Are Americans Less Hospitable, Or Is It Just Us?

We’ve just finished spending the night over a relative’s house during a road trip and it occurred to me that in the sixteen years that we’ve owned our house, we’ve only had one person who wasn’t family spend the night. Counting family, that number goes up to three.

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We don’t mean to be inhospitable, but we like to think of our home as our private domain. Our sanctuary. In order to let someone into that space, we have to be really comfortable with you entering our area. Even when we had the couple we found on Trusted Housesitters stay at our house, we only let them stay in the guest bedroom and we went through emails and Skype interviews before we even considered to allow them  to do that.

Our level of privacy doesn’t feel strange to us. Heck, you have to be a pretty good friend before you even get invited past our front door. I can count on one hand the number of people we’ll let into our house.

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However, I’ve realized that this might not be normal behavior. Several times we’ve been asked by friends to stay over their houses when traveling overseas (we’ve almost always declined the invitation). When traveling in the US, we only stay at someone’s house when it’s to stay with family or a close friend. Even then, we’d never make the initial offer and would always wait until asked, “Do you want to stay over our house?” before accepting the invitation.

The mere question seems strange to us Americans. Why are these people asking us to stay at their house? We hardly know them. How odd that they would ask mere acquaintances to stay in their home. What are they thinking?

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It never occurs to us that people may just be nice with no other motive than wanting to welcome someone into their home. Whey would they do that? Aren’t there any hotels in the area we could stay at? How well do we know these people and would we stay at their home?

I’ve come to appreciate that it’s probably us. We’ve been raised to protect our privacy and our home as the last bastion of freedom. What happens within my walls is my own business and no one else’s. Letting someone into that sanctuary is the ultimate trust and is not to be taken lightly.

In other areas of the world, your home is to be shared. If someone needs a place to rest, then it’s the ultimate honor to open your home to them and treat them as a respected guest. Sharon and I have both been invited to friends homes in foreign countries and we viewed it as a huge privilege. While there, our hosts treated us as honored guests.

I’m still curious though. Is our perception about the rest of the world being more open to allow guests into their homes accurate or is everyone else just as protective of their privacy as we are? I’m also worried that it’s not just an American thing but just a Joe and Sharon thing and we’re way too guarded about who we let into our home.

What’s your experiences with either having guests stay at your house or staying with someone else’s home? Are you selective or will you let any friend stay over? Let us know in the comments.

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5 thoughts on “Are Americans Less Hospitable, Or Is It Just Us?”

  1. Love you both but it is just you. Inviting people into your home is a sign of love and caring. I was raised in Orlando where we kept our doors unlocked and welcomed guest into our very modest home. When you invite someone into your sanctuary you have a real opportunity to exchange things in a much more personal nature that allows you to really get to know someone, be it family or friends. You both are missing a great opportunity to enjoy the blessings of intimate friendship.

  2. I am from the islands, and I would feel insulted if someone came to my area and didn’t ask to stay with us. I also reach out to family when we travel if we will be in their area and expect them to accommodate us.

  3. I think it’s you too ! If I have the space then why not …..and if I don’t have the space and they don’t mind the couch, that’s fine too. I’ve stayed with friends and family in the US, Australia, Austria . It’s just …well…..normal.
    Just think, if everyone thought like you……..Airbnb wouldn’t exist !! 😉

  4. I’ve wondered the same thing. My husband and I are full-time, international house sitters. We have been amazed at how wonderful and welcoming our hosts have been… especially in contrast to how our friends and family have been reacting to the news of us staying in the homes of strangers. haha!

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