By: Revanche

Social obligations and the last minute out-of-towners

October 25, 2010

After a wonderful meal at a Korean tofu house with a friend we hadn’t seen for a few months, she wanted to make plans to meet for dinner again during the week before she left town.

That same day, I received a message from another friend who recently relocated to this coast. She planned to be in town to see family, could we have brunch when she landed Saturday?  When I wasn’t available, she asked if we could come out to see her across the way Sunday. Though she didn’t specify it was a full day thing, history shows that’s going to be expected.  All previous “come hang out with me” invitations have always turned into a day-long finagle-fest because she always wants to do just one more thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy her company but it’s really hard to commit full days to hanging out at the last minute like that because I’m usually running like a madwoman during the week to survive and use the weekends to become human again.  Which, as you might imagine, is a little complicated after September’s hosting visitors every weekend (and seeral weekdays) but one.

That’s the crux of it, isn’t it?  I quite enjoy seeing friends, of course, but the last minute requests and those that sometimes grow well beyond moderation are rather difficult to accommodate. Or even to want to accommodate; it requires a sanity check to make sure we’re not just constantly running to everyone’s beck and call because they’ve dropped in and didn’t we want to see them?   

Sure, but I think it becomes taken for granted that we’ll always be available on their schedule and doesn’t call for much advance notice.  That drives me, an inveterate planner, at least a little up the wall. I understand that not all trips are planned as far ahead as I would like but these texts and emails are increasingly and frequently coming with very little notice.

Aside from the limited time factor, I worry about the money we’re spending hand over fist with this stream of visitors.  When we host, I can cook and feed them relatively (not very) frugal basis. But many times, we end up eating out because they’re in the city, we’re not, and it’s inconvenient for them to come to us and then trek back to the city. 

While PiC and I have agreed on a rule of thumb on eating out, my personal budgeting rules have always stated that “entertaining” comes out of the same eating out allowance lest we end up using the personal 2x/week allowance, and entertain two or three times on top of that.  Before you know it, we’ve spent most of the week eating out. My personal budgeting rules have been repeatedly smashed under the weight of the last minute traveler.

We can’t control the travel habits of our friends, and we certainly never want them to feel unwelcome or unloved, but it’s time to gently nudge them toward better notification habits.  And we need to learn to set boundaries we’re comfortable with rather than self-guilting ourselves into doing far more for them than is necessary.

Do you have any trouble managing drop-ins or do you have a good standing policy that works well for you and yours? 

6 Responses to “Social obligations and the last minute out-of-towners”

  1. Jenna says:

    I think it’s okay when you don’t see that person all that often. For me, I have lots of friends living all over the country and world, if they are close to me I want to hang out with them and flexibility is a must.

  2. Serendipity says:

    This happens to me all of the freaking time. Since I live in Las Vegas it seems I’m always last minute with guests ( even my family!). I don’t really mind if it’s people I haven’t seen in forever or people that I have well in advance planned things with but I do mind sometimes when I have no prior warning or it’s a work night. Or, I’m just feeling antisocial. I feel your pain.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My close friends are well aware that my weekends are for me-time. I usually don’t turn on my computer and ignore the phone. Because of this, if plans are to be made, they realize it will have to have at least a week’s notice, otherwise I bow out.

    I have made it a strict habit over the years to not feel the guilt of turning down a last minute invite or guest if I really don’t have the time.

  4. I think of it as okay if you don’t see that person a lot. I can do a max of 2 dinners, but that’s about it.

    If I see them all the time, we don’t do dinners unless it’s at each others’ home.. but this is coming from a perspective of someone who can’t stay in one city for more than 3 months 😛

  5. Nicole says:

    Nobody seems to visit us since we moved from the city to a small town in a rural red state. Our weekends are full of preschool birthday parties these days. And our neighborhood friend is moving to Florida…

    It is ok to turn down invites or to put limits on things. Making plans to relax is important too.

  6. Revanche says:

    @Jenna: It’s definitely easier to accommodate when it’s an infrequent visitor, less so when they drop in several times over the space of 6 weeks.

    @Serendipity: I figured you’d be a hot spot 🙂

    @Anon, 9:50 am: So you’re saying they CAN be trained 🙂

    @FB: That makes sense to me.

    @Nicole: I don’t want to become a non-destination being that we’re only close to a big city, but there’s got to be a compromise. 🙂

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