You're hanging out with friends or family, and all of a sudden, the conversation turns to engagements. Someone you all know recently got engaged or they're just anxious for you to take that step, and people think that means it's fair game to tease you, prompting, "You're next," engagement comments. You may be in a relationship, casually dating, or even single — whatever the case, this kind of comment can bring you discomfort, and you want to resolve the situation immediately.
So, what do you do?
Licensed marriage and family therapist Kiaundra Jackson, LMFT, and author of The Art of Healthy Relationships: 7 Components Every Relationship Should Have to Thrive, and licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson, spoke with me about what to do when a friend or family member says "you're next" about getting engaged.
"When our family and friends project that onto us, it is just their secret desire [for us] they wish would come true," Jackson tells Elite Daily. "Especially if you have been with your partner for a long time or you may be older and it hasn't happened for you yet. Our family and friends probably mean well, but it could be doing more harm than good."
Jackson says that societal timelines for relationships and getting married isn't the path for everyone. Therefore, if someone is pressuring you, even if the tone seems light, it's OK for you to respond and stick up for yourself.
Richardson advises you to respond with as much neutrality as possible in the moment.
"This is difficult because often, when people say that kind of thing, they are very well-intentioned so you don't want to be rude or unkind in your response," Richardson tells Elite Daily. "In my experience, saying something like, 'You never know how life will unfold,' is probably the most neutral way to respond."
She says you can then pivot the conversation to asking the person about their life. Ask about something positive, she says, like a new job.
If the "you're next" comment is something that is repeated, you should address that you want it to stop to that person directly.
"If you feel uncomfortable, state it," Jackson says. "Nothing will change until you verbalize how you feel. If you say nothing, then the problem will continue to exist because your family and friends think it doesn't bother you. Simply changing the conversation is just a temporary fix."
Richardson recommends to gently assure that person you know they're bringing it up because that's how they show they care. Then tell them, she says, that it puts pressure on you.
"Hopefully, that will be enough for them not to brig it up again," she says.
At the end of the day, when you get married and the timeline you do it on is completely up to you. Someone baiting you with comments to make you feel rushed or stressed about needing to get married is completely unnecessary, so you can, and should, set the record straight.