DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a single woman in my early 30s, and many of my co-workers are younger than myself. They’re very worldly, many of them married and having babies, or at least in committed relationships.
Sex and relationships are big topics of discussion amongst these co-workers, and are topics that I am uncomfortable discussing with people that I am not particularly close to. I barely discuss these things with my family and friends. I feel that my history and perspectives would not be respected or understood by this group.
However, they feel it is OK to press me on these topics. They seem to find it odd that I do not express interest in being married or wanting to be in a relationship. Almost everyone seems baffled by my reluctance to jump into relationships -- or beds, for that matter. It seems that love and marriage are goals that must be achieved immediately after a career has been established, and that society expects this.
I am reticent to disclose my (very nonexistent) romantic past when pressed. I know they make their own assumptions at my reluctance to share. I also know that they speculate about why I am not eager to be in a relationship.
I am happy with my life as it is. I am shy, conservative and have a set of morals not compatible with modern ideas about dating. Thus, I am not at all interested in the modern dating scene.
I find it stressful to have to listen to the teases and offers of matchmaking with their acquaintances -- quite honestly, a set of people I very much doubt I would have anything in common with. I feel embarrassed at the idea of people being forced into my company, and vice versa, for the express purpose of forming a romantic attachment, and the expectations that come along with that.
I received a message from a co-worker who I have not seen in some time, offering to set me up with a man she believes would be “perfect” for me. I debated how to reply in an off-the-cuff, jokey, “Thanks, but I’m OK” way. I have left it for so long that now it is too late to respond. I do not know how to acknowledge her text when I see her again. I know, 100 percent, that she will broach the subject.
What does a single girl do when faced with so many pushy matchmakers? And how do I respond to their inquiries about my love life without alienating myself from my co-workers? I enjoy working with them, as long as they leave my love life out of the discussion.
GENTLE READER: “That’s kind of you, but I am not available.” And to the inevitable follow-up question, “It’s not something I want to discuss.”
Miss Manners realizes that your colleagues will assume that you are having a clandestine affair with someone of such prominence as to be protective of their public reputation. Or that your heart is in someone’s premature grave. Or that you have taken secret religious vows.
But don’t mind that. As long as you keep responding cheerfully but firmly, they will eventually have to give up.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)