Posted by: Miss Jones | September 23, 2010

Oh, didn’t I tell you…?

Hello.  Miss Jones here.

I have been asked a lot of questions over the past couple of years since I inherited this blog.  I have a goal to be a better blogger and get those questions answered, even if they are questions from a year or two ago.  I figure that even if the person who originally asked the question is long gone from the single scene, that their question, and the answer to it, will hopefully help others who are still singletons and still readers of The Single Mormon Girl’s Guide to Life.

So, here’s to getting caught up on questions and being better about staying caught up in the future!

Dear Miss Jones…

I have a question… how do you politely tell someone who asks about you about being single, not going to the “SA Ward” etc., that it’s none of their business or simply that you’re not interested in answering their nosy questions?

Sarah

Dear Sarah…

There are stupid questions and as singles we seem to get asked a lot of them.  Learning how to respond to these questions is important for survival as a singleton.

But, I might not be the best person to ask.

Especially since you specifically said that you wanted to know how to politely answer these unwanted questions.  And quite honestly, I am kind of a smart A and get really bugged when people ask me stupid questions.  And my first reaction is to give them a smart A answer back.

So, I’ll just give you a few ideas.  I can’t promise that all of them are totally polite, but I’ll try to at least come up with one polite idea for you.  And, I’m hoping that blog readers will have additional ideas and can leave comments with those ideas on this post.

Just for the record, I really do believe that when people ask us nosy or rude or dumb or annoying questions that 99.9% of the time they aren’t trying to be mean or to bother us.  My mom always says that we should believe that people have the best intentions when they say or do something and that they want the best for us.  Now, that might not always be true, but it helps me to go through life believing that people are genuinely good and kind and want the best for each other.

So, a person in your ward, or a family member, or “friend” or whoever is asking these annoying questions probably doesn’t know that they are being nosy or sometimes even rude.

I have found that some people are really limited by their life experiences (or lack thereof)…that they can’t seem to understand things that they haven’t experienced themselves.  And, that some of these people can’t seem to use common sense in knowing what to say or how to treat people who aren’t living the typical Mormon plan of: date-mission-date-marry-make babies-live happily ever after.

I tend to think that the best way out of an awkward situation is to joke about it.  But you have to be careful.  Joking back to people’s stupid questions in a sarcastic way without coming across as rude or bitter or whatever is kind of a fine line…I accidentally cross that line sometimes, but I do my best not to.  I like to joke back and usually I can get away with it without offending, like I did with Ruth last year.  Besides, turning their stupid question into a joke often helps people realize how ridiculous their question may be and may make them think in the future before asking other singletons the same question.

I think whether or not you can jokingly respond depends on you and your personality as well as the personality and age of the person you are responding to.  Obviously you don’t want to be a rude smart A to the cute 90 year-old in your ward who is just trying to be nice to you but couldn’t come up with a decent question to ask you.  And you don’t want to answer in a sarcastic way to the super serious lady in your ward who always wears pioneer dresses and thinks that sarcasm is “of the devil.”  So you definitely have to know your audience before turning their question into a joke, but here are some ideas.

When people ask my brother questions he doesn’t want to answer (like: when are you getting married, are you dating anyone, how much did your house cost, how much money do you make, etc) he answers,

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?…” (with a bewildered look on his face)

Then the person says, “No.”

And then he says, “Well, that’s because it’s none of your business!”

But really he usually says “d@%# business,” but that’s usually just to his close friends.

Okay, that response, although funny, is not polite.

Here, let me try again.

One of our blog readers Sara (Sara without an h…not the one who asked this question) gave this idea for a creative way to answer people’s probing questions about your dating life.  She said,

In my last ward which I had been in for ages, when ever one of the kind sisters asked me how my dating life was going I’d say, “fine thanks, how is your marriage?” totally freaked them out!  Actually depending on who it was and what I could get away with I’d even say, “great, how’s your sex life?”

Haaaaaaaa I love it!  So funny.  And yet still maybe not in the “polite” category.

I think basically, when people ask rude questions, ESPECIALLY if they are people who should know better…people with children who married later in life, people who married later in life or are single still themselves, or people who are close to you and know what a sensitive subject marriage, dating, singles’ wards, etc. can be for you…I think that in these cases it’s okay to turn the question right around and ask it in a different form to those asking you the question.  It should act as a little wake up call for them.

For example, a few years ago I saw my great uncle at a funeral.  He has a daughter who is probably in her late 40′s and hasn’t yet been married…so, you think he’d know to leave single people alone.  I was 25 at the time.  He approached me at the funeral and said, “How’s the old maid?”…to which I instantly replied, “Fine, how’s the old fart?”  Well, that got him laughing, as well as everyone else who overheard our conversation and I think it made him realize how rude that question was.  And seriously, I was 25…I hate that in our culture I was already an “old maid.”  Ahhhhhhhh!

Okay, I’m still really having trouble coming up with a really polite way to get the message across, but I think this next idea is actually a good one and is actually polite and yet to the point.

One way that I heard to basically tell people that you don’t want to answer their questions and not come across too rude (as long as your presentation is good) is just to smile and say, “you know, I don’t really want to talk about my _______(dating life, singles ward, last relationship, marital status,etc.) but let me tell you about _______ (this class I’m taking, a book I’m reading, a new hobby I’ve started, a place I just traveled to, etc.).”  And then chatter on about something you do want to talk about.  Just take control of the conversation and turn it into something you do want to talk about.  Help the person asking these annoying questions see that there’s more to you then just your marital status…help them get to know more about you so the next time they talk to you they can maybe come up with a more intelligent question to ask you.

Okay, readers, please help me out here…I really can only think of this one way to respond that would really be considered polite.  Do you have other polite ways to answer?  Leave us a comment and let us know how you respond to the probing questions that people seem to love to ask us singletons.  Also, feel free to throw in some funny ways too…even if they aren’t so polite.  We won’t judge you…we’ve all been there!

Thanks everybody for your input!

Good luck out there!

Miss Jones


Responses

  1. One of the easiest ways to avoid answering a personal question is to ask them to repeat it. I’ve found that if someone says something like, “Are you dating anyone?” if you just looked surprised/confused and say “EXCUSE me?” a lot of the the they will back off. Not always, but it hopefully helps them see that what they’re asking is weird.

  2. Sounds good to me. Honesty is the best policy as always. If you don’t like/are not comfortable talking about it, just say so, and most people know to back off.

    I find that when there is something I would rather not talk about, it helps taking responsibility for why I don’t want to.

    Instead of making it sound like “I don’t want to because it’s none of your business” I prefer saying, “Oh, I’d rather not drag this conversation into something negative” or “It’s hard for me to talk about, so I’d rather not, if that’s ok with you.” “Eh, I’d rather not think about that right now – can we talk about something else?”

    And every once it a while, it doesn’t hurt to answer an honest question openly. There’s something about vulnerabilities that opens up friendships.

  3. I believe that the response they’d get would depend on the day. If it was a day whan I felt happy about myself and interested in my life I’d probably just say something along the lines that Prince Charming and I haven’t found each other yet, but it’s just waiting to happen. Then I’d start talking about something that interests me, or ask about their life.

    If it was a bad day I’d likely either say I’d rather not talk about it (I agree with Fei, why not be honest about it? – if you’re talking to a nice person you might get some true sympathy and, if you’re lucky, even some sound advice to feel better), or that I haven’t found anyone that loves me.

    How I’d answer would of course also depend on who asked – most people are sincerely interested in your welfare (even thou they might not be so close you’d think they had the right to ask), but there are a few busybodies that’re just a pain… being polite to them is tricky.

    But what do you say to the person who exclaims “I can’t believe you’re not married, lovely as you are!” with tears in their eyes, as if they were mourning for your waisted life?

  4. One almost polite way that sometimes works is rephrasing the question as an answer that doesn’t answer anything. For example: “Why are you still single?” “Because I’m not married yet.” “Why don’t you go to the Singles ward?” “Because I come to this ward.”

  5. Okay, can I just say that I’m SO excited I found your blog! This is such a fun website! Thank you!

  6. Hi all,
    The posts are informative and fun.

  7. Amen!

    Love it!


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