Are You a Hermit Expat?
Expat Social Withdrawal
A recent thread in an expat forum got me to thinking about reclusive behavior among expats. The expat recluse I am referring to here is not the anti-social privacy freak "shoot anyone who comes close to my mountain top". These reclusive expats slowly withdrew into their own worlds over a period of years.
Quite a number of expats commented on their own reasons for a dwindling number of friends. Some of the forum responders didn't know why they had fewer friends. Others thought they knew but didn't mind. A few seemed concerned enough to wonder how to meet and make new friend to replace those who had gone.
How Did We Get Our Friends?
My guess is that our larges circle of friends come from several times and places in life.
- Neighborhood In many non-rural neighborhoods, playing and otherwise interacting with the "kids next door" is our first opportunity to make friends. Friendships flourish in Little League and Scouts. Most friendships form depending on how well personalities match .. or clash.
- School When we start school we also jump start our social lives. We get biology partners and sports teammates. We meet people on the bus and in the cafeteria. Our dating partners begin to influence our circle of acquaintances and potential friends.
- College College is one of those places where we start to take more personal responsibility -- or irresponsibility -- for making friends. Parents have much less influence on our social behavior. Perhaps that freedom urges us to gravitate toward people, ideas, and interests that are more personal and less "family approved".
Study groups, social groups, academic organizations, and dating put us in direct contact with others seeking friendship. But college can also separates us from neighborhood and school friends for extended periods of time. Some friends will drift apart. Many romances crumble from absence.
- Career We have all heard about expats who are shady, even criminals hiding from the law. Most of us have run across the ne er-do-wells and con men. Those folks are reclusive for a reason.
Most retired expats I have met seem to be relatively successful in life. They may not be wealthy, but has saved some money, sold homes, sold businesses and live fairly comfortable lives. Many had active social lives with family, golf & tennis clubs, and civic organizations.
Careers create interaction for log periods of time. Expats of retirement age worked in more stable environments than those of today. They knew co-workers longer. So they grew friendships.
Continued .. Losing Friends