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Friday, January 11, 2013

Can I Ask You A Personal Question?

Occasionally you may sit down and have a conversation with someone and have that awkward moment when a personal question gets asked. However, it seems to me that this is becoming more and more the norm.
Once upon a time it was taboo to ask a woman her age. Now women get asked how old they are, how much money they make, what they paid for their car and home, when they are planning to have children, or why they don’t have any. For some people, answering these types of questions is part of their daily life as they post every intimate detail about themselves on Twitter and Facebook. This, however, is not the majority. The majority of women (and men too) prefer that their personal life be kept personal.

I have seen many women frustrated with the constant berating of personal questions, particularly about their family life choices. “When are you going to get pregnant?” “Why aren't you breastfeeding?” “How much longer are you going to breastfeed?”  “Don’t you think you have enough children?” “Why don’t you have any children?” and on, and on the questions go. Here’s my question: Why do people think these very personal matters are open for public scrutiny? What if a mother is already overwhelmed with the child/children she has, and knows it’s in the best interest for her family as a whole to wait to have more, or not have any more? What if a new mother tried to breastfeed her baby, but for numerous reasons she wasn't able to? Asking her about it would only upset her more. What if a couple was dealing with infertility, or just isn't emotionally, or financially ready? You may have your own opinion of how someone should approach each of these issues, but these are very sensitive topics to assume you have the right to know the answers!

I’m not saying that you can never ask anyone a personal question. If you are close, and you know they are open to discussing personal matters then there is nothing wrong with it. However, if you happen to see a friend or family member at a party, it is probably not appropriate to ask personal questions. By simply asking the question “How are you?” you will allow that person the opportunity to divulge personal information, or keep the conversation light.  Never push a conversation in a direction the other person is trying to avoid. If they are actively avoiding answering a question, then it’s none of your business, and they do not want to talk about it. Furthermore, just because you are related to someone it does not give you the right to ask blunt personal questions, or expect answers.

A good rule of thumb to follow is this: If someone wants you to know something, they will tell you. Ask them how they are doing and let the conversation flow naturally. Most people will find that they are more willing to confide in someone they trust, who is not brash or nosy, and does not pry for personal information.

What is your biggest pet peeve about personal questions?


  1. Being ask when I'm getting pregnant its the worst question in my case since I have infertility problems and just my close friends know that its going to be hard for me to get pregnant.
    Like you said,they don't know what kind of problems we are struggling with...

  2. Bravo! Bravo! Love this article! I can relate on so many levels to this!