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It happened again. My flatmate’s father, who is here from Lagos, learned that my family is a day’s drive away in North Carolina. His first question: did I hope to have a family of my own, meaning husband and kiddos; wasn't I lonely, didn't I think I was missing out, etc. The fact that his own son is standing right there, and is 100% unmarried and not dating, didn’t appear to deserve mention, though I guess that could be a well-covered topic between them.

Still. Some days I think it would be easier if I was gay and was doing the whole chastity thing out of some kind of moral/religious conviction. That would make sense to folks, but if there's a graceful way to keep people from getting all up in my business on this one, I'm yet to find it.

And I know I talk about flatmate connections, but that's really because he's the one I'm around when I have time to write. It happens at work, too. The fact that a person can be completely happy with a life not centered around carrying for a spouse and/or family seems just unfathomable.

I do have a family, you know. They're called friends.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
androdea
May. 18th, 2015 11:44 pm (UTC)
I'm not old enough to be asked these things yet, but I don't plan on starting a "family" either, and I already feel the pressure lol.
elliska
May. 19th, 2015 12:18 am (UTC)
I get asked why I never had children all the time. People often go as far as to ask if I had many miscarriages trying or offer sympathy for all the miscarriages they just assume I must have had (I've never been pregnant). I always put on my straightest face and tell the questioner that a horrible genetic disease runs in my family that I wouldn't want to pass on to a child. And then I completely make up a disease name and outrageous symptoms that I describe in graphic detail. I don't stop until my audience looks on the verge of either vomiting or fleeing. Then, still with a completely straight face, I ask them if there is anything else they'd like to know about me. I'm an open book. Most people are smart enough to figure out what just happened.

People have a lot of nerve to assume their preferences fit everyone else's life. Arrogance definitely reigns supreme.
androdea
May. 19th, 2015 01:06 pm (UTC)
Amazing. I might use the fake disease thing some day, just to scare people.
engarian
May. 19th, 2015 12:53 am (UTC)
I fielded why my husband and I didn't have children "yet" or ever for years and years. The concept of childless by choice seemed a foreign language. I finally decided my best response was to ignore the question or general rudeness because, really, my life choices were no-one's business but my own.

Maybe I already had a thicker skin because I was given a hard time about being an adopted child throughout my childhood, but by the time I was in my 20's and on, I walked my own path and felt I owed no explanations to anyone. I may not have endeared myself to some people, but I remained true to myself and could look at myself in the mirror each morning without flinching or second-guessing my actions of the previous day.

I hope you find firm ground to walk on. It's hard when your personal beliefs are called into question, especially by those who have no business sticking their noses into your life at all. Reach out to us when you need it. You're right - you have friends.

- Erulisse (one L)
lindahoyland
May. 19th, 2015 02:52 am (UTC)
I guess I've been lucky as most folk have always accepted I'd no wish for marriage or children.Some have even said they envied me.I don't think it is anyone's affair save one's own. I suppose one could turn the whole thing round and say "Well I always wondered why you/some people want marriage and children." My friends are my family too and I have cats to come home to.
dreamflower02
May. 19th, 2015 03:28 am (UTC)
I have many friends both online and in RL who are uninterested in ever "coupling" or reproducing.

As much as I love my husband and the life we've built together, there are times I've envied them. They don't need to consider any opinion but their own when making decisions about where to live, where to go, how to spend their money and so forth. It doesn't last, because I do like my life the way it is: BUT it is my life and not someone else's, and I can certainly see why other choices besides my own could be appealing. Different strokes, YMMV, and so forth.

I think it may have been Miss Manners who suggested that the best answer to prying questions is to look at the interrogator and ask in return: "Why on earth would you ask me that?"

(Er, a rather disconcerting idea has occurred to me, when you mention your flatmate's status...you don't suppose the parents are prying because they either hope or fear that you could be a match for him? Heaven knows, sometimes the parents of single adult children can be a little obsessed about getting said child married off. No matter how ludicrous the idea might be. I hope I'm wrong, but it might explain the attitude.)
marta_bee
May. 19th, 2015 04:24 am (UTC)
(Er, a rather disconcerting idea has occurred to me, when you mention your flatmate's status...you don't suppose the parents are prying because they either hope or fear that you could be a match for him?

The woman I've described as his mum - not biological, but as his biological parents live on a different continent the emotional ties are similar, and that's his name for her - has suggested as much to him. He told her politely but firmly it wasn't going to happen and when he told me about it I laughed so hard I doubled over. And he didn't seem put off by that reaction.

But... yeah. It's not impossible some other people have that hope as well. I've made it hopelessly clear that I am not interested in that, and I really doubt he's interested as well (he laughed pretty heartily himself) but that doesn't mean those around him have hopes there as well. I know the two of us are comfortable living together platonically, but I actually can see where some people around him might find it slightly off-beat that a man and woman would live together like that, and might hope it would lead to something more recognizable and respectable I guess? I don't think he expects anything of the sort, but that expectation may be lurking there as well.
donutgirl
May. 19th, 2015 07:17 am (UTC)
I know the two of us are comfortable living together platonically, but I actually can see where some people around him might find it slightly off-beat that a man and woman would live together like that, and might hope it would lead to something more recognizable and respectable I guess? I don't think he expects anything of the sort, but that expectation may be lurking there as well.

ha, I can picture Sherlock saying this (slightly paraphrased) about him and John. ;)
androdea
May. 19th, 2015 01:08 pm (UTC)
Amazing.
foxestacado
May. 19th, 2015 05:48 am (UTC)
Man, I'm at that age now where my mom is suddenly and desperately nagging at me to have kids. Because, biological clock. In fact, having kids is lower in priority than being properly married and whatnot.

It's so difficult being constantly confronted with that question, until I blew up last year, and we compromised and agreed it should be a topic brought up only once a year. Which, that one year mark is here, and I'm hoping against hope that she won't bring it up for at least another year. I might have jinxed myself just by typing that.
dreamflower02
May. 19th, 2015 02:39 pm (UTC)
LOL!

That would have made me pro-active back in the day, even if my mom would have agreed to such a limit.

"OK, mom, year's up. Let's have that conversation and get it over with till next year."

She'd have been so flustered and offended, she would either never bring it up again, or she'd have ret-conned herself into thinking it was all her idea in the first place.
kenazfiction
May. 27th, 2015 06:47 pm (UTC)
I'm married, but went through menopause about 20 years early. I had been ambivalent about kids, but that ended the conversation. For *me,* at least. Other people still seem very invested it it. I don't like giving the "honest" answer, because my medical history is no one's business, and it leads to all sorts of "But technology! In vitro! Adoption!" discussions, which force me to say "My partner and I were ambivalent at best," which seems, in many peoples' minds to mean "I hate children." I don't hate children! I just didn't want any. And truthfully, if my marriage ended for any reason, it would be highly unlikely that I would get involved with someone of either gender again. In many ways, I am at my best when on my own. Why people feel the need to weigh in on the personal lives of others remains a mystery to me.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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