Vent Sesh: Stop Asking Questions

February 22, 2012

Welcome to the latest TAGG Vent Sesh. Missed it? Read on for the latest post.

I’ve alluded to this in the past but it was buried at the bottom of a deep post. Most of you know that, via a blog post a few months back, that I cannot have more children due to health issues resulting just after my first pregnancy (though most likely unrelated). It’s heartbreaking and something I struggle with daily, moreso lately. I swear there are baby bumps everywhere, adorable little onesies and delicious newborns. That said, I’m learning that the rudest question to me or anyone else is: “When are you having a baby” or “When are you guys going to have another one?” Umm, better question in return… what the hell is it your business??

Now, let me take a step back because I am sure there is someone reading this thinking that I asked them this once before. And, I probably have. Yet now I know the heartbreak this must cause and am so apologetic. Women who struggle to conceive, who cannot conceive or don’t see a baby in their life plan are all burdened by this. Why should we have to answer that question? And then, what’s the right answer? No one actually wants to hear the answer unless I tell them we’re trying soon. The real answer is not as pleasant. 

This conversation came up during an engagement party last weekend as we chatted with the mr. and mrs.-to-be and a newlywed-ish couple. Both are getting this question, and it makes them feel so uncomfortable.

A similar question should be held back from those in long-term relationships. You know which one?? While I’m sometimes dying to ask “Sooo, when are you getting married?” I now know I shouldn’t. Some girlfriends might be secretly agonizing inside, wondering the same thing, and there are others that don’t envision getting married. The last thing anyone wants to do is put someone else in an uncomfortable situation.

Instead, let’s come up with other great questions about each other’s professions, about plans for the weekend, about styling your house, your home, how we all have way too many shoes yet have been eying a pair at Nordstrom, anything.  These deeply personal questions only should be discussed when prompted or to your closest friends in a deeply caring way, not in a casual, schmooze sesh with someone you just met.

From a girl who knows the heartbreak involved, please dont ask.


UPDATE: Your comments have been incredible to read. One however pointed out how remiss I’ve been in addressing the ‘seemingly harmless’ question single women get. I thank TAGG reader, Paige, for calling me out on this because it’s true. Read this article, and then stop asking single women when they are going to see that guy again. If it’s a first date or a brand-new relationship, I’m sure many wish they know… and if they did, I’m sure they’d tell you. I remember that and how awful/frustrating that felt.  Thanks again to P for leaving the comment!

Encouraing you to post more of the “never ask these questions”…

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  • Olivia Moore

    As soon as I read the first few paragraphs I instantly thought that this reminds me a lot of someone asking me, “When are you getting married?” Low and behold, the next paragraph you include that annoying question in your vent sesh.

    I’m with you 100%. I never ask these kinds of questions because I feel like if it were going to happen sometime in the future, that person would bring it up if that’s what they wanted to talk about. I’m never really one to poke or prod into someones business, especially when it comes to really heady and personal subjects like that.

    My boyfriend’s mother has been asking those questions a lot lately so I feel your pain. “When’s the wedding?” “I want a grand baby!”

    Please! Stop!

    • Alyson

      Oh my gosh, please stop indeed! I can’t believe she keeps prodding you with that. TEll her to shut the hell up. :)

  • Natalie

    I’ve never asked anyone those questions, in my life. Another question I avoid, unless a woman is looking 10 months pregnant, is Oh, when is your baby due”..only to find out they’re; A. not pregnant, just a bit chubby or B. had the baby a month ago. Some things are just none of my business, and I’d never want to make anyone uncomfortable. I’m sorry you’re going through this! I’ll say some special prayers that your broken heart over this will be mended :)

    • Alyson

      Right?? Soemone about six months ago asked me if I was pregnant! lol, UGH. who the heck does that?! I swear I had a little pouch from I think a big meal. DId NOT need to hear that. Thank you for your sweet sentiments and prayers. I really appreciate it.

  • Paige

    Disappointed that you left you off questions addressed towards single women.

    • Alyson

      You are so right. Sorry for that, and I’m so appreciative you commented. See the updated post!

  • Cheryl

    I’m so sorry for your heartache.

    I hate when people ask those questions. ‘What? You’re 30 and not married yet?’ (Wait..who’s 30? Not me. I’m just 28 for the..second or third time..)

    How people don’t know how hurtful their questions can be..just blows me away. And the worst part is that there’s no advice or approach that stops the questions or comments.

    • Alyson

      Just say yeah, because it’s not 1962 anymore. People can be so rude.

  • Jen

    I. love. this. post. As being someone who is struggling with infertility, nothing lights my fire more than when I’m asked “when are you having a baby?” I’ve mastered a fake smile and shrug with a light hearted “I don’t know” even though I want to say “why is it your business? do you really want to know? I barely know you but let’s talk about this uncomfortable topic.”
    Where’s the book that says you’re not supposed to ask a lady her age? Can we add ‘don’t ask when she’s getting married’ and ‘when are you having a baby’ to the list? Hugs to you, I know how seeing those baby bumps and adorable newbies can make a heavy heart.

    • Alyson

      Right?? There’s a whole list of questions that just never should be asked, especially in such a casual context. I once had a man ask me three times when we were going to have a second that I finally had to tell him nicely that due to health issues I cannot. That shut him up!

  • Courtney

    I could not agree more. I’ve been with my husband for 15years and married for 12 of them. We have both been “tested” and it appears everything is in working order, but we’ve never gotten pregnant. People ask all the time, “when are you going to have one,” or “better hurry up.” Clearly, it’s not in God’s plan and I’m totally okay with it until I get these questions asked over and over. That’s when I start to dwell on it.

    People should just keep their nose out of your personal business!

    • Alyson

      People say “better hurry up??” I’m disgusted and feel awful for them that they have no clue how hurtful their comments can be. I feel the same…. I might be OK with g-d’s plan but having people say hurtful things — and then seeing little babes all over — makes the heart hurt. Thank you for sharing with me.

  • Crystal

    I can so relate to this post. My Hubby and I have been married for almost 11 years now and thankfully the questions finally stopped. People can be so rude and not stop to think that maybe not everyone wants kids or can have them. That’s one of the reason’s we didn’t tell anyone when we were trying. Every month you don’t have an announcement, you get pitty. Sorry you felt the need to write this, but know there are others out there like me who can relate.

    • Alyson

      Thank you for sharing, Crystal. I agree never to tell people either because then you’re going to get even more questions and looks. It’s awful. I only hope my words help you and others realize that we’re in this together (and hopefully stop a few people from asking rude questions, too! ha. hope.).

  • victoria | vmac+cheese

    I’m 100% with you. I never ask people this kind of stuff. One, because it just seems awkward to me, and two, because I have hated people asking me about when I’m getting married for the last however many number of years. You don’t know me or my situation! So not okay to just assume anything and put me in an awkward position of defending myself.

    As for what you’re currently going through, I’m thinking of you!!

    • Alyson

      Thanks, Victoria! And, just wait… now that you’re getting married the baby questions are going to boundless. People are too focused on milestones that are important to them or supposedly to society. Relationships are so deeply personal…

  • Jess // Curating Style

    I totally agree. I’m so sorry for the frustration and weird ache you must get when people ask you things like that. Why do people feel that it’s appropriate?

    I hate it when people ask me when I’m getting married. My boyfriend and I have only been together for about a year and a half, which is a great amount of time—by why do we have to be getting married right away? I’m young! Please stop asking me. It’s even more awkward when it’s family members.

    For what it’s worth, I think a lot of people hate these questions. I vow never to ask people things like that.

    • Alyson

      Can you believe it… just a year and a half and people can’t help themselves. it’s not 1962 where we all should be married and having babies at 22 years old. Enjoy your time and tell people to shut up. :)

  • Courtney

    My sister and her husband never wanted kids and it took her years to come to terms with all these expectations. She basically tells people now, “That’s not something I want to talk about right now.”

    Personally, I do want to have kids. And it’s kind of funny to hear the response to people who ask because I usually say something along the lines of, “No, not yet.” Most parents will be like, “OMG, you’re so right. Please wait!”

    I don’t know how I would answer that question if we couldn’t have babies. I think it would probably be really hard.

    • Alyson

      It is really hard but something we’re learning to come to terms with. Isn’t it crazy that your sister decided something so deeply personal yet she had to come to terms with answering others questions?? That’s awful though I think so many can relate. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • Suze

    I get asked ALL THE TIME when Joe and I are having kids. Just because we married three years ago does not mean we A) want kids; B) can have kids; C) can AFFORD kids.
    I always smile and say, “I don’t want kids,” to get them to leave me alone.

    When Joe I were planning out wedding, his grandmother asked if we were getting married in the Catholic church. Of course, we said no. She screamed. Literally screamed out loud because we were getting married by someone else. I told her if she wanted to pay for my wedding, I’d gladly get married in a Catholic church, but since she wasn’t she could either shut up and show up, or choose not to attend. (She did attend.)

    • Alyson

      Ha, good for you! People butting into such personal parts of our lives, and what’s important to us, is so shocking. And, I agree… I’ve learned that at least two or three friends in my life are not interested in having children… just not in their life plan. They’re forced into all these questions all the time, too. So impressed you say the things you do. People need to understand that it’s not right to ask.

  • Grace - Stripes & Sequins

    This post really resonated with me - I so agree with you. If one more person asks me when I’m going to get engaged/married, I am going to scream! I know that they mean well, but I’d so much rather answer questions about my career, blog, etc. For everything I’ve accomplished, all some people seem to care about is the status of my relationship. It makes me so uncomfortable, and frankly, bad about my relationship - when in fact, it’s an amazing one. So, I hear you. Loud and clear. And my married friends all get the kids question, and my single friends all get the “when are you going to see him next” question… so irritating all around.

    I can’t even imagine what you are going through… so very heartbreaking. Thinking of you!

    • Alyson

      Right?? You have accomplished SO freaking much, and have so much to talk about, yet that’s all anyone cares about. It’s one thing if they wanted to ask about your boyfriend, that’s fine, but to ask about marriage and essentially the private parts of your life is just rude. You should just reply, “Thanks for asking. I love working at BB and my blog is totally the hottest thing. I have big plans for it. Want to hear?” LOL, that would be hysterical… like their question is so absurd you can’t even justify it with an answer.

  • PMCB

    Couldn’t agree more. Not only do people have no clue what struggles other women are going through, but even those who are blessed to be pregnant may not be ready to spill the beans yet. The only thing that makes a miserable first trimester worse is people trying to analyze what you are and aren’t eating and drinking and your tiredness/nausea levels to determine if you’re pregnant, then calling you out on it! As a rule, you should never, ever ask someone these types of personal questions. If there is news to share AND they want you to know, they will tell you!

    • Alyson

      Hhahah, well said! We’ll share when we want, so stop asking questions!

  • Bettina

    Several years ago, I knew I would get the “Why aren’t you married?” third degree when I attended my much younger brother’s wedding (in a fetching lilac bridesmaid dress!). I thought about how I’d respond in advance.

    At the reception, a friend of my parents whom I hadn’t seen in years interrupted a conversation I was having to say, “So, what’s the deal? You can’t find anybody?” I smiled and said, without sarcasm or bitterness, “Why do you ask, Mark? Do you have someone you want to introduce me to?”

    He was completely disarmed and started mumbling about how, no, he didn’t know anyone. I said, “Yeah, it’s not easy…,” then changed the subject. Still, when you’re blindsided by certain questions, it can be really hard.

    • Alyson

      Good for you to have a smart comeback! It’s definitely most challenging when you don’t anticipate the question. I still don’t have an excellent answer as I think it partly depends on who it’s coming from and the situation however in a case like yours… a smart ass answer is always the solution! :)

  • Jenine

    You’re so right! As soon as you have one it’s automatically asked when you’re going to have the next one. And now that Ellie is over 2 I get so much pressure and questions asking. You don’t know if I am trying or what our plan is. I know people mean to be insensitive but how many times can you smile and get through it. We have a plan and it’s for us to know! Good for you for speaking up!!!

    • Alyson

      Exactly, it’s the 2-year old that makes everyone ask when’s the next one?! Umm, what’s it to them? Enjoy your little one!

  • [email protected]

    First a little levity: Bettina was my fake name when I was single and didn’t want a guy to call me! So great.

    I HEAR YOU. We were married for 10 years before we had a baby and it’s all anybody wanted to talk about ever. Specifically family. Drove me absolutely insane. I honestly honestly believe that 99% of strangers do this simply to make conversation and have no idea what else to talk about. I have struggles with my filter, so I know I’m guilty of exactly what I hated myself. Taking a vow and hope I never break it. Truly sorry for your struggle.

    And for goodness sake, don’t acknowledge someone being pregnant until you see the baby crowning.

    • Suze

      Best comment ever, “And for goodness sake, don’t acknowledge someone being pregnant until you see the baby crowning.”

    • Bettina

      Bettina isn’t my real name either. :-)

      Agreed: I think most people who ask these questions simply feel the need to make conversation but don’t take time to think of anything more original or at least less intrusive.

      • Alyson

        Hhaha, Suze: right?! Lauren has a way with words! I can imagine it was challenging for 10 years because OTHERS actually expect YOU to have a baby right away. I mean, who’s decision is it anyway? So absurd.

        So glad the faux Bettina’s of the world could meet here on TAGG. Clearly, my work here is done.

  • bestofbklyn

    I completely, totally agree. My sister is single, and always says how much this bothers her. I’ve been married for just under a year, and the kids question started long ago. I mean, if it was a close friend that asked, I may be more understanding, but I get asked all of the time- and I have a bunch of medical “stuff” too- when someone asks me, sometimes I just say something along the lines of- we’re not even thinking about starting to try until I can go a year without being on pain medication or in the hospital. Usually quiets people down fairly quickly, and I hope it makes them realize that it is not. okay. to. ask. those things of random people! Big hug to you, though- must be so, so hard.

    • Alyson

      BIg hugs to you as well! I’m feeling ya, as that’s technically my issue. I think I can concieve, it’s that there’s absolutely no way I could be off my med, Lyrica, for at least 3-6 months before even trying, let alone a few other medical issues I have. I’d essentially be homebound and in tears for at least a year. Umm, not worth it. BUt, in truth it does make it harder knowing I technically can have a baby but that the condition of my body says no. Wishing you the best, and know that I’m here off-line if you ever want to chat or vent. xo

  • stringsandbuttons

    I’m so very sorry for your loss and for your heart ache. I cannot imagine how you feel and I thank you very much for sharing this truly heartfelt post with the rest of us. Besides the obvious, it teaches me to be grateful for everything. My hubby and I have been getting bombarded by everyone, including friends, with questions about when we will conceive, how I’m getting older. Someone even told me, “You ‘aint no spring chicken any more.” It just reinforces my belief that some things are just better left to the two people that it matters to. So again, thank you for sharing this truly personal and heartfelt post with us. xo

    • Alyson

      My pleasure, and so glad you understand. I cannot fathom someone saying that to you. GROSS. You need to say to them, “you’re gross.” ha. shut them up.

  • danielle

    This post and the one before it was like being hit with a car. I’ve totally done this and I’ve changed my perspective completely. I’m going through a divorce and its equally awkward and there is nothing good to say when people give me concerned looks and ask if I’m okay. I’ve decided to ask safe questions now about things I am confident are not awkward. We all could afford to think a little before we speak.

    • Alyson

      We definitely could. I couldn’t imagine the situation you’re going through as I’ve been asked questions about YOUR situation. Umm, gossiping about something so deeply personal in someone’s life? Pass. I’m all for talking about someone’s too-tight jeans, but not this kind of stuff. It’s definitely better to stick with less personal questions unless it’s someone so close. Know that I’m always here for the casual and serious questions with my bb. love you.

  • Alison

    toootally agree. Hate being asked about babies.

    • Alyson


  • Lisa

    This should be required reading for everyone. Seriously. We are individuals first and foremost, and it would be nice to focus on that rather than putting so much value on the other person, or people, or lack thereof, in our lives.

    • Alyson

      Well said!

  • Jordan - Queen of LA

    maybe the next time i get a rude question ill just silently take out my phone, pull up this post, and hand it to them to read :)

    as always, i so appreciate your honesty and open attitude about sharing things. its refreshing to read a blog that openly admits and explains the hard things in life, not just the good ones! i am sending you a virtual hug :)

    • Alyson

      Hhaha, would LOVE that. :) So glad to hear other women can relate and sympathize with my posts… that’s the whole purpose of TAGG; we really do have all these things going on in our lives beyond wanting to share the latest outfit trends. hugs!

  • Susan

    I so agree with this…I struggled with infertility issues and hated all of the comments “so are you happy with just one?” sheesh it got to the point I couldn’t even go to friend’s baby showers anymore..luckily for me modern medicine helped us to have our twins and thankfully that shut everyone up but it was a loooong 4 years of personal questions and assumptions..I’m sorry you can’t have any more of your own children, that must be so difficult..thanks for venting to us!!

    • Alyson

      Yeah, isn’t that the rudest question?! So happy that you were able to have twins. How wonderful!!

  • Chic ‘n Cheap Living

    Agreed. I usually only ask the baby or marriage questions if I know the couple is already headed that way anyway. Luckily my friends are the same with us too!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

    • Alyson

      Same. Feel like it’s much more OK with close friends when you’re having a real conversation. It’s those in-passing questions from people we hardly know that are so rude.

  • Brooke

    Oh my god, yes. Thank you for writing about this, especially about the “when are you getting married question?” It haunts me on a daily basis! My parents and his parents are going crazy, it’s all they talk about… and people are constantly bombarding me, making me feel very insecure and sad, even though I know he’s asking soon, that is just not enough! Whose business is it but OURS? Oh I hate it, I hate it SO much. And I fear the baby questions as I have medical problems, and don’t know how easy or possible it will be…

    I was an only child and it was wonderful. One is enough!!! <3 xo

    • Alyson

      Ha, one is definitely enough! I’m so sorry you’re getting bombarded so much. Maybe it’s worth a honest conversation with our parents about how bothersome it is. I’ve started to be more straightforward with my parents about things these days. I just have to otherwise they’ll never know. And, I’m sorry you are already fearing the baby questions, which are unfortunately imminent (sp?). As someone who has medical issues, I can totally relate. Email anytime if you need someone to vent to!

  • Laurel Ann

    I shared this post on my blog’s Facebook page because it hit home so hard for me. I have trouble when people ask me about when I’m having my “own kids” because I’m a stepmother or assume that they can decide when my husband and I think it’s appropriate to have children. We both have reproductive issues and so our ability to have children is unknown as of yet. He has two beautiful boys that I love very much but I don’t know if I will ever be able to carry and birth his child. It’s a sensitive topic and it’s not one that I want to be discussing all the time. Frankly, it’s not other people’s business unless I CHOOSE to share that with them. Thank you for venting. Thank you for sharing.

    • Alyson

      Laurel Ann: Thank you SO much for taking the time to post on your Facebook page… I read the comments. Being a step mom sounds amazing. As I’m realizing it’s not who gave birth but who raises the children, like you are doing, is what matters. I appreciaet you also sharing your story here. We all need to vent sometimes (for better or worse!).

  • Sara @ Gameday Stylist

    Sorry to hear about your heartbreaking situation. A close friend of mine is unable to conceive and I completely agree - that question is not anyone’s business! I personally hate when people ask me and my husband that question. We’ve decided that for now we do not want children and having to explain that to people and deal with their judgmental looks and comments is SO frustrating. argh Thanks for venting sista ;)

    - Sara @ Gameday Stylist

    • Alyson

      In very different ways we are confronted by the same pain. People asking a question they shouldn’t to us and not liking the answer they get. Tough S*it, ya know. They asked. I’m proud that you totally stand up and say the truth. People need to hear that the world doesn’t revolve around their preferences.

  • The Fashionable ESQ

    There are so many “social” pressures that come from all circles that we interact in, that it’s almost unbearable some days.


    Seriously - Every single one of those social circles will always have at least 3 people asking ” when are you getting married” especially at work.
    There are days when you just brush it off…and there are people who genuinely do not get bothered when a question like that is asked. Not me.
    It bothers me. It’s annoying, and chances are that it’s the forefront of conversation b/w me and my b/f anyway, so why, why do others keep asking?

    What you’re going through must be so incredibly irritating and heartbreaking on another level…stay strong and use the blog as an outlet. People here are less nosy and less prone to inquiring about personal matters.


    • Alyson

      It’s true… I’ve found that I’ve almost stopped caring about which circle people are in and just start answering the exact truth to get people off my back. It’s so none of their business to ask so why should I have to feel uncomfortable giving them the truthful answer? Let them feel uncomfortable hearing it and realize they shouldn’t have asked in the first place.

  • MJ

    Oh, I sooo understand how you feel! Before my husband and I got married, we were together for 5 years and everyone was like “When are you guys getting married?” It was crazy annoying! Now that we’ve been married for almost two years, it’s the incessant children question. I’m like, “Whose timetable am I on? Yours or mine??”

    Great post!

    • Alyson

      Exactly… you should totally answer with that statement! Perfect.

  • Fashion By Alicia

    I totally agree with you! I have had issues with people asking when J and I are having a baby. I finally told them that we may never have kids and that shut them up. My favorite question was posed on facebook. I had a status about craving BBQ and the next thing I know someone asked me if I was pregnant. I went off. Ooops! These are questions you definitely don’t ask someone.

  • Jodi Furman @LiveFabuLESS

    Hooray for this post!

    I’ve taken to answering inappropriately personal questions with inappropriate answers. For example, my oldest was in a body cast for 2 months when she was an infant (congenital hip dysplasia)- when we’d inevitably would get a borderline accusatory question from strangers, “What happened?!” I’d often deadpan, “Well, we dropped her. But since we caught her on the first bounce they said we can still keep her. For now, at least. CPS is still keeping a close eye on us.” (PS when people asked out of genuine concern and not just out of morbid curiosity, I would answer genuinely that she had corrective hip surgery.)

    Another tactic that I employ is when someone asks an inappropriately personal question, I’ll immediately ask them an equally inappropriate question, such as how much they weigh, how much money do they earn, how many sexual partners they’ve had, etc. When they’re invariably shocked, I then say, “Oh, I thought it was inappropriate question day today, my bad.”

    I get morbid curiosity, really I do.. but there are lines and boundaries, just because you wonder/think it doesn’t give you permission to say it out loud. And, it goes without saying, that I’m here for you ever need a vent sesh, xo.

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