6 Things you shouldn’t say to your Recently Engaged Friend

I am at the age where everyone and their sister is getting engaged (which is sad, because I’m like 21). And yes, I realize this is the pot calling the kettle black, because nine months ago, I too jumped on the “If you like it than you should have put a ring on it boat.”

He put a ring on it.

I spent the next two months privately announcing our engagement via email and personal message, before rolling out the “Facebook Official” Engagement (to avoid hurt feelings). As I told my friends and family, I started noticing a trend among answers that made me increasingly uncomfortable.

The "Save the Date" picture-art I drew for my wedding (because I'm classy that way)

The “Save the Date” picture-art I drew for my wedding (because I’m classy that way)

Talking to other recently engaged friends (remember, everyone is getting engaged now) and they had similar results. I decided to make a list because, you know, since everyone is getting engaged, you might as well brush up on your “Congratulations, I’m so excited for you” etiquette.

1. Aren’t you a little young to be getting married?

Thank you for asking. No. No I don’t think I am a too young to get married. My mother and grandmother both married young and are some of the happiest couples I have ever seen.

Yes, I realize when we “grow up” we will change, but I would rather change together then put off marriage until I’m 30 and more “leveled out.”

Couple dating relationships romance
I understand there is a risk associated with marrying young. However, Ryosuke is the best friend I have ever had. I fall more and more in love with the person he is becoming every day. If I am old enough to get a credit card, drink, drive, buy a house, and choose a career path – I am old enough to pick a partner. Or at least I think I am.

2. Are you pregnant?

Um. No. No I’m not, and even if I was, I’m pretty sure you are never allowed to ask this question. Don’t be rude.

Romance couple dating Japanese man American woman interracial relationships

3. How long have you been together?

I know most of the time this question is asked innocently. It’s more or less like a “wow, I didn’t know you were getting serious with this guy” or “I didn’t know they have been in your life long enough to make that commitment.” My fiancé proposed on our one year anniversary. We had been discussing marriage for a couple months and decided it was the best option. We were both still in school; I had just turned twenty.

On a vacation in Hokkaido

On a vacation in Hokkaido

No matter how delicately or innocently people asked the question, it still came off as overly judge-y.
If you’re curious, Facebook stalk the couple. Look for the timestamps on couple pictures. Don’t ask them how long they’ve been together.

4. Shouldn’t you marry someone who isn’t ______ (Japanese, a football player, shorter than you, a cat lover, fill in whatever you want).

I’m not joking. I got this exact message from a friend shortly after I announced my engagement.

“Are you sure you want to marry a Japanese man? Ryosuke is nice and everything, but American men are so much better. Japanese men are unloving to their wife.”

Because this is the face of someone who is unloving...

Because this is the face of someone who is unloving…

She was 100% Japanese. I guess she had been burned by Japanese men before. However, she had never dated an American or and Japanese man – and even if she had – I don’t believe you should be allowed to make such sweeping generalizations like that.
When I read her message, I slammed my laptop shut and called Ryosuke crying. She was one of my close friends. It hurt to read something like that.

The person you choose to marry is more than a race, ethnicity, religion, career, hair color, height, or quirks. They are a whole sum of amazing characteristics that made you fall head over heels for them. When people you care about judge them for a superficial or unchangeable characteristic, it hurt.

Don’t be that person.

5. What size diamond is your ring?

I don’t know. I don’t care. Why do you care? Are you just making conversation?

Romance couple dating Japanese man American woman interracial relationships

6. Are you sure he’s the right guy? (or she’s the right girl?)

Well, I said yes, so I’m pretty sure he’s the right guy. Ryosuke and I didn’t announce our engagement publicly (or at least make it Facebook official) for about two months after he proposed. I wanted to tell friends and family personally.
People took my “not making it Facebook official right away” as a sign I wasn’t ready to get married or was still re-thinking my answer. No, I just wanted you to hear it from me first, rather than just reading it on your newsfeed.

Surprise!

Surprise!

My friends are getting engaged. I’m at that age.

Several of my friends are getting married to men (or women) that I cannot stand. But I would sooner cut off my own arm than trample over a friendship to share that kind of information.

I don’t know if my friends or family like Ryosuke. They have been nothing but supportive. That’s how it should be. Even if you know your friend or family member is making a mistake and marrying the wrong person for the wrong reasons – you should respect them enough to let them make their own mistakes. If they fall, be there to catch them in five to ten years. But be supportive.
Announcing a decision as important as an engagement is serious, harrowing stuff. Be gentle to your friends. They need all the support they can get.

Interracial and intercultural white woman Japanese man American dating Japanese

For more on Romance, check out: The “Butterfly Effect:” What a Racing Heart and Fluttery Stomach do to a Relationship or

I will never be (legally) his: Problems Facing Interracial Couples in Japan

[Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele]

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

28 Comments on 6 Things you shouldn’t say to your Recently Engaged Friend

  1. Stefanie // 4 June, 2016 at 7:47 pm //

    THIS is so important! I wish more people would understand this.
    My boyfriend is older than me. Much older. He’s 30 now and I’m 19. This fact has nothing to say about our relationship or about us as individuals. But still, I lost many of my closest “friends”, when I told them about our relationship. They never got to know him. They just heard about his age and directly judged about it. They never realized that age isn’t that important. Never realized that they have no right to judge our realtionship before they got to know him. They istantly turned their back on me. I don’t understand how people can see themselves as a friend to you and then act like that. He is the most handsome guy I’ve ever known and you don’t recognize the age difference, when you see us together. Next month is our one year aniversary and we’re planing to move in together in the next few weeks. We’re happy together and neither of us has ever felt that stable and understanding in a relationship before. We’re often talking about marriage and I’m sure I’ve found my significant other.
    But still, I’m pretty sure there will be a exaggerated and huge shitstorm in my home town and our circle of acquaintances if we engange at some point in the future.
    I totally want to shout out your post to everyone I know.

    (Ps: I’m sorry for my bad english and this long comment)

  2. I think, many People think too much about other peoples relationships. I mean, to me it does not really matter if friends of mine are married or not. Of course I care with whom they live and stuff, but it is their own choice to marry or not. and also when they want to do that or what Kind of Person they like to marry. I am with my boyfriend for four years now (and I just turned 22) and although I never ever spoke about marriage to anyone, my parents are all like: aah, but you are so unexperienced, don’t you want to see more, like other men and stuff. As if I just quit my relationship just to make some more experience with other People?! Just because I was Young when we met and because I havent had a lot of boyfriends before that, doesnt mean I am not sure about him. Ist more like, I never would have started dating him if I had not been at least 99% sure that he is ‘the one’. So That is one Thing, i really don’t like. And the other Thing is, when People talk about your boyfriend/girlfriend in a bad way, it hurts more than when they Insult you. At least, for me thats the case. I can’t stand it when People (mostly my mother, everyone else is fine with it) tell me about all the ‘bad things’ about him.
    I am really writing too much stuff here… but this is a Topic that really gets me. I choose what Person I like. So no one else has the right to judge over that…

    Well, sorry for this loong comment. (and also sorry for the bad english…)
    ^,^°

  3. I got married at 20 everyone in my family asked me if I was pregnant! I guess it’s cause my husband and I are both half Mexican half white? Maybe just cause we’re young. We will be married 2 years this October. I was just wondering how old you are currently. I bet you get that question a lot I’m just asking cause I watch your vlogs and it seems like you’re close to my age.

  4. Hi Grace! :) I’m a half Japanese, my dad’s the Jap. :-) My parents have been together for almost 30 years. I’m amused that the generalizations you received are also (uncalled for) remarks they had (years ago!). Most people put off love for stability and rarely choose to stay and grow together. I greatly admire how you chose to be with Ryosuke and get married early!
    All the best! :) I shall now explore your comics. :D

    P.S. I showed my parents the quote below and they smiled. “そうだな” (That’s it…)
    “The person you choose to marry is more than a race, ethnicity,
    religion, career, hair color, height, or quirks. They are a whole sum of
    amazing characteristics that made you fall head over heels for them.
    When people you care about judge them for a superficial or unchangeable
    characteristic, it hurt.”

    • Hi Kazumi,

      Thanks for the message! I’m curious to see if the generalizations your parents got were the same we got. Hah. It’s interesting.
      I feel oddly honored that your dad agreed with that quote. I’m more or less used to people looking down on me because of my age (among other things), so the support is nice :)

  5. My parents met April 1, 1978 and just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary on June 25th. Yup, they met, got engaged and MARRIED in less than 3 months, and are STILL happily married! My sisters and I are scratching our heads haha. Oh, and mom was 30 and dad was 25. Yes, she’s (gasp!) older than him and didn’t find out until they went and got their marriage licence haha! :-)

  6. First of all, let me tell you how cute and amazing you both look. I can feel the love and devotion when looking at photos of you two. Secondly, I couldn’t agree more with what you said. Are you pregnant? questions are so lame and some people focus too much on Facebook when judging other people’s relationships. Wish all the best for you and your lovely boyfriend!

    • Thank you :)
      I’m sure you get a bunch of awkwardly inappropriate questions about your love for travelling. I say “to each their own,” and people should just leave it like it is. Wishing you the best on travelling and blogging!

  7. Wow! People can be so rude! My parents were married at 17 and 20, and were very happily married for nearly 52 years – until my mother passed away in 2005.

    Congratulations to you both, and may you have many, many happy years together!!

    • Thank you so much!
      I think people don’t mean to be rude… but a lot of people don’t think before they talk (I guess).
      I think also during your parent’s age it was more acceptable to get married early and stay married. Nowadays there are 30+ year olds living at home. A lot of the friends my age have never had a job (even part time) and have no future plans.

      For some people marrying early makes sense and works; for other’s it doesn’t. I think it is hard for those two groups to see eye to eye…

  8. Congrats! These stupid questions is why I always keep my personal stuff on the DL — people have no filter!

  9. Anonymous // 20 August, 2013 at 11:06 am //

    Congrats!

  10. Gracie!

    Reading this post I remember at I asked you #1…..lol
    Sorry for that:(
    I really hope I can find “the one” for me like you did!
    How’s everything there in your home country?! Have you had good food? (Well I know you have taste for Japanese food though)
    Say hi to everyone when you’re back at Ursinus!

    • Chiaki :)
      No problem! I had a lot of people ask awkward questions (at least you didn’t ask if I was pregnant, hahahahaha).
      I think you should just love your job right now. Then, in five – ten years, when you don’t love your job AS MUCH, we can start looking~

      I’m having a great time back in America. I’ve eating lots of Tex Mex and Mexican food. So yummie :)
      I will say “hi” to everyone for you!

  11. My parents met in April and eloped in August of the same year, they were 20 and 21. They’ve been together 25 years and couldn’t be happier. :)

  12. Elaine Gomez // 19 August, 2013 at 10:41 pm //

    I agree with you in some parts of this post and usually love reading your blog! However, I do beg to differ on your closing statement. I think it would be a mistake to not ask your friends and family opinion on ones partner. From my expierence and from talking with others, sometimes in relationships we are too wrapped up to see things about the other person that might be a red flag. In the end of course it is each individuals choice, but I think it is close minded to not hear those who offer wisdome around you. Just a thought!

    • I think it’s pretty close minded too. For the first six months of dating, I asked friends and family what they thought, with the clear explanation – “we are getting serious, speak now or forever hold your peace.” I got some good feedback.
      I have another close friend who is dating a guy who is verbally abusive (and just an all around creepy guy)… I’ve tried mentioning it a couple times, but it only causes fights. It was sad to watch. Eventually I just shut up and learned to accept it. He is still abusive (but not as much as I originally thought). I don’t like him. I still hate him. But when they got engaged (and later married), I didn’t have much of a choice to do anything but smile and congratulate them.

      It’s hard. I’m sure there is some correct way to handle it, but I haven’t figured out so far.

      • Grace, I’ve read this article like 3x (impending engagement, I am 24, this is the first engagement where my college friends won’t really know the guy that well since we have all moved apart.) I wanted to talk about this too:

        “Even if you know your friend or family member is making a mistake and marrying the wrong person for the wrong reasons – you should respect them enough to let them make their own mistakes.”

        I agree with this sentiment. I expect my true friends to respect me, my decisions, and to TRUST that I know myself better than they do and that I can call the shots. Friends typically don’t know every last detail or every last thought. If a friend were to tell me I was making the wrong choice, I would find it incredibly presumptuous. It’s a subject to be approached with delicacy, and you must put your friend’s well-being at the forefront. “He’s a jerk” is way different than “It worries me when he says ____ about you, and it seems to upset you” and so on. The only cases in which I would consider saying something is 1) an abusive relationship or 2) I was asked.

        I did the “test the waters” thing too and gave everyone an opening to voice any concerns before announcing an engagement. I expect people to be supportive now and keep any “but he’s French/too short/you haven’t been together long enough” comments to themselves.

        • Exactly. No one knows your relationship better than you know it yourself. And stuff like that.

          My father is/was a pastor for like 20 years, so he’s done extensive marriage counselling for soon-to-be-married couples. He can recognize warning signs early on. I was worried about anything he saw in my own relationship, but thankfully he said he didn’t have any “red flags.”
          Or he was just nice enough to not say anything.

          You should be really, really carefully when talking to friends about their relationship, though.

  13. The age thing always seems the silliest thing. People were getting married at 16-17 less than a century ago. You can get married at 13-14 in one state (I think it’s New Hampshire) if your parents sign on it. I think you know your relationship better than someone else, so just smile and ignore them. Good luck, by the way.

    • Thank you :)
      I thought the same thing. Age seems like such a silly marker. Some people commit to a job in their early twenties, some wait until their late forties. It depends.
      (I’ve had friends that got married before they could legally drink and ended up fine. Some didn’t. I don’t think age is the main thing that causes divorce)

  14. Not engaged, but I completely agree that it is all-round terrible to criticize someone’s significant other (especially over petty little things) when they appear to be happy together. I do think asking about how long a couple has been together isn’t ALWAYS judgmental, the person might be trying to make conversation.

    • I agree :)
      I do think that asking someone “how long have you been together” isn’t normally a bad thing – but far too often it was followed up with a “wow, you got engaged fast” or “you’ve ONLY been together a year? We’ve been together for three years and haven’t talked marriage yet.”
      So I think the question itself is fine – but it’s a gateway into all sorts of other, not so wonderful questions…

      That being said, I’ve totally asked it myself a couple times. Oops.

      • Those follow ups get my blood boiling. Getting engaged is a matter of the right person, right place, and right time. It’s no judgment on you that I’m engaged before you (even though you’ve been dating your SO for 3.5 years) at only 1.5 years, and vice versa.

        People move at different speeds for different reasons. UGH!

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