The saying goes that nothing in life is free—and no time of year does it ring quite as true as the holidays. What does it really cost you to claim that iPad, pricey bottle of perfume or pair of cashmere gloves from under the tree? Well, if you’re single (or haven’t yet introduced a significant other to your family) it means fielding a heck of a lot of annoying questions about your personal life.
“Are you seeing anyone special?”
“What happened to that nice [insert name]?”
“You aren’t still dating that loser [insert name] are you?”
“Where are my grandchildren?”
“When are you settling down already?”
And the not so much of a question, but a statement we all usually feel obligated to respond to: “I’d like to see you get married before I die.”
Indeed, family can be dramatic, but it’s not always easy to shake off these inquiries. If the thought of answering the inevitable questions is already stressing you out, we suggest you go into holidays armed with a plan (and a bottomless glass of red wine).
1. Return the question with a question.
Remember back in high school when you did everything within you power to avoid talking about sex with your parents? Avoiding having a talk about your relationship status with them during adulthood really isn’t any different. Diffuse the situation by answering their question with a question. “When do you think I’ll settle down?” Or make the question all about them: “When did you know you were ready?”
Run out of options? Ask them a related question that’ll get them off the topic, like: “Did you read that study in The Times that single people are happier and healthier than married people?” Boom.
2. Avoid even having the conversation in the first place.
When in doubt, do what you have to do to avoid talking about the topic of your singeldom. Say something like: “No answer on that yet, but tell me about you and dad’s upcoming trip to Paris!” Or turn the topic towards someone else’s relationship: “Not yet, but did you hear Jill and Tom are engaged?”
3. Make a hokey joke.
When grandma asks if you’re seeing someone special, respond with: “Yes, I’m seeing you right now!” If this doesn’t at least get a smile from her, your grandmother must be some kind of a monster who really, really wants you to find a husband.
4. Be dismissive but firm.
When you want to get relatives to stop prying into your personal life, be firm in putting the kibosh on the conversation. Try: “No, I haven’t met anyone special yet, but when I do you’ll be the first to know.” Most people will take the hint (emphasis on most.)
5. Overshare (and make ’em squirm.)
If you met your last boyfriend on Tinder and he turned out to have a creepy toe fetish, tell them all about it. We all but guarantee it’ll be the last time Aunt Diane bugs you about your personal life.
6. If all else fails, turn it into a drinking game.
Some families just don’t know how to stop nagging their single relatives, so if all else fails, turn it into a drinking game. Every time someone brings up your relationship status, or lack of one, take a sip. Hey, at least you’ll be asleep early.
Have a way of dealing with the awkward “are you dating anyone?” question? Share it in the comments!