Why we need to stop asking women about their relationship status
Many college students can relate. You go to a family gathering and there are these classic questions: How’s school? What are your classes like? What are your professional goals?
These questions, although annoying at times, are valid. There is no real issue with asking how someone is doing, especially when they are at school or working.
My answers are always the same. College is going well, classes are going well and I have an idea of what I want to do professionally.
Then there’s always the follow up question.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
Or my personal favorite as a bisexual woman.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
The question never ceases to make me uncomfortable. Why is that?
Am I offended that the other half of my sexuality goes ignored? Maybe. Am I uncomfortable because love is scary and complicated? Possibly. Quite frankly, the question’s constant repetition is the worst part.
The previous generations of women had this dark cloud of expectation when it came to romance. Find a man young, get married, and have kids. Seems simple enough, right? You find your person in college or in the professional world, and you settle down with them. Pop out a couple of babies and boom! You’ve succeeded as a woman.
Not to say that this lifestyle is inherently a bad thing, but as many women know, this expectation has become far more ignored. The women that I surround myself with all want to get married significantly later than their parents did. Or they don’t want to get married at all. They want to instead focus on their careers, personal growth, and live in the moment.
With these ideological changes known by many people, why are women constantly asked if they have found their soulmate?
Clearly, the dark cloud of expectation has yet to dissipate.
Personally, when someone asks me about my relationship status, I tense up. I then have to think about how I’m going to answer the question in a way that somehow conveys that I’m not antilove. I love to love, but I’m not in love.
The conversation is predictable.
“How’s the love life?”
“I’m not looking for anything.”
“Why not? What do you mean why not? I’m just not looking,” is what I want to say.
“I just haven’t been interested in anyone really,” comes out instead.
The reason why I don’t say what I’m actually thinking is because of the reactions I’ve had to it when said aloud. There is a shock value of saying:
“I don’t really care about finding my soulmate. My goals are to advance my professional career, travel the world and be the best version of myself. If someone is a part of that, great. If not, that’s fine with me.”
The saying, “I’m a strong independent woman, who doesn’t need a man,” is highly respected and followed by many women. The idea of being a “girl boss” is echoed on social media and by the feminist movement.
Being your own person comes first. Why is this such a bad thing?
It upsets me that people cannot fully accept that women might not want to settle down. For years, society has convinced us that women are not complete without a significant other. My anger is not toward any one person, more so that these expectations have lasted this long.
When asked about my relationship status, especially from people I barely talk to, it further reveals societal expectations. I do not think they are trying to make me uncomfortable, but people need to understand how damaging asking someone about marriage and romance can be.
Asking about our relationship status in a way that is clouded by expectation makes us feel less than.
Are we not enough to be by ourselves? Are we not enough unless we have the title of “girlfriend,” “wife,” or “mom” attached to us? Think before you ask.
The expectation comes in other forms as well. Women in long-term relationships can never escape questions about marriage. Women who are married can never escape questions about kids.
There is a ticking time bomb hanging over our heads for each milestone we are expected to reach. It works for many of us, but not for all. Those of us it doesn’t work for? We are not all against love or don’t want to have kids. We simply may not want a timeline.
Stop looking down on the women who have their own timeline. There is nothing wrong with them. We are not doing it because it’s the “feminist thing.” We are doing it to define our own personal expectations.
There is a way to ask women about their relationship status without being offensive: don’t.
Stop asking us about our relationship status, especially if you think we need to settle down. Stop dropping your jaw anytime we say, “I will not get married and I don’t think kids are for me.”
And before you respond, it better not be trying to convince us otherwise.
Instead, ask us what we are doing for ourselves. Ask us about our goals or what we are passionate about. If there is a special someone that’s worth discussing with you, we will share that. Be respectful of our own personal timelines.
If for whatever reason this seems too difficult. I have this to say to you: