Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

DH doesn't want to socialise with other familes ever.....I am at my wits end

(43 Posts)
saintpeta Wed 18-Mar-09 13:42:28

At first when I met him I didn't know anything about it but now after 6 years it hasn't improved - he says he's not interested in being with my old friends and their families for gatherings. Its driving me mad and limits us. I end up doing everything myself with other families. He can't even grin and bear it for my sake either and thats worrying too. I don't think I could have a relationship where we don't meet other people and it can't be good for our kids to never go out socially with other families.....wondering whether I can live with this but the more I think about it this "phobia" as I have come to see it (i'm not an expert) its driving a wedge and its stalemate all the time. Any suggestions on what I can do to make it work -short of saying it's over - as its affecting our relationship alot.

compo Wed 18-Mar-09 13:47:05

does he have any friends himself?

frumpygrumpy Wed 18-Mar-09 13:51:30

He sounds a bit like me. I have a very small circle of friends, people I like very much and who I would help with anything and who I know would help me if I rang them in need in the middle of the night. Apart from that, I keep people to polite conversation and breathe when its over. I come across as very chatty but given the chance.........I'm more a lover of my own company.

I have to be fairly social now that school is part of our lives but prior to that, I really did avoid people.

I am lucky that my DP doesn't have a problem with that. I think this really bothers you and you really need to find a way to chat with him about it and agree how to go forward and be united in that.

Try not to be on opposing sides. If possible, respect him for his choice and find a way to be comfortable about telling people that joining in is not his thing.

Joining in is not my thing. I would go as far as to say it makes me feel quite sick at times. Its not a phobia for me, I just don't like it one bit.

saintpeta Wed 18-Mar-09 13:59:58

No he has no friends and doesn't want any! Just loves his own comapany and his immediate family. I thought I was handling it well but it all flared up again last week as I suggested camping near a friends house in dorset....he lies and says yes we'll go...and I believe him but then it quickly turns to a no...and I accuse him of lying to me...I'm only 40 if I live another 30 years how can we never see any other people its not realistic! or even fair on me! Surely he can't expect me to live like that?

saintpeta Wed 18-Mar-09 14:03:09

frmpygrmpy i like the way you say you have to be fairly social now that school is part of your life but DP is not saying this! I do think like you it does make him fel quite sick thinking he will have to talk small talk to people he is not intereted in but is this not being rude? I call it a phobia but i don't know what it is...like you he doesn't like it one bit.

DOn't let him make you live like that. He can either stay at home while you socialise with the DC or, if you want to socialise with other adults, he can look after the DC. The only way to deal with people like this is to get on with your own life: if other people ask questions, just smile and say 'My DH is unsociable' and change the subject.
Basically, he has a right not to want to socialise, but he doesn't get to stop you from socialising, because he doesn't own you. And if all yoru friends are the sort of wierd suburban herd animals who are frightened into soiling themselves by having to socialise with a person who is Not Visibly In A Couple, find some new friends.

irises Wed 18-Mar-09 14:15:09

Can't you find a compromise? Maybe if he doesn't like being with other peoples' kids, only meet with friends as adults in the evenings.

If that's not the problem and he just doesn't really like anyone, maybe you could negotiate that he comes along to be polite a couple of times a year, and you all spend time just as a family at other times.

My dh would be perfectly happy not bothering with anyone outside work but he does so maybe once every 2 or 3 months to keep me happy, and does it properly, ie engages in conversation and doesn't sulk. Another couple we know don't know how to entertain themselves, and a weekend isn't complete without getting together with at least one other family. We find that very odd, tbh.

2rebecca Wed 18-Mar-09 15:30:32

It sounds as though he hasn't changed, you just married him before you got to know him. My husband isn't very sociable and complains his exwife was never happy with just his company and the kids and wanted to constantly be surrounded by people and always holiday in groups which he hated as he's quite introverted. I think you may have to compromise and have some small family holidays and some group occasions, although I'd be inclined to just take the kids and leave him at home as you'll have more fun. If the relationship is otherwise good then having some weekend outings and holidays separate may be better than divorce. Why does his not going bother you so much if he's happy for you to go without him?

milou2 Wed 18-Mar-09 15:49:45

My husband is similar. For many years I didn't know how to reply to an invitation from a friend of mine or relative when they would ask us together or as a family to visit. I didn't want to tell them that he didn't want to see them. So I stopped a lot of contact with my old friends and family.

Now I say 'he's not sociable, but I'd love to come along' and leave the children with him as they generally don't want to socialise much either...!! 'It's not really his thing' is a good phrase too.

So our lives have gone in different directions. I am making contact with my friends and my family again. They need to recognise that he is not sociable and genuinely want to see me, rather than a 'me plus husband' unit.

Funnily enough my husband used to always want me to come with him to see his friends and to events, but couldn't see that it was all one way. One day I decided to stop playing that game.

piscesmoon Wed 18-Mar-09 16:01:07

I wouldn't let him stop me.Go camping at the friends house with the DCs on your own. I would do everything that you want to do and take the DCs. He can sort himself out,either he sees that he is missing out and makes the effort to join in or he does his own thing. If he doesn't change or even see the need to change then you will have to review, and either be happy to run your lives that way or say that it is a problem and you need outside help or you leave him. He seems very complacent about the whole thing and it is controlling. I would get one of those family organiser calendars and have a column for each of you. Just write down what you are doing and do it!

saintpeta Wed 18-Mar-09 19:13:37

Thanks everyone, just want to say he doesn't stop me from socialising at all - he does stay with the kids (he doesn't go out!) and so most would say I've got it cushy but I find it lonely to be in a relationship where he cannot even "do it for me" or is that too selfish ? I don't know anymore

SenorToucan Wed 18-Mar-09 19:15:55

it must be pretty embarassing though to have to make excuses for your husband all the time, if mine was liek that id say that I dont like doing a LOT of things but I do it so my kids can see normal functioning relationships , not that their dad opted out of the bits he didnt like, tough shit!

piscesmoon Wed 18-Mar-09 19:26:14

I wouldn't make excuses-just say that he isn't very sociable but you and the DCs would love to go.

SenorToucan Wed 18-Mar-09 19:34:36

But thats like how you would treat a child. tell him to buck up and be part of your life or piss off

piscesmoon Wed 18-Mar-09 19:43:55

It all depends how much OP loves him SenorToucan-she may not want to part. I think she should try ignoring him and doing her own thing and then reviewing how she feels about it at the end of the summer or end of the year.

2rebecca Wed 18-Mar-09 20:38:55

Why is going to social events you don't like part of a normal functioning relationship? I don't get this. I have some similar hobbies to my bloke and some different ones. We do the different ones alone. It sounds as though socialising is a hobby for saintpeta. Why should her husband be forced to socialise just because he is married to her? What harm does it do anyone by him not going? Why should people have to do nonessential things they don't like? We only have 1 life.
Why is socialising considered a better and more "adult" choice than staying at home?
Saintpeta telling her bloke to "buck up and be part of her life" is as unreasonable as him telling her to " stay in and be part of my life"
Both are very selfish controlling attitudes.

flibertygibet Wed 18-Mar-09 20:51:27

My dh is incredibly unsociable, even though he's got loads of friends, he just doesn't want to go out! After 15 years, I accept that. It used to bother me, but I think in a relationship you just have to accept that not everyone is the same. Mine just does not like groups of people where he doesn't know anyone. The school quiz night is his idea of a nightmare! Camping for the weekend with a bunch of people he doesn't know? No way! It irks me sometimes and makes me sad but on the other hand, he's a good husband and father and that's just his personality. I just go ahead and make plans anyway. I don't make excuses for him anymore, I just tell people he is just not good with crowds. I've also stopped feeling like it's a reflection on me.

ps. this 'phobia' extends to going to visit my family abroad!

frumpygrumpy Wed 18-Mar-09 20:57:13

My DP didn't tell me to change. He loves me. We do compromise and I would hope that, in a calm moment you can talk about it and find a compromise. As I said, I think its important that you stay on the same side and be united. You need to understand, he needs to understand. No-one needs to fight.

IMHO, its wrong to set down rules and attempt to force someone to follow them. Very Hitler. My DP accepts me and also I accept that I must make some compromises. Its just finding a balance. Your DH is not wrong and he's not odd. I'm not odd. I know my own mind, I am very strong, I hate chit chat, I hate wasting my time talking polity conversation (I'd rather eat my own legs).

Do you love him otherwise?
Is he a good husband and father otherwise?
Is he someone you want to spend all your married life with otherwise?

If the answer is yes, then you have your answer. You carry on socialising without him and accept him on his terms.

frumpygrumpy Wed 18-Mar-09 20:59:57

And I do have to be more open and out there now we have school and all its threads.......but that is also because I am the main child carer.

ShyTalk Wed 18-Mar-09 21:02:20

My DH is unsocial. I knew it when I married him. He really just wants us, our close family and a few nice friends. I could give him a really hard time and MAKE him socialise. I could also do that to DS, who is similarly inclined. To do it to DH or DS would be cruel and against their nature. I would hate it if they tried to make me act against my nature.

tigerdriver Wed 18-Mar-09 21:05:57

Agree with you, ShyTalk. My DH doesn't like some socialising, is ok with others - if i want to go, I do so, and we have got out of the routine where he'd say he'd go then have a "headache" five minutes before we were due to set out (gggrrr). Now I just say "you can come if you'd like to" and leave it at that, make arrangements for me only. I do what I want though!

beansontoast Wed 18-Mar-09 21:12:21

no help i am afriad,as i am in precisely the same situation.

knowing the facts doesnt help me to sometimes a)not feel lonely b)fantasise about having a partner who wanted to share some good times with my dearest friends....aswell as share himself iykwim.

i do get on with it...and most of the time it is more than ok...but it is a draaaag.

It isn't really unreasonable for her to expect him to make an effort maybe two or three times a year: everyone occasionally has to put up with being bored to death by an event but attending it because it is important to someone you care about. Of course her sociability isn't necessarily 'better' than his unsociability, but if she is prepared to compromise by leaving him at home, without nagging or criticising him, most of the time, then he should equaly be prepared to compromise by attending social events now and again and, when he does, being polite rather than whining all the way there and all the way back, or agreeing to go and then having a strategic attack of explosive diarrhoea minutes before its's time to leave.

ShyTalk Wed 18-Mar-09 21:57:04

If he has explosive diarrhoea, then he just has it. Maybe it's a nervous thing. I do fail to accept that the explosive sort of the shits can be "strategic". It is difficult to fake that level of splatter.

ADealingMummy Wed 18-Mar-09 22:24:26

My DH is exactly like this too . My old friends have got used to his ways (and don't like it) , but a few new ones have have tried to get to know him by inviting us to various places , I smile and say , sure i'll speak to DH (knowing inwardly he would just laugh , and say ''No way'').

ABetaDad Wed 18-Mar-09 22:33:15

saintpeta - maybe there is a sort of compromise you can reach. I am afraid I recognise some of myself in your DH. My wife is much more like you (but would stil hate going on any kind of holiday with others).

Me and my wife have come to a compromise (as per frumpygrumpy) and we are both happy about it.

The first rule we have is that my wife organises all social events. She has total control over the calendar and I go with whatever she wants even if I do not feel totally happy.

The second rule is that she has some old friends that she likes to see in London and I encourage her to go and I look after the kids, clean the house and make her generally feel welcome when she comes home and talk to her about all the conversations she has had. I do not socilaise on my own with anyone and all my friends are also friends of my wife except a few of my ex students.

The third rule is that my wife knows there are some things I hate so she does not push them at me. For example as flibertygibet say about her DH my idea of hell is a school Quiz Night or indeed any school function where I have to interact with people I do not really have anything in common with.

We have quite a few close friends and I think I am a nice person who likes people and when I actually get to a party I enjoy them. It is really the whole build up and the arranging of social occasisons which is the worst part for me. I used to hate work parties for similar reasons.

It is possible that if your DH could screw up his courage a little bit and you are really supportive of him and go to a few low key social functions together he would actually enjoy them when he got there. The more he does it the better he will feel. I know it worked for me but it took a long time and lot of love from my wife and I am eternally grateful to her.

2rebecca - I agree with pretty much everything you say. Socialising is an over rated passtime. Being on your own (or with just a few close friends) doing hobbies is a good thing as well if you like that way of life.

Sorry I could not name check everyone else - there are lots of good comments on this thread.

SHytalk: I was being a bit flippant, could have said 'strategic migraine/ingrown toenail/bad horoscope' ie that the bloke is making an excuse.

ShyTalk Wed 18-Mar-09 22:55:06

The unsociability is actually terror. The unsociable DH/DS (usually male) is literally frozen by fear at the prospect of the social occasion that we think is "just a family thing". It is something to do with the amygdala (part of the brain that deals with fear). In susceptible people, usually young boys (who grow into adult men), the fear response is enhanced beyond the normal leading to extreme anxiety and social phobia.

tigerdriver Wed 18-Mar-09 23:04:15

can't they just be unsociable, and not terrified though? I know some people really do have social phobia, but some are just not very social? There are lots of people I don't really want to see, not that I'm frightened, just frightened of watching my life pass me by...There are lots I am very happy to see....

2rebecca Wed 18-Mar-09 23:17:33

I don't think I agree. I'm not frightened of social occasions and my job is very people based. I just don't like going to social occasions much and get bored rather than stressed by them. Bloke and I have sporting hobbies and most weekends we go out somewhere, and even organise sporting events although our sporting interests vary so we often go different places and the kids go to whichever option they think sounds most fun, plus they have activities we have to fit around. We rarely "socialise" though, as in rarely go to dinner parties, parties, or the sort of occasions where you just chat and drink in a group. Bloke avoids work nights out as he hates them. We like quiet holidays where we are busy but not having to talk alot to other folk. I would hate to go on a cruise and have to socialise politely at a big table.
We see family members now and then (mine all live hours away) but wouldn't want family members endlessly popping in or expecting us to go round to dinner regularly.
We're not phobic, we're just a bit introverted and after busy weeks at work like to wind down and relax at weekends.
When I was a student my idea of relaxation was parties and a busy social life. Now it isn't.

ShyTalk Wed 18-Mar-09 23:20:56

Yes, that could be so, but the issue was that some poor man couldn't go somewhere because he had an attack of the "shits". A poster suggested that it was "strategic". I just thought that it possibly wasn't strategic - the diarrhoea could be a physical response to fear of a situation with which he was uncomfortable.

Quattrocento Wed 18-Mar-09 23:27:52

I don't blame him one bit

Agree that if he doesn't want to go and you do then surely the logical thing to do is for you to go and him to stay at home.

Can I just ask if you are staying at home right now? Because this might explain the difference in perspective.

SHytalk: The OP didn't mention that her DH shits himself when he has to go anywhere. As I said, that was me being flippant because it's one of those fake 'excuses' people sometimes use - and yes, I am aware that some individuals do suffer from anxiety-related diarrhoea.
It's also true that some people have a genuine, serious social phobia and become really distressed if they have to mingle with a large group of people they don't know very well. Again, we don't know if this is actually the problem the OP's partner has, or if he is just grumpy and unsociable. But the point is that his behaviour is impinging on her, and he doesn't seem prepared to make any effort to compromise.

ShyTalk Thu 19-Mar-09 00:41:32

Hi solidgold - yes, I take your point - it could be either/or/neither or a bit of all. I know his behaviour inhibits her and it appears that he doesn't seem to want to compromise. I just wanted to make the point that it may not be as simple as it appears and that sometimes, fake-sounding excuses may hide a genuine anxiety issue that warrants attention. It may be that he wants to compromise, but where there is genuine anxiety, he wouldn't talk about it, and he wouldn't ask for help. Anyway, 'tis late. Could we just agree that we both care, but that we need to agree to differ?

saintpeta Thu 19-Mar-09 14:42:37

Flibertygibet yes he is an excellent father and partner and the socilising is the onlypart that he cannot do and so I do wonder if I can live with this-since it is ony one thing..... If I live for another 30 years can I really put up with doing everything alone which involves the kids and others? I guess I will have to. Piscesmoon I see your point too the controlling nature its true. I love him to bits (and he me) so I really just need a coping strategy or him to get help! Tigerdriver and Shytalk you're just getting on with it but does it upset you? Doesn't it feel as if you are leading parallel lives? What about him missing out on the fun you are having with the kids? this is my other point it is not a good role model for my boys imo. But I love all your comments and so good to get other perspectives thank you again

KERALA1 Thu 19-Mar-09 18:45:42

I wouldnt worry too much about the role model thing. My FIL has the social skills of a park bench - to the extent that he does not socialise at all and when he is forced to attend family things he sits there silently with a long face.

Both his adult sons are cheerful, friendly, popular and socialise normally.

KERALA1 Thu 19-Mar-09 18:47:52

Also I wouldnt worry about him missing out on fun because to him its not fun I suppose. Must be very annoying for you. I would press on without him personally you can't change or be responsible for another adult's behaviour even if you are married to them.

piscesmoon Thu 19-Mar-09 19:39:22

I don't think that it matters if you love each other, you just need to find a way that makes you both happy. I love skiing and DH has tried it but was miserable and he hates the cold so he now stays at home and I go with the DCs-it doesn't put any pressure on the marriage, he is at work and not 'wasting' his holiday and he is happy that we are enjoying it without him having to get involved.
I think that the answer is to find fun things that you like to do as a family but if you really want to do something sociable on your own or with DCs go for it. He will probably just be relieved that he doesn't have to join in.
I should think it is only a problem if either of you are resentful or you end up with separate lives.

irises Fri 20-Mar-09 12:16:31

For us, we have way more fun together as a family than if we're with other people where you can't really relax and have to make small talk & always be bothered about whether they're happy.

To us, socialising is the garnish, the steak and chips is the family.

piscesmoon Fri 20-Mar-09 13:28:21

Thats OK when you both feel the same, irises but not if you don't both feel the same way. I like a mix.

foxinsocks Fri 20-Mar-09 13:39:24

I think it sounds a bit doolally. Has he never dropped the kids at school? Have you not made friends together since you've had kids (as I've found this has happened with us a lot).

Does he actually leave the house to go to work?

Also, you implied he's happy to meet his immediate family so it's obviously not a question of not meeting people but just not meeting people he doesn't want to.

I think there has to be some compromise here. I think just saying blanket 'I'm never going to do it' is a bit much.

On the otherhand, if you really do think it's a phobia, i.e. something like social phobia, might it be worth discussing whether he gets some help?

springdaffs Fri 20-Mar-09 15:38:11

Do you think he might have asperger's syndromme mildly.
Does he find social interaction difficult
Does he like routine more than most or time keeping.
Does he have "obsessions"
Does he have difficulties with the more complex areas of social communication or does he take things very literally

cappy1 Mon 23-Nov-09 22:18:47

Hi have just found this thread and it has made me feel really happy. This is because my dh and I have often argued about his dislike of socialising. He does make an effort once in a while but I would like to go out more often. It is great to see that other women just decide to go out themselves, say that it is not dh's thing and don't feel bad about it. Good that is what I am going to do!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now