Note: This question was supposed to cover all "why someone does X" questions, not only the example mentioned here.

Example: Can I tell my girlfriend that I'm too lazy to meet up?

After fixing the formatting a bit, and reading twice, I feel this question should be on-topic. This question is asking about "why my girlfriend is mad at me after I do ..."

While that type of question is inherently opinion-based (we cannot possibly know what someone's thinking and why someone does something), it seems the reason is rather obvious to reasonable people, but not to OP.

This answer beautifully address the reason why his girlfriend surely will be mad at him, and I believe this is the fundamental reason why she's mad. This is a very helpful insight to future visitors who might do the same thing like OP (which I believe they will be a lot of teenagers).

I think questions that ask insight about why someone does something should be on-topic. The nature of this type of question is opinion-based, so it must be handled on a case-by-case basis. So, while it is on-topic, it may be unanswerable because too opinion-based.

Q: How the community feels about "Why someone does X" questions? How should we handle them?

Note: For this particular question, I think it is on-topic, and while opinion-based, I think this is answerable, and that answer gives an example how it should be answered.

Another example of good "Why someone does X":

  1. Why do (half-)strangers say "I'm sure you'll love it" when they don't know my interests?
  2. Why are people unwilling to share information about their salary?
  3. Why do people flirt in customer service situations?

2 Answers 2


I think it is probably on topic, as well, but I still agree it should have been put on hold.

As HDE 226868 explains in a comment on that question, any or all of the following pieces of context would make the question clearly answerable:

1) What are you trying to accomplish? In other words, what is your specific goal you need help with?

2) Can you give some more background on your relationship, if you think it's needed? Certain personal details (e.g. general age range) could also be useful.

3) What culture is this taking place in? Interpersonal situations are often strongly culturally-dependent.

The answer mentioned in your question is good, but it is very generic. The only part that is specific to the question (without making guesses about the OP's intent and thoughts) is that the relationship is relatively new.

Take note of the other (non-deleted) answer. It starts with:

Depends on the context. Did you consent to go out to before the shower? Where you the one that proposed to go out?

This is a strong flag that the question does not provide enough details. That's why it should be put on hold, until enough details are provided.


I feel some of these kinds of questions run a fine line between being on-topic and off-topic.

If the situation can be reworded as

How can I better empathise with X's feelings in Y situation.

Then that does involve an interpersonal skill, and answers can point out potential viewpoints to consider as well as techniques for gaining a better understanding of the other person's viewpoint.

Or if it's asking for a general answer, to common etiquette. Such as:

Why do people flirt in customer service situations?

Then again, it's on-topic as it's asking about culture in general, and can help somebody develop their interpersonal skills/gives context to them using those skills.

However, if the question effectively distils down to:

Please explain why this person feels/does X.

Then it is off-topic. We cannot read minds, and it would be dangerous for us to second guess a 3rd party's motives. There will never be enough information in the question to properly answer such a question, as that information would need to come from the 3rd party themself.

I feel it's important to distinguish between the examples given in the question here; which are all on-topic. Either asking about how to better understand somebody else's viewpoint, or how to understand social norms in general.

However, there are questions asked on IPS which effectively come down to "why did he do what he did" - which we simply can't answer.

  • Updated to include a better response to the example questions in the OP - which I do feel are on-topic. However I think it's important to distinguish between people applying IPS skills/context, and asking us to guess at the cause of somebody else's behaviour (not possible).
    – user10883
    Apr 18, 2018 at 11:04

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