I don’t often ask a lot of personal questions. I generally assume that if somebody wants me to know something, they’ll tell me. I have tended to regard this as a form of respect and politeness, and I never wanted to appear nosey or insensitive. But the end result is negative, and twofold:
1) I now I have some quite close friends whom I really know very little about.
2) I sometimes get the feeling people think I’m not interested in them, and that perceived lack of interest is reciprocated.
My problem is that I still feel awkward asking what I regard as personal questions, and my definition of that is quite broad. I might not ask a near-stranger about things like: their health problems, their relationship, their family, their financial situation, their religious views, their political leanings… and so on. That means I’m often stuck with general conversation like “How are you?” and then I… stop.
And because I don’t delve right into those issues, the friendship may progress for quite a while based on trivialities, and eventually there comes a point in time where it becomes silly to start asking those personal questions.
“So, I’ve known you for three years, and now I’m going to ask what your partner does for a living. You do have a partner, right?”
So, I suppose I must work on my social skills, and learn to stretch my funny little boundaries. Don’t be surprised if I start asking weird questions in the near future. Things you might assume I know already, just because we’re friends, but which in truth I never quite got around to asking about.
I just hope you don’t think I’m being rude…