A Single reader with a boyfriend sent me this link, thinking it explained her office dynamic. Further questioning revealed that the most recent conversation about her chaste relationship with her boyfriend was mostly just her colleague putting her foot in it, e.g. "So are you and your boyfriend going away for the weekend? Why not? Doesn't he stay over? He doesn't? Why not?"
I don't work in an office, and thank heavens, for offices feature bored female administrative assistants who long to win the lottery and get the heck out. The gossip and tittle-tattle and attempts to divert oneself with the personal lives or emotional reactions of others are just soul-killing. It's one reason why I worked so hard to get into a PhD program; one slip in my grades, I felt, and I'd be back in the file room. (I should state, however, that I have warm memories of the women in the file room of the ODSP, who taught me a lot about humility and getting along with others.)
Young people often lack the calm confidence of the middle-aged, taking refuge in frightened anger or in-your-face bravado when someone treads on your toes. But in the West all kinds of laws have been passed to prevent harassment of women in the workplace, and these apply not only to men but to other women. It is not okay for people at work to give you a hard time about your sexual choices or to pry into your personal life. However, you are still the one primarily responsible for protecting your private life. You can't just call up HR the minute someone says, "So are you and your honey going away for the weekend?"
The way to take such a question, which 90% of the time is just as friendly attempt at passing some time, is lightly and in the spirit it is meant. "Nah, we'll kick back here, maybe see a movie" is an excellent response, and may lead the conversation right to the safe territory of movies.
Of course, 10% of the time, the question will be part of an office lady plot to find out your business, possibly because you have said something imprudent that put you on the "This girl is different" radar. Unless you are self-employed like Saint Paul, making tents beside the stall of your neighbour the spice peddler, mentioning topics like chastity at work is a bad idea. Just mentioning that you have a boyfriend is a bad idea, unless directly asked. But remember that at all times you are allowed to subtly change the subject. Throw your questioner a tidbit: "Yeah. Rob's really into film." If Rob's into film, you can change the subject to film EVERY time anyone asks anything personal. "What are you and Rob doin' tonight?" "Ah, probably watching a film." Make old Rob sound cozy and predictable, and everyone will assume you're "just normal," whatever "just normal" means to them.
Of course, if there is a real problem, with jerks making fun of you and your sexual choice not to have sex, then it may very well be time to go to your manager or Human Resources. Say you don't push your religion on anyone, and you are sick of people pushing their sexual beliefs on you and humiliating you for your choices. Nobody should be sexually harassed at work. Ever. By anyone.
Update: Thanks to the reader who linked to this in the combox. It's pretty good. In fact, when I think about the girls who gave B.A. a hard time for, well, being B.A., not their idea of who B.A. SHOULD be, I also conclude that they were idiots. However, I'm grateful that they WERE idiots, because that meant they left B.A. for me. Yay, them!