You may have noticed that many people believe that they are owed explanations for others’ choices and behaviors.
Some will demand that their friends and family members justify their reasons for all kinds of things, while others will demand the same from complete strangers.
Why do they do this? Most often, it’s to reassure themselves that their own choices are/were the right ones.
Other times, it’s curiosity, even though it can be totally inappropriate given the circumstances.
Here are 15 common subjects that many people demand explanations for, that you certainly don’t owe them.
1. Your personal aesthetics.
In other words, what you look like.
This can include how you dress, your chosen hair style/color, any tattoos or piercings you might have, whether you wear makeup or not, and so on.
Some people might ask innocently about your style because they admire it and would like to know where you got your clothes.
Others might want to know why you choose to dress like an 18th century mortician because you look “weird.”
Your appearance is your business: not theirs. If they don’t like how you look, they don’t have to look at you.
2. Your hobbies and interests.
How often have you been asked about what you do for fun in your spare time, only to be met with weird looks and a demand as to why you would do such a thing?
You don’t need to explain to anyone why pastimes bring you joy.
Is your “happy place” painting figurines while listening to comedy audiobooks? Or knitting while watching foreign murder dramas?
Others might not understand why you like pursuits that they may consider to be either juvenile or geriatric.
No need to defend why you love what you love.
3. Your personal life choices.
Many choices can fall under this umbrella, from whether or not you’ve chosen to have children (and how many), to various medical interventions (or lack thereof).
Someone who has several children might get complete strangers asking things like “are all those yours?” or “didn’t you use birth control?”, as if they’re entitled to know details about your intimate life.
Similarly, you might have friends and acquaintances asking why you did or did not get a certain medical procedure done, followed by them lecturing you about your choice based on their perspective, ethics, and whatnot.
You can stop them in their tracks by asking them whether they honestly believe that these questions are inappropriate, or simply by replying with “that’s absolutely none of your business.”
4. Your dietary habits.
Whether you refrain from eating or drinking things for ethical, religious, or health-related reasons, you really don’t need to offer anyone an explanation for your choices.
Sure, a server might ask you if you have an allergy to the ingredient you’re inquiring about, and that’s valid. But if someone is demanding to know why you do or do not eat meat, or drink alcohol, or avoid gluten, then that’s none of their danged business.
5. Your choice in romantic partners.
Have your friends or family members ever asked you (critically) why you’re with the person/people you’re dating?
For example, are they judgmental about a partner of yours who’s of another ethnic background, or has a body type they don’t find appealing?
Things can get even more complicated if you’re in an unconventional relationship, such as a polyamorous partnership, or if your partner/spouse’s gender identity is nonbinary, etc.
You most definitely do not owe anyone any explanations about who you love, and why you love them.
6. Your recreational drinking or drug use.
Now, there’s a huge difference between someone demanding to know your reasons for smoking pot because they disapprove of it, and being sincerely concerned for your well-being because you’re shooting heroin at work between board meetings.
If you wind down with a couple of beers after a long day at work, smoke recreationally, or take CBD oil for mental health/emotional purposes, that’s your choice.
7. Your personal boundaries.
Some people demand to know why others have boundaries that they want others to respect.
For example, if you let people know not to call or text you after 9pm, they might want to know why.
Because you said so, that’s why.
Whether you’ve established personal boundaries because of past traumas, or because you’re holding space and time for yourself, your choices are your own.
8. Your preferences and habits.
Does anyone give you grief about why you don’t have any plants in your house, or why you choose to run first thing in the morning?
Whether people are asking about why you adhere to habits and routines, or why your house doesn’t look the same as theirs, they’re likely seeking validation about their own decisions.
9. Your daily and personal affairs.
Many of us have friends or coworkers who want to know all kinds of details about our daily lives. They might ask us what we’re up to, and then want to know details.
For example, you might tell your boss that you need to take an afternoon off for health reasons. You don’t need to give them detailed explanations as to medical procedures you need done, or that you need to take a mental health day.
Nor do you need to explain to people why you can or can’t make it to their dinner party/wedding/bar mitzvah. Just decline politely and leave it at that.
10. Your choice in friends/acquaintances.
There are a lot of judgmental people out there who turn their noses up at others who aren’t just like them. You may have folks in your social circles who want to know why you associate with X person. After all, they’re “different” (for various reasons).
Just like the people you choose to love, the friends and acquaintances you choose to spend time with are in your life for a reason. That’s reason enough.
11. Your religious faith or spiritual leanings.
Some people are comfortable talking to others about their spiritual beliefs and practices. Others are not.
Regardless of your comfort level, unless you’re the one offering up details that you want to share with those around you, questions about your faith and why you choose to practice it are wholly inappropriate.
It’s cool to talk about beliefs when the subject comes up organically, but if someone is belligerently asking you how you could possibly believe X about your chosen faith, then that’s not okay. At all.
12. What makes you happy.
“To each their own ecstasy” is an adage that’s very real and true.
Each of us follows our own special brand of bliss, and one person’s joy is another’s torment.
If someone asks you how on earth you can experience joy by dressing up and reenacting the Battle of Hastings, you can merely grin and say “I just do.”
You do you, and don’t bother trying to explain your joy to anyone.
13. Your future plans.
Some people might want to know what you’re planning for the next stage of your life. This could be related to travel, career, retirement, investments, or health decisions.
That’s cool if you’re the one who brought up the topic, but if you’re a private person (or just don’t want to discuss your plans), then once again – no explanation needed.
14. Where you are and where you’re going.
This one’s a bit malleable depending on where you are in life.
Let’s say that you’re happily married. If you’re stuck in traffic and your loving spouse texts to ask if you’re okay (and where are you?) because you’re usually home by now, then you know it’s sincere concern.
In contrast, if you recently started dating someone and they demand to know where you are because they’re being jealous and controlling, then they can F right off.
Same goes for narcissistic parents and roommates who may be demanding your time and attention.
15. When you’re commencing a major life change.
This is probably one of the most common subjects that people seem to demand explanations for.
Some folks seem to believe that one must hit certain milestones by particular ages, and if others don’t, then they want to know why.
Do your parents/extended family members keep asking you for an explanation as to why you aren’t married yet? Or perhaps they keep asking you when you’re going to have a baby?
“That’s my concern and not yours” might seem a bit terse as a response, but that’s okay. You’re entirely within your rights to shut people down when they try to pry into your personal affairs.
If they turn around and say that you’re being rude and they were “just asking,” make it clear that they’re the ones being rude by asking intrusive questions.
Most people who ask others for explanations as to their actions and choices seem to want reassurance that their own decisions were the “right” ones. In fact, many of them might be fiercely unhappy with the choices they’ve made in life, but did so to meet others’ expectations of them. As a result, they get defensive when others take different paths.
You may find that they go on the attack and start belittling you for making different choices. They might try to demand that you give them “valid reasons” as to why you took a path that’s different from their own.
Remember that those who demand explanations for other people’s behaviors often seek to control others. They might mock or belittle other people’s appearance or personal choices in an attempt to shift their behaviors toward what they consider to be “better.”
It’s possible that your differences shine a light on their self-perceived inadequacies. For example, if you have a hobby or interest that they have no knowledge of, that might make them feel small. Alternatively, they might find security in “sameness.” As such, they seek to bring everyone into their own camp, where they feel comfortable and empowered.
Whatever their motivation, keep in mind that power is entirely in your hands.
They can demand anything they like, but it’s up to you whether you indulge their desire for explanations or not. Only you can decide whether to take part in that game.
Simply tell them that your decisions are your own, and require no explanation. End of.
If they get huffy with you, just smile and walk away.
You don’t owe them a thing.
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