Something is bugging me. I keep finding myself gritting my teeth in what should be, very civilised situations.
Acquaintances, family members, random strangers. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on who feels it appropriate to ask this.
So what is it? What is it that is starting to grate so much?
It’s actually an age-old question. One that has hounded for generations.
Actually, I fib. It’s not just one question. It’s, potentially, a series of questions. Sometimes you might experience the whole set. An “inappropriate question bingo” if I may. Other times, an individual will experience just one of the questions or will perhaps enter the question ladder at stage 2 or 3.
Some days you can laugh it off, a quirky shrug of the shoulders or a quick quip back. Other days it hits a nerve, it plays on anxieties and creates worries about whether you are doing what you should be.
It’s the ‘So When Are You…’ collection.
Stage 1: ‘So When Are You…going to a find a nice boy/girlfriend?
Stage 2: ‘So When Are You…going to think about settling down?
Stage 3: ‘So When Are You…going to get married?’ or the alternate Stage 3 question: ‘So When Do You Think…he will propose?’
Stage 4: ‘So When Are You…setting the date?’
Stage 5: ‘So When Are You…going to start a family?’
It doesn’t matter which exciting stage you are at, You. Just. Can’t. Win.
I get it. People like love stories. They like weddings. And Babies. My word, people LOVE babies.
But how about asking some questions that don’t belittle the stage that you’re at?
‘How’s your career going?’
‘Tell me about your new boy/girlfriend’
‘What’s exciting in your world at the moment?’ (allowing the answer to be love, marriage or babies…IF that’s where the recipient of this question wants the conversation to go…but it could also be work, travel or even, dare I say it, an un-baby-related hobby).
‘Where are you off to next?’ (to a keen traveller)
I get it. I do! I understand people want to find out more about you, they want to know when to book time off work and buy a hat.
It doesn’t have to be the only subject of conversation.
It comes down to being happy in the stage you are at. Not wishing away the time you get to spend dating, the time you get to spend building the foundational blocks of your relationship, the time you get to spend planning a wedding or the time you get to spend as newlyweds BEFORE those magical tiny footsteps invade.
Those 5 ‘So When Are You…’ questions can elicit such happy, excited emotions but could also be the root of such pain. The person desperately looking for their Mr/Miss Right but not having yet found them, the couple unsure of when the next step will happen, the couple whose foundations seem to be crumbling, the newlyweds so desperate for a baby which just doesn’t seem to be happening.
You never know what battles others are facing.
So perhaps, we can be encouraging rather than questioning. We can be positive about the present rather than pushing for the future prematurely. Perhaps, we can just be there for each other – ready to support, talk and hope with each other…when we’re ready.
And maybe, just maybe, Great-Aunty Anne might begin to take note too.