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Worried about isolated DH(14 Posts)
We have had issues about our social life ever since we made a big geographical move back to near DH's home area shortly before our first DC was born 14 years ago. DH's childhood friends had all moved away and we have never seemed to manage to be part of the crowd at any child related group from NCT, through to primary school (although we have made a few "family" friends along the way). Over the years it did get better in that I acquired a good group of friends though the DC and I also do an activity and work with some people I get on with (although I don't particularly socialise with these latter groups, they are still good company). DH got increasingly involved with various outdoorsy sports/activities and got a social life for himself also.
So we both had friends, DH would still complain a bit about how few friends we could meet up with as a couple/family (it bothers me less) but it was ok.
Since roughly the beginning of the year, DH has started to say he is feeling isolated again. His job has become quite solitary for various reasons and he would like to move on but has not had any luck in finding another one. He also continually complains that his "activity" friends (who are quite a broad bunch of people who do various sports so not one group of people) never invite him anywhere, he always has to do the running and often finds that he has been left out of events. I know this makes him sound like a schoolgirl! He isn't paranoid enough to think everyone dislikes him, just that he is always on the edge of groups and seemingly forgotten about. I dread him coming back from an activity as he will always have a comment to make about how he was barely noticed, etc.
I should add there is nothing odd about my DH, he is perfectly normal looking and acting and has social skills and is perfectly capable of being good company.
He has always been a bad sleeper but his sleep is getting worse. He will have a night where he wakes at 2 or 3 am and can't get back to sleep at all at least once a week and other nights where he is awake for hours in the middle of the night.
He is not miserable all the time but it isn't a tenable situation for him to go on like this. I am starting to dial down my friendships also slightly because I feel bad about the imbalance in our social lives. And then I feel resentful because I was hoping at this stage in my life (DC both at high school) to be able to be more independent and be going out and about on my own more, not less.
Any advice/insights welcome
Not sure if I have any advice, but what you've written about your DH could describe me - no social life, crappy sleeping, etc. It feels very lonely, and I feel bad for your DH. I would just be there for him and be prepared to draw him out a bit.
For your DH, I would expect the underlying cause to be:
1. He actually has worse social skills than you think.
2. He is not making enough effort and putting in enough time to make himself a proper part of the groups.
3. They aren't the right people for him.
For you, well, you can't change him, his personality is what it is.
14 years is a long time to fail to make friends.
What does he think he should do about it?
Thanks for both replies. I suppose my concern is that the situation is deteriorating i.e. DH did have a group of friends around his interests, to the extent of going away on trips etc so not just casual friends but now says that is all petering out. I don't know whether that is the case or is it a symptom of depression?
DH doesn't have a solution apart from suggesting drastic job moves and me and the DC don't want to
I don't know what to suggest, as I have a similar DH. Although judging by your post, your DH does, or did, at least make some effort. Mine makes hardly any effort to keep up with the friends he had, never mind making new ones, so rarely goes out.
I end up, like you, dialling back my activities, and feeling resentful because of it. I also feel he depends solely on me for emotional and psychological support, and I'm feeling burnt out because of that to.
It may be that he doesn't realise how much effort it takes to maintain friendships, or takes it personally when things tail off, when it isn't necessarily personal, it's just that people lose interest in particular hobbies / get a more time-consuming job / have more family responsibilities.
One thing I would say is, don't make any drastic geographic moves. It's unlikely that there will be a very different mix of people wherever you might move to, so your DH will just face the same problems there.
I suspect that maybe the change is in him rather than his friends. I have found when I am feeling happy and positive people respond to me positively. When I am feeling a bit down, I get ignored. Then it can become a vicious cycle, as I feel worse because I'm being ignored, then get ignored more, and so it goes on.
The sleep thing is something that happens with my DH when he is feeling more stressed that usual. I don't know if your DH is the same?
I don't want to alarm you, but early waking is one of the early signs of clinical depression and I would suggest you encourage your dh to make an appointment with his GP and also get the whole family taking vitamin D during the winter months.
Whaleshark, yes I think the change is in DH not his friends and as you say has now become a viscous circle. We aren't going to be making any big location moves as I have just started to get career opportunities again here after a long break to be a SAHM and the DC are happy and settled. DH knows that l would support him in working away from home part of the week if that would allow him to move jobs.
PattyPenguin it is very draining being someone's main source of friendship isn't it?
I thought the early waking sounds like depression too, along with the negativity and apathy it sounds like a lot my DH. Mid- life is reckoned to be one of the most miserable life stages, even in chimps apparently though I have no idea how you tell whether a chimp is miserable .
My STBX DH had a full on mid life crisis, was clinically depressed, moved out with no warning, bought a games console, trying to be twenty five again, the lot. Sorry, I know I'm being the voice of doom here. He was isolated too. Now he is going to pubs with young guys from work
and looking like a sad bastard while I stay here raising the teenagers
I find it a very subjugating thing to do, to dial back your own friendships so as not to make him feel worse - surely then you will be isolating yourself?
It sounds very unusual for a grown man to be coming home saying they were barely 'noticed' at an event. What is he expecting from people? Is he being realistic? How much effort is he making?
It sounds as if he has a better social life than a lot of men I know. My last partner had no hobbies or interests and only one mate and that friendship petered out when he found a woman. Exh wasn't bothered about going out and was happy to have the odd 'boys night out' twice a year. We're all different.
What strikes me is your husband's concern over it I suppose.
Could be depression or social anxiety of some sort so get him to check it out?
To be fair Suddenlyseymour DH would be mortified if he knew I was limiting my own social life.
I think the constant harping about how isolated he feels is part of some kind of depression/mid life crisis. Aside from the work/ social life complaints, he is also sad about the DC getting older and not wanting to spend time with us so much. He also frets about their education and worries about the quality of their school (as do I to be fair).
He has just gone out to take part in a sporting event and may stop off for a drink afterwards. But announced eeyore like as he left that X (the friend he had arranged to meet) would probably cry off the drink if he even turned up
It is relatively easier to detect depression in chimps because, unlike humans, mammals/animals have no artifice, Prof.
Yes but how do you ask them how they are feeling?
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