Social Question

GloPro's avatar

Are you nosy?

Asked by GloPro (8389points) April 25th, 2014 from iPhone

I had a discussion with a friend yesterday. When someone tells you something like “I have to go to the doctor,” or “My boyfriend and I had a huge fight,” or “Things are tough for my mom right now,” are you the type to ask follow-up questions?

My thinking is that I will empathize, and I will let someone know I’m here, but I stop there. I figure if they want to discuss it or give me details they will start the conversation. I am definitely willing to listen, but I don’t pry or get personal unless someone opens the door. If we’re talking about your weekend then I ask for details all day long. It’s personal things I don’t pry on.

Some people interpret that as being aloof or not being interested. That is definitely not the case, but how do I make it clear that I am supportive without being nosy? I already say I am here if needed, and I empathize. I’m not naturally a coddling type, but I don’t like coming off as disinterested, either…

My girlfriend says it’s a guy trait and that it’s women that are judging me for not being nosy. I do have a problem connecting with a lot of women because I can talk a lot but don’t express emotions much. I do care, help!

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25 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

I usually try to go in with a joke. “I have to go to the doctor” so I respond with something like “Got AIDS again?”. You have to know your audience really well for this to work.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@GloPro I do have a problem connecting with a lot of women because I can talk a lot but don’t express emotions much.

AAAAAAAAAAGH! Why, there’s someone who share the same trait as me! For years I thought I was the only one who was unemotional, insensitive didn’t care for anything happening around me. <A big hug>

There’s a strange thing about me: I often do things to the extremity. If I don’t do it, I never do it; and if I do it, I do it too much. How I talk is no different. If I’m not interested in the subject, I ask very little. And if I’m interested, I ask and ask, to the point that some people have to yell: “why are you so nosy?”

I think there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the people you interact with want to talk more than you.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

In those examples, I would feel like they brought it up, so they want to discuss whatever. Sometimes I care about hearing more, sometimes not, but if it seems important to them, I ask if they want to talk about it.

Cruiser's avatar

When someone makes grand announcements like that, I indulge them and ask what is going on and if they share then great if they dodge that request then I leave it at that and tell them if they ever want to talk I am here for them.

gailcalled's avatar

I have only a few very close friends; it is always clear whether we are having an intimate conversation or a casual one. None of them would mention a trip to the doctor’s, a fight with a s/o or worries about a parent and then simply change the subject.

Being an attentive and careful and loving listener is however different from offering unwanted advice.

My sister and I can talk something to near death but either one of us can also say, “Let’s talk about something else now.”

There is also a big difference between “I’m here if you need me,” and “How can I help?”

There is additionally the fool-proof, “Do you want any advice?” if I’m not sure. But usually I can tell.

Juels's avatar

Yes, I’m nosy and would ask the follow-up question. I just can’t help myself. I don’t gossip about the things people tell me and I’m not offended if they don’t want to share. I just like to know. Inquiring minds…

zenvelo's avatar

I try not to pry, instead I answer with “I’m here if you feel like talking.”

GloPro's avatar

I’m more talking about the casual conversations than someone approaching me and clearly needing support. If I ask how your week went and you say, “We went for a nice hike, saw a movie, and I went back to the doctor.” I will ask what movie, what hike, and leave the doctor comment alone. Apparently that gives the impression that I don’t care about the more intimate details and I prefer to keep my distance emotionally, which may be true. But for me, I don’t want to pry. Is that odd? Or should I ask follow up questions and possibly make someone uncomfortable?

anniereborn's avatar

Sometimes I ask “nosy” questions if it’s someone I am very close to. Otherwise I will say something like “If you feel like talking about it, I’m here for you”

keobooks's avatar

Is it really nosy to ask what’s up? If someone brings it up, I assume they want to talk about it and I ask. They usually do—otherwise they wouldn’t have brought it up. I almost NEVER get the response “I don’t want to talk about it” if they are the ones who brought it up.

Now I AM nosey.. but not for that reason. I listen in on total strangers conversations when I’m in restaurants. I don’t know these people at all, but I am interested in what they are saying. I won’t gossip about them because I don’t know anyone who knows these people. I am just nosy as heck.

Coloma's avatar

I might inquire with a close friend, but otherwise no.
I hate nosy, prying types, and this is a sore subject for me now that I am living in sandwiched between 2 super nosy elderly women.
Awhile back I was on the phone out in my little back yard and the nosy old lady next door accosted me a few hours later and said..” I heard voices this morning, was that you?”
I replied ” Oh, I was outside on the phone, perhaps that is what you heard.”

She then asked ” Who were you talking to?”
What the….
It was great, I replied ” Well..I guess I was talking to somebody I wanted to be talking to.” lol
Exit…with her looking bewildered. haha

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Sure… What’cha got?

Berserker's avatar

I get curious sure, but the only people I care about to know what they’re up to are close enough to me in friendship that they usually provide further details without me having to ask for them. If they do not and I ask, it’s not considered ’‘nosy’’.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

I assume they want me to follow up and ask so I do.

And if doesn’t sound intriguing, I pull out and play the world’s smallest violin.

Empathy isn’t something I bother with too much.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

No. If somebody shares something difficult or troubling with me, I don’t interrogate the person for more information. It’s very easy to express concern, or give support, without being intrusive. If the individual wants to say more, he/she will do so.

chewhorse's avatar

“My girlfriend says it’s a guy trait and that it’s women that are judging me for not being nosy.”

I don’t know what part of the galaxy she’s from but if you take her advice and become nosy I guarantee she will be the only one who will tolerate you.. Maybe that’s why she said that.. She wants you for herself. Think about it, how do YOU feel about nosy people? Well women feel the same way unless of course it’s them who nose.

LornaLove's avatar

It depends on how close they are to me. If a friend was going to the doctor, I’d ask her if everything is ok. I’m not nosy about neighbours, I give a shit what they drive, wear, or earn. That goes for ‘arbs’ anywhere. I normally do wait for people to tell me how much they want to or not.

I find it annoying when I meet people and they say “Nice to meet you, what do you do?”.


“oh, lovely, where do you live”.

That is nosy.

Unbroken's avatar

Oh sweet another person like me. I am nosy most of the time. But I refrain from asking follow up questions because I don’t want to be rude or overstep polite boundaries. I hang out with guys and if they want to talk they talk.

Besides there are only certain people I confide in so if people ask me a bunch of questions I don’t want to answer I brush them off change the subject invent some silly excuse, etc. 5 people could ask me the same question and I would give every single one of them a different answer. They would all be more or less true but some would be closer to the turning point. Sometimes I get called diplomatic. Which isn’t always the case but true enough.

But then I realized certain people want you to ask questions if they make a leading statement they are silently requesting you ask follow up questions amazing how thick I can be.

And I hate hugs. Well a few people I hug. But overall don’t go grabbing me and getting in my space.

Bottom line get friends through exploring your interests and meeting people like you. They will accept you as you accept them and eventually you get to the point where you can be as nosy as you want and they can be nosy back and if one of you crosses the line you can communicate that and get over it.

jca's avatar

For me, it depends on who I am talking to and the context. If a close friend brings it up, I may or may not ask. If she is saying she is running errands and going to the doctor, no need to inquire. I wouldn’t ask “what’s going on?” or “for what?” However, if I ask “how are you doing?” or ” what’s up?” and she mentions “doctor” then it may be something she wants to discuss. If she didn’t want to discuss it, she probably wouldn’t mention it. I might say “is everything ok?” I don’t consider that nosy, I consider that conversation with a friend.

If someone at work says “I’m taking a longer lunch because I have a doctor’s appointment” then I am not asking what they’re going to the doctor for. That’s none of my business.

If a friend says “my boyfriend and I had a huge fight” then she wouldn’t be bringing it up if she didn’t possibly want to talk about it. I would not think someone would say “my boyfriend and I had a huge fight” without following it up by talking. I might say something like “how do you feel now?” or something else that’s an open question, so if she wanted to get into it, she could. It’s called “making conversation.”

In the example @Coloma gave, talking on the phone and the neighbor asks who you were talking to, now THAT’S nosy.

keobooks's avatar

I still don’t think it’s wrong to ask a follow up, if they brought it up. Also, I’d find it creepy if I said I went to the doctor and someone said “I’m there for you if you want to talk about it.” I just got a checkup—- Jeez! If I don’t want someone to ask about my doctor’s visit, I won’t mention it.

I think it’s rude to pry, but if someone brings it up a “Everything OK?” isn’t out of line.

Paradox25's avatar

Unless there is a good reason, like with people who are close to me or in situations where harm may come to another I’m about as far from nosy as one can get. I don’t even have a social networking account because I prefer more private means such as phone calls, letters or emails in order to share details or life occurrences with someone I know well enough.

As far as following through with questions if one decides to spill details to me about something I consider personal I generally will show concern, but I try not to follow through too much. One younger girl who liked me whom I had known at my previous work place would frequently give me details about her life, like how her previous boyfriend physically abused her, and other things. In this sense I’m not sure how I should had reacted, but instead of looking for details I generally tried to give her advice on how to improve her life and that she deserved better. This was tough considering that she really like me, but I didn’t think an introverted 40 year old guy would have much in common with an extroverted 20 year old girl. Maybe at 50 and 30, but not at 40 and 20.

This was similar to when my one neighbor would discuss details of how his estranged wife verbally and mentally abused him (yes I would hear the fighting myself). Generally I don’t push for new information too much, though sometimes I wonder where the drawing line is myself.

Haleth's avatar

It can be hard to tell how much someone wants to share about their problem. Asking open-ended questions is GREAT for this. It lets them talk as much or as little as they want.

Sometimes you have to have the patience of, like, Buddha for this to work. You’re essentially letting the other person take over the conversation and just vent. Sometimes you can see an obvious solution to their problem, if they would just listen. You might be able to offer constructive advice after they’ve talked as much or as little as they want.

It seems like people generally want to share all the gory details, but they don’t want to feel like someone is prying into their life. The difference is in whether they see the listener (you) as someone who cares and accepts them, or as pushy and judgmental.

I find myself saying stuff like, “Oh no! What happened!” and “Wow, that’s crazy,” a lot.

GloPro's avatar

@Haleth Oh, no… Really? Wow… Hmmm. What did you do? That bitch!!!
Just practicing. Very good answer.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m the least nosy person I know. I used to work in the lab in a food factory with a bunch of women. I was out on the floor the most, some of them never – everyone knew everyone. I’d come in and make (what seemed to me) an innocuous comment and they’d all immediately pepper me with followup questions. “Dunno, that’s all I heard.” It drove them nuts that I had these juicy tidbits that barely concerned me – I just mentioned it because someone had seemed to excited about the information.

Still to this day I often find myself thinking, after the fact, ‘Oh, damn! I bet I was supposed to ask a question back there!’

Other people will value your nonchalance.

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