sad, not what people say to her. The question simply reminds her of something about her personal situation that makes her sad. If we are all expected to never ask any question that might cause some person, somewhere, to feel sad because of their own atypical life story, we're never going to talk at all. Someone could ask me, "where do your parents live?" and I may feel bad, because my father abandoned us when I was a child. Or they might ask how my girlfriend is, and I would be forced to think about the fact that she is terminally ill. Those are my actual circumstances. But would that be the questioners' fault for asking me? No. It's up to me to recognize that I feel bad because of something internal, and to not demonize someone who asks an innocent question. #70 said it very honestly. "I just hate the question because it reminds me of the fact that we're not in a financially stable state to get eloped like we want to." The problem is her own disappointment in her situation, and that is not something that the questioners did to her. People's intentions actually do matter.

    Posted by JC August 6, 09 01:02 PM
  1. $65.. omg. I spit out my diet coke all over my computer screen. That was effing hilarious. You tell um.

    Posted by Katharine August 6, 09 01:05 PM
  1. I'll also say "amen" to the people commenting on the over analysis bits. Or you could come out and tell the truth. Everyone has had something bad happen to them or their family -- strokes, heart attacks, death, cancer, miscarriages, stillbirths, etc. If you are human, you've either had it or not. Yes, some of it has been entirely personal. But here's the great part -- sometimes when you tell someone "oh, thanks for asking about my mother, but she recently had a heart attack", they might actually do something very sympathetic -- offer you some condolences or maybe they can even share your pain a bit if they have had a similar situation in the past.

    No one gets out of this life alive, or unscathed, for that manner.

    Posted by K August 6, 09 01:05 PM
  1. When faced with questions such as this my canned response is "February 30th, but don't tell anyone else until we do". Then I move on and change the subject real fast. The expression on the other persons is usually priceless and gets the message across.

    Posted by JATINI August 6, 09 01:08 PM
  1. Unless the same person is repeatedly asking the question they are just making small talk and could care less. It isn't a great thing but it happens, it is an easy default, just give them the expected easy default answer 'we are happy with things as they are.' Done

    If the same people are constantly asking then I would just respond with 'And how is your sex life? I only ask because you repeatedly are asking me inappropriate questions so I thought I would return the favor.'

    Maybe the questions are bothering you so much because you do want to move on and get married? Maybe you just have reached your threshold of stupidity?

    Posted by Sally August 6, 09 01:11 PM
  1. I would tell them that you're both having too much great sex on the side.

    Posted by Dan August 6, 09 01:16 PM
  1. I always just say, "it's not my bag, baby." to the marriage question. People usually just laugh and leave me alone.

    Posted by jokey23 August 6, 09 01:21 PM
  1. Ah, the marriage question. My brother and his girlfriend used to get that and their answer was always, "we are already married, just not to each other". And it was true! I agree that this type of question is intrusive. I don't get questions like this ever, from my family or from my sweetheart's. They seem to like us as we are and are not pushing us to "go further". We've lived together (in sin! gasp!) for 12 years, own a home and he has children from a first marriage. Everyone is cool with us and we are cool with them. So I guess your best answer is just to say that you are happy as is and to move onto another subject. They ARE asking because they care about you, you know - they aren't trying to be hurtful (at least I hope not).

    Posted by J Bar August 6, 09 01:23 PM
  1. I usually respond with 'I believe that if a couple decides to have children, then one partner should be willing to raise the children - I don't believe in day care' That's usually insulting to the questioner in a very interesting way.

    Posted by amaryllis 81 August 6, 09 01:25 PM

  1. hands down best line of the day!

    Posted by BRAVO August 6, 09 01:27 PM
  1. What do you ask somebody who is retired and all set? "When are you going to just die already"?

    hands down best line of the day...

    Posted by BRAVO August 6, 09 01:31 PM
  1. I totally agree with K's posts. I'm a New Englander, born and raised, and it really wasn't until I began travelling to other parts of the country that I realized how standoffish, suspicious and cynical we Northeasterners are in our interactions. This letter and many of the responses are a perfect example. The LW must understand, deep down, that the people asking these questions mean absolutely no harm and that she's working herself into a fine lather for no good reason. Is it really so hard to assume the best of everyone around you and act accordingly? Why look for reasons to be frustrated and offended where clearly, none exist?

    Posted by Rae August 6, 09 01:34 PM
  1. You say "people"...but wouldn't it depend on who's asking? We're obviously not talking about someone sidling up to you in CVS or a hairdresser that you don't know, because you give the impression that these people asking already know you've been together for 5 yrs and have a house. So, how do they know that? Is it because you've shared that information (ie started a relationship of personal sharing), but now want to set a rule on what can/can't be asked after that?

    Are we talking boss at work, a neighbor, someone at the gym, family members?

    Frankly, unless someone is asking in a judgmental way, I think these are normal questions. We are not islands...it's normal to communicate. If everyone thought conversations about family life (and also work, what we like to do, etc) were off limits, then we'd never progress beyond acquaintances to friendships or having deeper understandings with colleagues/neighbors beyond "hello" and "goodbye". Even if a topic is sensitive or leads to a discussion of different views, I think honest responses (and honest emotions about how you feel about the question if it truly bothers you) can lead to greater insight for both people.

    If you're so happy with the life you have, just respond..."we're living in the present and we're happy" and like others have said, change the subject or ask them about an aspect of their lives. This is called normal conversation. Not everyone has the same view on things...and obviously the question isn't "sensitive" to them. Like Meredith said, for all you know, you may have inadvertenly asked someone something that they find sensitive or intruding.

    Be open to connecting with others. Be you....and allow others to be them (even if you don't like their questions).

    For all the different choices we have (and choose), we're all more alike than not alike. Instead of seeing these "personal" questions as intrusions, why not see it as an opportunity to connect with another human to learn something more about yourself and the other.

    One thing I tell my 8 yr old all the time when he gets frustrated by what someone says or does, is that we can't control other people....we can only control our reactions. So, you can either get worked up about things you can't control or turn it around and find the positive (possible good conversation...or if it doesn't progress to that, you've gained insight into someone you know isn't a person you want to associate with...all for free :-).

    Posted by bklynmom August 6, 09 01:39 PM
  1. this type of questioning reminds me of a funny story. a neighbor dropped by when i was feeding lunch to my less than one year old baby. she said "time for number two now" and my immediate reaction was "yeah, she usually goes after eating lunch" until I realized what she was talking about (baby number 2). hah!

    Posted by number2 August 6, 09 01:47 PM
  1. LW, you are LAME. Here's why: you are supposedly in a happy love/romantic relationship and you are just LOOKING for things to whine about. Shut the eff up, use that pea brain of yours or the brain of your beloved to think up some awesome comebacks and leave us alone...

    'Tis a full moon week...

    I looked at the calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1st. On the bright side, I guess the supply of unhappy love letters is low...

    Posted by Amazed August 6, 09 01:48 PM
  1. Some seem to think these personal questions are merely small talk, and thus the person on the receiving end has to suck it up and deal.

    What these "suck it up" folks need to realize is that if you deliver a question perceived as hurtful, intrusive, or upsetting you have to deal with the consequences.

    When asked these types of questions I simply respond, "That's personal". And I keep repeating until the numbskulls get a clue.

    I've found New Englanders to be sespecially thick when it comes to asking questions that are personal and none of their business.

    Posted by Sigh August 6, 09 01:52 PM
  1. it sounds like you are ranting because you are mad that you haven't been proposed to. that's why the questions bother you so much. right?

    Posted by xyzxyz August 6, 09 01:56 PM
  1. When people ask me when I am going to have kids, I usually just tell them "I can't, I'm allergic to children."

    Either that, or "Talk to me about kids when the people of Tibet are finally FREE!"

    They usually get the point.

    Posted by LynahFaithful August 6, 09 02:00 PM
  1. Lighten up, it is just conversation.

    Posted by Thad August 6, 09 02:02 PM
  1. My in-laws used to constantly ask when we were going to have kids. I had to bite my tongue from responding with the truth, which was, "since we married I've become increasingly aware that your kid is a world-class a-hole and there's no way I'm going to be responsible for spreading those genes any farther".

    Posted by baroque August 6, 09 02:02 PM
  1. This has gotten a bit off subject but in response to some responses to my comment -

    JC, of course there are regional/cultural differences between people, but there are also significant differences in the different parts of New England where I have lived, as well as between individuals which is why I try to avoid generalizations. I didn't mean to call you an outsider but to point out that you sounded like you were casting yourself as one with your phrase "the icy, born-and-bred New Englander" and that talking like that could offend some who are proud to be from here (not that we are anywhere close to perfect, but who is). I appreciate the apology.

    K, if you find people here so unfriendly maybe it is because we are sensing that you see as a "a bunch of standoffish prudes." Good luck with the move.

    Posted by L August 6, 09 02:03 PM
  1. How about just saying, "Oh someday" to any of the questions. It might be the truth, and it might not be. If they push it, just say you aren't there yet. God, people are sensitive.

    Posted by linnz August 6, 09 02:07 PM
  1. My (now) husband and I were together for 9 years before we got married. I can understand the LW's frustration. Several posters have made the statement that obviously her marrital status is an issue, or the questions wouldn't bother her. I think that her feelings regarding her marital status are irrelevent. Asking overly personal questions is rude.
    But I agree with a couple of the posts....this isn't really a 'Love' question.

    Posted by bellyb August 6, 09 02:07 PM
  1. Get over it. They can ask you whatever they want...its up to you how to answer it.

    Posted by Sabs August 6, 09 02:11 PM
  1. "When we figure out where they come from" is a good answer to the baby question.

    Posted by Greg Brady August 6, 09 02:19 PM
  1. Where is Rico? He makes my day.

    Posted by LoveRico August 6, 09 02:25 PM
  1. Someone sounds defensive...

    Posted by JL August 6, 09 02:29 PM
  1. There are millions of people (thousands in Love Letter Land) who would love to be in a position to have these questions asked of them. Generally, it means someone feels close enough to you to be able to ask…or they want to become more familiar. The act intimates that there exists a bond where personal issues can be discussed. I’ve always told younger people that I’ll get married for the second time after they get married for the first. It’s lighthearted and brings you to an informal place. If everybody only tiptoes on the rice paper (grasshopper), our footprint for intimacy would go unnoticed.

    Posted by valentino August 6, 09 02:29 PM
  1. My aunt has four daughters and my mom got three daughters, they both married to men with the same last name but not related. seven of us are like sister in some way, but we don't always get along. I was the youngest one to got marry, so I was always the bride. I feel lucky that I never had that kind of questions.

    Posted by stephanie August 6, 09 02:37 PM
  1. Standard answer - When I want to stop smiling.

    Posted by Anonymous August 6, 09 02:37 PM
  1. My husband and I were together almost 9 years before we married, and we had a son together during that time. We were asked often, by well-meaning family members and friends and etc, when/if we would marry but it never bothered me. Once in a while someone would say something rude or judgemental, but I just laughed it off, because really - who gives a sh!t what rude people say?? If they're rude, it's nothing to do with us. I say let it go, life is too good to worry about others. If it really bothers you, then I think you need to look into why that is.

    Posted by Diet Coke August 6, 09 02:44 PM
  1. LW, first of all...you can elope, and you can get married, but you can't "get eloped."

    Second of all.....wow. The fact that you have no major opposition to marriage other than the fact that you can't afford it, and yet you think people should walk on eggshells around you, is ridiculous. Get over yourself. The world shouldn't have to cater to you.

    Posted by Fievel August 6, 09 02:51 PM
  1. There's nothing wrong with being asked about your plans to have children. If you take offense to the question, then I agree with #114—you need to ask yourself why the question bothers you so much.

    Posted by Kat August 6, 09 02:54 PM
  1. I posted earlier, but still can't get over the number of people who are offended and think that is too personal of a question. What if she was engaged and walking around with an engagement ring, would it be too personal then to ask when the wedding is? Or does the fact that she's wearing a ring suddenly make it ok and no longer personal? Is it ok to ask someone who is visibly pregnant when their due date is, or is that too personal also? Not being dense here, but don't get where the line is drawn. Is it ok to ask questions like that when their is a visible sign? Or only when the person brings it up themselves?

    As another person noted, these aren't random strangers asking the question, it's obviously people who already know she is in a serious relationship. So sounds like these are people that she has personal relationships with, so of course they will ask "personal" questions rather than generic ones like "what do you think of the weather today". Please lighten up, life is too short!

    Posted by CC August 6, 09 02:54 PM
  1. I think many of these ultrasensitive posters doth protest too much. Being so defensive is a dead giveaway that you're really not so happy with your particular life choices. If that's not the case, then lighten up and let your freak flag fly!

    Posted by Married with Children August 6, 09 02:59 PM
  1. Natural curiosity. Not necessarily meant to be 'intrusive'; it could be the desire of the questioner to share in the 'happy' moment you make such that decision of commitment permanence. Sometimes its the closeness people share or wish to share with others when we form those tight-knit bonds that make people ask.

    I feel like an open book so questions like that never bothered me. Having had 3 miscarriages myself I've had people say me 'when are you going to have another one - you shouldn't wait too long?', I simply tell them I've had numerous miscarriages and stopped trying after a certain age. I understand the curiosity and don't think its that big of a deal.

    It is up to us to decide whether something is a big deal or not. Some people thrive on things like 'If I am asked one more time....yadayadayada' and use it to put other people down in an 'how dare they' moment.

    There are so many other things to become disturbed about in life that this is just ridiculous and says more about that someone who chooses to be overly irritated for every little thing in life, including people who know a couple and can't help but reason that gee, they'd be so great together and wonder. Instead, push them away as though they are incredulous and nosy which is not a nice way to treat people who feel comfortable and perhaps close enough to ask. Eventually, people may stop asking and think you are a total jerk.

    Posted by SoIndignant August 6, 09 03:03 PM
  1. This was a boring question - poor choice Meredith :)

    Not really love letter, not really interesting - although it's a common malady for sure

    Posted by brenda August 6, 09 03:06 PM
  1. I completely sympathize. My husband and I are separated and we have a 4 year old. People I know at work who don't know I am separated keep asking "when you going to have another one? or my favorite "its time for another one." I know they don't know my current situation but they keep persisting with the same comments and questions and I am ready to scream. Its none of their business.

    Posted by Heather August 6, 09 03:07 PM
  1. My stock answer to all rude questions is "It's up to the Lord." People never know what to do with that one.

    Posted by janewinebox August 6, 09 03:12 PM
  1. Come to think of it, don’t get married! And I don’t care if you’re unfruitful for eternity. My kids don’t need any more kids to play with. Of course they might have been good sitters for your kids. Even if you did have kids…by that time my kids would probably be too busy to sit your kids. So don’t bother. And you probably wouldn’t have an open bar at your wedding anyway. If I wanted to spend 60 bucks on a 12 pack of Miller Lite, I could stay home and do it for $12.19 and watch the Sox. I hope the Christening is BYO.

    Posted by valentino August 6, 09 03:17 PM
  1. I once asked a dear friend whose father had just committed suicide if he had any inkling that this might have happened. He later told me it was one of the most hurtful questions he heard, because it implied he should have done something to prevent his father's suicide.

    I mention this because some people ask questions to be jerks, and others (like me) ask simply because they want to understand and mean nothing by it. Try to gauge the asker and respond accordingly. And if you are offended by all means tell the person; she or he might learn a valuable lesson.

    Posted by rachel August 6, 09 03:20 PM
  1. My husband and I were together almost 9 years before we married, and we had a son together during that time. We were asked often, by well-meaning family members and friends and etc, when/if we would marry but it never bothered me. Once in a while someone would say something rude or judgemental, but I just laughed it off, because really - who gives a sh!t what rude people say?? If they're rude, it's nothing to do with us. I say let it go, life is too good to worry about others. If it really bothers you, then I think you need to look into why that is.

    Posted by Diet Coke August 6, 09 03:20 PM
  1. Because people are pathetic. They need to force their "relationship beliefs" on others, in an attempt to see everyone conform to THEIR way of living, thus justifying their existence and mode of operation... It's the same reason religious people want to impose laws reflecting their own beliefs on others. A sad small-minded way of justifying their actions and life choices. (Basically: "I need to have everyone follow what I believe -- that way I know it's true! Yay!!") If their convictions were actually strong-willed or justified, they would be comfortable enough to just live it on their own and not seek constant approval/justification.

    Yeah, it's pretty sad. Just be happy with your own healthy relationship, pity them their need to shove others into their mental box, and simply move on...

    Posted by DJMcG August 6, 09 03:23 PM
  1. Miss Manners suggests treating the question of when or if you will marry as banter, and to make a witty/silly reply. To the baby question, which she says is rude, she recommends a shocked expression.

    Yes, I keep her book on my desk. It's quite entertaining.

    Posted by Susan August 6, 09 03:36 PM
  1. Is it me, or do all the wise-ass responses and "fantasy comebacks" above just come across as really not all that funny while at the same time ultra-defensive and incriminate the responder much more than the original inquirer? Just inquiring.

    Posted by Stand Tall Be Proud August 6, 09 03:37 PM
  1. Bostonians, how this takes me back to when I first moved here. You should just stay home, stop going out to social events where you might meet new people or see anyone you may know that may ask you something about yourself. Maybe people ask you boring questions becase you are boring and do not provide any thing interesting to talk about - to fill the empty void they toss out a boring questions. I bet you get "..and hows the house?" a lot to.

    Posted by Liz August 6, 09 03:37 PM
  1. I just got married. We are 26 and are still renting. My mother will not stop harassing about children. She says "just get pregnant and you will figure out the rest". Sorry, but I am a planner.
    We are first saving for a place near Boston..it won't come cheap so it will take a few more years. Only then will we see if we are maybe, possibly ready for kids.
    The one thing I am scared to tell her is that even when we feel financially ready, we may decide not to have any anyway. We like our life the way it is and sure, things may change, but it is not a given that reproduction will happen.
    For now I simply refuse to discuss the topic..but its hard. What makes it worse is that I am her only hope for grand kids as I am an only child.

    Posted by parents are difficult August 6, 09 03:39 PM
  1. Does anyone remember laughter?

    Posted by infertile in ipswich August 6, 09 03:40 PM
  1. I'm imagining that the reason the question bothers you is that actually you're bothered about the issue of having kids or getting married. You have some kind of charged up attitude around it and it comes off as an attitude on your part of "how dare you ask that rude question," when it would be very simple (if your feelings about it were simpler) to simply answer, no, we haven't planned for that, or no we haven't set a wedding date or no, we haven't talked about itor no we aren't or whatever simple partial truth that you tell to relative strangers or acquaintances. YOu don't have to divulge your life philosophy, just put back into the conversation some energy and interest.

    Posted by steve in w ma August 6, 09 03:41 PM
  1. It reminds me of the time I was out sick at work and the next day the boss asked "so what was wrong with you?"...to this day I regret not saying "I HAD BLOOD COMING OUT BETWEEN MY LEGS, MY OVARIES HURT, AND MY BREASTS ACHED".

    Mind your own business.

    Posted by Me August 6, 09 03:44 PM
  1. Correction, there were actually two responses that weren't all together bitchy and unfunny:

    It's just not my bag, baby
    It's up to the Lord.

    Take it in stride and try to get a grip on your fragile little egos!

    Posted by Stand Tall Be Proud August 6, 09 03:53 PM
  1. You could do what politicians often do: If you don't want to answer a question that someone has asked you, simply go ahead and give the answer to a completely different question.

    For example:
    Question: "When are you getting married?"
    Answer: "Personally, I think Sgt. Crowley was right to arrest Professor Gates."

    Posted by TallGirl August 6, 09 04:06 PM
  1. We have 1 child and it's always the course of the conversation, "Are you going to have another one?" (and surprisingly the questioning can be way overly aggressive!), although I want to say "because I'm selfish and one is more than enough" or "that would be none of your business", the answer is always "because a 55 yr old soccer dad of one will be enough", or "the first one turned out so great that I don't want to tempt fate" <- actually that one is true. Small talk should be about weather, sports, news (except politics), not personal lives or decisions....layoff peeps.

    Posted by djm August 6, 09 04:11 PM
  1. I would like to point out to the rest of the folks who post on here one ringing piece of advice that we gave not too long ago -


    Where are those people who said that, anyway? I didn't see anyone say something to that effect.

    Further, if the LW had any skin at all, she would consider any insensitive question being asked as dismissable and she can go on with her single, house-owning self without worry of 'what do they think about me'? Why do we even care what other people think in the first place? Is it because we seek approval or acceptance? Why? There's no need. Only the followers seek approval and acceptance. The leaders are those who carve their own path and listen to no one except their own intuition.

    What side of the fence are you on, LW?


    Posted by Admiral Antgro August 6, 09 04:11 PM
  1. #99

    "I've found New Englanders to be sespecially thick when it comes to asking questions that are personal and none of their business."

    Actually, I find it that Midwesterners and Southerners (particularly the southern deep-friend inbreds) ask the dumb questions.

    Posted by Admiral Antgro August 6, 09 04:25 PM
  1. This isn't a relationship question, and I agree that it falls into "Miss Manners'" territory. The issue here is your defensiveness. How many times a day do you get asked this question? Or is it a monthly question? What's the big deal? If this is the most pressing issue of your life, you're very lucky. I'd say your real issue is that you're afraid to push the envelope and ask for marriage. You're not happy the way things are, you want more. And you know it. Anyone who is in a relationship for 5 years and ok with coasting is kidding themselves. Do you really need advice as to what to say, or do you need advice on whether this relationship should be on to the next level by now?

    Posted by Yogafriend August 6, 09 04:28 PM
  1. Revere-you are taking this way too seriously. Consider some snappy somebacks.
    ml2620 Love the fantasy comebacks...
    How about these-
    + Well, my boy/girlfriend is a satanic worshipper and we can't get married until I complete the pre-marital classes and convert.
    + I want to lose a few pounds before the wedding-and speaking of a few pounds-did you drop out of Weight Watchers again?
    + Speaking of weddings-how is your son's divorce coming along?
    + What a coincidence that you asked!...We are taking up a collection to pay for the wedding and honeymoon. What is your email address? I will send you the pledge form today!
    +Get married to him/her? Secretly, I have been waiting for YOU all of these years.

    ....And speaking of nosey interfering people. I moved into my neighborhood a little over a year ago. My elderly neighbor asked me how old my son was (he is very small for his age). ME: He is 4. Neighbor: Oh, well he looks like he's only 2 or 3. It's good that he's small-maybe you won't feel the need to have another baby!
    BTW-she had 4 kids-one married a junkie who went to prison, both granddaughters dropped out of high school. At least one grandkid got knocked up in high school. Her kids and grandkids use her house like the Dew Drop Inn. Too bad she didn't feel the need to stop having babies 40 years ago!

    Posted by Smarty Pants August 6, 09 04:31 PM
  1. I'm very confused at times for how these letters are deciphered from what are to be the most interesting, heartbreaking and/or happy when a letter like this is chosen. I guess I'm becoming greedy for legitimate issues we can all help with and learn from...Hope we can make Friday count...

    Posted by Rossia August 6, 09 04:41 PM
  1. Well, I am married, so the first question is not applicable. My wife and I have been unable to conceive, and even if we could, we really can't afford children at this point. Yet we get the "When are you going to have kids?" question all the time. My answer is this: "When you agree to pay for their rearing and upbringing."

    Posted by Anonymous August 6, 09 04:49 PM
  1. Because I'm in my late-30s and still single, I've been asked many a time when I'm going to find a man and settle down. Most of the time it doesn't bother me at all, but I have one cousin who is a real jerk about it. It's like he wants to start something with me. He tells me I'm too picky, I'm getting old, what am I waiting for, just get married already, when are we going to your wedding, etc. And you'd think he'd be a little more sensitive to stupid questions since he and his wife tried for YEARS before they were able to have children, and many asked them when it would happen. I would try to just smile and laugh it off, but really, it annoyed the heck out of me.

    Anyway, at one family reunion when he asked me when he should plan on attending my wedding, I asked him when I should plan on attending his funeral. He was actually shocked that I snapped back at him. But it worked - he doesn't ask anymore!

    Posted by throw it back at them! August 6, 09 04:50 PM
  1. Questions that sting usually sting for a reason. Someone said questions about having a baby stung because she in fact does want a baby and has had unsuccessful attempts.

    The assumption of 'when' is more than a little bit presumptuous.

    Is the correct question "Do you mind not being married?"

    Fair question, since, the other question bothered you so much. All those silly reasons of what 'happens in marriage' are not so much from marriage, but from life. So to think by skipping marriage all the problems of relationship as it ages will skip you is more than a bit niave. Not marrying is a nice way to save some money, get different tax treatment, keep your own property in your own name and have an easier out if you break up.

    It is very common for cohabiting women, when you ask THEM, apart from their partner, if , given the choice, would you prefer that he wanted to get married and asked you to get married, or, would you prefer to stay as you are, the women admit, they'd rather he wanted to marry them.

    Is this your case? Is this why the question bothers you? Most folks who simply do not want to marry, per their choice, are amused by the question. If it's truly your choice, try to have a sense of humor. Find a fun way to answer that is humerous. Like saying you dont appreciate getting screwed over in taxes. But if it stings because it's no laughing matter, it's not really where your heart is, then you have some serious thinking to do before you life passes you by and you miss out on what you want.

    Posted by a few grey hairs August 6, 09 05:05 PM
  1. My mother always told me to answer inappropiate questions with "ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies". Usually the questioner is so taken aback that they change the subject immediately. You can say it humorously if you want to take the edge off of it and do a Palin wink.

    Posted by SlickMick August 6, 09 05:13 PM
  1. #144 A few grey hairs - you said, "Most folks who simply do not want to marry, per their choice, are amused by the question."

    Wrong. I've never wanted to marry. I'm not defensive about it. I'm very clear about it. But I value my privacy. I think the question is just plain rude. Because it is. It's no one else's business.

    There seem to be a number of people on LL who are convinced that all women are dying to get married. If a woman has any problem or question, they jump in and insist it must be because she wants to get married. It's very tiresome. Please try to appreciate that people DON'T all want the same things in life.

    Posted by TallGirl August 6, 09 05:31 PM
  1. I make $22.53 an hour.

    Posted by Sally August 6, 09 06:00 PM
  1. I am happy to be an icy, born and bred New Englander who doesn't poke into other people's business and who knows the difference between making pleasant conversation and being intrusive and impolite. The fact that one doesn't ask a million pestering questions about someone does not make them unfriendly. We make an effort to understand people's boundaries before bull-dozing right over them. Good fences make good neighbors!

    Posted by Rozzwell August 6, 09 06:03 PM
  1. Has Rico gone to see Paul McCartney today? Not the same without him!!
    (heavy sigh.......)

    Posted by Trueblue22 August 6, 09 06:30 PM
  1. #144 is totally wrong. The question itself is not annoying, it's the next question. Because they never stop. Someone asks "why aren't you married", you answer "I don't want to be" and you assume that's it. But, no, they keep asking and asking and you explain in further details "I did not buy a blue car because I don't want a blue car, I didn't get married because I don't want to get married, why is this so hard for you to understand?" but they still don't understand and will ask you the same exact question next time you see them.

    Ever have a child ask you "are we there yet? Are we there yet? are we there yet?". Do you get annoyed because really deep down, you don't know the answer to this very personal, existential question? Or do you get annoyed because you answer "no" and the child just keeps asking the same question? MAybe you should think seriously about that eh?

    Posted by Joey Joe August 6, 09 06:59 PM
  1. It's been my experience that when people ask you these questions what they're really asking is "when am I going to be able to relate to you?". It's happened to all of us I'm sure. When your single and your friends marry off, you see less of them. They ask "when are you going to get married" because they want to know when the 4 of you can hang out. Ever hang out with a married person who after a while can only talk about what it's like to be married? Then the kids come and you start seeing less of them again. They ask, "when are you going to have kids?". What they're really asking is "when can we have in depth conversations about bowel movements and vomit?" because as many of you know, that's all any parent can talk about for the first few years.

    So take a moment to hear what these folks are really asking you. Sympathize and try to come up with ways that you can hang out and relate to one another. Tell them some single person stories that will bore them, and listen to their married person stories that will bore you, then agree to talk about something other than being married, or being single, and remain friends.

    Posted by Boston August 6, 09 07:42 PM
  1. For medical reasons it could be life-threatening for me to be pregnant. It has been a long road with lots of tears for both my husband and me to come to terms with this, and we still ache for a child. Alternative methods of acquiring kids are time-consuming, privacy-invading, expensive, and emotionally draining, and we're having a hard time picking a path to follow. I'm now 40 and I work with children, and I am frequently asked by people who don't know me well if I have any. It's a very painful question. My usual answer is, "Not yet. [pause....then, wistfully:] Someday. I hope." It seems to convey both the information and the yearning. I can't stop anyone from asking once, but no one's ever asked twice, or asked a follow-up question. (Our closest friends asked because they truly care, and they know the whole story.)

    My husband and I also lived together for a time before deciding to get married. Of the possible answers given for the questions people ask you about getting married, my favorites are "It's up to us," "The Lord knows best," and (playfully:) "Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies." All of these inform the questioner in a non-rude way that the decision is private and the reasons are not up for discussion. You're not going to stop people from asking once, but you can enjoy your answer when they do ask. And consider the possibility that your closest friends and family, the ones who truly care, are interested in understanding how you make your life decisions because they want to support you in them.

    Posted by no one answer August 6, 09 07:54 PM
  1. I Like the saying “We’re doing the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell thing.”
    I say it all the time. Half of them stop asking after that and the other half have no idea who they are. LOL Easy enough

    Posted by Jenn August 6, 09 08:01 PM
  1. That's not what the poet meant by fences. Please, let us return to Introduction to Literature, and review.

    To the L/W - It only gets worse. If you get pregnant, be prepared to keep stepping back from strangers, and establishing solid boundaries. They think the fetus is some kind of talisman, and they must touch your belly. Don't let them. Ignore them when they ask how many coffees you've had, and if it's OK for you to have that wine. Do these questions never end? Sally - I weigh 149, I'm a C, lol.

    Posted by reindeergirl August 6, 09 08:21 PM
  1. It is a rude question. I would respond "probably never, we like sex!"

    Posted by sharon August 6, 09 08:58 PM
  1. Just say something outrageous and tongue in cheek next time and see how they react...
    Q: "So, when are you two getting married?"
    A: "As soon as polygamy is legalized so we can marry all of our other boyfriends and girlfriends. It's just not fair to leave them out of it."
    Q: "When are you having kids?"
    A: "When the hormone therapy from the sex change operation is complete."

    You can't control what someone else will ask or say, all you can do is show them just how personal and inappropraite their probing is making you.

    Posted by Cleese August 6, 09 09:03 PM
  1. We have been together for 8 years, and what we say to the "when you getting married" question:

    When the condom breaks!

    Posted by Heather White August 6, 09 09:26 PM
  1. I just want to say to the person that says we don't have to validate our relationship with a piece of paper. Or it's only a piece of paper.

    Then if that's all it is, sign it.

    Posted by jojobobo August 6, 09 10:03 PM
  1. I second Rozzwell. I have traveled many times in the Deep South and while there is definitely more pleasant conversation with store clerks,etc there than you'll ever see in New England (and I like it, it's nice but just doesn't happen here), I think what we're talking about here goes beyond that.

    Respecting boundaries is just that, and why would anyone have a problem with that concept?

    Oh I know! "You're defensive". Well...so what? Who isn't when their boundaries are overstepped?

    Posted by SettleDown August 6, 09 10:53 PM
  1. 1-it's almost never about you.
    2-depends on the circumstances. My mom was asking me so often when my bf and I were getting married that it became truly unpleasant to see her. She would barely talk about anything else. Joking, snappy comebacks, getting mad, nothing worked. One time after she made some comment, I told her that I really loved her, but I couldn't visit her anymore if this nonsense didn't stop, that I was starting to hate seeing her and worried that I might start to hate her, and that she was sending me a strong message that she no longer cared about me, just whether I was married. It all stopped after that. I (much) later married my bf, then questions about kids started up, and then finally I told her the same things again. I think she got the message, it's been years since she's brought up kids with me. It was hard to have that conversation, but I think my relationship with my mom is much better for it.

    Posted by cm August 6, 09 11:48 PM
  1. 1-it's almost never about you.
    2-depends on the circumstances. My mom was asking me so often when my bf and I were getting married that it became truly unpleasant to see her. She would barely talk about anything else. Joking, snappy comebacks, getting mad, nothing worked. One time after she made some comment, I told her that I really loved her, but I couldn't visit her anymore if this nonsense didn't stop, that I was starting to hate seeing her and worried that I might start to hate her, and that she was sending me a strong message that she no longer cared about me, just whether I was married. It all stopped after that. I (much) later married my bf, then questions about kids started up, and then finally I told her the same things again. I think she got the message, it's been years since she's brought up kids with me. It was hard to have that conversation, but I think my relationship with my mom is much better for it.

    Posted by cm August 6, 09 11:58 PM
  1. At a large family event we responded to a nosey relative who asked when we were getting married with "February 30th". We got great pleasure watching her share the gossip and looking like an idiot. Our other famous response was "May", the asker would then say "May what?" and we would say "May it never happen!"

    Another good response is, "Why do you ask?"

    Posted by me August 7, 09 12:03 AM
  1. Some people could be asking these questions as a way of starting small talks. It does not necessarily mean they are being intentionally intrusive, or trying to force they way of life on you. Even if some believe they life style is the one to take, their asking shows they care about you, although misguided.

    Most people are not bothered by these or similar questions relating to one's life. Are you being too defensive of the way you live?

    Posted by TakeItEasy August 7, 09 12:52 AM
  1. Just tell everyone you are using each other for sexual satisfaction until the housing market rebounds and that you have no intention of getting married.

    Posted by Kay-Man August 7, 09 06:57 AM
  1. You have the right idea. It's really nobody's business what you two are up to in that house. Too many people gettin married and havin babies that shouldn't be. you might have an IQ under 100-- Who wants those kinda folks having babies all over the place? Besides, your boyfriend there, he might want to be a player. It's a lot easier to be a player when you're not married, don't have no commitments. You don't want to get boxed in with just one gal in that box you're paying a mortgage on. That could be a grave box then. She might want to fool around too. That's OK, just don't get caught by the old man. Like that guy in Pittsburgh, bloggin all over the place that no woman wants him, he ain't had a date since 1984 and all like that. No wonder he shot up a Bally's! He shoulda come over to your place and had him some fun, meet some girls, pajama party, whatever you're doin there. He'd be cured of all his ills!

    Posted by Chuck Burles August 7, 09 07:22 AM
  1. I've been married several years and get this all the time - I usually say something like "when your kids are old enough to babysit" or "I like life the way it is" or "are you going to raise them for me?" or whatever - they still don't shut up. Thing is, I've always been very clear that we don't want kids. We have a 1 bedroom house, so really, where would they live anyways? People are just so rude. There are family members that I make it a point to avoid because I'm just so tired of this garbage.

    Posted by Mary August 7, 09 08:51 AM
  1. #84 and #114, clearly you don't know the statistics about miscarriage or infertility. There are so many people out there who want to have children, but either cannot or have lost a child. Really, it is a hurtful question. 20-25% of pregnancies result in miscarriage. That means a lot of couples have suffered a loss! The child question really is not acceptable and quite rude.

    Posted by RITKat August 7, 09 09:18 AM
  1. Loved these responses:
    #44 (K) - "You never know if the next person you meet is going to be your new best friend for life, help get you the dream job you've always been looking for, give you a hot stock tip, make you laugh really hard, watch your dog when you have to leave unexpectedly or just become someone who is good to talk to. You might never see them again. When you slam the door immediately on the conversation, nothing at all constructive ever happens."
    and #86 - "sometimes when you tell someone "oh, thanks for asking about my mother, but she recently had a heart attack", they might actually do something very sympathetic -- offer you some condolences or maybe they can even share your pain a bit if they have had a similar situation in the past"
    #84 (JC) - " If we are all expected to never ask any question that might cause some person, somewhere, to feel sad because of their own atypical life story,
    we're never going to talk at all.

    #119 (SoIndignant) and 132 (Steve in W. MA) also had great responses!

    Posted by bklynmom August 7, 09 09:56 AM
  1. Sally #147
    Is the $22.53 with or without the bottle deposit? Have a great weekend.

    Posted by val August 7, 09 10:02 AM
  1. If icebreaker / small talk questions like this paralyze you so much that you don't know what to say and / or you let the questions bother you so much that you took time to write a letter asking for advice, then I truly feel sorry for you. You clearly are sweating the small stuff and you clearly have too much time on your hands if you give any of this a moment's thought after the question has been asked.

    Posted by Bob Dwyer August 7, 09 10:07 AM
  1. It's funny, because this never happens to me... It wouldn't occur to any of my friends to ask these sort of questions. I would definitely give a pithy response if someone did! But - I wouldn't take it personally.

    If it bothers you that much, you need to figure out what bothers you about it.

    Good luck.

    Posted by Meh August 7, 09 10:54 AM
  1. Generally people are looking for a way to start a conversation or say hello once the how's the weather outside is used up. Relax and don't get too upset. Save your energy for the real things like when you might actually have to deal with in-laws, seating arrangements for the wedding(should there be one.), or children(real ones). Don't sweat the small stuff and this is small.

    If they persist and can't take a hint which some can't then just say they'll be the first to know or I really don't want to talk about it anymore (w/o being rude) and move the subject on to the Bosox or something else of interest.


    Posted by small stuff August 7, 09 11:21 AM
  1. "We only have a kid when we're low on money to fund our Black tar Heroin habit. They're not worth quite what they used to be since that whole IV fertilization thing came into play."

    Posted by Atticus Black August 7, 09 12:32 PM
  1. Really, what is the big deal? We are becoming far too PC. we can't ask about money, sex, marriage, kids, politics...what should we talk about? Weather and sports? We are becoming more and more of superficial society. Just be happy someone is generally interested in what's going on in your life.

    Posted by Anonymous August 7, 09 01:23 PM
  1. They ask "well, don't you think about it?"
    you reply "yeah, but mostly we think about all the married people we know that are unhappy"

    chances are.... if they are married and unhappy....they won't ask any more intrusive questions.

    Posted by bill August 7, 09 01:42 PM
  1. it depends...). I tell them the 'truth' 'as-is'. Next thing I know, emails are flooded with eharmony subscriptions, magenta pills, and what-not!
    Wait till you hear 'Oh, you poor thing' and cookies too...
    If it is friends, they just fly past them, they just don;t care!
    O, ready to go!

    Posted by Puja August 7, 09 02:20 PM
  1. "Ever have a child ask you "are we there yet? Are we there yet? are we there yet?". Do you get annoyed because really deep down, you don't know the answer to this very personal, existential question? Or do you get annoyed because you answer "no" and the child just keeps asking the same question? "--------

    What an excellent analogy to further the point.

    I'm sure it is a universal truth that every parent has been asked "are we there yet" and not a single one has not been put at their wits end by it. Yet, where are the posts asking how to deal with such overwhelming 'annoyance'? In all my years, I've yet to see a single one. As I said, usually most 'annoyances" are something that can be dealth with by humor.

    The happiest cohabitating couples I meet are older, already married, grown children, zero interest in ever marrying, and when asked they respond with humor and the quesitons doesn't bother them a nanosecond after they have given their answer.

    Beware of those who doth protest too much.

    I have offered, with a good deal of circumstantial evidence and a plethora of time on my side witnessing for decades, that the cohabitation thing is a manifestion of the man's wants. How many women have protested to this? A whopping - one.

    You protested. No, you, YOU, really do not want marriage. The operative word being 'you", not "we". Perhaps those who keep asking "you' know that "you" do not want to get married, but they may feel bad having a strong inclination that "she" does. They may know full well they are annoying you, in fact. They may be punishing you on purpose. I offer no justification of this, I simply offer it as a possible explaination for their behavior you seem to be at a loss for.

    I think there are many good reasons for men not to want marriage. Cohabitation with a women bring sex without travel or harrassment of meeting anyone new or romancing them. You've probably never been with a cleaner roommate who probably decorates and keeps the place looking much better and the frig full unlike any of your buddies would. Never marrying means never entering the next stage of relationship responsibilitiy - children. You have your cake and you're eating it as well and your partner is tolerating it.

    Good for you. However, your conscience may bother you, especially when someone asks and your partner is forced to hear you say no, you do not want to marry her. I bet you know in your heart of hearts that her hearing that hurts her, and you have a fragment of a guilt.

    Well, she is choosing this as well, so while you can rest your fears of all your guilt of not marrying her on her allowing this, you may still feel some guilt whenever asked, which is why the older couple or the couple whom both REALLY do not want to marry laugh, or make some whimsical comment about using eachother for sex, or better tax benefits smile and giggle convincingly enough so the question never pops up again, while you grow angry and defensive, and............................. what is your partner doing during this? Outwardly agreeing? Or looking at you with accusing eyes glad to hear someone giving you a hard time? As you say, the question keeps popping up from the same people over and over, and human behavior dictates that if there is no promising feedback for a behavior, the behavior usually stops. So while there is no way to stop different people from asking the question, that you are being asked by the same people over and over tells me those people are receiving some feedback that is encouraging their continuation of the practice.

    Posted by a few grey hairs who puts in a great deal of thought ito such matters, I assure you August 7, 09 02:21 PM
  1. Uma in KillBill, Poe!
    it must be white Russian,Guinness,Gloom, or international beer day!
    silence is golden but should be crushed few times!

    Posted by Daphne August 7, 09 02:23 PM
  1. Daph, "I sometimes suspect that half our difficulties are imaginary and
    that if we kept quiet about them they would disappear.
    ”Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.”

    Posted by Fatima August 7, 09 02:24 PM
  1. #109 , #149,
    Not 2 many, Only ONE BIG question, huh!
    Be clear next time...

    Posted by Gotcha August 7, 09 02:27 PM
  1. #109, self realization ( you & others) is one step closer to truth...

    Posted by haterico- sounds like a nice name August 7, 09 02:28 PM
  1. My standard answer for any nosy question: "If you needed to know that...you wouldn't have to ask me!" Don't feel bad about it either because it's not small talk..it's disrespectful to be personal with an acquaintance. People are way too comfortable with themselves today!

    Posted by Sheila August 7, 09 04:46 PM
  1. My standard answer for any nosy question: "If you needed to know that...you wouldn't have to ask me!" Don't feel bad about it either because it's not small talk..it's disrespectful to be personal with an acquaintance. People are way too comfortable with themselves today!

    Posted by Sheila August 7, 09 04:47 PM
  1. Unless Aliens or you are having a bad day or just had a heart attack,
    snubbing nosy ones will NOT BE being
    >' Be open to connecting with others.
    >Be you....and allow others to be them (even if you don't like their questions).
    >Instead of seeing these "personal" questions as intrusions, why not see it as an opportunity to connect with another human to learn something more about yourself and the other.'
    >You never know if the next person you meet is going to be your new best friend for life, help get you the dream job you've always been looking for, give you a hot stock tip, make you laugh really hard, watch your dog when you have to leave unexpectedly or just become someone who is good to talk to. You might never see them again. When you slam the door immediately on the conversation, nothing at all constructive ever happens."
    >Lighten up, people
    >Take a chill pill.
    is it ?

    Posted by Rhyanv August 7, 09 07:28 PM
  1. Weighing in a bit late, but I can relate...

    In a relationship for 10 years with a wonderful guy... we are happy, passionate, romantic, trusted friends, supportive of one another's goals, and enjoying a great sex life. Lately we have been going to oodles of weddings of our friends -- many of whom we've seen go through 2-3 serious relationships en route to the alter in the span of our one. They all imply "we're next" and ask when. The question doesn't make me uncomfortable because it seems too rude or invasive or whatever, but I do find it hard to answer honestly without offending THEM and their choices... they are friends so I do want to be honest and don't want to be flip but can I really say to a bunch of beaming newlyweds that....

    "Well, we think marriage is an historically patriarchal institution that has perpetuated oppression for years and we just don't wish to participate."

    "Weddings seem like a waste of money."

    "We're happy enough without it."

    In any case it seems like whatever we say will be taken as a rude response or when which seems to undermine their life choices, which is not our intent... but with everyone so genuinely curious in a friendly caring about it, it does seem like it would be good to get our honest reasons (there are more) out in the open sometime instead of just giggling and mumbling something incoherent en route to changing the subject.

    Posted by worried about honest responses seeming rude August 18, 09 08:58 PM
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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