I sometimes hear this at the end of a first or second session. Usually, after many other issues have been lined up as being the problem, which can determin someone to want to speak with a therapist.
It comes from young people who had an unstable childhood due to their parents’ moving history, yet not only. People who have lived in the same neighborhood for many years can experience the constant coming and going of people who are ex-pats or immigrants. Therefore their children will also experience their friends moving away.
When these young people refer to their unstable childhood, they do not necessarily talk about their parents because the parents were stable. They were there all the time. Yet the environments were different: new country, new house, new neighborhood, new school. People coming and going, and the family doesn’t stay long enough in a place for the children to keep the friends they make, or the families surrounding them leave, taking their children with them. It is not always sure that kids will stay in touch with each other after moving, so bonds get broken.
When they grow up, these children move to study or to work and experience lives on their own, far from their families, in other countries. During their moving lives with their families, they have developed skills like flexibility, speaking a couple of languages, being easy going, and making friends quickly. Aside from all these positive skills, at first sight, there is also the feeling of uncertainty developing, meaninglessness in all the relationships, and a strong need for certainty.
They still feel emptiness, loneliness, and frustration because they know it will not last. There is seldom security in these short relationships, just for fun and where people hang out for a while. Then everybody moves on, and not necessarily with the promise of keeping in touch, even if we live in a world where the internet can make communication easier. Still, it is sometimes different from keeping in touch in person.
Another thing happening on the way is that every time a relationship breaks because of moving, children and later the adults do not learn they need to mourn and be sorry for their loss. Even if we’re not necessarily talking about people dying, still, the relationship, as it was, is lost. I find that people rarely think about this small detail, yet, repeated, it can build up and create a feeling of emptiness and loss. How many times have you been grieving over a relationship you’ve had, no matter it’s nature: friendship, schoolmate, playmate, business mate, workmate etc.
Moving to a new city to study or work is challenging. In a country where it is difficult to approach locals, the easiest is approaching other foreigners, immigrants, and ex-pats, no matter what they choose to call themselves. I leave you in this link what I believe the difference between them is.
First, there are FB groups called “ex-pats in….” the name of your city or country. There are also groups with people from your own country of origin or from the countries you’ve lived in as a child and teenager if there are several. Look for them and introduce yourself. It helps to get in touch with people.
Then, if you have a hobby or several, groups and clubs accommodate people with the same interest. Try to find them and see if they work for you. Internations.org is also something you may want to check out.
I also hear many times that the age differences in these groups can be challenging to handle since there are all sorts of people from everywhere, and not necessarily something organized for people of the same age. Yet, you need to think about what is essential for you and that people you meet are probably just as lonely as you, no matter the age they carry. So, how significant is the age difference in a friendship for you, especially when your standards regarding friendships may differ?
Is it good for you to be alone or with someone, no matter whom? This question is relevant for couples as well… yet that will be another article.
In the meantime, if you want to talk more about being alone and/or lonely, you’re welcome to register for a first free session on this link.