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My spouse and I left our hometowns more than 10 years ago and got to know each other in the city where we are living now. The distance to our hometowns is about a 3 and a half hours drive in opposite directions. We used to travel home at least once a month in the past over the years for birthdays or other events, or just to go skiing or whatever and meet our friends and families.

Now, since we got to know each other, we started to reduce the visits because our families live in different directions - my former girlfriend's family lived in the same direction as mine, so it had been easier to handle. Not seeing our families and friends hurts somehow and the less we see them the less we have in common. What hurts especially is that they don't tend to visit us. They also don't call us unless we ask them or invite them again and again to do so. My brother's family never managed to visit me within the 10 years I live here. I've been there at least several times each year, as they live close to my parents, sister and friends. Even my parents don't call us until something bad happened. I once stopped calling them for several weeks and after I called again, they just asked if I am still alive :-)

When we get there everything is just normal like we have never been away. I have a rather big family with loads of aunts, uncles and cousins, and they all move up together in a distance of about 100 miles and it was always quite nice to get the big family together. My spouse's family is much smaller, but they show similar symptoms. Same thing with our friends: they are happy when we visit them, but only 1 or 2 of them did come round here.

Now we tried to get some kinde of "tribe" established here in the city where we live to cope with that family stuff. But most people do have good old friends here already or are always busy with family (we do not have kids, it's difficult). So most of the time we try to organize something and some people gather and have fun - but if we don't arrange or ask there is just silence on the other side. I am already fed up with this now and started thinking "Oh come on, let's just do the stuff I like the best on my own and not care about others".

I sometimes think about moving to different places - we are both situated in the middle of Germany - because it doesn't matter if the people here speak a different dialect or a completely different language. Maybe Italian or Spanish people are easier to deal with and not so complicated in befriending each other, especially while there is more sunshine.

We are not really introverted, ugly or bad people. We are funny, love sports (despite my girlfriend's food allergy, which makes her unable to eat most food, thus lacking energy sometimes), go dancing, love to go out to concerts and shows and so on. Maybe this is normal to modern times and we should just give up and do the stuff we like and not bother. Maybe you do have any other useful tips aside telling our family or friends - they either don't seem to take this seriously or just somehow don't feel it or just don't mind.

How can we communicate to our friends and families that we expect them to reach out for us and not just wait for us to make the first contact?

closed as too broad by curiousdannii, NVZ, John Mar 11 '18 at 7:34

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I think the end of your question drifts a bit, since we cannot make the decisions for you. I like the question above which is "How to improve the contact with my family and friends" however I think you could focus a bit more on that aspect. Also note that we are not here to judge your actions :) – Peter Mar 1 '18 at 12:58
  • You are right, @Peter! I've added some more distinctinve words in the end. Judgment wouldn't be helpful but maybe experiences of ohters - maybe sometimes it is worth to keep the silence or whatever – macbert Mar 1 '18 at 13:14
  • Is there anything interesting going on near where you live so that you could invite friends and family for concerts, arts, shows, sports, nature - something that would help lure them to you? (The "middle of Germany" has a bit of a reputation of being boring hinterlands, maybe you can find something to interest them?) – AllTheKingsHorses Mar 6 '18 at 9:06
  • Just a minor point- I think the word 'ugly' doesn't really belong in your question. Physical beauty has no part in determining whether your friends or family would be willing to visit you. People might feel less-inclined to contact introverts, heavily less-inclined to contact 'bad people' but physical beauty has no bearing in this. – Simpleton Mar 6 '18 at 15:29
  • In most cases, it is actually work that keeps family members from connecting with each other. At old age, people find themselves less inclined to travel, after working for long hours in their respective jobs. – Simpleton Mar 6 '18 at 15:37
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Family

Lets start with family. I made the agreement with my parents that we will call once a week. While this is not a lot, it helps to stay in touch and talk about what happened that week. I would go with something like: "hey, I get the feeling I put the most energy in keeping the contact and like to talk about this". When you are discussing this with your family (parents) I would try to discuss these points:

  • Regular appointments to call, this can be once a week or once a month, however discussing this is important.
  • Switch who is going to contact, one week its you, the other week its your family. Make sure you just wait for them to contact as agreed, unless it really takes months ofcourse.
  • Be very clear that you would like that hey visit you. You could also add to this that traveling also puts a lot of strain on you, so that its fair to meetup at your place and your families place. Offering meal and a place to sleep helps since I can imagine this can be a problem when traveling this far. I don't know how the meetups go now, so I just included it as an idea.

I think it would be the best to do this in person and not on the phone. It also could be taken offensively, so proceed in care! I suggest you also discuss this with your wife on how to keep the contact with family, since she could also have some great ideas. You probably already did this, however I included this for completion.

Local friends (tribe?)

I don't have much knowledge about this because I'm quite an introverted person. I think you are more extroverted, because you seem to get a lot of energy from meetups. Some contact with "he whatsup?" and look how they react and want to spend time is probably the best course on action. You could also say that you like to go out a lot more, where you focus on the fact that you would like to be invited when they go to do something.

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To your families, you're the outliers. More of the burden is going to fall on you, unfortunately.

My husband's family is almost all in one city, about a six-hour drive from us. When they plan get-togethers, they do it with the local people in mind and don't tend to consider us. (I mean things like parties on Sunday nights, so we would have to take a day off of work to return home on Monday.) We've tried to gently change their behavior, but it hasn't worked. They're not mean people or anything, nor are they especially oblivious; they just don't see why they should change what works for all of them just for the two of us.

The cost of that is that sometimes we don't go to their things, and they have to accept that. Sometimes my husband goes alone.

Meanwhile, the only time most of them have ever come to us was for our wedding. We've invited them for other things, and occasionally some of them stop by on the way to somewhere else, but we are not as central as anybody living in their city, even distant relatives.

It sounds like your families don't need you as much as you need them. Because they don't need you as much, they're not going to initiate if it's inconvenient, and traveling to you is apparently too high a bar for them at least for "casual" things. So you want to find ways to interact that are easy for them, and you'll probably keep needing to take the initiative. For us, email works well and my husband calls family members for special occasions (like birthdays), and that's enough. If you want more regular contact, you might want to establish a pattern for phone calls (you call every Sunday night, or whatever), or build up your email and social-media connections. As for visits, I recommend that you wait to invite them again until you have a specific occasion, like a party you're planning. People who won't bestir themselves just to visit sometimes do so if its for a specific gathering.

  • This sounds quite familiar to me. We are thinking about to get married soon and so there might be an occassion where the finaly come around. We first thought about having the ceremonies at our families places but decided not to do so. Reading your answer is making me think of concentrating more and more on the people closer - like friends even when it hurts to leave the family behind. – macbert Mar 6 '18 at 19:15
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Family

My husband and I are child-free and are in a similar situation. I recommend asking each family member how they would like to communicate with you.

First - there are people who just don’t want to maintain family relationships, unless there is something selfish in it for them. Please avoid enabling them with what they want, such as “loans”, in exchange for contact. I’ve watched many people try to reach out to relatives who won’t keep up a relationship. I've never seen anyone change over to a loving relative if they hadn’t been from the beginning.

Some people, like myself, prefer writing. Ask if they like letters, cards, emails, or texts. Start with safe simple stories, don’t dive into emotional issues until they start sharing emotions with you.

Other people feel closer by videophone calls, Skype or Facetime, for example.

Sending short videos or photos by email or text. If the relative doesn’t have an internet connection there are other photo options. Some physical businesses print digital photos into a physical photo that the recipient can pick up locally. You can also use an app to switch a digital photo into a mailed postcard.

This keeps us in closer contact with the willing family members than we even were before we moved away!

Friends

If you have hobbies, go to club meetings and expos or places that people like you go. When you make a friend, ask them to introduce you to other people you might want to meet.

I go to flea markets, antique shows, and big thrift stores to meet other educated, nerdy, creative, eccentric, environmentally and socially conscious people. Many of us are too weird for the regular population, but tolerant of each other together. In summary, find out where people with your personality, opinions, interests, and quirks like to go.

Try churches, self help groups, volunteer groups, clubs, specialty stores, local parks, wherever you are drawn to to be yourself. Please don’t give up, there ARE people who want to be with you. There are people who want companionship, such as elderly and disabled people and people who just moved to the area. There are also people who have to deal with lots of people all day who want someone they can talk to. I try to have a mix of both types for friends. They may make you into an honorary family member, which eases the distress of not being close to actual relatives.

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Everything I share is my own personal experience.

I'm in a similar situation where married, no kids of our own (he has 3 from a prior marriage but they are all grown and live far away). We moved 1.5 hours away from family and friends 13 years ago. The burden is on us to visit. Rarely do family and friends visit unless it is the summertime and they came for the pool. This scenario is not unique to Germany. I see similar posts in other groups.

I think you have several dynamics going on. First, you moved. The family didn't move, you did. Their perspective may be that it is on you to visit them since you moved. That is not my perspective but I can see how it could become an unspoken belief if not challenged.

Second, I don't know your age but I'm guessing based on the comments that you and your wife are around the 25-35 year age range. This is the age range where friends either move in proximity or marry (some have kids, some don't), begin to lay a foundation for a successful career and in a very general sense, forge a more independent identity of themselves. There is a separation from family and one's past that is a normal part of life, at least in the US. It becomes stronger as a person matures.

I have noticed 2 "friend attrition" scenarios that are rarely acknowledged publicly or privately: 1) couples who have kids tend to gravitate to other couples who have kids and leave behind the couples who don't; and and 2) Once married, friends tend to leave behind single friends and do couple things with other couples.

Right or wrong, I don't know. I share that because those are 2 clear scenarios that might be playing out in the original poster's life.

Third, I think it's fine to ask family what they perceive to be reasonable in visits, (you to them, or them to you) but do so with an open mind and open heart. You may not like the response. In your shoes, because this is a heavy burden on your heart, I would remind family and friends they are always welcome to visit and when they do, there are activities x, y and z to do. You may have to "sell" the idea ("Making memories for so-and-so that they will always treasure").

Fourth, it says a lot they have not visited you and your wife much. No one likes a one-sided relationship, so I can see why this bothers you. However, this also has positives that you may not be thinking of. My husband and I are much closer because we are not distracted with family. We are able to forge an identity both separately as individuals and as a couple. Some of the things we have done as a couple on our own or with other couples we met here and there are motorcycle trips, camping, breeding horses and joining clubs like the local art club and a Corvette club which always has some kind of event going on.

I know that it stings a bit they haven't visited you, but after 5 decades on this planet, I've learned to be grateful rather than hurt when someone lets me down because it's shown me their true thoughts and where I fall in their personal priority scale. That is quite valuable information. I adjust my expectations of them without judging them. After all, I've let people down here and there.

This is why I say, do you really want to have a conversation with a person about their lack of visiting you? I think I'd share from my heart once and let it go. The ones who are sensitive will pick up on what you have shared, and hopefully will visit you, but for those who don't, let it go and spend your energies elsewhere.

Fifth, my husband and I have held several parties through the years to bring people together at our place in the country. It's great for making memories and for helping people feel welcome. It may take a party or 2 for people to start warming up to driving to your place.

Finally, in 13 years, we have not made many friends because we moved to a small community and everyone already knows everyone. Joining the art and history clubs, as well as visiting a few churches, helped me personally. In the US, there is an app called meetup which is heavy with groups who love photography, games, gardening and other personal interests (pets, etc). Also volunteering for a local non-profit (pet rescue, low income home repair such as Habitat for Humanity, historical societies, etc) would expose you to a group of people that are probably caring and thoughtful. I wouldn't expect to go deep with these folks quickly but it's nice to know a few locals and socialize once a month.

To sum it up, I feel that your predicament is partly a result of the natural process of separation from family around the age of 30 (give or take 5-10 years), combined with friends going through the same thing you are going through (separation, maturity in career and identity) plus learning what makes you and your wife truly happy in life. This is a process which takes time. Warm regards to you.

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