Curious Questions

"Curiosity killed the cat" or so they say.  In the social context, the consequences of curiosity are hardly as dire.  But they can lead to some awkward moments and hurt feelings if you're not careful!  Awkward questions seem to be the constant subject of some of my favorite modern etiquette columns (the New York Times' Social Q's, for one).  As 'askers' in this modern age, we forget that despite our unfettered access to peoples' personal details, there are boundaries to our relationships.  As 'answerers' we've needled ourselves into a Catch 22.  If we are telling the world what we're having for breakfast on instagram every morning, is it unrealistic to expect that our friends and acquaintances might feel emboldened by a sense of intimacy we ourselves have created?

Here's a good rule to follow: if you are planning to ask a question of any person to satisfy your own curiosity, keep it to yourself.  

I have been asked by such a strange array of people if my pregnancy was planned because I'm young to be a mother in New York.  Strangers, acquaintances, professional colleagues, friends, friends of friends.  Personal information is shared, not asked for.  I wouldn't be happy to answer that question even to a best friend (and I'd never need to because our best friends know we'll share with them what we want and need, which is basically everything).  The experience of having been asked such an unpleasant question has made me think about question asking in general.  When an awkward question is posed: what result does the answer have? Whether the answer is yes or no, the end is the same.  The only difference is that being asked might make the answerer briefly furious.  Add to your list of inappropriate questions: asking whether a woman carrying twins used fertility drugs, asking whether a woman has breast implants, asking the size or cost of a woman's engagement ring (or the cost of anything, period, unless there is a very good reason).  Outside of very few exceptions (i.e. you are struggling with fertility drugs and are looking for a confidant to help you through the process), the only reason for asking these questions is the pursuit of gossipy information (even though you might have the very best intentions - we're human, afterall!).  And although I am dying to know the very intimate details of many a New Yorker's life, I am keeping my lips sealed (or at least twisted into an obedient i'm-dying-to-know-but-won't-ask smile).

Tweet me some of the awkward questions you've suffered through lately at @primandpretty or shoot me an email at  How have you handled them?  Are there any questions that really get under your skin?