Three FAQs I Just Can’t Answer

by Rachel on November 10, 2011

People seem to really like asking me questions, which is fine — I love answering them! But while I try to answer every question I am asked or write posts based on people’s requests, it’s not always possible because there are some topics I just can’t cover because there are some answers I just don’t have. Here are the top three questions I get asked that I just can’t seem to answer.

1. How can I break up with a friend?

I’m inclined to say you break up with a friend the same way you break up with a significant other, but I don’t even know how to do that because I never have! (And that is another question I get asked a lot and can’t answer!) I wish I did because I feel like needing to break up with toxic friends is so necessary in many cases, but it’s something women don’t do nearly enough because they aren’t sure how.

2. How do you feel about breaks in relationships?

I honestly don’t know. I go back and forth all the time and I just don’t feel like there is one right stance on breaks that applies to all couples.

3. What should I say when people ask, “So when are you two getting engaged/married”? 

This came up over the summer when I wrote about how to deal if all your friends are getting married and when I wrote aboutquestions to ask that aren’t “So when are you two getting married/engaged?” and it comes up in conversations with my friends a lot. I’ve really wanted to write a post about it and, honestly, I’ve been thinking about it for months, but…I’ve got nothing. I know people want a really witty one-liner and…I’m coming up short.

Here’s the thing: in most cases, I find that question so incredibly inappropriate that I can’t understand answering it with a snarky/witty response; witty responses are often interpreted as jokes and so they make it seem like it was an OK question to ask. And I don’t think it is. I mean, if someone walked up to me at a funeral and said, “So…how much money did he leave you in his will?”  I’d probably give them my “Wow, you’re an asshole” brow furrow and make it clear that the question was rude and I’m offended. When people ask me questions that I feel are really personal or inappropriate (which is hard because I have a pretty high threshold for TMI!) I don’t try to act cute and not offended. And I wonder if more people responded without a cute answer to that question if perhaps people would stop thinking it’s an OK question to ask.

And of course there are times when this question isn’t really that awful and I think the best answer is the truth, or pretty close to it. “Probably in X years, when our student loans are paid off.” (In which case, X probably = 50.) The problem is that the truth is so often not good enough for people who are asking because they want you to be engaged/married already (which is kind of weird when you think about it and you might want to tell them as such). It’s strange how many people will tell you that your reasons aren’t legit, so if you take the route of just being honest, you have to be ready to really own your reasons and shut people down if they try to argue with you. Remember to tell them your answer, not ask them for permission.

OK so I guess I do have an answer for #3; it’s just not the answer everyone was really asking for.

Beyond those three topics, keep questions and suggestions coming because I love the inspiration they provide! And while I can’t answer these questions, I’m sure someone can — so I’ll turn things over to you all. Feel free to share your thoughts on any or all of these questions in the comments; I’m excited to hear your thoughts!

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Deva @ Deva by Definition November 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I love #3. The Boy and I get asked that one all the time – even more right now. My response: “eventually,” or “when we’re ready.” Occasionally I respond “when we go to Vegas.. eventually.”

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2 Samantha M. November 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Oh MAN… being an old married lady at this point (“old” = 4+ years, haha), I forgot how annoying question #3 was. Of course, NOW I’m in the equally uncomfortable position of being asked when we’re having children, esp. since it’s been 4+ years and OMG BY THEN YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE LOADED WITH BEBEHS. It’s not only awkward because, um, EXCUSE YOU BUT HOW IS IT YOUR BUSINESS, but I’m also dealing with the possibility of infertility, which makes it just uncomfortable x1,000,000. (I apologize for all the internet-shouting.)

Although I will say I don’t mind when the asker is a close friend or family member, and it’s not asked when other people I wouldn’t be comfortable discussing this with are involved in the conversation.

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3 gretchen November 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Isn’t it amazing how people always tell you not to rush into big decisions….and then turn right around and try to push you into quickly making what will be some of the biggest, most life-changing decisions of your life (i.e. getting married, becoming a parent)!?

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4 Deva @ Deva by Definition November 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I stay away from asking friends question #3 because it drives me crazy, AND when they’re having kids – because at that point I feel like I’m asking about their sex life, and really? Not my business.

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5 Janet November 11, 2011 at 1:46 am

Ha, I’ve been married for two months and am constantly asked when I think we’ll have kids. The answer is a detailed description of my IUD :) Hopefully it makes them uncomfortable enough to never ask that again.

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6 Kristin November 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

A girl I met at a wedding a couple years back has the best response I’ve heard yet to #3: “I’m not really sure. When do you think you’ll go through menopause?” and that usually gets the point across :)

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7 Rachel November 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm

FTW!

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8 Jessica November 11, 2011 at 10:08 am

OMG. YES.

I think my aunts would probably shet a brick

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9 Caity November 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm

BEST response ever!

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10 Carla November 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Oooh I have a question! Any advice for someone moving in with their significant other? Like any big surprises you’ve run into along the way? I’m more excited then anything else but I’d be lying if I said I felt 100% prepared.

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11 Lizilla November 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

I got married in August and am perpetually getting asked “When are you going to have a baby?”.

To that I respond with one of three comebacks:
1. “Kids?! Hell no. I’ve been to Wal-Mart on a saturday.”
2. While holding an alcoholic beverage I respond “We’re already expecting!” (This was my wedding one. Who asks about getting knocked up at the wedding?! Seriously.)
3. “Kids? Have you seen the size of that guy’s head?!”

I’ve found that a comeback can be witty and get the point across without being rude yourself or having to explain your life plans to someone. It definitely has made me more aware of not asking people about their life plans. If they want to talk about it they will.

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12 Rachel November 11, 2011 at 10:32 am

2. While holding an alcoholic beverage I respond “We’re already expecting!” (This was my wedding one. Who asks about getting knocked up at the wedding?! Seriously.)

THIS.

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13 nikkiana November 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

I’m inclined to answer question #1 the same way, but it made me think of a book that made it’s way around the women of the office I worked in a few years ago because one it was written by the mom of one of the guys on the floor… Best Friends Forever by Irene S. Levine, Ph.D. She’s got a blog at http://www.thefriendshipblog.com/ too. She does FAQs about friendship on her blog a lot of the time.

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14 Toya November 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I get asked #3 periodically and it is usually close friend or family members. Although, one time the seafood man at Price Chopper did ask because I guess he has seen us shopping together all the time. I don’t know him, I didn’t even know his name! And so he says, the one day I’m not shopping with my boyfriend, “so, when are you guys getting married?” I was caught totally off guard but when he did ask, I immediately blushed and luckily no one can tell when I’m blushing. Anyways, I wasn’t offended, I was actually feeling giddy because the thought of marrying my love makes me happy. Pretty much, the marriage and baby questions don’t offend me, they just give me another excuse to fantasize about my future with the love of my life. Is that normal? Don’t know, and don’t really care. I also see it as a compliment more often than not because it’s nice to know that others can see the love we share and that we belong together.

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15 Bridget November 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Number 1 drives me insane. I think nowadays with the ease of access with facebook and skype and texting, people hold on to friendships that just need to die. There is NOTHING wrong with friendships that end.

I also go back and forth on breaks in relationships. My gut reaction is “If you break up there is probably something inherently wrong” but yet people change so much in their 20s, who can say for sure?

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16 fluke November 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm

THIS! So toxic!

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17 Alicia at Poise in Parma November 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

As for couples taking breaks: it worked for my husband and I. Taking a brief hitatus allowed us to figure out what wasn’t working in our relationship and proved that we really wanted to be together. The only thing about taking breaks is that you are taking the chance that it becomes permanent. You have to be willing to take step to have growth happen.

Along the lines of question three, I never know what to say when people say “when are you two going to start a family?” I give the “we got married young, waited to be stable” answer, but that’s not really an answer. It’s frustrating because I really want to sarcastically say “we’re on our way home to have sex now.”

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18 Caity November 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

#3 has been constant since I got a boyfriend and now that we’re moving in together its the first question I get asked. I’ve taken to giving a different answer each time but I think I’m going with the menopause reponse going forward. Too perfect to ignore. :)

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19 Mel November 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I totally understand and have learned that people *will* tell you when there’s a huge update about love, marriage, kids, etc and that asking about those milestones only makes them feel pressured.

The fact is..I don’t actually want to know those details! I want to know the INTERESTING details! I’m nosy and inquisitive so now I lead with that..”Do you guys talk about marriage?” “How does he/ you feel about marriage?” “How are your parent’s relationships affecting those views?” “Do you think he’s the ONE?” “Isn’t that scary?”

I mean this isn’t day-to-day conversation, but let’s be real. People LOOVE talking about themselves even when it’s highly private and they are usually willing to offer up intimate conversations if you aren’t trying to box them into some societal standard.

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20 fluke November 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

“1. How can I break up with a friend? I’m inclined to say you break up with a friend the same way you break up with a significant other.”

You are so right. I’ve unfortunately had to ‘break up’ with a couple of friends, and it’s harder than breaking up with a SO!

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21 Nikki November 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

My response to number 3 is always “When we know, you’ll know.” It is COMPLETELY inappropriate to ask, but relatives always feel that it’s their right to know.

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22 J November 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I have been with my bf for 5 years and it’s #3 constantly! We honestly don’t really mind though because we just laugh it off… It’s our lives, not theirs!! And if you’re going to be with someone forever, what’s the rush? It makes way more sense to take the time to get to know each other and yourselves and be ready for marriage. Plus, sometimes marriage makes couples really boring. I’d rather keep my youth and freedom for as long as possible… Just like the kids question, my motto is “I’ll have kids (or get married) when I have nothing else better to do” – this includes travel, education, career advancement, new hobbies, adventures, etc. Because both of those are serious game changers and sometimes inadvertently rule out the above for a while.

P.S. I like the response from above “When we know, you’ll know”. It’s quick, clever, and ends the unwanted convo right away, but politely.

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23 Denise November 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm

# 3 is the best!! We got asked that quesiton all the time – the blessing is that once we finally did get married we were too old to ask “When are you going to start a family”!@!@

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24 Diane November 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

As far as #1 goes, I was recently “dumped” by my closest friend in DC, and I guess what I’m most upset about is that I had no idea that anything was wrong. We didn’t even have a fight or anything. I went out of town, and then she just never called/IMed/texted me ever again. I was annoyed with her at times, but not in an “I’m done with you, bitch” kind of way. I really wish she’d let me know what the problem was, because I didn’t even get a chance to try and compromise.

I guess what I’m rambling about is this: if you’re going to break up with a friend, at least make an attempt to let them know that there’s a problem in the first place. Even if you don’t think they’ll fix it. Even if it’s their personality. I just know that closure would’ve helped me a lot.

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25 Sara November 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Ahhh the infamous “When are you two getting married?” question. Almost as bad as the “When are you guys having kids?” question (which is where my relationship is currently at). I agree they are BOTH inappropriate. If I feel like sharing details of my relationship with you I will make that decision.

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26 Lisa December 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm

How do you break up with a friend? I think it can just fizzle out. The path of least resistance and less hurt feelings.

When I was trying to lose 100 pounds I had a few friends who were not supportive of that and at first I was hurt and angry. Then I just stopped hanging out with them. I didn’t email as much. I was “busy” if they wanted to hang out. There wasn’t really a big blow up or a break up we just kind of stopped. it sucks, but sometimes it’s the way to go.

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