Friendship – Top Challenges of Expat’s Life
Almost every single person wants to know what’s the quick fix in getting better in making new friends and maintaining friendships in busy life, especially expat’s life.
Most people find it hard to create a deep and meaningful friendship in adulthood, but it’s not impossible if you know what to do.
Ever wondered why all of ideas and advices you have tried to create friendships, are not as brilliant and as effective as you hoped?
Simply because they lack of trust.
Trust in a meaning that you believe in yourself,
that you know you will handle every situation,
that you trust your inner recourses and capabilities,
trust that you will use both, your heart and mind to be real, to be yourself.
Life changes such as moves, career transitions, relationship changes and different family stages bring a shift in our friendships. We often drift apart hoping to stay in touch with close ones.
Unfortunately the close relationships aren’t guaranteed to last and this is why we all should update our toolkit of making and maintaining friendships regardless of age, job and relationship status.
The fundaments of friendship
The perception of openness, trust and intimacy arouses fear, and that’s natural, as we wouldn’t expect our friend to reject us, betray or cause pain. But because we are social being we learn not only by mistakes made but also by experience of others. This is why we know what each friendship has some requirements, demands. In order to deal with it, we naturally grow our flexibility in the approach, we balance acts of giving and getting, we continuously increase our self-awareness to understand feelings, needs and be present in the moment.
Unrealistic expectations about friendship are the sources of suffering and growing fear.
Agreeing with well-known and respected personality psychologist Wiesław Łukaszewski, we can say out loud, that “Friendship is full of paradoxes. On the one hand it is a form of necessity because the lack of friends can be fatal socially. On the other hand, it is an act of free choice because nobody will appoint you a friend. Friendship is the experience of long-term (not just for one day), on the other hand it is a single experience as broken friendship rarely revives. We gain friends for a long time and loose irretrievably.”
Making a change isn’t easy when you don’t know what to do and how.
I have a practical exercise, which I often use with my clients during coaching sessions that I’d like to share with you.
Let’s start from roots of your expectations.
Give yourself 10 minutes to think about questions I prepared for you:
- What does friendship mean to you?
- When do you know that a person is becoming your friend?
- When do you know that it’s not just a stranger with familiar face anymore, or neighbour with whom you occasionally exchange ‘how are you’?
- What makes friendship so special, so valuable?
- How your life would look like without a friendship?
Knowing the expectations you can create an action plan.
TOOLKIT of managing the FRIENDSHIP
For friendship to form, you will need:
- and Emotions
Kids play ever afternoon or every weekend with a close friend. As adults, we rarely have that kind of consistency outside of work but when we join a group that is formed and meets regularly, the consistency is already built in. That’s why you know it’s better to join some group and slowly introduce yourself to them.
Knowing that you will feel uncomfortable, awkward and insecure, accept it. Expect it to happen and then it will scare you that much any more. Accept that you do have inner resources to manage each situation. Wondering what are the inner recourses? You have your instinct, you have your empathy and emotional intelligence, you have your knowledge and previous experiences with having successful relationships. On top of that, you have time, language, beautiful smile and curiosity. You have a lot to offer so be curious what you will find out about people.
To deepen relationships you must be willing to open yourself up. This is the aspect of emotions I mentioned before. It is well proven that vulnerability is the key to emotional bonding. Without exposing your true emotions, without acknowledging it and sharing the friendships tend to feel superficial and meaningless.
Easiest step here would be using the situation that makes everyone to feel vulnerable, such as public speaking training or cooking class when you have two left hands. Each moment when you have a chance to provide comfort or support, when you feel needy and helpful, are those situations that builds bonds.
Finding a friend is relatively easy but building a friendship is great challenge.
Remember, it’s important to work hard and to keep the communication upbeat 😉