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Relationships with cousins

(59 Posts)
Kestrel Tue 16-Feb-21 11:40:25

I didn't grow up knowing any of my cousins after I was 5 or 6 (parents fell out with most of their family). Now in my 60s I've made the effort to contact most of them hoping to develop good relationships with some of them. They mostly seem like lovely people but it's taking a long time to get to know them apart from Christmas cards/facebook messages and visiting them when I can. Have I left it too late or am I expecting too much?

Auntieflo Tue 16-Feb-21 11:46:57

I think perhaps you will have to go slowly after such a long time.
Hopefully you may build a friendship.

I just wish that I had some cousins that I knew.

None from Mum's side, but Dad's brother's children, I have never known.

Peasblossom Tue 16-Feb-21 11:49:07

Expecting too much I’m afraid. Most of them will have family, friends, commitments, pleasures built up over a lifetime.

It doesn’t mean they don’t like you, just that you’re an acquaintance rather than somebody close.

There might be one you hit it off with especially, but that could be true of anyone you meet.

sodapop Tue 16-Feb-21 12:33:51

Yes I agree Peasblossom just because they are cousins doesn't necessarily mean they want a relationship at this late stage.
Keep in contact Kestrel but don't expect too much.

TerriBull Tue 16-Feb-21 12:49:53

Most of mine are in France, Australia and Canada. I have a few over here who I rarely see, only at funerals of late. I'm more in touch with the ones abroad, particularly my favourite one in France we email fairly regularly.

geekesse Tue 16-Feb-21 12:52:00

They may suspect your motives for getting in touch - perhaps they wonder if you are a needy person who is looking for helpers, carers or financial support. TV programmes like ‘Long Lost Family’ present a very rosy picture of separated relatives falling into one another’s arms and becoming best friends forever, but they don’t show the many, many cases where long estranged relatives have little in common and no particular interest in one another.

It might be interesting to ask yourself why you are so keen to develop ‘good relationships’ with them.

Kim19 Tue 16-Feb-21 13:00:39

I think for deep meaningful relationships it takes years to develop. They're made up of memories as well as personalities. This applies to non blood as well as families. Happily I have a smashing relationship with most of my cousins. We meet regularly for lunch in 'normal' times. Crazy bunch!

cornishpatsy Tue 16-Feb-21 13:00:40

Ignore the word cousin and these are just people you want to get to know, if they are not so inclined the you have to accept that.

Because they are vaguely related makes no difference.

I think this is quite common now with the popularity of ancestry sites.

Smileless2012 Tue 16-Feb-21 13:09:57

Hi Kestrel it's such a shame when estrangement results in family members losing touch with their extended family.

It will take time for you to get to know them and for them to know you but it looks as if you've made a positive start. I don't think you've left it too late and time will tell if your expectations are too high.

I hope you'll get to know them and you will all benefit from getting to know one another.

threexnanny Tue 16-Feb-21 13:25:15

Through family research I've found many cousins. My father came from a large family but was never good at keeping in touch with any. Some have been on Ancestry and they've generally been keen to share research but others have been either suspicious of my motives or just not interested. Most have kept in touch to some degree, but the one I got closest to has recently died.

Kestrel Tue 16-Feb-21 13:56:05

Thanks all - yes I think I need to take it slowly. One cousin is very keen (overkeen really and has invited himself to stay) and this has made me a bit suspicious but he seems to be like that with everyone so I understand what you mean geekesse. My main motivation is that my DH is close to many of his family and encouraged me to track down mine. There are one or two I get on with and it's just nice to know the rest of them are there in background.

Oopsadaisy1 Tue 16-Feb-21 15:28:31

I have about 100 cousins and second cousins and I’m in touch regularly with 6. I was close to my cousins until we all grew up, married and moved away and
TBH apart from our respective parents we don’t have much in common any more, we try to keep the Christmas cards going but that’s about it.
As someone said, we are related but we have all changed so much that we are now ‘just someone that I used to know’ , as the song goes.

Fennel Tue 16-Feb-21 18:28:45

I had 12 cousins and am still in touch with 2 - both women about my age.
I was fortunate bcause we were a close family, both sides, so have memories in common.
There's a male cousin who I would love to renew contact with, living not far away. But I fear our lives have gone in too different directions.

baubles Tue 16-Feb-21 18:47:33

I had 34 first cousins, 31 still with us. I’m in touch with all of them in various ways but have known them since childhood even though none lived in the same country as I did. I think it would be difficult to form relationships with them now if we hadn’t had some sort of contact previously.

Oddly enough most of DH’s cousins live reasonably close to us but he only ever speaks to any of them at funerals.

I hope you manage to keep up some kind of connection with your cousins.

JoyBloggs Tue 16-Feb-21 20:22:42

I had at least 30 first cousins, maybe more, (my parents each had 9 and 6 siblings respectively). Even though we lived no more than about 30 miles from most of them I rarely saw some of them and there are several that I never ever met as we didn't have a car. There were no 'fallings-out', it's just the way it was then! As far as I know they are still alive apart from 3, but I'm only regularly in touch with a few of them. If I sat next to most of them on the bus I wouldn't recognise them!

Of the many cousins that I don't see in real life there are a few I have enjoyed 'meeting' in the past few years thanks to social media and that level of contact suits me. Most of them live a distance away and I don't personally feel the need to travel hundreds of miles to develop the relationships further (although of course it might be different if we all lived nearer to each other as yours may?).

Would it be possible to suggest WhatsApp or Facetime sessions with all or some of them every so often, so that you get together without it being too much of a commitment or too formal? If you gradually built up a relationship that way it might eventually lead to a warmer/deeper relationship with some of them?

Kestrel I'm not sure that this is any help to you at all, I seem to have rambled on, but I will post it anyway in case any of it is relevant!

BlueBelle Tue 16-Feb-21 20:54:54

I had 7 cousins all lived in my home town but I was quite a bit younger than all of them and I didn’t know any of them my mum and dad didn’t have much if any contact either I moved away and I was around 40 when I came back to my home town and decided to get to know them
I held a small house party for Dads birthday and that started my getting to know my cousins We were never close close but every year I did a small party for mum and same for Dad birthdays and the cousins would come along eat drink and share memories with Dad ( they were his nieces and nephews)
They are all dead now and we never got much closer than that ( I was never invited to their houses) but it was better than nothing and Mum and Dad were happy with it

Kestrel Wed 17-Feb-21 10:32:27

Thanks all - your comments have been useful - I'll just keep up light contact and see what develops.

Gwenisgreat1 Wed 17-Feb-21 10:37:54

Depends where they live! I have one cousin living about 15 miles away, we keep in touch. Another who lives in Hampshire, we've only recently been keeping in touch and one in Canada who last year I thought was dead, but she came back to life and we keep in touch via email!

WW010 Wed 17-Feb-21 10:49:16

I have lots of cousins, mostly in the same city as me. We always played together as children but in teenage years we lost touch. My parents didn’t encourage contact - particularly my mum - so I lost touch except for weddings and funerals. In recent years though Facebook has enabled me to regain contact with many of them. We now have a messenger group where we share family stuff and just chat. I must admit it’s clear to me they are very much closer to each other and I am a bit on the perimeter but still, it’s nice. I’ve discovered they all thought I was ‘posh’ (my parents were the first to buy a house instead of renting. And the first to buy a car) and because I stayed on at school I was ‘too clever’. It’s weird how people judge you. I’d suggest keep it light and see where it goes. Join in chat where it suits. Good luck. We all need connections in life.

AmberSpyglass Wed 17-Feb-21 11:16:50

I have three cousins who are my best friends - they’re like extra siblings. But I have countless more that I just don’t have a relationship with and don’t care to - if they started getting in touch then I’d be polite but I certainly wouldn’t go to a lot of effort tbh.

Then again, my dad met one of his cousins after decades when he was in his 40s and now they’re close, so who knows!

M0nica Wed 17-Feb-21 11:33:43

My DF was one of 11 and and there were 18 grandchildren. We have kept in touch.

The 11 original tribe always kept close, even though they travelled the world and in retirement used to meet up several times a year. This meant we always had news of each other through our parents. As they died we would keep meeting up at funerals, which was a bit dismal, so we started having an annual get together. Not all can come, we are scattered around the world, but we keep in touch, some more than others and exchange emails, letters and cards.

JTelles7 Thu 18-Feb-21 10:37:22

Hi ,
It is never too late. Keep at it. Write letters, send post cards of the town in which you live, send text etc.
My own experience shows being persistence will enable you to get to know some of them.

polnan Thu 18-Feb-21 10:52:34

wish I had contact with my extended family..

jaylucy Thu 18-Feb-21 10:56:35

I have 21 cousins that when I was growing up, saw at least once or twice a year mainly due to the fact that my grandmother was alive and whenever they visited her, as I lived near, used to get a call to say they were either there or would be soon.
After my grandmother died (I was in Australia at the time) that central hub had gone , the cousins were mostly getting married and having children and moving all over the country.
Most of the contact fizzled out after my mum died as she used to be the one that kept us in touch with most of them via my aunts that mum used to see on a regular basis.
I wouldn't say that any of them are my bosom buddies - even one that I used to go and stay with and is the closest in age- when we do meet up , we get on ok but we really have our own lives now and actually only tend to meet up at funerals!
I think that if you keep in touch by whatever means that you can - why not phone them every now and then and just explain that you know that so much time has gone past , but would like to get to know them? It will be easier when we are all out of lockdown as you will be able to arrange to meet up and hopefully begin to form friendships.

JaneJudge Thu 18-Feb-21 10:59:08

I think it is most probably best to be open minded and not expect too much and just see how things pan out then you will either be pleasantly surprised or not too disappointed.

I agree with the comments about long lost family. I have half brothers and sisters I have never had contact with and I think I would find contact really unnerving and upsetting. I do wonder if people cope as well is made out on the program.