It's inevitable. Those questions. You know which ones I mean. The "so, are you dating anyone?", the "why(or how) are you still single?" or even "when are you going to settle down?"
We've all heard them. They can be frustrating, annoying, painful, difficult questions. So when someone asks you something like this, WHAT DO YOU DO?
You suck it up.
You heard me right.
Yes, it would be nice if we didn't focus on marriage and dating and babies and all that stuff so much. But we need to think about what these people are actually doing when they ask us these questions.
A while ago I was at a wedding, conversing with some friends. One of them (she had recently gotten married) was spitting fire over the fact that people kept asking when she was going to have children. (Yes, I know marriage and babies are not the same, but people experience these "nosy" questions in both situations) "They have no business in my uterus!" she exclaimed.
I was shocked by the vitriol in her voice. She was so extremely angry that people were asking her this question - there was no hint of amusement in her statement. I realized that she was only looking at the issue from her point of view. She was so blinded by her hurt and anger that she couldn't see WHY someone would ask her this.
It made me think -
If someone asks me one of these "offensive" questions, are they trying to hurt me? Are they trying to rub it in that I haven't been on a date forever? Are they secretly counting up the major burn points they just accumulated?
They are asking because they care about me.
Let that sink in for a bit. You may not want to believe it at first, but give it some time. The more you think about it, the more you will realize that it's true.
They are asking because they care about you. They had no way of knowing that the last fifteen people you talked to asked the same question. They didn't know that you just got rejected by a first date or that your matches on E-Harmony are terrible. They had NO IDEA that you just received three wedding invitations in the mail and that your Facebook feed is blowing up with pregnancy announcements. (Seriously - five in the last WEEK.)
But what about you? Did you know that the person who just asked the question you can't stand just lost his job? Or that her mom was just diagnosed with cancer? Or that that couple doesn't know how they are going to pay off their mortgage this month? Did you know that this person suffers from depression and that it took every ounce of strength they have to come over and speak at all?
But they are still trying to reach out to you - to see how you are doing. Yeah, maybe that's not the question they should ask. But at least they asked something.
Think about it this way:
What if no one ever asked you these questions? Like never, ever, ever?
Would it really be the blissful existence you think it would be? Maybe. But maybe not. Perhaps you would feel neglected, like no one cared enough to ask you about your life.
My maternal grandmother had over 50 grandchildren. She had the ability to make every single one of them feel special and wanted. But every time I saw her (and I mean EVERY time) she would ask me if I was dating someone. To her, family meant happiness and she wanted me to be happy. Towards the end of her life, as she began to suffer from dementia, she would ask me this several times in one visit. My answer was always no. Then she would ask, "but you want to get married and have children, right?"
"Yes, Grandma," I'd smile. She'd pat my hand happily.
My paternal grandparents would always tell me that they were praying for my future spouse. Which is a pretty cool thing. Until you start to think you may not have one.
My grandmother passed away almost 2 years ago and my grandparents both passed away when I was in law school.
What I wouldn't give for one more chance to get a hug from my grandma, no matter how many times she asked if I have a special someone in my life. Or to hear my grandparents say they are praying for my spouse as they tell me how they are so proud of me.
Are you still sure that you don't want anyone to ask you these questions ever again?
Instead of getting angry, think of a way to redirect them, to make them aware of a better question to ask you. Say something like, "well, no, I'm not seeing anyone right now. But let me tell you about this really cool thing that's happening in my life that I'm really excited about."
See what I did there?
In case you don't - let me spell it out. Instead of getting angry at someone for asking the wrong question, tell them about something they can ask you that isn't related to dating/marriage/babies. So maybe the next time they see you, instead of asking about your love life, they will ask you about this other subject. Because now they know about it.
It would be super awesome if everyone just knew everything that was happening in our lives and could ask about it. But that's not how life works. So throw people a bone! Don't expect them to change the questions they ask if you never say anything.
When we look into the other person's shoes and try to see their motivation, it makes these questions a little more bearable. We want people to have compassion on us, so we need to have compassion on them too. No one is perfect, but we are all trying to do the best we can.