Emotionally intelligent people never ask these 19 questions (no matter how curious they are)

Social media has made it so easy for us to be privy to other people’s lives. 

Some even take this as permission to ask intrusive and insensitive questions. People’s gender and sexuality are often called into question. 

People’s weight gets bounced around like it should be common knowledge.

It’s not just on social media though, it could be anywhere from your family’s holiday celebration asking you when you’re getting married, to a well-meaning stranger asking the due date of your “food baby”.

News flash: Even well-meaning questions can hurt. And emotionally intelligent people know this. 

So no matter how curious they are, emotionally intelligent people would never ask these 19 questions (and why you shouldn’t either). 

NEVER.

1) “Have you lost/gained weight?”

Why you shouldn’t: 

We all just need to stop asking about each other’s weights. There, I said it. 

Whether you ask someone if they gained or lost weight, it could be an uncomfortable conversation.

Yes, someone who lost a lot of weight could be on a weight loss journey and is celebrating the weight they’ve lost. However, they could’ve also lost it in other ways like stress and illness.

The same goes for weight gain, there are many reasons for it (again, like stress and illness) but not everyone is willing to talk about it.

And trust me, whatever comment you can say about someone’s weight, they already know. You’ll just be adding unnecessary pressure.

2) “How much do you weigh?”

Why you shouldn’t:

If there’s one thing you take away from this list, let it be this: If people want you to know, they will let you know.

Weight is an uncomfortable topic (Refer to #1) for a lot of people, it’s best not to poke someone’s trigger points. That’s the minimum if we’re talking about being more emotionally intelligent.

We need to be more sensitive about other people’s pain points. We need to be gentler with each other, to care about each other more.

3) “Why are you still single?”

Why you shouldn’t:

Asking someone why they’re single is one of the most tiring questions to answer. 

Whether someone is single by choice or by circumstance, it’s going to be a lengthy conversation with a lot of follow-up questions. 

And other people always feel the need to give unsolicited advice, which is equally as exhausting.

4) “Why did you break up?”

Why you shouldn’t:

It’s very personal. It could’ve been a bad breakup. It could’ve been a traumatic relationship. 

It could be triggering for them. They might not have moved on. They might not want to talk about it at all.

Unless the information is readily offered, don’t ask.

5) “Why aren’t you married yet?”

Why you shouldn’t:

This is a friction-inducing question, whether someone is single or in a relationship. 

If someone is single, asking them why they aren’t married yet is both obvious and not. Obvious because they’re literally currently single, and not obvious because they might have their reasons why.

If someone is in a relationship, asking them why they aren’t married yet will add pressure. The couple might not want to get married at all, or not yet, or soon. 

An unmarried couple of marriageable age has already heard this question many times, better not add fuel to the fire. 

6) “When are you having kids?”

Why you shouldn’t:

Similar to the point above, this is a sensitive topic. 

From what I’ve noticed, this is particularly geared towards married women (and couples) who have yet to have kids. 

And let me remind you that two of these reasons are infertility and miscarriage, which are painful experiences to go through. 

Let me also remind you that couples can choose to be childless, and that’s valid. 

So the next time you’re thinking of asking this question, remind yourself that plenty have done so before, don’t add to that statistic.

7) “How many months along are you?”

Why you shouldn’t:

Unless you’re absolutely sure that someone is pregnant, don’t ask this question. 

Wanting to comment on a stranger’s baby bump? What if they’re not pregnant? Ever thought of that awkwardness?

Emotionally intelligent people would. They operate under the idea that there is always a possibility that they could be wrong in their assumptions.

8) “How much money are you making?”

Why you shouldn’t:

While I agree that we all should be more transparent about our money, not everyone is comfortable with that idea. 

That’s something we should respect.

For a lot of people, income is a touchy subject. It might trigger feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. That, or some people are just not comfortable talking about money.

9) “How did they die?”

An emotionally intelligent person will tell you that this is a very triggering question, especially if asked to the people closest to the deceased. 

This is one of those “if they’re comfortable letting you know, they will let you know” situations. And if you can go without knowing, then go without.

10) “Why are you so quiet? / Why won’t you join in the fun?”

pic1982 Emotionally intelligent people never ask these 19 questions (no matter how curious they are)

Why you shouldn’t:

To be fair, this question could be asked in good faith, but it could still be awkward for the person being asked.

After all, some people just want to stay quiet. And that there are people who prefer to stay by their lonesome.

Simple as that. 

11) “But where are you really from?”

Why you shouldn’t:

Usually affecting the diaspora, asking people where they’re really from can become a form of microaggression

People in the diaspora have a complicated relationship with their identity, to begin with, try not to add to their concerns. 

12) “Are you gay?”

Why you shouldn’t:

First of all, it’s impolite. Second of all, not everyone is willing to give this information, especially if they’re not out. 

And let’s be honest, there are instances that this question is used negatively—a lot of instances, actually. An emotionally intelligent person will take this into account and act accordingly.

13) “So who’s the girl and the guy in the relationship?” (same-sex couples)

This is a very nuanced topic but I’ll leave it at this: Why use heteronormative labels for same-sex couples? 

Even if you’re not well-read on this topic, being emotionally intelligent will tell you to not speak on things you’re not knowledgeable about. 

And if you do ask this question, be open enough to learn if and when you get corrected.

14) “How do you have sex?”

Why you shouldn’t:

What an awkward and unnecessary question. It’s very invasive and personal, too.

I notice this one is geared towards anybody who is outside the “usual” and “traditional” idea of what couples should be. 

I personally have seen this comment a lot because I follow a Facebook page called Love Don’t Judge, and ooh boy, the way people judge on the comment section. 

Whether it’s a queer couple or couples who are far apart in ages, or with a very large height gap, a large weight difference, a polyamorous couple, a couple with disabilities, etc. 

Suddenly, you’d see comments wondering how these people have sex. Of all the things to ask, why that one?

When did we become so entitled to other people’s lives? 

15) “Have you had (gender-affirming) surgery down there?”

Why you shouldn’t:

This is a deeply personal question that can potentially bring up a lot of emotional baggage. 

What people have between their legs is none of our concern. 

A trans person’s transition journey is not our business and whether or not they’ve done other gender-affirming procedures is also not our concern.

If you’re only going to ask because you’re nosy and are not genuinely willing to learn, don’t ask. 

Unless the information is offered, don’t ask. 

16) “Are you on your period?”

Why you shouldn’t:

Anyone who has ever gotten their period will tell you that this question is usually weaponized by others.

People use “You’re on your period, aren’t you?” to imply that someone is being hormonal and irrational. Chalk it up to being “crazy”. 

People use this to minimize or disqualify someone’s genuine concerns, calling them “exaggerated” and “erratic”.

Nothing good comes from using this question this way, better steer clear. 

17) “Who’s your favorite child?”

Emotionally intelligent people know that this question can make people uncomfortable.

Sure, it could be a funny question to ask, but you’re going to run the risk of offending either the parents or the children. 

Or both.

18) “Did you get any work (plastic surgery) done?”

Why you shouldn’t:

If it’s obvious, just move on along. You don’t need to know the details unless it’s offered. 

Plastic surgery is a divisive topic, after all; and while more and more people are more open to it, not everyone is. 

Emotionally intelligent people know when to draw the line.

19) “How did you get that scar?”

Why you shouldn’t:

It could be triggering. Scars tell a story and some people are proud of theirs while some people aren’t.

Scars signify that someone survived something, and not everyone will be comfortable telling you what they survived from. 

Few more things

This might sound preachy but I stand by this: we should all just treat each other a little less harshly—perhaps even gently. 

Life is tough enough as it is without being grilled by highly invasive questions. Sure, emotionally intelligent people will know where to draw the line, but not everyone is that empathetic

Curiosity wins over empathy sometimes, doesn’t it?

Truthfully, having 19 questions is far too short of a list. There are questions that will be unique from person to person, and it takes discretion to know where to stop.

With that, perhaps the best thing to do is to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Ask yourself, “Would I want other people to know this? Would I want other people to ask me this?”

“Would I want people to know my insecurities? My deepest fears? My illness? My past trauma? My sexuality?” 

Of course, there are polite ways to ask someone, but I personally would not risk it. If I can survive without knowing that information, then I’d go without it.

When in doubt, don’t ask.

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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