Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Dating => Topic started by: Raintree on March 31, 2012, 01:02:55 AM

Title: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Raintree on March 31, 2012, 01:02:55 AM
The background: I'm not married. I don't have children. I used to want to meet someone and settle down, but I always had such bad luck in relationships. Things would seem amazing in the beginning, and then would come the announcement: "I'm not looking for anything long term, and I want us both to see other people" "I have this thing with a woman who lives in another city and I am not ready to let her go," "Being with you reminds me how much I miss my ex....I think I'll go back to her" (ouch)...."I think I might be gay," and the classic, "I really like being with you but I've been hurt before and can never fall in love again." Etc etc etc. I couldn't really understand it because I did turn heads on the street (so it wasn't my looks) and I had plenty of friends (so it wasn't my personality).  Eventually I just gave up, watched everyone around me fall in love and get married, and resigned myself to being single. Which isn't such a bad thing after all. But it must seem a little strange to some people that I've reached middle age and never been married. End of Background.

Last week: I went on a date with a guy and we hit it off. In the middle of a lovely half hour kiss, he asked me why I'd never been married. I forgot how he worded it, but I sensed he really liked me but was trying to figure out my inner freak (if any of you saw that Scrabble and the City episode).

What's the polite way to shut that question down without coming across as trying to hide some serious flaw of yours, or maligning the men you've dated, while simultaneously conveying that there's nothing wrong with you that he needs to worry about? I said something like, "Oh, I don't know, I've had longer term relationships that didn't work out for whatever reason. And I do tend to be picky." And then I applied bean dip.

No idea if this thing is going to go anywhere but I'm curious to hear some other good responses to this line of questioning.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Danika on March 31, 2012, 01:37:54 AM
I think you're right about why he asked: to figure out your "inner freak." I think it's good to be honest, but not too long winded. For example, if you are looking to settle down, then say "I do eventually want to get married" or "I would like a committed relationship" and then add "but I've wanted to find someone compatible who I'm really crazy about and not just settle for 'good enough.'"

That:
1) indicates you do want a commitment. So if he's just looking for fun scrabble, he can get lost
2) doesn't bring up exboyfriends and blame them and make it sound like you can't accept responsibility for things
3) doesn't bring up exboyfriends which might indicate that you might be still hung up on someone
4) indicates that you would like to be with someone but aren't desperate and will latch on to whomever

It's kind of a weird question for him to ask on a first date though. As if you're really going to say "Oh, it's because I have this strange fetish and it scares people off." Maybe he's also trying to find out if you've not been married but you have several children with several men and they all have custody, so you just never mentioned the kids, etc.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: RandomAngel on March 31, 2012, 05:08:17 AM
Hmm...this reminds me of my parents' oft-repeated advice: never slam your old job in an interview for a new job. Of course you left (or were fired!) for a reason, but no matter how right you were or how crazy they were, there's no way to say so without looking bitter. So you overcompensate a little--generally with a hint of a smile and some Bambi eyes--and resist the urge to analyze specifics. ;)

"You know, it's just never happened. I've had some great relationships and really enjoyed them, but somehow none of them ever wound up in marriage. [Insert return question here--how did he wind up with his ex, what does he think makes a good partner, why hasn't he married if he hasn't? No need to be aggressive about it, but he asked you a very personal question, so don't shy away from doing the same.]"
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Enkidu on March 31, 2012, 08:11:09 AM
Best response I ever heard to this question was a shrug followed by, "Dunno...just lucky I guess."

I actually probably would have gone with that, and followed up with a "No, seriously, I don't have commitment issues or some fatal flaw. Just haven't found the right one and I am choosy...now, where were we?"

I think less is more, this early on. So I think you did good by addressing the question and then beandipping. But I wouldn't have used the word "picky," which to me has negative connotations. I would have gone with "choosy," as it doesn't make it sound like you're just waiting for him to exhibit some flaw so you can deem him not good enough.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: nonesuch4 on March 31, 2012, 10:15:26 AM
I was acquainted with a woman who was well into middle age having never been married.  Her explanation was that she had a great life, hadn't met the man she'd give up her freedom for.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Kaypeep on March 31, 2012, 10:19:46 AM
Hmm...this reminds me of my parents' oft-repeated advice: never slam your old job in an interview for a new job. Of course you left (or were fired!) for a reason, but no matter how right you were or how crazy they were, there's no way to say so without looking bitter. So you overcompensate a little--generally with a hint of a smile and some Bambi eyes--and resist the urge to analyze specifics. ;)

"You know, it's just never happened. I've had some great relationships and really enjoyed them, but somehow none of them ever wound up in marriage. [Insert return question here--how did he wind up with his ex, what does he think makes a good partner, why hasn't he married if he hasn't? No need to be aggressive about it, but he asked you a very personal question, so don't shy away from doing the same.]"

Wow, what a great answer!  I was going to say that it's such a loaded question, and so frustrating to answer because you want to be honest but it's an impossible question because there's no clear cut reason.  I think this is a very good reply!  I must remember it.  I am in a relationship for 8+ years yet, and so many people ask me this question.  I can spin your answer to reply politely without giving up any personal info about myself or my men.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Twik on March 31, 2012, 10:28:34 AM
Best response I ever heard to this question was a shrug followed by, "Dunno...just lucky I guess."


That may be a good answer if you're explaining to your nosy second cousin. It's a poor answer on a date, unless you want to make it very clear that you are not interested in the relationship moving towards marriage. Even a followup of "no, just joking" would not likely change the impression that I would get from that.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: MacadamiaNut on March 31, 2012, 11:55:56 AM
I just say,

"I haven't met the right person yet, and you?" (if he never married either)  OR

"I haven't met the right person yet.  So what made you decide to get married?" (if he was married).  OR

"Why did you decide to get divorced?"

I think this would bring out the realization about the whole "right person" concept.  His answer will be something like, "I got married because I loved her and couldn't see my life without her in it" OR "We found out we weren't compatible so we parted ways", all of which prove your point without having to say anything else about your own situation. :)
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: QueenofAllThings on March 31, 2012, 02:02:29 PM
My husband asked me this when we were dating (I was 37, he was 40 when we met) He was a widower.

I just said that I'd never met the right one, and I liked my life too much to settle for the wrong one.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: gramma dishes on March 31, 2012, 02:27:14 PM
I think you're right about why he asked: to figure out your "inner freak." I think it's good to be honest, but not too long winded. For example, if you are looking to settle down, then say "I do eventually want to get married" or "I would like a committed relationship" and then add "but I've wanted to find someone compatible who I'm really crazy about and not just settle for 'good enough.'"

That:
1) indicates you do want a commitment. So if he's just looking for fun scrabble, he can get lost
2) doesn't bring up exboyfriends and blame them and make it sound like you can't accept responsibility for things
3) doesn't bring up exboyfriends which might indicate that you might be still hung up on someone
4) indicates that you would like to be with someone but aren't desperate and will latch on to whomever

I really like this for all the reasons mentioned.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: TheaterDiva1 on March 31, 2012, 02:41:37 PM
Since you seem okay with being single,  I'd just say "I haven't met the right guy yet" or "Timing hasn't been right" or something like that, and move on.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 31, 2012, 03:16:07 PM
I just said that I'd never met the right one, and I liked my life too much to settle for the wrong one.

I'm stealing this one.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: sweetonsno on March 31, 2012, 03:48:16 PM
I just said that I'd never met the right one, and I liked my life too much to settle for the wrong one.

I'm stealing this one.

Ditto.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Raintree on March 31, 2012, 06:02:08 PM
Lots of good responses here, thanks! He did say something like, "I guess it's just that you're not that desperate" which I think sums it up just fine. He told me it was good to be picky. (Because really, who wants to feel that the person they are with isn't picky at all, and would take anyone?) I do know single women my age that I would describe as desperate, as in it REALLY bugs them that they are single and they get ALL their hopes up with every guy they meet. I think I'm at the stage where "I like my life too much to settle for the wrong one" would be absolute truth for me.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: lady_disdain on April 01, 2012, 12:19:24 AM
Really, really bad timing on his part. Enough to cause me to raise an eyebrow. But, on the whole, I would go with one of the wordings already proposed.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: DuBois on April 03, 2012, 01:22:02 AM
Really, really bad timing on his part. Enough to cause me to raise an eyebrow. But, on the whole, I would go with one of the wordings already proposed.

Yeah, I agree about the bad timing! He was a bit presumptuous I think.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: greencat on April 03, 2012, 02:21:51 AM
Maybe a little humor?  "Because I didn't want to get divorced!"
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Moonie on April 03, 2012, 02:42:35 PM
I always say, "Because I haven't found the person who deserves having me in thier life forever!"
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: mharbourgirl on April 04, 2012, 06:31:56 AM
Really, really bad timing on his part. Enough to cause me to raise an eyebrow. But, on the whole, I would go with one of the wordings already proposed.

Yeah, I agree about the bad timing! He was a bit presumptuous I think.

You know, I'm not so sure about that.  Maybe if OP and her date were in their early 20's, it'd be an odd and inappropriate question, but I get the impression that they're older.  It's a natural curiosity - why haven't you found a partner by this point in your life?  I'd want to know, personally.  To find if they are indeed just particular and cautious, which is a good thing in my mind,  or if there's some deeper issue that might give me a clue as to whether THIS relationship was going to go anywhere or get weird. 

Example from my own life: my brother is 39.  He's never, and I mean NEVER had a long-term, serious, intimate relationship with anyone.  So many people are friends with him, he loves to socialize and he's the life of every party (in a good way, not a crazy way).  But he's terrified of getting close to someone, terrified of getting hurt or rejected, and he will never open up to anyone, not even his siblings.  I have my suspicions as to the ultimate reason for this, but I've always respected his personal privacy regardless of my concerns for him and I don't want to pry into things he's probably not able to deal with in a healthy manner.  Blame our parents for a lot of that, but the guy IS an adult and still can't summon up the spine to take a chance.  He's a great date, easy to talk to, attractive, friendly, but you'll run up against his wall pretty quickly and you're not getting through it.  This is frustrating for anyone, especially someone who wants to get close to him. 

This is the sort of thing any date needs to know, and the older you get the quicker you want to get to the important stuff, the things that will be the deal-breakers, because as you get older you don't want to waste your time.  And you're just interested in the person - in more than just their taste in movies or their favourite foods.  You want to know what makes them tick, what it might take to make them truly happy, all that good stuff.

This is my opinion based on observation and experience.  YMMV.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: KenveeB on April 04, 2012, 07:22:00 AM
I just said that I'd never met the right one, and I liked my life too much to settle for the wrong one.

I'm stealing this one.

Ditto.

This is my response too. Mostly to nosy relatives who are aghast that I haven't gotten married just for the sake of getting married, but it works well in this context too.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Ginger G on April 04, 2012, 07:39:22 AM
Quote
Best response I ever heard to this question was a shrug followed by, "Dunno...just lucky I guess."

I've used this one before myself with coworkers, friends, etc.  Never with a date though.  With a date or potential partner, I would have responded pretty much the way you did. 
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: ilrag on April 04, 2012, 10:07:13 AM
Before I got married I used to say "It's a lot of paperwork" when people asked why I hadn't been married.

Turns out I was right!  It was a lot of paperwork.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: purplemuse on April 04, 2012, 12:29:27 PM
Really, really bad timing on his part. Enough to cause me to raise an eyebrow. But, on the whole, I would go with one of the wordings already proposed.

Yeah, I agree about the bad timing! He was a bit presumptuous I think.

You know, I'm not so sure about that.  Maybe if OP and her date were in their early 20's, it'd be an odd and inappropriate question, but I get the impression that they're older.  It's a natural curiosity - why haven't you found a partner by this point in your life?  I'd want to know, personally.  To find if they are indeed just particular and cautious, which is a good thing in my mind,  or if there's some deeper issue that might give me a clue as to whether THIS relationship was going to go anywhere or get weird. 

Example from my own life: my brother is 39.  He's never, and I mean NEVER had a long-term, serious, intimate relationship with anyone.  So many people are friends with him, he loves to socialize and he's the life of every party (in a good way, not a crazy way).  But he's terrified of getting close to someone, terrified of getting hurt or rejected, and he will never open up to anyone, not even his siblings.  I have my suspicions as to the ultimate reason for this, but I've always respected his personal privacy regardless of my concerns for him and I don't want to pry into things he's probably not able to deal with in a healthy manner.  Blame our parents for a lot of that, but the guy IS an adult and still can't summon up the spine to take a chance.  He's a great date, easy to talk to, attractive, friendly, but you'll run up against his wall pretty quickly and you're not getting through it.  This is frustrating for anyone, especially someone who wants to get close to him. 

This is the sort of thing any date needs to know, and the older you get the quicker you want to get to the important stuff, the things that will be the deal-breakers, because as you get older you don't want to waste your time.  And you're just interested in the person - in more than just their taste in movies or their favourite foods.  You want to know what makes them tick, what it might take to make them truly happy, all that good stuff.

This is my opinion based on observation and experience.  YMMV.

I totally agree with what you've said here, but I thing by "timing," the PPs were referring to the fact that he asked her in the middle of a kiss.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: MacadamiaNut on April 04, 2012, 12:36:37 PM
^^^ It's funny.  The timing of it being during the kiss was what had me thinking it was so sweet.  Like he was sort of saying, "Wow, you're so wonderful, I can't believe nobody has snatched you up yet!"
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Auntie Mame on April 04, 2012, 02:21:29 PM

Last week: I went on a date with a guy and we hit it off. In the middle of a lovely half hour kiss, he asked me why I'd never been married. I forgot how he worded it, but I sensed he really liked me but was trying to figure out my inner freak (if any of you saw that Scrabble and the City episode).


1) "That scrabble and SITC episode" narrows it down to...all of them  ;D

2) My response: I won't settle.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: DavidH on April 04, 2012, 04:01:53 PM
I think it's a reasonable question, and deserves and answer, but the timing...perhaps not the best.  I'd stick with a version of I'm looking for the right person, not just anyone who'll say yes or I haven't met the right person yet.

On some level, he probably was trying to find your inner freak or whether there was one.  In my experience, people don't say, I have some terrible character flaw and you should run before I draw you in, rather you have to read between the lines.  Some reasons would be unlikely to suggest an inner freak, like I was very focused on my career, moved around a great deal, or had to take care of my elderly relatives.  On the other hand, when asking prompts a rant on the demerits of your exes, men in general, etc, then he knows to run far and fast.

I think as one gets older and is single, it does put the question in a potential suitors mind, particularly if they have been married.  They may be thinking, I think she's great and perfect, why didn't someone else think so too before I came on the scene?
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: siamesecat2965 on April 04, 2012, 04:40:39 PM
I have to start off by saying this is a huge issue for me.  Just because I'm 46, and not dating and have never been married doesn't mean there's something wrong with me.  And I know most people don't think that, but sometimes feel like they do.

My standard answer is "I haven't found anyone willing to put up with me" in a joking fashion.  I get that the older you get, for many people they want to find someone to settle down with, and not spend a lot of time d*ting, but having been asked 900 times, it gets old quickly. 
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Raintree on April 04, 2012, 11:00:08 PM
Well he's now asking when he can see me again, and texting me daily so I guess I didn't scare him off yet :D

I guess I can safely say I have no real inner freak to hide; I can honestly say that I've had some great relationships that just didn't pan out after a few years for whatever reason; I've "wasted" time on relationships that I've known are ultimately doomed, just because I enjoyed being with the person for the time being; I've had ONE relationship that involved constant fighting and stress; I've endured the "announcements" I mentioned in my original post, and in general, I do find it increasingly difficult to break the ice with someone new as I get older (40's). It takes someone a little more forward who cuts to the chase instead of hinting and beating about the bush, and that pretty much describes him. (I'm not very forward at all and have never been sure how to let guys know I was interested, so I often end up in the Friend Zone.)

So there you have it; I really don't think I have any weird issues other than what I've described above.

As for his timing, it does sound off the way I told it, but it was kind of in the middle of a break from kissing and in real life didn't seem off at all, but I just wasn't sure the most appropriate way to respond. Lots of great suggestions here that I can use and feel honest about saying.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Isometric on April 04, 2012, 11:34:57 PM
Why did he never get married? Or why did he divorce? These questions go both ways!

I have to admit, I read the question as a compliment too, as in "how is it possible you're still single" but obviously you were there and know the context.

Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Raintree on April 04, 2012, 11:59:13 PM
Why did he never get married? Or why did he divorce? These questions go both ways!

Oh I have questions for him but I don't want to ask them just yet.

Also yes, it did seem more like he was asking why someone as wonderful as me is still single. I didn't think he meant it in a bad way at all. I still was at a loss for how to respond though, and I like many of the responses given here. In case it comes up again.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: lady_disdain on April 05, 2012, 12:22:34 AM
I don't think the question itself is bad and it can be sweet. Never the less, it is a delicate question since the answer is very personal and there can be many painful reasons (being left at the altar, anyone?).

I am glad you two are happy!
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: Mikayla on April 05, 2012, 01:13:53 PM
I don't think the question itself is bad and it can be sweet. Never the less, it is a delicate question since the answer is very personal and there can be many painful reasons (being left at the altar, anyone?).

I am glad you two are happy!

I was thinking much the same reading through this.  I'd never call the question presumptuous or wrong - in fact, it's a common one - but on a first date, nobody should expect full disclosure.  So, OP,  your only problem is which of the great suggestions you use and *when* you use them.

For example, I've only had 2 serious relationships in my life, both long term:  My DH and the guy before him.  I can paint the guy before him in glowing terms, because he was/is a great guy, we had a forced separation of over a year due to his job, that was tough on us and things didn't seem the same when he got back.  That's all true, but it's the sanitized version.

The factoid left out is he cheated on me during that year.  During my dating days after this, I reached a point where I could talk about it, but never on the first date.  It was too personal.   

So I can see where a fairly innocent question has its share of minefields attached.  But you get to pick what gets disclosed and when.  And this all sounds positive for you.  I hope it continues!
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: nalapuppy on April 05, 2012, 03:33:01 PM
Just adding my almost funny (not quite funny, but not bad) story of awkward questions/timing to this post. 

Recently, I was in the middle of a bit of a make-out session with someone I've gone out with.  This is with a friend of many years, that is on the verge of becoming more, but not sure if I'm ready to head in that direction. 

Anyway...he made the comment "I don't understand how he (he as in my ex) could let you go!"  Sounds sweet, right?  Well, my ex hasn't let me go....He has stalked and harassed me to some horrible extremes.  My friend knows this.  As soon as he made that comment, he stopped and kind of laughed it off.  Saying something along the lines of "never mind, forget I said anything about him letting you go."

He was well meaning and sweet, but his comment wasn't very thoughtful (but I did find it funny).
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: audhs on April 12, 2012, 10:07:51 AM
Why did he never get married? Or why did he divorce? These questions go both ways!

Oh I have questions for him but I don't want to ask them just yet.

Also yes, it did seem more like he was asking why someone as wonderful as me is still single. I didn't think he meant it in a bad way at all. I still was at a loss for how to respond though, and I like many of the responses given here. In case it comes up again.

Could it be that he's looking for a long term relationship and is trying to figure out if the reason you've never married is because you don't want to ever marry?  He could be thinking I really like this woman but if it doesn't have marriage potential I don't want to get too involved.


Just anothe thought. ;)

Personally I'd be more wary of someone who had been divorced (especially if more than once) than of someone who had never married.
Title: Re: "So how come you never got married?"
Post by: bah12 on April 12, 2012, 11:47:06 AM
I think that the first date is not the time to ask a question like this.  Even if he's looking for a long term relationship and wants to get that out, it's a bit off-putting to have it all laid out there so soon (at least for me).

The question itself is reasonable, and until I become ready to disclose more, my answer would simply be "Life hasn't led me down that road yet."