Flustered Friend

Dear Sensible Midwesterner,

What is an appropriate, civil response that also makes it clear that no follow-up questions will be entertained to use when people ask about the romantic status of a man and a woman who prefer to keep their private life private (and who don’t care for the flippant-yet-intriguing “It’s complicated”)? The friends in question are about to launch a joint professional project and such queries from the curious are being fielded by yours truly on a daily basis. Help! Please.

Sincerely,

Flustered Friend

Dear Flustered Friend,

If I understand you correctly, these two people are, in fact, more than just friends or business partners, but aren’t ready to go public with that fact or aren’t sure exactly where they stand and prefer to figure that out in private. So, in fact, the answer “It’s complicated” is an honest one, but you’re absolutely correct in avoiding it because 1) it confirms that there is something beyond friendship and professional alliance going on and 2) it pretty much begs to be asked for details. In short, it fails on both counts of keeping the information private and ending the conversation topic.

This situation seems like an excellent time for a little white lie. Don’t lie about them; lie about what you know. “I have no idea,” said in a tone that conveys a complete lack of interest – and even a sense that someone being interested is perplexing – should do the trick.

There is, sadly, no answer that guarantees no follow-up questions will spring forth. Just stick with the same lack of knowledge, bafflement at the interest, and complete lack of curiosity. Even a sensible Midwesterner might be tempted to chide the enquirer on their nosy ways, but we’re assuming that you’re not looking to make enemies or piss people off while putting them off the scent of the potentially budding couple.

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