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I found a long lost relative of mine on Facebook. He is my paternal uncle. I added him as a friend and sent a message a few months ago. My relative does not go on Facebook very often and has not yet seen my message. He also doesn't seem to use it very much at all.

I can see his friends list on Facebook and I was thinking of asking one of his Facebook friends to tell him to check his messages. We have no mutual Facebook friends though.

How can I do this without being creepy? I have never met my relative or had contact with him before. I'm his long lost niece that he doesn't know about yet and it's a long story...He doesn't know I exist because my father didn't tell his family. There's obviously no animosity between myself and my uncle, but there could be between my father and others, but I don't know. I'm not sure how well these people know him or know how many nieces and nephews he has. A skeleton is about to fall out of the closet.

I am trying to get in touch with XYZ. Would you be able to ask him to check his Facebook messages?

  • You tagged [family], so, is that lost relative part of your family? (saying this cause someone close to you probably knows how to contact this relative) And also, I don't see anything wrong with your current phrasing, I would do that in the same situation – CaldeiraG Aug 16 at 13:03
  • Yes, the relative is a family member that I've never met. – user1261710 Aug 16 at 13:17
  • Is it safe to assume that you and your relative have no mutual Facebook friends? – Reubens4Dinner Aug 16 at 14:22
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    No mutual friends. Never had contact before. – user1261710 Aug 16 at 14:24
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Introduce yourself and explain your motives. You're trying to get in touch with a family member, and they haven't responded yet. That's a fairly understandable scenario, and not especially creepy.

In contrast, if you withhold explanation, then the omission could be perceived as suspicious or creepy. They may doubt your credentials or your motives.

At minimum, your message should establish:

  • Who you are (you're a possible relative of XYZ)
  • Why you're contacting them (because they're on XYZ's friends list)
  • What you want from them (ask XYZ to respond to you)

If you want to avoid specific familial details, then you can simply describe yourself as a "relative" of this person; you don't need to clarify the family situation. Here's an example message.

Hi so-and-so,

I am trying to get in touch with XYZ, because he is a relative of mine. I noticed that you are on his friends list, and hoped you could help me. I had messaged him on Facebook a few months ago, but I haven't seen a response yet. Could you ask him to check for my messages?

Thanks,

Aubrey


This is based on the standard I use and expect in professional communication, when it's often required to message strangers with a request. On Facebook, I've also used this before when one of my siblings went MIA and I needed to reach them; I messaged their friends with something like "Hi, this is such-and-such's brother. I've been trying to reach her for the past few days but I haven't heard back. Have you heard from her recently?". I contacted multiple people, and most of them answered.

I've also been in the position of the recipient, being contacted by strangers. When the opening messages don't establish credentials or motives (e.g. the message says little more than "Hello!" or "Do you have time to chat?"), then I usually suspect it's spam, a bot, or something else worth ignoring. But if the message seemed to originate from a real person, with a plausible reason for contacting me, then I usually responded with the information they sought.

  • ' Would you be able to get him to contact me?' I think this sentence goes too far, and it goes further than the OP expressed intent of. There is no need to prompt anyone to try and get the relative to do anything other than that. The relative may have read the message and chosen not to respond for their own reasons and shouldn't be put in the position of explaining themselves to anyone. It may also be overstepping for the OP to reveal familial relationships to the relative's online friends. – Spagirl Aug 19 at 16:12
  • @Spagirl You're right, the person can't make the relative respond to the OP. I changed the wording of the example message above. It is also true that the relative may have chosen to ignore the message, but that's not something OP can control. – Carcosa Aug 19 at 16:26
  • Cheers, I still think there is a clear difference between the experience you had trying to contact a sibling who acknowledges the familial relationship and this person who may not. I don’t think it is right or effective for the OP to risk ostracising their relative by revealing to a random 3rd party that there may be issues of family estrangement. – Spagirl Aug 20 at 6:20
  • @Spagirl I'm not sure how the message suggests estrangement, ostracizes the relative, or otherwise causes harm. OP intends to contact a "long lost" relative, and hasn't indicated estrangement or conflict. If it helps, I changed the wording from "he hasn't responded" to "I haven't seen a response" to avoid casting fault on the relative. Beyond that, I think this approach is valid. – Carcosa Aug 20 at 6:33
  • The person in question is my paternal uncle. He doesn't know I exist because my father didn't tell his family. There's obviously no animosity between myself and my uncle but there could be between my father and others but I don't know. A skeleton is about to fall out of the closet. – user1261710 Aug 20 at 8:28

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