Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Avoiding Insulting Relationship Questions? Splendid!

We're entering into a very strange season for relationships.  Between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, is the most popular time for couples to get engaged.  It's also the most popular time for couples to call it quits.  Additionally, the next few months are typically full of parties and reunions with friends and family you may not see all the time.  If you're in a relationship, the conversation will often turn to the state of said relationship - especially if you're not married.  At least it does in my experience.

I don't talk a whole lot about my own relationship here, because it's a personal thing that isn't really anyone's business.  Except everyone thinks it's their business.  My boyfriend and I have been dating for ten years, and for at least the last 6, friends, family and even strangers have apparently taken an interest in our relationship.  On one hand, it's sweet that people care.  On the other hand, there are a few things that I've heard over the years that are like nails on a chalkboard.

I try not to be as snarky out loud as I am in my head, but sometimes it just slips out.  Here are some of the most common questions, along with what I wish I could say in return.

"Have you guys talked about it (getting married)?"
We've been together for a decade.  Yes, it has come up a couple times.

"When are you guys going to get married?"
My stock answer has become, "Sometime after we get engaged, I would assume."

"Maybe he's just not the marrying kind of guy..."
I think at this point in our relationship, I know what kind of guy he is.  The people who usually say this to me are people that don't know either of us very well.

I've had everyone from virtual strangers to casual acquaintances to family members, upon hearing how long we've been together, ask "What's the problem?"

The only problem is that you think it's okay to ask that question.

I'm an advisor to the local collegiate chapter of SAI.  At a meeting this semester, I was chatting with one of the members, whom I really like.  She was asking me about my college experience and my relationship, which was fine - I didn't mind at all.  At one point, though, she asked me how long we'd been dating, and when I told her 10 years, she was appropriately impressed.  I told her that I was only 18 when we got together, so I was practically a kid in the beginning.  Then she said to me, "I have some cousins who got married when they were older - like 30 - so you're fine."
First of all, 30 isn't old.  At least that's what I keep telling myself as I stare it in the face.  Second, I'm not worried.

I know that none of these people mean to irritate me with any of these questions, and that sometimes they're genuinely interested.  But from now on, instead of asking questions that can be hurtful, try things like, "How is it going with the two of you?"

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