All The Q’s & A’s: Relationship Edition

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Image/Art: Gemma Tickle Set Design

It’s hilarious – ha ha ha! – how curious and conflicted people can be over my relationship status and sexuality, especially in liberal art spaces like the comedy community. I mean, I get it. I’m already a confusing creature because I’m a woman. My brown skin makes me an incomprehensible exotic question mark. And I don’t openly discuss or social-media-document my relationship with my partner out of respect for my own ideas of privacy and individuality. So I really throw people off in their quest to make sense of me within their understanding.

But in order to satisfy curiosity and save myself future trouble, here are all the answers to all the questions I’ve been asked lately about my relationship status:

“What does your husband do?”

This is the most common question I’m asked across the gender spectrum, and usually within the first few minutes we’ve met. Literally, I’ve just met you, and you’re asking me what my husband does, while asking other people about their favorite restaurant or highest score on Mario Kart. I feel like I’m being sized up for my financial status. Does it truly matter what my husband does, and if so, why?

Answer: I still don’t get how this is relevant, but if you insist on knowing, my husband plays a lot of Madden and eats a lot of donuts.

Alternative: “Tell me about your partner.” This leaves it open-ended for me to share what I choose to. I think that’s probably what you mean in the first place.

“Wow, you’re married? You’re so young. How old are you?”

I can’t tell if you’re secretly wondering if I had an arranged marriage, and now I feel like I need to play the Breaking Stereotypes card and explain my agency in my relationship. I mean, April Ludgate got married at 21 and I don’t see anyone asking her questions (except Leslie, but she got over it) (because Ron made her).

“Wait, why do you call him your partner? You made it seem like you’re a lesbian.” 

Whoa. You’re actually angry as you’re saying this. I’ve totally violated your right to have a clear understanding of my sexual orientation. Did it freak you out that you couldn’t put me into a neat little box of bangable vs. non-bangable chicks, douchebag?

Answer: I prefer to use the word partner because it’s an inclusive term.

“If he’s your partner, why do you also call him your husband?” 

Answer: When I solely use partner, it hurts your brain and you ask questions like the one above. When I use them interchangeably, you ask questions like this one. All in all, my master plan to confuse you is working out real well.

“You didn’t mention you have a husband.”

Oops, I did it again, I played with your heart, thought I was being, a platonic profession-al-al-al-al, ooo baby, baby. If I mention my partner, the conversation becomes about him, and I’m seen and treated differently. If I don’t mention my partner, men accuse me of confusing them.

Answer: Hi, my name is Nida, and I’m in a deeply committed relationship with a male heterosexual. To clarify, we’re legally bound to split our assets should we choose to part. No, I know you’re just bagging my groceries. I just felt like you should know, in case you feel misled by my hand grazing yours when you hand me my paper bag.

“Did you bring your husband with you (when you moved)?”

Ohhh. That’s why people profess their love for each other on Facebook. To remind everyone they’re not divorced.

Answer: Yes, I brought my prisoner with me. He’s at home right now. Don’t worry – I left him plenty of food and water.

Alternative: How’s your partner doing?

“Oh, you moved to be with your husband. I thought it was because you’re an independent woman.”

If I knew there could only be one simplistic reason for all my life choices…

Answer: Look. The truth is, I’m exactly what you think I am: an oppressed Muslim woman. I need your help. Please save me from your oppressive insistence that I’m oppressed.

“Why do you wear your ring on your right hand?” 

This one’s out of cultural curiosity. I get that.

Answer: It fits better!

“Why don’t you get it resized?” 

Answer: Okay, fine, you got me. It’s because it’s my personal protest against the institution of marriage which is supposedly for God but humans insist on acting on God’s behalf and that makes me upset. Look, you’re the one who opened Pandora’s Box, not me.

And this one’s for everyone:
“When are you having a baby?” / “Are you planning on having kids?” 

This is really funny to me because if I say I’m not planning on having kids within a certain timeframe, and then I do, I’ve basically told a whole lot of people my childbearing plan wasn’t so planned. Everyone, meet my baby Whoops. 

Alternative: IDK, I can’t fix society.

I hate writing these kinds of posts because it involves dissecting the weird things that very nice, complex human beings have said to me. I should probably accept these questions as a natural consequence of doing something slightly unconventional. I’m not particularly annoyed with any one person. When I look at these questions independently, they’re harmless, well-meaning small talk. But they’re almost always asked in a super-blunt, cornering situation in front of my peers/co-workers. There’s something insidious about being called out about my otherness in a front of a group of people. Where everyone is chillin’, maxin’ and relaxin’, I’m explaining my life choices. I’m not pretending I’m the same as everyone (White male heterosexual) in the room. I want to share of myself. A simple “Tell me about yourself” would be very much appreciated. But the manner in which these questions are asked seem more about satisfying reductive, gendering, othering curiosity, than about getting to know me as a person. Plus, these questions relegate my existence to my relationship with a man.

I’ve been shamed into answering these questions time and time again, I’m going to shame you out of asking them.

::drops mic and kicks it off stage:: 

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