Your friends and family members have the best intentions, but even though they mean well, their inquiries can be difficult to navigate. This can be especially true during the pressure-packed holiday season, where you and your new (or long-term) partner are around a community of those who know you well and aren't afraid to put you on the spot.
As you wade your way through cocktail parties, potluck dinners, gift-opening excursions, and the carving of turkeys, here are some of the questions you might get asked, depending on how long you've been together. Even better? Psychologists offer their best advice on how to appropriately answer—or dodge—the interrogation.
If you've just started dating: "Are you serious?"
You've finally been dating someone long enough that you want them to come home for the holidays. Though you and your partner are on the same page, your family will want to know exactly where you're headed so they know how to treat the newcomer. As Los Angeles-based psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., explains, "Family and friends may want to know in what direction this relationship is going so they can understand if their loved one's significant other could be a permanent addition to their circle." Thankfully, the way to approach your answer is simple, according to Thomas. Just be honest and brief: The relationship is new, you're getting to know one another, and you're having a lot of fun.
If you've been together for a while: "When are you getting engaged?"
Is there anything less romantic than your grandfather poking at your boyfriend of two years, encouraging him to pop the question? Probably not, but as Thomas says, your family wants to see you happy and they want to feel more comfortable investing in your partner as someone who will be part of the family for a long time. "Don't get defensive or divulge more than the couple is comfortable with. Instead, keep things open-ended and say something like 'We haven't been dating that long and are letting things naturally take its course,'" she suggests.
If you're engaged: "When and where is the wedding?"
Especially if you've only just recently got engaged, your friends and family will be fishing for the details about your upcoming nuptials. Thomas says that while some are just trying to get an idea of when you'll be walking down the aisle for planning reasons, others may be fishing for an invite. This is where using your best judgement is essential. "If the couple doesn't know some answers yet, or if the people asking these questions are likely not going to be invited, keep things light and more vague," she suggests.
If you just got married: "How is married life?"
Talk about a loaded question, right? From post-wedding blues to navigating your first year together, the newlywed stage is one that's filled with many memorable firsts, but also a lot of work. So when your cousin wants to know all the details of what it's like being hitched? Thomas says to share as little or as much as you and your partner feel comfortable with. "People can be interested in hearing how different it feels to be married and if everything feels idyllic or not," she says. "The couple can share how they are experiencing being newlyweds, saying 'It is not as perfect as it we thought it would be' or 'It feels great. We still can't believe we are actually married.'"
If you've been married for a few years: "When are you having kids?"
Your parents may be anxious to become grandparents, but as Thomas explains, it's a private, sensitive topic and it's truly up to you on how much you want to reveal. "If the couple doesn't want to have any children, it's up to them to either say that or to abstractly answer with something like 'We don't know.' If the couple does intend to have kids, it's again their right to answer as directly as they feel comfortable or say that they are not sure," Thomas says.