Appropriate comebacks to prepare you for questions from nosey relatives this CNY

Here are ways you can answer insensitive questions from filter-less relatives.

Nur Sabrina

Needs her space organised and clean 24/7.

Published: 31 January 2022, 12:54 PM

As much as many look forward to family reunions during Chinese New Year, the thought of dealing with insensitive questions from nosey relatives can be stressful. 

Such questions can make you feel insecure, uncomfortable and at times, annoyed. While what these filter-less relatives ask can be hurtful, getting upset and causing a scene during a festive occasion may not be ideal. 

Here are some appropriate comebacks to prepare you for such questions.

1. No partner again? When are you getting married?

Imagine getting asked this question after you had just gone through a nasty breakup. 

Apart from asking a question like this, relatives will probably nag and lecture you about how you are getting older and it is time to settle down.


If only finding a partner is as easy as the way the aunties and uncles say. PHOTO CREDIT: HISU LEE


Instead of laughing it off awkwardly, you can say: “Why? Do you have someone to introduce me to?”

Replying with a joke might make them laugh, but who knows? Maybe they do have someone in mind for you. 

2. You look a bit fatter than last time. Did you gain weight?

This is by far the most hurtful question anyone can ask. Unfortunately, some relatives may not realise that it can be seen as a“rude” act. 

Weight, or appearance in general, can be a sensitive issue to many. 

While snapping back at them and giving a taste of their own medicine seems fair, you can reply with something along the lines of “Yes, it’s because the food you made today is just too good.”

This does not exclude those who lost weight, too. 

If they ask if you have lost weight and tell you to eat more because “you look like a stick”, you can mention how you have a new year’s resolution to eat healthy and exercise more. Maybe that will make them think about looking after their own health as well. 


This can be a great opportunity to invite them to your next jog. PHOTO CREDIT: JOSHUA TSU VIA UNSPLASH

3. Your cousin is a doctor. Why can’t you be more like her?

Being told that someone, especially a sibling or cousin, is better than you is never fun. 

It can make you feel like you’re not good enough and can even make you question if you are on the right track in terms of academics and career. 

Personally, I believe that passion is the most important factor when it comes to pursuing a career. No one should feel doubtful about what makes them passionate. 

Instead of feeling bad about yourself, you should be proud and talk about the things you are doing, projects you have been on and your achievements. You can even explain how you are comfortable with working towards your goals at your own pace. Hopefully then they will realise that you are just as successful as your doctor cousin.

4. How much money do you bring home?

If you mentioned your job while in a conversation with relatives you may not have seen in a long time, odds are a question about your income may surface. 

I have always been told that I should not ask someone how much money they make. No one has ever asked me either, except for older relatives who may not understand why I find it a sensitive question.


Some fear discrimination and comparison if others find out about their salary. PHOTO CREDIT: AVERY EVANS VIA UNSPLASH


If, like me, you are uncomfortable telling them, you can reply with: “I love my job, so money is not all that matters.”

You can also say that your pay is enough to provide you a comfortable life. Some relatives may keep probing and that is when you can joke about how you wish you had more money, and hint to them that more angbaos could be useful. 

Getting bombarded with questions can discourage you from seeing relatives, especially older ones. But every time I feel like skipping the visits, I think about how I only see them during the festive season or weddings. 

Especially now with COVID-19, celebrations are no longer the same with guest restrictions and the fear of spreading the virus to loved ones. 

“Nosey” relatives may not intend to hurt your feelings and are so curious probably because they rarely see you. Perhaps, they just want to get to know you better and want to advise you with their opinions. 

Either way, patience is important when it comes to handling such questions. I wish you all the best and happy celebrations!

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