This Is the Rudest Thing You Can Ask Someone, Etiquette Experts Say

It's high time you nixed this unbelievably rude question from your conversational repertoire.

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Even if you consider yourself a polite person, chances are you slip up when it comes to your etiquette from time to time. Whether you accidentally forget to end a request with "please" or inadvertently call someone by the wrong name, it's easy to make the occasional etiquette error here or there. However, there's one incredibly rude question many people ask on a regular basis without even realizing they're causing offense, according to etiquette experts. If you ask someone why they look tired—even if your intentions are good—you're committing a serious faux pas, says Bonnie Tsai, founder of etiquette training program Beyond Etiquette.

"You may think you sound like you're concerned for the other person's well-being, but it may not be received that way. It can come off as patronizing or intrusive," explains Tsai. She notes that some people may be experiencing health issues that make them look fatigued, but that doesn't necessarily mean they want to go over their medical history with you.

Tsai notes that this question can also make it seem as though you're unduly—and perhaps inappropriately—scrutinizing their looks. "There's no need for you to make them feel like they need to appear a certain way that's acceptable for your standards or society's standards," says Tsai.

That's not the only way you could be putting other people off, however. Read on to discover more rude things you should never ask, according to experts. And if you want to stay on the right side of your inner circle, check out these 50 Things You Do Every Day That Annoy Other People.

1
"When are you going to get married?"

Black couple at restaurant with roses
Shutterstock/VGstockstudio

Sure, you may think that your friends are the cutest couple in the world, but that doesn't mean they want to be asked ad nauseam about when they're tying the knot—if they ever choose to do so.

"It's important to remember that not everyone plans to get married nor are they required to be; it doesn't matter whether or not they're single or in a relationship," says Tsai. And if you want to make sure you're practicing appropriate politesse, check out these 25 Etiquette Rules That Have Changed in Your Lifetime.

2
"When are you having kids?"

Mother and daughter-in-law
Shutterstock

Similarly, asking questions about someone's plan to have children—or lack thereof—is never anything short of inappropriate. In fact, in some cases, it may even bring up painful feelings.

"It may seem like a simple question, but it can be rather intrusive because you never know what the other person is going through," explains Tsai. "They may have recently suffered a miscarriage, have been trying without any success, are unable to become pregnant due to other health conditions, or simply choose not to."

3
"How are you still single?"

young woman criticizing older woman on couch
Shutterstock

You may think that asking this question is flattering because it implies that someone is a catch, but it may also conjure up some feelings of inadequacy for people who aren't exactly thrilled about their single status.

"It's important to respect the other person's choice regardless of their relationship status; we don't need to have a romantic partner in our lives to define who we are," says Tsai. "You also may never know why the person is single, if they are choosing to be on their own, or if they're focusing on other parts of their lives right now." Want to stop bugging your uncoupled friends? Then ditch these 75 Things Single People Wish You'd Stop Saying.

4
"Did you gain weight?"

group of multiracial female friends talking outdoors
Shutterstock/Rido

You may think your friend, co-worker, or family member looks great with a few extra pounds on them, but that doesn't mean you should ever ask someone this question. "This question will not be received well regardless of how nice your intentions were when you asked," says Tsai. She notes that the person you're asking could have a physical or psychological condition that's affecting their weight—and one they aren't necessarily eager to discuss.

And if you think asking someone else this will motivate them to lose weight, think again. "It's unproductive to 'fat-shame' because of how much it hurts the other person," says Tsai. And for more great information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

5
"What's your political affiliation?"

voters waiting in line during covid with cdc recommendations
iStock

There's no denying that politics are an unbelievably heated topic at the moment, so if you're not close enough with someone to already know their political affiliation, it's best to table this question.

"No one would like to be put on the spot by that question," says Tsai, adding that bringing up politics can "alter the mood of a conversation very quickly." Though it may be tempting to start a conversation about the current political climate if you're relatively certain you share similar views with the person to whom you're speaking, Tsai says it's still a major etiquette error.

"It can make people feel uncomfortable and one of etiquette's core values is about making others feel comfortable around you," she explains. And if you want to avoid a case of foot-in-mouth disease, make sure you know This Is the One Word You Should Never Say When Apologizing.

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