Stop Asking Me Why I'm Not Married Yet

Do you know what I’m tired of? Small talk and social expectations of being a woman in my mid-twenties. Let me explain. 

By Grace Ward on February 26, 2016  


This post was originally published on Fall from Grace.  Republished with permission.     


Do you know what I’m tired of? Small talk and social expectations of being a woman in my mid-twenties. Let me explain. 


No matter if I’m talking to an old friend, a new acquaintance, or having a night out with my girlfriends, conversation always seems to turn to marriage. I understand that this is just an element of small talk, but it’s invasive, repetitive, annoying, and often hurtful. If you look at my refrigerator right now, it is a great visual of social expectations for people my age. There are six save-the-date cards hanging there currently, with (at least) four more to come in the next couple months. Marriage is a life event that happens to young people everywhere, and I do hope to get to that stage before too long. However, just because I’m at “prime marriage age” and am in a long-term relationship, that does not mean that I am going to be the next one sending out a save-the-date for all of my friends' refrigerators. SO STOP ASKING. 


When people pry about my future marriage plans, it makes me feel very self-conscious.  A great example is last night when I met a new person at a friend’s birthday party. When I told the guy I had been dating my boyfriend for about four years, his response was,”How bad is your relationship that you aren’t even engaged yet?” Jaw. Dropped. Are you kidding me? Another example is from a recent conversation with a friend of mine (currently engaged), who would never intentionally say something to make me feel bad. But when she told me that she “knows how upsetting it must be” to see all of our friends getting engaged before me, it did hurt. It made me feel like I needed to be upset about that. I used to pretend that I didn’t care about these comments, but as I get older and more people start to ask me about that aspect of my personal life, all I want to do is walk away. 


The frustrating thing is that these types of conversations seem to be exclusively reserved for women. David never gets inundated with the kinds of questions that I do. When I overhear people making small talk with him, it’s often about his career. HEY GUESS WHAT! I HAVE A JOB, TOO! AND I’M IN GRAD SCHOOL! Maybe it’s my inner-feminist coming out, but it really irks me that accomplishments for men seem to revolve around their professional lives, but the number one accomplishment for a woman my age is marriage. GETTING MARRIED IS NOT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT. It’s a beautiful thing, but it is not an accomplishment. 

I guess the purpose of this post (besides venting) is to urge everyone who reads it to rethink their future small talk. And it doesn’t just go for 20-something girls. When I was in high school, the question I got asked all the time was, “What college do you want to go to?” or “What do you want to do after graduation?” We have all been there and we all know how obnoxious it is to answer those questions a million times over. When small talk occurs, it is filled with presumptuous advice, questions, and observations. Don’t be that person. Don’t assume that an 18-year-old kid is going to go to college. What if he wants to join the Peace Corps? Don’t assume that a married couple is going to have kids. What if they can’t get pregnant? And in regard to me and my fellow unmarried 20-something ladies, do not assume that we are ready for marriage or that something is wrong in our relationship if we are not there yet.


For all of you lovely people who have thought about bringing up marriage to me, but didn’t, thank you. I know that that must be particularly hard for moms and grandparents who want to know when their babies are gonna get hitched, so thank you guys in particular for not being invasive and letting my life happens as it happens. You make me feel like my professional successes are accomplishments, and that makes me feel good. 


And for those of you who bombard me on a regular basis with talk about the M word, I know you have never intended to be hurtful towards me or anyone else in my position. But now that you know what you’re doing to my fragile 20-something emotions, please stop. 




The unmarried, but exceptionally happy with her relationship, 20-something.