Probably the most overused phrase I’ve heard lately is, “It’s complicated.”
The phrase is a tease. It’s also a cliché for what someone says who does not want to discuss an unpleasant piece of information.
Now, I’m all for being diplomatic or saving people from hearing something that is not their business or would hurt their feelings unnecessarily.
However, saying “It’s complicated” is imprecise and does not provide a clear answer.
Is the speaker unable to explain or are they unwilling to share the information?
In either case, more information is necessary. Plus, the response is truly exasperating!
Perhaps the person asking would be better served by telling them it would take a while to explain and offering another time–in private–for the information to be shared.
I suspect that most of the time the information may not be complicated at all. Perhaps it is just awkward, confidential, embarrassing, uncomfortable, or unpleasant to discuss.
If you are considering answering a question with the response, “It’s complicated,” please don’t!
Most conversation does not rise to the level of complicated. And, by saying that it is complicated, you are adding a dramatic statement that could make the listener want to pry even more to get the answer.
See, that’s complicated! By avoiding answering clearly, you’ve then set off an inevitable chain of incidents that does make things complicated.