Woe Is Me! “I’m 30 and Unmarried. Why Won’t People Leave Me Alone?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
Why does everyone suddenly want to know my marital status after I turned 30?
— I Just Got Here
LG: Because a witch put a curse on you at birth that if you’re unmarried at 30, you will slowly turn into a brittle, bitter, desiccated husk of a human being who can only mumble ‘My mother was right!’ repeatedly around the cracked teeth dropping out of your mouth. They’re just concerned. No one wants your mother to be right. They’re just doing what they can to help you break the spell. That their efforts are slowly driving you mad is a risk they’re willing to take. (TL/DR: because patriarchy)
RD: Who are these people? Can you ignore them? Do it! Can you tell them it’s none of their business? Do it! Also, find some 30+ unmarried friends to make fun of these people, so their opinions don’t feel important or too weighing on your mental health. Take solace in the fact that you’re great and they’re stuck in their weird conditioning and that you deserve to live your life the way you choose to. They probably didn’t have the freedom to do so and are now salty. Whatever, forget them.
DR: As a society, we struggle with leaving people alone. I don’t know how you can change that, but maybe, you can try growing a thicker skin? I know it’s much easier said than done, of course, there’s no denying that. But, at the end of the day, if there’s anyone we can rely on for self-preservation, it’s ourselves. Alternatively, if you have the capacity to engage, and in circumstances where you are comfortable engaging, why don’t you just counter these questions on your marital status, with “Sorry, can you explain how that’s relevant?” or “Could you explain why you’d want to know that?”
Also, if you’re in the mood to mess with these agents of patriarchy, I have two ideas for you: (a) You can pretend to be taken aback, deeply offended even, as though they asked you something as personal, and “taboo,” like “Which sexual position do you prefer in bed?” or “How many times do you have sex every week?” Pretend to be outraged beyond words, and just walk away disapprovingly, or with something like, “I can’t believe you just said that! Out of respect for you, I’m not going to tell anybody you just did this, but wow…” — as they’re left standing stupefied; (b) Reply with, “Oh my God, you don’t know?”, and pretend to be heartbroken on account of that question, and run to the loo, as if to cry.
I always find a great deal of pleasure in not satiating, but instead increasing, the curiosity of these nosey people, so another suggestion is that you either giggle, or flash a mysterious smile, or what-the-heck, maybe, even a sly, murderous one, and walk away — leave them guessing; it’s torture for their souls, believe me. It sucks that you have to deal with this, but maybe, try having some fun at their expense. If I could, I would love to just watch their expressions, and double down with laughter. Good luck!
KB: Absurd. People are obsessed with tying women’s happiness and fulfillment to their marital status. Patriarchy is a bummer. But this is the world we live in, and you are not going to change every stranger’s deeply-rooted biases during quotidian small talk. What you can change is your reaction to their invasive, sexist badgering. I would highly recommend you come up with a scathing one-liner (“With rising domestic violence rates, I’ve decided it’ll be safer for me to sit out this experience,” or “I’ll think about it the moment marital rape is criminalized in India”), and practice dishing it out with irreverence and just the slightest hint of disdain. This line will become your armor, and it will shut people up immediately so you don’t have to deal with any prodding follow up questions. Ultimately, other people’s opinions on this matter are not your concern, so just find a way to not hear them anymore.
ADT: I assume you’ve noticed most of these people are either old, traditionalist or idle-minded? Marriage is such a pivotal, large occurrence in the former two’s lives that they cannot comprehend people rejecting it or taking their time with it. For them, marriage is like giving your 10th boards or going to college — it just has to be done on time. For the idle-minded, well, you know they’re bored out of their minds and have literally nothing to do.
But I suspect you didn’t ask this because you want to know what they think. You asked this because the incessant buzz of people’s queries and worries are rubbing off on you. Against your better judgement, you’re worried that there’s something ‘off’ about you because you didn’t conform. Take pause and remember why you chose to stay unmarried till now, and why you’d like to continue to be left alone. The more you’re around people who won’t stop asking you this question, the more you’re going to have to talk yourself off the worry-cliff. Trust yourself to do the right thing for yourself. The more sure you get, I promise you — you’ll barely notice people asking this nonsense anymore.
AS: Sigh. If these people have a tendency to insert their nose in other people’s (read: unmarried people’s) business, it should be their woe and not yours. The question is: are you happy with your decision to not be married? By the way you have framed this, my guess is – yes. I would suggest you adopt a funny comeback like, “Didn’t you hear? I got married last week! Everyone was there — oh wait” (sorry, my sense of humor is not that…humorous) Unfortunately, people taking faltu interest in your life may not subside any time soon — since shaadis are our national pastime — so I’d recommend just mute them out, or get a giggle out of it!