Living abroad in a place like Luxembourg or Dubai you will find a lot of lonely people amongst the fresh batches of newcomers, not because they are weird or antisocial but because they are single unattached people who have moved to a country where they literally do not know a single soul!
In expat hotspots like this, it is relatively easy to ‘fall in’ with others in the same situation, simply because there are so many. Some of these friendships will be formed out of necessity because you need some form of social outlet in your new adopted home, but some of these friendships will stand the test of time. However, all good things must come to an end or just a kind of fading, fading, fading GONE.
When you move around a lot, you end up making friends from all over the place, but when you move on what becomes of the friendships you left behind? You can’t keep the same friendships you had in various countries to the same standard forever…it’s just not possible… and that’s OK.
We have all been in the situation scrolling down our Facebook newsfeed and seeing someone who used to be one of the main characters in the story of your life, they were front right and centre for a time. You used to talk every day and you had some of the best moments of your life with that person or those people. Now your only form of contact is wishing each other a Happy Birthday once a year.
It’s kind of sad but it’s also inevitable when you move around regularly. I look back at Florence, Dublin, India, Maastricht and Brussels and remember so many friendships and so many great moments and I sometimes get nostalgic for the loss of these people but yet I know there is no bitterness harbored, it’s simply just that people move on with their lives and of course in the ideal world you can pick up where you left off, if you ever see that person again.
There are also some friendships which you thought wouldn’t fade and that you were willing to make an effort on… but sometimes the other person wasn’t necessarily in the same boat as you. Undoubtedly most expats have been ‘snubbed’ by getting late replies from that former friend and somehow the reunion trips just not working out, or a member of a WhatsApp group who just doesn’t participate anymore…simply wanting to be released from this bygone friendship.
In this case sometimes the people who formed the friendship out of necessity in a new country unwittingly matched with someone who thought this was one of those lifelong friendships. This is something that is part and parcel of a nomadic lifestyle, sometimes you will be the snubbER and sometimes you will be the snubEE…and that’s OK. It’s more like a very amicable break up which you will look back on with fondness.
At some point and a certain age, you actually don’t really want to make friends. You have already spent years curating your group and the type of people you want in your life.
In saying that, many of the friends I have made abroad have enriched my life and there are some who I know will be in my life forever and I continue to meet great people. The point is that there is an unspoken rule in the expat community that when you move on (which you inevitably will) the friendships may be left behind, not always but sometimes and this does not make you a bad person if you no longer talk much 5 years later, it’s just laying to rest an old ghost of a certain time in your life.
*R.I.P to all those study abroad, gap year, world travelling, fleeting friendships.