AD: This post contains a gifted item of clothing from ANGELEYE, as detailed below.
A little while ago at a party I nipped to the ladies. As I tipsily reapplied my lippy the door to a cubicle burst open. I recognised the lady emerging as a ‘friend of a friend’.
“Hi!” She said warmly. “It’s Laura isn’t it? Oliver’s girlfriend?” “Yes”, I smiled back, “Hello!”
“Do you have children?” She asked. “Oh… no.” I said, taken aback by the question.
“What are you, 30?” She asked. “Erm, 37.” I replied, not really knowing what else to do.
“You should get on that then!” She sang happily as she bumped her way back out onto the dancefloor.
I stood at the mirror, baffled. Did that REALLY just happen? A hundred different replies and witty retorts whirled through my head.
I wanted to tell her that it was inappropriate to ask someone you’ve just met something so personal. I could have said it was none of her bloody business. Part of me even wanted to lie and tell her that I’d just suffered a heart breaking miscarriage after years of trying. After all, that’s the truth of many women asked this thoughtless question.
Maybe one of these responses would have made her think twice before asking someone else the same thing. Then again she was very drunk. She probably doesn’t even remember it.
What really annoys me is that my most overwhelming urge was to follow her out and justify my life choices. I wanted to make her understand my point of view and validate it.
Babies aren’t the only subject matter that can make us feel this way. Weddings are rife for awkward conversations that can make you feel judged or pressured. Sometimes they cause you to question things about your life that until that very moment you had felt entirely happy about.
Your answer to this one is usually met in one of two ways. Sympathy, or a wry laugh. They’re equally judgemental.
The assumption is that either you’re a hopeless case deserving pity for not yet having been able to maintain a relationship, or that you’re being difficult for not just settling down with the first person who took an interest in you. The fact that you might be perfectly happy with your single status doesn’t seem to matter.
Usually asked when you’re standing with your significant other to give the most chance of embarrassment. What makes this one especially awkard is when your other half says the wrong thing.
Maybe you’ve been hoping that they’ll ask you soon and instead they shriek “god no we’re nowhere near ready for THAT”. If you haven’t had that particular conversation with each other it’s a really public way to find out what your partner really thinks.
I’d like to think that in the majority of cases your friends and family have good intentions. They genuinely want you to be happy and think that they’re giving you a helpful push in the right direction.
The problem is that most of the time, these awkward conversations have the opposite effect. They can leave you doubting your own decisions or feeling frustrated that other people don’t understand them. It creates pressure and expectation that you might not have known existed before.
You might find yourself having an argument with your boyfriend a few days later about his slowness to commit because that little seed of doubt starts to grow. Or you start to worry that everyone is feeling sorry for you for not being in a relationship, despite the fact that you’re perfectly content as you are.
Sometimes the intent of the question isn’t even that deep. When there’s a lull in conversation people tend to grasp for the easiest, most predictable questions to break the silence. If you’re pregnant you’ll likely be asked how far gone you are and whether you’ve chosen to find out the gender. Engaged? Prepare to talk all about how your wedding planning is going.
If you don’t have a significant event coming up in your life, unlucky! You’re going to get asked when it’s happening anyway!
This is a tricky one. Whilst the question might make you feel angry or defensive, you’re at a wedding. Try and focus on the fact that two people that you love have got married and keep it as a happy occasion. I tend to go with a smiling but non committal “when there’s any news on that front I’ll let you know” and then move the conversation onto a different subject.
Of course if Great Aunt Hilda continues to insist that you need to have children right now because “time’s running out”, you have my full blessing to ask her if she’s completed everything on her bucket list.
Because, Hilda, same.