DH lonely in not-so-new city post-baby - poor social life(13 Posts)
I've just joined MN and this is my first ever post, though I've lurked for a while. Need some advice and wasn't sure which section was most relevant so plumped for this one....
DH and I relocated from London to another UK city a year or so 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, a year on with our much wanted and gorgeous 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 see socially about once a week.
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 , and as a result feels he can't take part in those sports in an organised way at all now;
- most of the partners of the 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;
- 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. 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 (I do yoga and DH goes climbing) and weekends are mainly spent the three of us, doing family stuff or household / 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.
Help!! Anyone been through this? Thanks!
Hi, hope by replying I'll keep this thread going and bump it. Don't have too much advice of any use really. But have been in similar situations and know how isolating it is. Did you mention neighbours in your thread? That's normally quite a good way of meeting people, drop round introduce yourself etc. Hopefully there'll be some potential pals for your oh there and you could maybe have them round for an evening, save on babysitters? Also is there a local pub he could pop into for a pint/ soft drink after work? Many of my friends are from the pub I frequent so I think always worth a go. Can take a paper, book etc if he feels wierd about going alone.
I'd second RoxyFox's suggestion. Invite the neighbours to a BBQ and see who he gets on with. No need for a babysitter either.
We suffered similarly...I moved for work prior to meeting DP, he moved in with me after a few months from another part of UK. Both had work acquaintances and little more. Then DS came along and it got worse with having no sitters/support nearby. I encouraged DP to get back to his golf, which he did, I met up with Mums via Mumsnet. Best thing for us though is that we recently moved to a wee village where everyone is so friendly and welcoming. We had neighbours round a couple of times and would now not think twice about popping back n forth for a chat (wine lol) ...
Thanks for your replies. 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!
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.
The neighbours is a good suggestion. We meant to introduce ourselves to everyone when we moved in months ago but got caught up with unpacking and sorting out the baby etc and feel we've kind of missed the boat. We've chatted a fair bit to one set of 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.
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.
Church is a good place. Several around here have a monthly "Men's group", which is a good way to get to know people without the weekly commitment of a Home Group (it is often a Curry and a Bible study).
Politics can also be good, if he can volunteer for a short term project. The only time I was actively involved I got to meet a lot of people just stuffing envelopes.
I think young parents though often don't have too many friends (or don't see them much). Try not to over think it. Your DH doesn't sound too unhappy, and men often have very different friendships to women (DH now knows if he sees his friends he has to ask after their wives families - just so he can answer me when he gets home).
Get him to join a local sports team I.e football, rugby etc and he will meet lots of local guys and can go regularly.
Interesting. DP and I don really have couple friends either. In fact we don't have many friends in general. You seem to be doing lots of stuff that will help you make friends - church, clubs, politics. I guess you just have to give it time.
If I am reading the timing right, you moved just over a year ago and have a baby who is less than a year old?
I have moved a few times in my life so feel qualified to tell you absolutely confidently that the absolute worst time after you move cities / countries is a period that lasts about 6-12 months and usually starts around 6 months after you move. This is because the initial excitement has worn off but you have not yet got to the point where you are established and comfortable in your new place. If can sometimes tart a bit later if you moved somewhere you had friends and family to start with as that can delay the realisation that this is a whole new life!
You are doing everything right and I free with another poster that you should not over think it. Just keep doing what you are doing. Friendships and routines take time to establish. When you are 15 you can be best friends with someone in 2 weeks practically but you have time to sped with that person. It's not the same when you have a partner, a baby and a job.
Also, once baby gets a bit older it will be much easier for you to feel happ with dh doing some more of the sporting activities he enjoys. Dh's running buddies laughed hysterically when e said he wanted to do his first marathon when ds was less than a year. They we're right. He did it the following year . If e had taken that much time to train when ds was a baby I would have divorced him. But as ds got older and easier I didn't mind so much
we won't talk about the Mother's Day fiasco
Sorry, lying in bed typing and tried to read back (and proof read) what I wrote and accidentally hit "Post".
Good luck, you are doing really very well. And your dh has the right attitude to know that he has made the right move generally. His last step should be if he wants to go for a drink - invite someone. People often don't think of it.
Our situation is very different but we moved a little bit out of town and dh became a sahd after about 18 months of living here. It's only now that he is really settled in with an active social and sporting life. He has a routine with ds and some people he is starting to see socially with their dc. He has running and now goes for the odd beer with a couple of guys from running club. He has made a close friendship with the dh of a friend of mine too. It takes time.
For me, even with my mummy friends, it's only in the last few months I've started to consider these local women my "real" friends and not just "mummy" friends.
Sorry for such a long response but you sound sad and I wanted to reassure you that everything is ok and that you are both doing very well considering a big move and a small baby.
Keep going with the climbing. It transformed DH's social life joining the climbing club. Ours has evenings at the climbing wall, a late evening a week at the pub to plan outings, and regular outdoors meets - DH is off to Derbyshire this weekend. They are really sociable and he has made some great mates.
I'm not a member at the moment but everyone there knows us as a family and is very happy to have us to things as guests.
IME the early years of DC are just a bit of a wilderness for social life. You are tired and tied up. Once they get to school and the pressure eases off it gets better. Sorry not too helpful! Stick it out and don't give up .
I also think you are doing well and are doing all the right things to make friends. It does take time though and you have only been there a year.
Thanks for your replies and the encouragement. It's reassuring to know that others have been in similar situations though I wish none of us had to be of course - WipsGlitter etc
We've never really been regulars at local pubs so I'm not sure that's going to be a way for us to meet people now, even in the current situation. A new couple just moved in opposite though and a couple of other houses in our street are up for sale so maybe some new people will move in that we can introduce ourselves to - people closer to our age.
BlingLoving - my DH likes to run too so am encouraging him to do so though time for club-level stuff is lacking, but hopefully he can adjust to participating at a lower level and do enough to meet a few people that way. Marathons are out for a while but yes, when I was pregnant my DH said that he planned to do the London Marathon (again) when our LO would have been 6 months old. I scoffed and read him the riot act and after babe arrived he soon realised that marathon training and newborns don't mix! It must be hard for SAHDs outside out big cities too as most activities are mum-orientated.
mummytime - I do tend to over-think things and probably shouldn't. I think you're right about men's friendships often being different too. I remember DH going on a long run with a friend of his who'd just announced that he and his long term GF were splitting up. He seemed pretty upset by it. When DH got back I asked how the friend was doing and DH said that they (honestly) didn't talk about it which I found really weird!!
Time seem to be the key - both in terms of developing relationships over a longer period and being able to devote time to doing so now. Roll on primary school I guess!
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