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DH is lonely in not-so-new city - HELP - LOOONG post

PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:44 am
by blou1
Here goes with a loooong post that hopefully some of you will persevere with as I'd love some suggestions. Maybe cos it's grey and rainy I'm thinking about this situation more than usual today. And cos DH said in passing before he left for work today that he'd really wished that someone would invite him out for a few drinks. Just doing some more thinking out loud here really, but if anyone has any advice then please fire away!

DH and I relocated from London to another UK city just over a year ago, while I was pregnant. We'd been in London for close to a decade and though we enjoyed it and had a good network of friends and acquaintances there, we'd always wanted to move away at some point, jobs allowing and all the stars aligning etc! Main reason was wanting out of the high cost of housing and a shift to a slower pace of life somewhere more family-friendly.

So, here we are, over a year on with our much wanted and gorgeous (IVF) child who we adore, happy with our new house / garden / locality / jobs etc but lacking in joint (couple) friends and DH pretty much lacking in friends completely. Everyone said moving when we did was good timing as we'd make lots of new friends through the baby. That's true for me and I've got a good group of new friends I've met both pre- and post-baby (all new mummies though!) but DH has met just one person he's been seeing socially about once a week and he recently relocated to another town as he lost his job. So now DH has literally no-one.

The problems as I see them are:
- his work colleagues are generally about 20 years older than him and there isn't really a socialising culture at his work;
- he can't commit the same time (which was a lot!) as he did in the past to sports he enjoyed and excelled at and through which he previously made lots of friends (though most were single and childless, hence the amount of time they could devote to sport) and as a result feels he can't take part in those sports in an organised way at all now as he's too competitive to just make up the numbers;
- most of the partners of the mummy friends I've made are either boozy, lad types which DH never really gets on with and / or work long hours and want to spend any spare time they have with their family or seeing their existing friends and most have lived in this city for years and so have good and established social networks as it is;
- he's reluctant get involved with a local 'dads' group despite my encouragement as he feels that going to a social evening where the common thread is just fatherhood is weird. (Never mind that most of my socialising is through the baby...!!!);
- we are completely lacking in 'couple' friends;
- socialising is so much harder now we have bubs - babysitters and military planning required etc and the same is true for most of the people we might want to socialise with (the mum friends I've made and their partners); and
- maintaining existing friendships is hard when you have a young child, let along making new ones, and that's true for everyone.
- you can't be spontaneous in the same way.
- Lots of social activities don't really lend themselves to making new friends. Been there, done that when I did about 3 different evening classes one year. All things that interested me (and presumably the others on the courses) but which left me with no new friendships.

DH is pretty self-sufficient and while not shy and socially awkward, he has never been a complete socialiser-aholic. But I know the current situation is getting him down. I feel very sorry for him. While managing our baby has got easier over recent months I do still feel I need help from DH in the evenings, especially when I've been with the bubs all day (I work part-time at the moment). We each have a night for ourselves at the moment (for gym ,swimming etc) and weekends are mainly spent the three of us, doing family stuff or household / domestic / DIY bits, with the occasional 'date night', subject to babysitting.

My main concerns are DH's welfare and mood, mixed with a slight pang for our old city (which I thought I'd never have tbh, or maybe it's just a pang for our old 'life'), probably unhelpful comparisons to other parents with lots of friends and a reasonable social life and a worry that Dh and I'll soon run out of things to say to each other at this rate, and that it'll all get worse in this regard should we ever have more (gorgeous) kids. I do worry that in a few years time we'll be in the same position and DH will be even more miserable. I find it hard to distinguish whether the problem is entirely down to us having moved when we did or whether we'd still feel we had little social life or friendship network had we stayed in our old city.

It's weird, but despite the lack of friends and sadness about it, DH insists that he likes where we now live, more than he liked London, and feels we made the right move. I, on the other hand, keep thinking that if we don't feel more settled in a social way in a couple of years we'll have to give serious thought to moving back to London (and all the hassle - emotional and practical - that'd go with that) but maybe lots of our friends will have moved on by then, even left London themselves.

I know that to a certain extent I'm doing what I always have a tendency to do and comparing me / us to other people and thinking that all the other parents we know have amazing social lives - which I don't know for certain that they do. But most of them have lived year for a number of years, some even went to uni here, and so I know they've got a big social network of people they've known for a reasonable amount of time and that's what I miss.

We've had friends from London come to visit since we moved and have spent lovely weekends with them and that feels like quality time that we wouldn't have had in the same way in London but it's not the same.

DH is getting back into swimming regularly once a week now with a club. He enjoys it but it's not an especially sociable activity and most of the other club members are younger, childless and carefree.

We've chatted a fair bit to one set of our neighbours who are older with a teenager. Our other immediate neighbours were v elderly and have just moved out. Most others in our street are elderly too.

I used to work in a large workplace with lots of like-minded people which was pretty sociable too. DH would often join after work drinks and parties held by colleagues too. That helped make up for the lack of socialising at his work. His work is still as unsociable though and I now work with just one other person so my situation has completely changed too.

We've started to attend church more regularly too. It's quite a busy church with a few young-ish families attending but again, it's the time thing that's a problem. Going to Sunday morning service can take over 2 hours all in and that's without staying for coffee after the service (the sociable bit!). That's half of Sunday pretty much gone every week. We're also involved with the local political party which is pretty active and sociable but again, as nice and welcoming as people are, there's that sense of breaking into social networks of people who've known each other for a long time and who aren't necessarily all near our age.

I just don't feel we've met any couples as yet that we've 'clicked' with who are in similar situations. It's all pleasant small talk, mostly baby related. DH met a friend through the climbing he was doing and they got on great and climbed together weekly and went for the odd beer but that guy recently lost his job and moved back to another part of the country. We also met a couple we had lots in common with (including a young baby!) at a baby group when DS was tiny but they relocated after a couple of months of us meeting.

I feel that fundamentally what we lack is the time you need to 'invest' in meeting people and developing friendships and the same probably goes for most of the people we might be friends with, and I can't see how that's going to change anytime soon which makes me feel a bit hopeless about it all. sad

I still have plenty of mummy friends that DS and I see pretty regularly and I'm grateful for that but would just like DH - and us as a couple - to have the same.

Help!! Anyone been through this? Thanks!

Re: DH is lonely in not-so-new city - HELP - LOOONG post

PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:40 pm
by wellington
I don't really have any sensible advice, but I did want to add my sympathy. I worked very long hours pre baby and spent my weekends rattling round the country seeing friends and family. I met other mums on mat leave, but I had to go back to work full time (work wouldn't let me drop my hours) so they all met in the week when I wasn't around, and although I kept going to evening socials, I was gradually edged out (not deliberately, I just wasn't around enough) there isn't a social culture at work, and anyway I work 25 miles away from home, so it's really tough. My husband is self employed and has depression, so he doesn't socialise at all. It's come as quite a shock to discover I have no local friends or relations! Boy do you need a bit of support when you have kids! Just someone to take her out for a couple of hours now and then, or do an occasional school run.

So I know just how he feels. And I've no idea what to do about it. I completely agree that if you are a full time working parent it's impossible to put enough time and energy into a new forming friendship, and really tough to meet people in the first place. I've no idea what the answer is. I suspect church activities might be one way for you - hopefully they have lots of family events. Classic answers are to join a club, which might work if you are able to spell him at home. What about something completely different from what he used to do, so he's not comparing. Or regular atendance at the local pub (it worked for us when we had one)

I suspect regular attendance at some sort of club would be the answer for me, but I simply don't have the energy, and DHs work is so erratic that he can't commit to regular childcare, and do I can't commit to anything really.

Really hope you find something that works. It's not a very easy situation!

Re: DH is lonely in not-so-new city - HELP - LOOONG post

PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:05 am
by Hols969
I also agree as well, we had hoped we would make new friends of parents at school, but the disadvantage there is its all mums and Jim does all the child care as I work in London and I think it is more tricky for a man to integrate into a female circle. The other issue is that most of the parents have actually split up as well, 2 more couples in the summer so there actually aren't many left and single mums can sometimes then feel uncomfortable. My work is not sociable, I was made redundant from my previous local job after 19 years and thought I had made some friends there but actually hardly any respond to me now. My hubbie is more sociable than me and much better at small talk too. We had made a few parent friends, invited them over, and then it's sort of gone cold, none have invited us back ....

I know life is busy for everyone which makes it difficult, I have a 4 hour daily commute now and am up at 4.15 am so the week is a no no and baby sitters are so expensive along with everything else. Ido think it is very difficult to meet new friends and you are on the right track with clubs etc. can you hubbie do a different sport perhaps as swimming is very solitary and maybe not the easiest way to meet other chaps.

It isn't easy though and almost the world we live in now, where your friends are on line !!!!

Re: DH is lonely in not-so-new city - HELP - LOOONG post

PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:19 pm
by wellington
I have some real great friends online - I know a lot of them in real life. It's just that they are all so scattered, so they can't pop over for coffee or babysit now and again. It was fine to have friends like that before, but now I need some local friends!!

Re: DH is lonely in not-so-new city - HELP - LOOONG post

PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:28 am
by Hols969
I agree but there are so difficult to find and have enough time to make real friend as well when time is quite limited.