We’ve just finished spending the night over a relative’s house during a road trip and it occurred to me that in the seventeen years we’ve owned our house, we’ve only had one person who wasn’t family spend the night. Counting family members, that number goes up to three.
We don’t mean to be inhospitable, but we 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 anybody 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.
However, I’ve realized that this might not be normal behavior. When traveling overseas, we’ve been asked several times by friends to stay over their house while in town (we’ve always declined the invitation). When traveling in the U.S., we only stay at someone’s house when if we’re staying with family or a close friend. Even then, we’d never make the initial offer and always wait until asked, “Do you want to stay over our house?” before accepting an invitation. I guess that’s why we’re not big fans of Airbnb; if we won’t stay at a friends house, how comfortable will be in a stranger’s home?
The mere question seems strange to us Americans. Why are people asking us to stay at their house? We hardly know them. How odd they would ask mere acquaintances to stay in their home. What are they thinking?
It never occurs to us that maybe people are just nice and have no other motive than wanting to welcome someone into their home. Why 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 want to stay at their home?
I’ve come to appreciate that it’s probably us.
Our generation in America has been trained to protect our privacy and our home as the last bastion of freedom. What happens within our walls is our 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, a home is to be shared. If someone needs a place to rest, it’s the ultimate honor to open your home and treat guests with respect. 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 guests of honor and we were immensely grateful.
I’m still curious though. Is our perception about the rest of the world being more open to allowing guests into their homes accurate or is everyone else just as protective of their privacy as we are? I’m 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 are your experiences with having guests stay at your house or staying at someone else’s home? Are you selective or will you let any friend stay over?
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