ISO advice for dissuading a family member from visiting

I have a family dilemma that I’d like advice from random strangers on. OK, I guess you’re not random, but many of you are strange.

Some background: When I was in junior high, ages 11-14 or thereabouts, I was fairly good friends with my cousin Chip. His family would drive 6 hours each year to visit for the big Thanksgiving get together at an aunt’s house, and there was a group of 6 cousins who were thick as thieves during the long weekend. We’d write letters back and forth the rest of the year, and in general thought of ourselves as pretty good friends. We all stopped being in frequent contact during high school, and finally we all pretty much lost touch during college. Flash forward 20 years to a family funeral and I ran into my cousin Chip, and we chatted a bit and decided we’d talk more online to catch up.

While we were interacting on Facebook, Chip managed to invite himself to visit my husband and me. I wasn’t sure how to say no, and I was optimistic that we’d have a pleasant visit. After all, we’d been friends when we were young, right?

Turns out we have nothing in common, and I found interacting with him actively unpleasant. We are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to social and philosophical views. One example - Chip is a devout Christian and a biblical literalist (is that the term I am looking for?) and I am agnostic and a firm believer in evolution and science. I wouldn’t have a problem with his beliefs except that he just wouldn’t shut up about them, even after I said that I didn’t want to debate evolution vs. creation vs. intelligent design. I said we’d have to agree to disagree and choose another topic of conversation. Repeat a couple of times a day for three days. Sigh. Add to this the fact that personality-wise we are just not compatible - everything about him grated on my nerves. Plus he made a few comments that were overtly racist.

There were also conflicts between his ideas of appropriate behavior as a guest in someone’s home, vs. my ideas of the same. These I am struggling to simply chalk up to cultural differences, and not use as my sole basis for avoiding any future visits. (e.g. he used the peanut butter knife in the jelly jar and left behind a lot of peanut butter ; he never used a plate the whole weekend - he preferred to use paper towels as plates and used up a whole roll ; he used my computer constantly - literally every minute we were at home he had youtube videos of christian music playing - I decided not to address that since I had said he could use the computer to check his email if he needed to - I just wasn’t picturing a constant “we love you Jesus” soundtrack or his obsessive game-playing on Facebook).

The original plan for his visit was he would arrive Friday early afternoon, and depart Sunday at 2pm or 3pm. Once he arrived Chip started saying he might stay 'til Monday or later because he had a flexible schedule. I put the kibosh on that, telling him I needed to stick with the original plan, that I am not a “go with the flow” kind of person. Even so I pretty much had to pack his things and push him out the door on Sunday at 9 pm.

The first night he was here my husband picked up the check at dinner - and then Chip never reached for a check or offered to chip in the whole rest of the weekend. We absolutely should have been more assertive, but were shocked by his freeloading ways.

The last day of his visit we went to the Museum of Fine Arts (we have a membership and could bring a guest), where he proceeded to take photos of every art work we saw (we verified with the info desk that non-flash photography was permitted). His highest praise for any work was that it was big, or for a painting that it “looked like a photograph.” These annoyances are probably just me being a snob. But they still annoyed me.

He now wants to bring his whole family to visit - wife and three kids - because visiting Boston is “so cheap!” He actually said that all they’d need to pay for would be lunches because they could eat at our house the rest of the time. Gah! I am not interested in feeding 3 teenagers I’ve never met, and 2 adults. Also we don’t have room for 5 people. We have a condo with one and only one guest bed. And though we have memberships at several museums, admission for 5 extra people will NOT be covered; they generally allow us to bring 1 or 2 guests, not 5.

Sorry for the rambling - now for the advice request.

How do I gently but firmly let him know that there will be no more visits to Chez Motorgirl? Without really telling him the unvarnished truth? I am apprehensive about how persistent he’ll be and whether he can take a hint. Since he left 2 days ago he has phoned me 7 times. I will be very firmly telling him to knock that off the next time he calls. I hate talking on the phone, which is the truth.

Help with wording of what to say would be very helpful.

Say nothing now. At any hint he makes in the future don’t reply in a way that is not a no. A maybe leaves you open for another visit even if you intend to never say come over.

Tell him the unvarnished truth. Why would you not want to? Because he’s a cousin? If he were an unrelated former friend would you shy away from it?

Look, this guy and you have absolutely nothing in common. Plus, he is clueless, and a mooch to boot. You do not want him in your life. Just suck it up and tell him so.

No reason to start a family feud. Just become very vague about details. Any date he proposes for a visit just happens to coincide with your previously scheduled and impossible to cancel Very Important Event. No, you’re not sure when would be a good time right now, things are so hectic. Perhaps he could ask again later, when things settle down. Note: Things will never settle down, as far as he is concerned. Eventually, he’ll stop asking.

Dear Chip:

Hell, I can’t be that honest with people either. Tell him that having more than one guest is against the condo rules.

Phrases like, “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible” will be your friend here. “We don’t have room to accomodate 5 people,” “We can’t afford to feed guests that often,” “Our guest passes won’t cover that,” “We didn’t realize how expensive just the one weekend would end up being.”

Got any kids or pets at home? State that you thought a stay-over visit was too big of a disruption for them. Or say it was really a big disruption for you, maybe you realized that being a host is too rough on your usual schedule and lifestyle. Or that you ended up not having a very happy weekend and gosh, you’re just so terrible at being hosts, and you don’t want to risk inflicting a bad mood on a houseguest on a return trip.

“That’s a bad time for us” and be vague on why. Or, what Ferret said.

Some concrete and friendly suggestions on accomodation might get the point across as well.

:: thanks the gods for not having such relatives ::

I think the phrase you want is, ‘Oh, you’ll have to let us know when you’re in town - we’d love to meet up for lunch or something!’

If he says, ‘We were planning on staying with you, so we can bring you Jesus and lick butter straight from the tub,’ the answer is, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, but that’s not going to work for us.’ If he asks why, the answer is, ‘Because I’m afraid it’s just impossible.’

I wouldn’t get into any specific reasons. That’ll just give him something to argue against - he’ll figure that if he shoots down the reason, then the whole problem is gone. (‘The condo won’t let us.’ ‘Gee, I didn’t realise you were so hung up on the rules - live a little! See you in two weeks!’ ‘We can’t afford it.’ ‘We’ll chip in a couple of bucks! See you in two weeks!’)

I also wouldn’t tell him the unvarnished truth, because I wouldn’t be interested in putting that much time and thought into this guy. He sounds boring.

Stick with ‘I’m afraid that’s just impossible for us,’ repeat ad infinitum.

And brush off any excuses/rationalizations with stuff like, “No, you’re sweet to say that, but it simply won’t work/it isn’t possible/we don’t want to wreck your vacation/we simply can’t manage that.”

Edit: What eclectic wench said is better. Avoid giving them something concrete to argue with.

While I would certainly find the process of telling him the unvarnished truth momentarily satisfying, I’m prone to long-lived guilt over hurting people’s feelings.

I find your suggestion very tempting, but really hope to find a way to tell him “no” without having to tell him “hell no you freeloading tool!” :smiley:

Other than Contrapuntal everyone seems to be recommending a variation on the firm, consistent and vague no. Anyone have any resolve to sell me?

Yes to all your advice and a genuine guffaw to the above!

Wow, how colossally rude. “Hey, can I come by and be complete jerk and sponge off you so I can get a cheap vacation for my family?” He doesn’t even have the decency to sugar-coat it.

How is he contacting you? Via email or by phone? If it was by email, I’d wait a few weeks and say “I’m sorry, but this won’t be possible. Sorry for the delay, it’s been very hectic here lately. If you decide to visit Boston anyway, please let us know how we can reach you at your hotel; I can probably free up time to meet for a lunch or dinner, if you’d like.” They won’t take you up on it.

Be firm but pleasant, and don’t negotiate. He knows what he is doing.

:smiley: The only point of some relatives is to have a giggle about them.

You should try it at least once in your life. It is absolutely liberating. I haven’t had to listen to any of sister’s husband’s ignorant racist bullshit in years.

Print out the OP and put it under the phone, or hang it on the wall right next to the phone. Print another copy and put it next to your computer monitor.

And, this is very very wrong of me, but it’s what I’d do. Make Mr.Motorgirl talk to Chip and tell him to piss off.

He contacts me by Facebook messages, and calls my cell phone frequently. Since I am not picking up the phone (I am odd about talking on the phone - I don’t like to do it, so I only pick up a call if I am expecting it or it is a support call from work) his only communication channel to me is Facebook. Good idea on the delays in responding.

I am planning to load up at least the next 4 months’ worth of weekends with time-sensitive activities in order to be able to be truthful when I say we are busy on X weekend.

Also maybe we will finally start some of the home improvement projects we’ve been putting off, so that we genuinely can’t have people staying over. Maybe something good will come of this after all?

You’re very concerned about sparing the feelings of someone who has no concern for yours.

I’m just sayin’.

A polite but firm no, with no explanations, as hard as that might be, is your best bet here.

I simultaneously admire you and fear you. :smiley: