How to Survive Your Nosy Relatives this CNY

It’s Chinese New Year. The time approaches. The anxiety starts building up from the night before. As you don your new outfit and you get ready to head for a day of visiting, the dread sets in. You think of ways and means to avoid that nosy aunty, the one who smells like she bathed in perfume and wears all the jewellery she owns at once. Or that uncle that wears the same shirt every year in different shades. These relatives will not rest until they know every detail of your entire life. And any chance to show off or tirade will be seized.

There is no sure-fire way to fend them off, but let The Wellness Insider help you along with our “Nosy Relatives Survival Guide” this Chinese New Year.


The Results Question

Question: “Girl ah, your results how? First or not?”

Even if you’re doing your postgraduate, these relatives want to know how well you have done either to compare your results to their kids’, to their own in the distant (very distant) past, or to give you a lecture about how much more you need to improve (even if you don’t need to).

TWI Tip: Honestly, this is a tough one. So our advice is to let them start with their rant, and halfway, let out a loud gasp and go, “Auntie, I just remembered that I forgot something really important!” And walk away. Quickly.

The Job Question

Question: “You’ve graduated for quite long already, why still no job?”

If you have recently graduated and are struggling to find that elusive first job, these relatives enjoy sticking it to you, especially if their children are all doing well in their respective occupations. Be prepared for a long boasting about how “My boy is already the head of ABC Private Limited” and “My daughter just won a good service award at work!”. Their intention again is either a lecture or to compare how much better their children are doing.

TWI Tip: Don’t feel pressured into taking on a job simply for the sake of getting one. It is important that you ultimately enjoy what you do. Then again, if bills and loans are a pressing issue in your household, then we would say grab the first thing that comes along. As for these relatives, a simple, “Aiyoh auntie, these days job market not very good. And my skills are quite specific. I can’t just anyhow take a job like your son/daughter you know!”

The Money Question

Question: “So how much you earning now?

Don’t think you’re off the hook simply because you got the job. Remember, these relatives will not rest; they need to know every detail of your employment situation. They need to know if you are happy with what you’re doing and whether or not you’re earning enough to support your family and start one of your own. But a salary is often too personal to reveal, so how to ward them off?

TWI Tip: If what you do and how much you earn makes you happy, then the honest thing to do would be to tell them just that. Another technique – distract and divert. Distract them with a related topic, the best being the government. In this case, the obvious choice would be CPF, “Uncle ah, with CPF, who knows how much I really make? This CPF, really annoying!” This should set those uncles off on their complaints about the CPF withdrawal system. As for the aunties, if they are homemakers, then you’re lucky; they will probably not even know what to say about it. Successfully diverted! 

The Boyfriend Question

Question: “Eh girl ah, so old already, got boyfriend yet or not?”

There is no escaping this one if you’re a single female who is above the age 25. In fact, so common is this question that you should really prepare for it every house you visit. And it’s usually followed by an old story about how “by your age, I already had three children!” or by showing you photos of their married children. They usually try to pass it off as concern, but in actuality, they just want to start with whispers about how you’re going to end up a spinster. With cats. Or dogs.

TWI Tip: Throw them a curve ball. Act shy, and tell them, “Actually auntie, I am seeing someone”. Wait for them to get excited, then add, “I wanted to bring my girlfriend along, but she was a little shy to meet everyone lah. Maybe next year?” Then wait for the look of disbelief before calmly walking away. That will give them something to talk about.

The Marriage Question

Question: “When you going to get married? Harder when you’re older you know. Men won’t want you anymore!”

Watch for this one especially if you are currently in a relationship, stable or otherwise. IIt also invites the longest and most boring, conversations. Worse, the closer you approach 30, the more often this one comes up. These days, for most of us, our careers matter just as much, if not more, than having to settle down.

TWI Tip: Be honest with this one. Tell them that you want to be stable in your career before even thinking about getting married. But if they do persist, just give mess with their heads a bit, “Auntie, we’re living together already, who needs a wedding? We are very open about these things. Not old school, like you.” Laugh it off and watch their jaws drop.

The Children Question

Question: “When are you going to have babies ah? You know your eggs start to die as you get older!”

This question usually comes with a whole lot of unsolicited advice about fertility and baby-making. If you already have one, they might ask you when you’re looking to have the next. Aunties and uncles are prone to let you in on “secrets” of how to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Some will tell you about obscure herbs to simmer for long hours or changing the feng shui of your house to enable the flow of “fertile chi”. Others might even try to pawn off their “fertility statutes” to you, or share the wisdom of ancient astrology.

TWI Tip: This is another one that you can be honest about. If you’re not ready for children, just answer them straight up that kids require a lot of attention and you don’t need the pressure of being reminded again and again. Or just nudge your husband in the ribs and joke about how much of a big baby he is as it is.


The Weight Question

Question: “Your dress seems one size bigger this year, you put on weight ah?”

Ouch! This is a painful (and much dreaded) one for any female, single or otherwise, unless of course, you’re looking to gain weight. Worse still, if you’re married and they ask, pointing at your tummy, “Eh, got good news ah? Giving me grandnephews and nieces?” You start feeling guilty about all the late-night pigging out, even if you have no reason to. But that’s how you let them win because their intent was precisely to make you feel embarrassed and awkward, regardless of whether there’s a grain of truth in it. Besides, who doesn’t put on a little weight during the festive season? You probably look way better than these aunties anyway.

TWI Tip: Take this one in your stride. You have a couple of options. For one, you can simply be merry and say, “Aunty, it’s the festive season, just eat la! Worry about weight after”. Another option, counter it a deadly one-liner, “I was just about to tell you the same thing! Even you look pudgy in that blouse, and your face is definitely fatter. Uncle feeding you very well ah!”

Just Breathe

As hard as you may try, it is impossible to avoid these relatives. They thrive on being meddlesome and nosy during family occasions. You can play hide-and-seek with them all night, but eventually, they will sneak up on you with their firing squad of questions.

But you’re now prepared with your own arsenal of comebacks. Whether you go for the cool and calm approach or the outright bitchy one, remember that patience is key. So if all else fails, just breathe and have yourself a pineapple tart.


Happy Lunar New Year everyone and just enjoy the perks of it more than the annoying downers!


Photo Credits: Pexels

Cotton On (AU)

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