I live in a small-minded community where the primary pastime is having children and overmanaging their lives. My husband and I work in Sacramento, but moved to the foothills to enjoy retreat-style weekends. It’s like the 1950s up here. All the women seem to be able to talk about is their children. The most annoying thing is that they always ask me when I plan to have kids. When I laugh and say “never,” it’s like they’re in denial. They fuss about how I’m getting older and should get a move on it. My husband and I decided not to have children before we were married. It’s none of their business, actually, but is there a polite way of telling them that?
Probably not. You can’t whip up the right batch of words to force-feed reality to your neighbors. They don’t want to hear or know about any lifestyle that might be different from their own choice and yet successful. As a woman who is married, child-free and happy, you are living a life that might inspire your neighbors to question their chosen path. Since self-reflection is more challenging than inciting discomfort, your neighbors prefer to needle you.
You can make these conversations more enjoyable by compassionately centering each conversation on the person you are talking to. If she asks, “When do you plan to have kids?” respond, “I don’t have a plan to have kids. When did you start?” If she says something like, “I was 24 years old,” you can reminisce about what life was like for each of you at 24, or just before that turning point. In other words, take part in shaping the conversation. Don’t allow yourself to become the victim of it.
Here’s another level of love to play with: gratitude. Each time a neighbor behaves as if you are doing something wrong by failing to follow a 20th-century lifestyle, be grateful. You have the courage and backbone to live according to what has been placed in your heart, regardless of peer pressure. Every annoying inquiry is simply an invitation to celebrate your trust in the grand design of your life.
There’s this really hot intern at work who greets me with “Hey, gorgeous!” every morning and always compliments me. He remembers exactly how I like my lattes, buys one for me at least once a week, and drops it by my desk with a smile. He’s a little younger and still in college, but graduating soon. Do you think that’s why he hasn’t asked me out? Should I ask him out? I find myself thinking about him a lot, but I can’t figure out the next move.
The next move is awkward because whatever happens, the relationship now shifts from fantasy into reality. If you ask him out and he declines, you might feel rejected, and his chances of being hired might die a little. If you ask him out and he says yes, it will take a while before you feel like he’s on a date because he wants to be, not just because he needs a job. Then again, if he asks you out and you say no, it’s because he is an intern in your place of employment. Comprende?
The timing is off, so wait until his internship is over before asking him out. The delay will give you time to figure out if he’s just a really friendly guy who is already indoctrinated in basic sales techniques (keeping his contacts happy) or if he is really into you. And please stop your brain from obsessing about him. Your imagination is transforming him into a perfect guy, and that corrupts your ability to experience him as a human being.