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Dear Metro: "How do I avoid over-committing with catch ups on my visit home?"

Visiting home is great - but it can feel like a social minefield

Dear Metro: How do I avoid over-committing with catch ups on my visit home?

May 15, 2019 Society

Got issues with work, love, sex, family, friendships, money or the crushing existential angst of modern life? Each week our Metro advice columnist answers a reader’s query and (we assume) solves all their problems. 

Read last week’s Dear Metro advice: “I’m terrified of climate change and my bleak outlook is a buzzkill for friends and family.”

Dear Metro,

In a few weeks, I will be making an eagerly anticipated trip home from overseas. Due to circumstances, I will only have so much time at home (say two weeks, including touchdown and takeoff). I don’t want to tie myself down with plans and over-exhaust myself travelling to see everyone in different cities, so I haven’t shared news of my travels widely. That said, the risk of someone (if not a friend, then a family member) exposing my visit on Facebook is high, and people will raise questions on why I didn’t try to make plans with them. How can I make the most of this trip without having to run the friends and family gauntlet?


You never saw me, this never happened

Dear You Never Saw Me,

The curse of going back home! I remember when I used to go back to Australia to visit old friends I’d obsessively schedule meet-ups with everyone I’d ever known in Melbourne, and as a result, would spend the entire trip ticking off boxes and feeling anxious and mildly stressed out. It was such a dumb and completely unrelaxing way to spend a holiday! And the thing is, half those people were in all honesty probably not that fussed about whether they saw me or not.

Now when I go back I make sure to lock in proper catch ups with the five or so people I truly care about and the rest fall by the wayside. Not a single person has hit me up about it – even the loose acquaintances who insisted we “must catch up for a drink”. In most-to-all situations like these, the person putting the most pressure on yourself is you. People are reasonable, they know you won’t have time to see absolutely everyone.

The fact you’re seeing your family gives you a super easy out as well – just say you had family commitments and couldn’t make the time. It’s ironclad – you’re not allowed to be snitty with your friends about family commitments!

Ultimately, this is your holiday and you should spend it how you want. You’d be surprised how many of the social standards we feel obliged to hold ourselves to go completely unnoticed when ignored. The only thing I’d recommend is not being secretive about the trip – people are more likely to feel hurt or put out if they think you’ve actively avoided them, rather than were simply too short on time to see them.

With love,


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Illustration: Loryn Engelsman


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