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“Why Aren’t You Married Yet?”


This year, don’t combust when nosy relatives ask this infernal holiday-dinner question. Instead, try one of these clever responses.

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

hether you’re single and loving it or desperately seeking Mr./Ms. Right, being hounded about your relationship status is annoying. And yet it seems to be a perfectly acceptable topic of conversation at festive family functions this time of year. In preparation for holiday party season, we asked everyone from social experts to comedians for the best answers to the “Why are you still single?” question.

Save your ego by boosting your questioner’s
“When children ask a disquieting question, adults answer the question with a question. This technique
Try saying, “I guess you can’t trust those voodoo-doll rituals.”
deflects the attention off of you and puts the spotlight on the questioner, and it may work for you, too. Say ‘What an interesting question. I am curious about how you made your decision to get married to fill in the name of your questioner’s partner.’ This indicates that you think getting married is a decision, showing that being single isn't about being a loser but about not having made that decision yet. And as a perk, it may provide the opportunity for an interesting conversation!”
—Joni Mantell, psychotherapist and relationship coach in New York, NY and
Pennington, NJ

Make your point with an extreme example
"Tell them, ’I look at marriage as an old-fashioned, patrician, indentured-slave practice that imprisons people in a backbreaking, emotionally bereft sinkhole.’”
—Mike O’Malley, star of the CBS series Yes, Dear

Bait-and-switch your response
“One all-purpose answer for anything rude is to give a big smile and say, ‘Oh, you!’ They will be baffled by it, so use their confusion to change the subject by saying ‘Now, listen’ in an urgent tone and going off on something else. Just make it clear to yourself that you don't even have to acknowledge something stupid has been said, much less answer it.”
—Ronna Lichtenberg, author of Pitch Like A Girl: How a Woman Can Be Herself and Still Succeed

Make them wish they hadn’t asked
“Try, ‘Because the doctor tells me that I get enough nagging from my mom.’ ‘Because a couple of years ago I got a great deal on a fifty pound box of condoms, and I want to get my money’s worth.’ ‘One thing at a time. Let me get the sex change first.’ ‘Have you seen me naked?’”
—Brian McCann, writer for Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Inspire jealousy because you’re still single
“The trick is to persuade people that you're not bothered by their nosy question. Turn
I’m taking my time to make sure I do it right the first time.
the undercover insult into an opportunity to impress them with responses that display your confidence, self-empowerment and sense of humor. Some ideas are ‘I’m single because I’m waiting for my perfect match, just like you did,’ ‘It takes time to separate the best from the rest, or ‘I’m taking my time to make sure I do it right the first time.’”
—Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life and founder of lauriepuhn.com

Shrug it off with a snappy comeback
“My general feeling is that a rude question deserves a rude answer, but a few of my favorite ways to deflect the attention are:
  • ‘It gives my mother something to live for.’
  • ‘Johnny Depp is taken.’
  • ‘Just lucky, I guess.’
  • ‘I guess it just goes to prove that you can’t trust those voodoo-doll rituals.’”
—Linda Sunshine, author of Women Who Date Too Much…And Those Who Should Be So Lucky

Drop some science on the situation
“Defuse the comment by saying that studies have shown that marrying at a later age increases the odds of the marriage lasting. The younger you are, the more likely it is that you’ll grow in different directions. But when you’re older, you’ve got a better idea of who the person is and that they’re going to stay that way.”
—David Givens, PhD, anthropologist and author of Love Signals

Smile and move on with savvy
“Don’t flip out if someone hits you with the question. Remember that the holidays are a tense time and people might just be looking for conversation-starters. Try to go into these parties, if you have to go, with a good attitude and respond good-naturedly. ‘Thank you for recognizing how high my standards are,’ or ‘No one has been smart enough to ask me yet’ are good responses. Or just say, ‘That's a good question, I've never thought about it before!’ and walk away with a huge smile on your face.”
—Joyce Newman, media relations/communications expert and founder of The Newman Group


Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a writer and performer in New York City who now intends to respond with “I’m still hoping for a shot at Miss America” the next time anyone questions the lack of a big “rock” on her left hand. She has contributed to Marie Claire, Fitness, and Prevention, among other publications.
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