The Single Girl's Guide to Staying Polite During Relationship Interrogations

Every year I look forward to the month and a half period that is the holiday season. But I’ve found that the only thing more consistent at these gatherings than spilling gravy on my dress (Seriously, every year!) is having many loving, but nagging, relatives ask me about my relationship status. The honest but risky “still single” response prompts offensive poor-single-girl nods and you’ll-find-someone arm pats.

So, for all you single girls who want to stay polite during the harassment, here’s a few options on how to handle this question with class during three common interrogation scenarios:

Scenario 1: Family Event

You’re revisiting the pie table and your probing cousin is also in the mood for something sweet with a side of gossip. In between, “can I use that pie knife?” and “where are the extra napkins?” the question about your solo status pops up. All you want to do is eat pie, but rather than exclaim your sweet tooth craving, take a second and consider one of these responses:

1. The Polite Girl: “I’m not seeing anyone right now, but I’ll let you know when that changes.”

Why it works: It’s simple, straightforward and honest. And, best of all, it gives your curious questioner the impression that you trust them and will keep them updated on this facet of your life. Nothing gets family off your back like the idea of furthering closeness. Look your caring family member in the eye and say this with confidence, and the pity responses will be gone.

2. The Busy Girl: “I care more about school and work right now than a relationship. Once I’m where I’d like to be in that area, I’ll worry about dating.”

Why it works: This way you make it clear that your life still has plenty of importance even though you’re not romantically sharing it with anyone. Keep talking about your favorite class, the organizations you’re really involved in, or a project you’re working on to show that other things are making you happy. Before you know it, the conversation will change completely. Who can argue with a girl with goals?

3. The Funny Girl: “I’ve been seeing someone, but Fabio travels so much that it’s hard to maintain our relationship.”

Why it works: OK, OK, “Fabio” is a little dated, but you understand the structure. Channel your inner Miranda (“I am seeing a lot of un-special guys”) and make an awkward situation funny. Too many single jokes turn into degrading monologues, which is sad and awkward. Be confident! They’ll be so distracted by your wit, they’ll forget what they even asked you in the first place.

Scenario 2: Run-in at the mall

Unfortunately, the mall interrogation can be just as terrifying as family events. Take a quick trip to Forever21 and, while squeezed between sequined tops and lace skirts, you may just spot an old friend from high school that you haven’t spoken to in years. After a quick “how’s school?” and “do you ever speak to what’s-her-name?” she’ll ask why you’re Facebook status is always single.

1. The Polite Girl: “I’m not too worried about it. When it’s right, I’ll meet someone.”

Why it works: Noting that you’re not nervous about being single forever prevents the tone from turning into a sappy scene from a teenage angst film. Getting to the point and ending on an optimistic note keeps the mood light and allows you to quickly change the subject.

2. The Busy Girl: “You know me; I see people here and there but I like to stay focused on my work. After I graduate I’ll worry about my ‘Mrs. Degree!’”

Why it works: Just like you did with your family, you should make it clear that you have a life outside of dating. (Note: I’m not advocating lying, but going on a date every few months definitely counts as “here and there” in such a scenario.)

3. The Funny Girl: “Apparently men don’t find me quite as charming as I find myself!”

Why it works: End this with a laugh or you’ll probably sound bitter rather than funny. Whether she is currently single or taken, chances are this old girl friend of yours has had some man woes of her own. Say this line with a laugh and you’ll likely find her sharing a related story or agreeing. This line answers the rude question and fills what could have been an awkward silence between two out of touch friends.