As Valentine’s Day approaches, couples across the country are secretly worrying about how to deal with relationship questions. Even when the two people involved are in complete agreement about where they stand in their relationship, someone always asks that one awkward question that leaves both lovebirds with sweaty palms and tight throats.
What is it about Valentine’s Day that makes the world crazy about relationships anyway? It’s as if St. Valentine’s spell of love and romance has the exact opposite effect, making all of us wonder and worry about our own relationships. For some reason it also seems to cause people around us to ask uncomfortable questions that can ruin our special night and leave us reeling.
Question 1: So When Are You Guys Getting Engaged?
That’s right; I’m opening up with the biggest question of all—the engagement question. A couple of years ago Beyoncé made one little phrase the battle cry for women across the globe when she sang, “If you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it!” That little sentence made women everywhere say, “Yeah, when? I thought you liked me!” And men say, “Uh I uh Um.” Still, the question of when to put a ring on it WILL be asked and most likely at inappropriate times. In most instances, it’s asked prematurely by parents who just want grandchildren as soon as possible.
Know that this question makes the guy incredibly uncomfortable, so I’m going to ask my female readers to not get all freaked out if the guy fumbles the answer. I say this because here’s the answer women: every guy knows when he will ask. They may not know the exact day, the exact way, or how they’ll pay for it—but every man does know if and when he’ll propose.
So, when this question is asked, the best way to respond is this, “If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.” That right there ends the questioning. Now, for the fellas, the caveat to this answer is knowing in fact that you WILL one day propose. You can only use this answer if it will in fact happen. If not, well, then you need to read up on how to properly break up with someone.
Question 2: Are You Two Boyfriend/Girlfriend?
Whether it’s your first date, the fifth, or you’ve just announced to the world that you are FBO (Facebook Official like, duh!), having to answer your relationship “status” can be one of the quickest ways to end a relationship. I personally witnessed this awkwardness at a party with my friend and his girlfriend. They hadn’t yet ‘established’ their status and when someone approached my friend and asked him if the lovely girl next to him was his girlfriend, Kenny stuttered, “Ummm this is my uh Well she’s my date.” You could feel the awkwardness in Kenny’s voice and could read it on both of their faces. Just a date? That’s it?
You know that when you go “public” with someone you are dating you have to expect people to ask you your status. And if you do take someone to a function, most likely you feel good enough and confident enough to respond properly. Kenny could have avoided an awkward encounter by just establishing their status before bringing her.
Now, how do you do such a thing? For this, you just have to be open and realistic. Even if you just started dating, tell your date, “Look you know that my friends may ask what we ‘are’ and even though we haven’t talked about it officially yet, I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable. I really like you but I don’t want to rush things. Let’s just have fun tonight.” Then, when you do enter the room and one by one people start to ask who the girl or guy is, keep that casual confidence you had in the car. “This is [NAME], the coolest person I’ve been out with in a long time —that’s who it is.” Your friends will pick up on how awkward they made you feel by your way of stepping around the issue.
I realize that there will be times you’re out with someone you’re dating and you haven’t had “the talk.” When asked about your status in those cases, use humor to deflect the question and prevent the awkwardness. Kenny could have fired back with a joke, “This is Emily. She’s a cage fighter. I bet $50 on a bar fight earlier tonight and she won, so I wanted to take her out to celebrate.” Or try this one: “This is Tom. He’s my lawyer. I’m looking at 10-20 for a bank robbery from last week and he’s helping me out.” Then you can politely excuse yourself to enjoy a mutual laugh with your date. You two can figure out a much more serious way to answer this question when you’re ready.
Question 3: So, Why Are You Still Single?
This question is something that was the underlying idea for every episode of “Sex in The City.” “Why are you still single?” is like asking someone, “Why don’t you have a six-pack?” or “Why do you not make more money?” All of which are completely improper and inappropriate questions. It’s not a question for polite conversation; it’s a rude question. It serves only to make a person uncomfortable. What do you expect them to say? And who has the right to ask that anyway? Is it a crime to be single? No. Is there a time limit in which you shouldn’t be single anymore? No. Worst of all, how do you not know that the person you’re asking this didn’t just get out of a serious relationship and needs a break? You don’t, so this question always burns me up when I hear someone ask it.
To the questioner—you lack all common courtesy and manners. To the single people out there, band together and start a revolution of sarcasm and wit to fight back.
There are a few ways to handle this. One, you can be serious; “The reason I am single is because I haven’t found the right person and don’t really enjoy being grilled about it. But I’ll keep you posted.” Boom! Argument done. No one will ask again.
Second, you can use what my mom calls a “smart ass response” like, “Wait, I didn’t tell you? I got married just last week! You didn’t get the invite? Oh man, so sorry. Hey, maybe the next one.” And I’d even add another one on top of it too, “Just kidding, I’m getting married next week to cousin Beth. You know, to keep it in the family and save some money on the guest list.” Sarcasm is a quick way to say, “back off.”
You can always play the innocent route and be honest, “Well, I’d like to be in a relationship so if you know of anyone, hook me up. I’m open.” That response may make the conversation feel more at ease and can relax both parties. But I hope it’s the last time they ask it again. So rude.
Richie Frieman writes for QuickandDirtyTips.com.