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To think it's not okay to repeatedly ask someone about their intent to get married and have babies?

(26 Posts)
GabiSolis Mon 18-Jan-16 19:50:58

I witnessed this 'conversation' today and I didn't feel like I could say anything without making the situation worse.

Working with two colleagues today (we are NHS and usually share an office). One is married with two DCs and one on the way. The other is single. Married colleague decided to start questioning single colleague about her intent to have children and whether she wanted to meet someone to settle down with. Single colleague was clearly uncomfortable with the questioning (it was repeated several times) and tried to deflect it by saying she didn't have firm plans etc. Married colleague just wouldn't let it go. She was sort of playing it like she was joking around but it was just super uncomfortable to witness, so I can only imagine how single colleague felt. She then started questioning her about other aspects of her life, again repeatedly.

Aibu to think this is not a subject that you should really pursue at all? Single colleague may have issues having children or things going on in her private life that she didn't wish to share. I'm feeling terrible that I didn't intervene but I really honestly don't know what I couldn't said that wouldn't make single colleague even more uncomfortable. If I'd jumped in and said the questioning was inappropriate, I suspect married colleague wouldn't then asked single colleague if she minded.

GabiSolis Mon 18-Jan-16 19:52:24

Sorry, couple of iPad typing mistakes, hopefully it reads okay!

NorthernRosie Mon 18-Jan-16 19:54:36

It's not OK. I went out with my husband for a number of years before we got married and it used to drive me mad how often people went on about it.

Then we did get married and the children question started. The worst was when a beautician doing my manicure started quizzing me on why I had been married 3 years and not had children yet.

Really why do people think it's any of their business. I never minded friends asking as part of conversation but complete randoms or acquaintances? Not on!

GabiSolis Mon 18-Jan-16 19:58:54

These two colleagues are friends. They don't see each other outside of work much I don't think, but they do chat about personal things sometimes. I could just tell single colleague did not want to take part in the conversation at all. She was like a rabbit caught in headlights but married colleague just wouldn't drop the subject.

StarkyTheDirewolf Mon 18-Jan-16 20:00:20

I'd been married a for a grand total of an hour and a half before people started asking about babies. Friends asking, I don't mind, because I share things with them, relatives not so much. And aquintances, definetly no.

RatherBeRiding Mon 18-Jan-16 20:01:23

Married colleague sounds at best insensitive and at worse rude and just plain nosey. Single colleague needs to learn how to shut down unwanted conversations without getting defensive or embarrassed. I always find a very firm "This isn't a topic of conversation I am particularly interested in, if its all the same to you" with a big smile works quite well.

It must have made uncomfortable viewing but if married colleague is really so insensitive it's difficult to see how you could have stepped in. I dare say some will say it was non of your business, but when this is taking place in front of you and you're at work and could hardly escape it, then I can understand why you feel it affects you.

Maybe try making a joke of it - "What is this? 20 questions?? I really don't think [single colleague] needs the Spanish Inquisition!" and laugh.

Faye12345 Mon 18-Jan-16 20:01:26

Married colleague sounds like a bitch. People ask me and I tell them my fanny is broken! Soon shuts conversation down!

TattyDevine Mon 18-Jan-16 20:02:57

"What this again? Seriously?" is a good response to questions like this...

newmanhart Mon 18-Jan-16 20:04:56

I'd consider it grossly unprofessional in that context, but even outside of a work environment it should be socially unacceptable. I don't think I could have been able to hear that conversation without stepping in.

I've been married for three years and have decided not to have any children, and it's unbelievable how many people think it's acceptable to question my plans. I have given up trying to politely deflect the conversation and now just give them The Stare and don't bother responding to those questions at all.

stampedingthefields Mon 18-Jan-16 20:05:07

I find this comes up a lot as I move more definitely into my mid thirties, certainly.

I wish there was a way of shutting it down politely.

GabiSolis Mon 18-Jan-16 20:07:36

I do like both of these colleagues and I don't think married colleague would've really intended to upset single colleague but you're right in saying she is at best insensitive. I just can't believe anyone would think its okay to question someone about that kind of thing. It was painful.

Janeymoo50 Mon 18-Jan-16 20:09:07

It can be very painful to single/childless (child free) people. It may have been entirely harmless but I hated it. When I was single, a very dear friend of mine used to ask me a lot if "I had met anyone yet?". I hadn't (then), and often bit my tongue in responding "do you still shag your husband every night?".

GabiSolis Mon 18-Jan-16 20:11:32

"20 questions?" and "what this again?" are good suggestions, thank you. I am feeling really bad that I didn't step in at the time. sad

MrsGentlyBenevolent Mon 18-Jan-16 20:11:46

It's never ending. My mil asked my when we were having our next child - 48 hours after I had given birth to our first. It's just so rude, and people excuse this behaviour by saying it's just 'social conversation'. No, it's rude and quite ignorant to be honest. I have only once assumed someone would have a child within the first year of marriage, and it turned out I was right - but I would have never gone up to them on their wedding day joking 'guess the pills are out the window tonight, har har har'. I don't know why women's relationships and use of uterus are ok to discuss at will.

lorelei9 Mon 18-Jan-16 20:12:54

I hate this line of questioning too, it's amazing what some people are like

I probably would have made a comment but that's me. Totally wrong in general but worse at work.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Mon 18-Jan-16 20:14:28

It's rude, intrusive and potentially upsetting. I would have intervened. Maybe with "Blimey Sarah, give it a rest, I'm bored and I'm not the one being subjected to the interrogation". I did once tell off a colleague for quizzing another colleague on whether she was pregnant. She was, but wasn't ready to talk about it.

GabiSolis Mon 18-Jan-16 20:19:16

I happen to know single colleague has very low self esteem and I suspect is quite lonely not being with someone. She is really very sweet and didn't deserve to be interrogated. Married colleague at one point actually did say she wasn't going to drop this, like she was doing single colleague a favour and it was going to motivate her to be pushed. angry

lorelei9 Mon 18-Jan-16 20:33:19

Gabi, it gets worse then! I'd have a word with the nosey colleague now. In the first place I'd have said "stop asking nosey questions". It at least gives the person questioned a bit of support.

iciclewinter Mon 18-Jan-16 20:52:47

YANBU. It's no-one else's business and there are plenty of other topics of conversation to choose from.

WicksEnd Mon 18-Jan-16 21:03:09

You should have asked married colleague how often she has sex with her husband, then when she went shock, just said 'oh sorry I thought it was national ask your colleague a personal question day' winkgrin

MeadowHay Mon 18-Jan-16 21:22:14

YANBU. If I was you I probably would have made a joke like the 20 questions thing, and/or just tried to change the subject and steer the conversation elsewhere, would that not have been possible? Still, it must have been awkward and it's not you that was harrassing single colleague with invasive questions, so don't feel too bad.

Damselindestress Mon 18-Jan-16 21:27:47

YANBU I hate it when people ask intrusive personal questions. When you are single it's when are you going to meet someone, when you have met someone it's when are you going to get married, when you get married it's when are you going to have a child and when you have a child it's when are you going to have another... it never ends! DH and I got married while working at the same job and colleagues were always asking when we were going to start a family. It was awkward because I have some health issues, which I didn't want to discuss with colleagues. And when to have children is a very personal decision. People shouldn't ask that question because it opens a whole can of worms. They don't know someone's circumstances. You shouldn't feel bad about not intervening, you were just in shock that someone could be so rude! Now you have some ideas of what to say next time.

BuggersMuddle Mon 18-Jan-16 21:55:03

That is so rude.

Having said that in my late 20s I got it all the damned time (as DP and I have been together a while), that and the baby questions.

Now I'm in my mid-30s I think the baby question is incredibly rude in particular because while we may well be waiting (as it happens we're unlikely to choose to TTC and are comfortable with the fact that should we decide late, it may not happen), but colleagues don't know that. For all they know, we've been trying unsuccessfully for a decade.

Kpo58 Mon 18-Jan-16 22:03:00

There are many things people shouldn't do/say.

Such as:
Asking single people if they they have met someone
Asking anyone when they will have children
Asking why people don't want kids
Being pregnant and rubbing it in the face of those who are desperately trying
Snogging the brains out of your OH in front of single friends

JoantheVampireSlayer Mon 18-Jan-16 22:14:17

YANBU I've been married for 3 years now and lots of people are asking when I'm going to get pregnant. I've started telling them we don't want children because it's too upsetting to explain that we've been desperately TTC for those 3 years and nothing has happened sad

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