38

My question is similar to: How can I respond when someone asks me when I'm going to get married to my girlfriend?

But my case is pretty different. I am a teacher and hence can't avoid public and receive this question from a lot of people from my home to university. Here are some of the points to give you the idea of embarrassing situations I receive:

  • I don't have any GF/relation and they come up with even worse things like suggesting Ms. XYZ as "Hey, What about her?" (completed with a wink) and they "move on" after ruining my whole day?
  • The "aunts" of the family start enjoying by teasing me. Their first step is: "Should we start finding a girl for you?". But once I politely refuse, next trap is even deadly one as they start enjoying over "Who is the one you have hidden from all of us that you are deferring the Wedding?"
  • I live in Pakistan where such a jokes/teasing about the wedding are common (but I don't like them one bit) but because of that, I don't want to be harsh on anyone.
  • I saw answers to the related question but I can't make excuses like "I have already talked to my GF", or "I am too young" (at the wrong end of 20's which is not young at all for a marriage here), etc.
  • The toughest part is my politeness being mistaken as "he is also enjoying it with us - see he is about to blush" while from inside I wonder on them for wasting time on a repeated useless question (once I got married, you all will know. No?)

So how can I respond in a polite way which would let the other person know that I am seriously not interested in this topic?

"Once I got married, you all will know" doesn't work too much as they still keep pushing me - even suggesting XYZ.

39

I come from The Netherlands. Let me assure you that joking about relationships/weddings is very common here as well, since (at least in my area) people are usually married by their mid-twenties. Just as you, I get a lot of jokes about my lack of interest in any relationship. Here's what I have done about it:

  • Not responding seriously at all. When a family member at a birthday party starts the topic by asking "And, do you have a boyfriend already", I make sure to always reply with the same old joke, in a bored tone of voice: "No, my prince fell off his white horse and is too stubborn to ask for directions". Since they have heard this joke a thousand times by now, they do not find it funny anymore and switch the topic.
  • If by chance I am having a serious conversation and the topic comes up, I usually explain that I went to school for more than 2/3 of my life, and that I am enjoying the freedom I now have. So I feel no wish to give up some of that freedom and start investing time in developing a serious relationship.
  • And if people are suggesting dates to me, I usually just ignore that. If they keep bringing up the subject, I politely (and firmly, assert yourself!) ask them to not do that. Depending on the circumstances, I might be more or less snarky, but I always make sure to tell them I am not interested, and not to interfere with my life please.

If your politeness is seen as you enjoying their teasing, then it is time to become a little less polite, and assert yourself a little more. A very direct approach might be better then:

I'm sorry, but I am not appreciating these jokes, certainly not since they are made this often. They are not getting any funnier. Please, leave me to live my life, if anything interesting happens, you will know. I am not enjoying your meddling with my life, I am perfectly capable of finding a partner on my own, should I wish to do so. If I ever need help with that, you will know.

Sadly, marriage and relationships are a thing people like teasing with. But from my experience, once I have made myself very clear to a person that does it too often for my taste, they will stop. Just don't be too polite. If a "Please, stop" does not work, you really have to speak up more.

  • Sounds very good approach! Just making it "clear" to people here is pretty tough as they are more pushy than your country I am sure. – Failed Scientist Sep 7 '17 at 16:05
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    @TalhaIrfan Depends on the person I would say, but let me assure you they are pushy here. Don't ever take a job in customer service in The Netherlands, we know everything better! – Tinkeringbell Sep 7 '17 at 16:07
9

I'm from Indonesia and this is also common in our culture. Here people marry in their early 20, and after 25 they will start asking you "When you will get married" in various version, whether you are already have girlfriend/boyfriend.

The dreaded moment is after a wedding of someone you know, especially if you met your friends, relatives, or acquaintances. People will start asking when you will be the next.

First, let me remind you that some of these are just a "small talk". They might just trying to start a conversation and the most obvious (to them) topic is your single-ness. Usually, if this is the case, they will back off after you laugh it off and not saying anything (making awkward silence, since they know it's not funny, or you don't appreciate the question), then proceed to change the topic.

I usually reply generally with

I haven't found the right person.

I've got no time to think about that now. I'm currently focusing on my career [or insert reason here].

The most important thing is to be honest so you can answer the follow up question politely without being too rude.


If you are against another unmarried friend, deflect the question back to them. You can be slightly rude if they are very pushy.

And you? Why aren't you married yet?

Keep asking question until they excuse themselves or change the topic.


If you are against married friend or relative.

I'm not currently ready for marriage. I'm hoping to get stable financially before start looking for candidate.

After you deflect the question, quickly change the topic.


If you are against acquaintances, just reply and laugh it off, then excuse yourself.


If people start suggesting names (that you don't know them), say thank you. If they are giving their numbers, accept it and say "I will call them next time". You don't have to call them anytime soon (until the next solar eclipse, maybe). This is just a polite gesture. Even if you are annoyed, respond politely.

tl;dr This is just a "common topic" and you don't need to overreact even if you are annoyed. Be polite when they are polite. When they become pushy, excuse yourself, or change the topic.

4

It's difficult to answer from a different culture ( UK here). But I've certainly had relatives who behaved in a similar way. That Aunt who would ask everyone about it. Often this approval for this sort of behaviour is deeply socially and culturally ingrained, and whether you like it ( or find it appropriate) its unlikely they will stop.

It's also likely that there are other people who simply 'put up and shut up', providing them with validation of their behaviour and countering any 'Please don't ask again' comments or statements you may make.

While as a rule I agree with the other answer here, often the people asking you are not actually curious ( well perhaps they are..), but are actually simply trying to interact with you in a socially compliant manner. And they will continue to behave like this no matter what action you take ( short of you going to far and offending them which would simply cause another, and possibly worse, issue)

One approach I would suggest, is to have another subject already prepared in advance, perhaps a little harmless gossip ( or a joke) about another family member or mutual acquaintance. Some good news about school or your career. Remember they're looking for interact and approval, once you've moved the conversation away from it, its usually difficult for them to ask again without motive.

3

You won't be able to completely eliminate people asking this question. But you can minimize the effect it has on your conversation and feelings. And in particular minimize how often some people are likely to ask the question on a repeat basis.

So the best reply to discourage the topic is to cheerfully say something like "when I find the right person" or as you have a girlfriend "when we are ready". To discourage further discussion say the same thing each time asked, be cheerful, that is don't show obvious annoyance or exasperation at the question. And do not elaborate. Just answer as if it's of no particular concern to you and then change the topic. If they ask again, give them the exact same response. Most people will quickly perceive that it's unproductive to keep asking as you give them no purchase or traction to pry further.

A lot of people will pry more if they feel you are avoiding an answer or are sensitive about the subject. Conversely most people will refrain from asking over and over again if they feel that you are unlikely to change your answer.

Once you realize this you should feel less stressed about the issue. Also try to realize that many people do not mean to offend or pry, it's just a common topic of conversation. Harder is when you know certain people really mean to pry and want you to discuss the topic. But this is also where giving the same answer each time and then changing the subject will work best in the long run.

None of us can do this with complete effectiveness all of the time. But affirmations and a positive attitude can remove most of the stress around the issue.

1

What I normally do, when people ask me this kind of impertinent question, which happens a lot - in Indonesia - and no longer bothers me, now I have this approach, is:

make something up

When they ask, I just go into a flight of complete fantasy and free-form around their question. Usually this continues for quite some minutes until it dawns on them that I am joking or their mind eventually goes off on another tack.

The other thing I do, is start asking them questions. As early as possible. Straight away. Interrupt them - and ask. Questions. All sorts! Impertinent ones! The same kinds of questions that... they are asking - you!

It creates kind of an hilarious pantomime which hopefully may offer you a solution and also, some entertainment - rather than excruciating social outcastdom of cringingly trying to hide your private life. You won't be doing that, any more!

It certainly shifts the energy of the discourse!

Example:

Q. Are you already married?

A. Oh Yes! I am! I've been married 5 times! This week! Once to a coalminer and three times to a bus conductor! How about you? Do you have any children? Oh really? Where's your partner from?

Or

Q. Do you have a partner? A. Oh yes! I have several! Well, about 15! Can't remember them all! Some I met just this week! At my knitting class! How about you? Do you have a partner? What's your favourite thing, about them? Are they handsome/pretty? Do you have kids? What do you normally eat for lunch?

You can get as silly as this as you like, and it really can be fun!

...The odd thing is, that often, I do end up having a meaningful conversation, using this approach! I suppose it breaks through some boundaries...

Remember to be zany, outlandish and outrageous! Because really, what we are doing here, is taking the fear, of 'being socially unacceptable' and diving right into it! Playing with it! Going there - first! Saying things that we don't usually say. Being - socially unacceptable. So then, you don't need to be afraid of being that - and - it is you who are in control of it.

Remember that - you do not have to answer other peoples questions. And, you can answer a question - with a question to them.

It's a form of creative obfuscation.

Finding out that, half the time, people listen to only a quarter of what we are saying anyway...

-1

I hope its completely fine by answering them "I'm currently very caught up in my job and career. I don't think that I'm ready for marriage yet. When I feel like it's the right time, I'll think about it." Say that with a serious and polite tone. Say this with a funny casual tone, "I hope that the world is not ending tonight", wink and leave. ( Do leave so that they don't continue the same discussion. Or divert the topic, to a topic where it makes the one who put you the question uncomfortable to reply. Be smart. :p )

-1

I will get married when I fall in love, with someone that loves me back, and I don't need any help meeting candidates, thank you!

edit by request: Why this works: It is a rational criterion in any free society for somebody getting married (mutual love), and a firmly polite way of telling people they do not feel the need for (or want) any help in the matter. This is what the OP requested.

  • Beats me; that is up to you to decide, or adapt it to work. – Amadeus Sep 7 '17 at 16:09
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    Please note that answers here need to explain why they work. Why is this a good solution? How will this help the OP? It's also up to the answerer to be considerate of the location of the person asking. If you're not from that culture, you need to note where your information is from so that we don't assume your answer will work in Pakistan. – Catija Sep 7 '17 at 16:38
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    Stack Exchange isn't the place to write answers where you assume that everyone knows why the answer works. If we knew this would work, we wouldn't be asking the question. Please see the Meta discussion here. If you want to expand your answer to explain, please edit your answer. – Catija Sep 7 '17 at 16:49
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    Irrelevant as an answer. In some cultures, 90% of marriages are arranged between couples who have never met before their parents choose their partner - and most of those marriages work out just fine. "Love" isn't a rational criterion for marrying anyone IMO. That's one reason the UK has a divorce rate higher than 40%, and the average marriage only survives for 11 years (and in large cities, even less than that). – alephzero Sep 8 '17 at 2:57
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    May I clarify @ Amadeus, both Pakistan and India are basically 'arranged marriage societies' but some individuals have more freedom of choice, which certainly seems to include OP, which is why your answer is quite valid and the downvotes are harsh in this case. By asking are you sure it will work in our culture? OP @Talha Irfan would probably be pointing out that if he reacted to someone as you suggested, would it convince or even make sense to the other person, based on their social experience and cultural expectations?Your answer is still valid and this reply is often used here in India. – English Student Sep 9 '17 at 4:59

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