Conversation starters and follow-up questions are meant to be inviting and interesting. They let you into a new person's world but are not meant to dig too deep right up front. The trouble is, however, some seemingly innocent questions can spark very intense and unsettling emotions. Be forewarned, asking these five seemingly innocent questions could get you into a world of trouble.
1. "Why are you single?"
It may sound funny in text but this question is all too common in person. When you find out someone who is attractive, seems successful, and by all appearances is relationship material isn't taken, it's natural to wonder why. Why someone is single is very rarely an easy topic of discussion. There's a small chance the answer will be an easy "I enjoy being single," or "I haven't met the right person yet." The truth can be much bleaker. Someone you just met isn't likely to tell you how "the love of my life cheated on me," "My partner passed away" or "I just got out of an abusive relationship."
The dreaded "I don't know" is the response you're likely to hear. It could be an honest indication of feeling lost in the dating world, or a cover for another more personal response. A great person could be struggling to find their match and asking this question could remind them of a part of their life they think is missing. Tread lightly when asking about relationships. Focus more on what someone is looking for in a partner, not why they don't have one.
2. "Are you married?"
When asked by an interested potential suitor or someone looking to make a match this question is totally appropriate. When inquiring just to know can turn curiosity into a sore spot. Just like being unintentionally single, being unintentionally unmarried can bring tension into the room.
3. "When are you getting married?"
If you encounter a couple, scope both their ring fingers before asking if they've tied the knot. If you don't see a couple of rings, avoid the subject unless they bring it up. Asking if a couple is married can cause chaos in the room if someone wants to get married, but the other is stalling.
4. "How far along are you?"
Assuming someone is pregnant when they are not can cause embarrassment for both you and the non-expectant mother. If she is pregnant she'll likely bring it up herself. Instead of being pregnant, it's possible she's working on getting healthier or just had a baby and is in recovery.
5. "When are you having kids?"
This question could go either way. The answer could be hopeful and joyous or devastating. It's most likely you'll get the standard answers, "We're waiting until we're financially set," or "We're going to start trying in a year or two." But every once in a while you'll come across a couple or person who is having serious fertility issues and is completely crushed at the prospect of not becoming a parent. The truth is you don't know what someone is going through. It is also none of your business. Most of the time you'll be safe, but this question lies squarely in a mine field of hurt, so it's best to just steer clear!
When in doubt, wait for someone else to bring up these topics. Upsetting someone when trying to get to know them better won't ever end well. Let them speak and bring up major points of their life they want to talk about. And if they don't bring it up, don't mention it.