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Why is so difficult to have british friends?

(103 Posts)
ShiftLD Mon 21-Jul-14 09:10:31

I live in London for some years and I would like very much to have more british friends, I love british culture, history, etc. But for some reason, I found it easiers to have friendship with foreign mums friends, french, german, latin american friends. Never a british mum start a conversation or was, in my view, really sympathetic. Some local to clarify the mistery?

VeryStressedMum Mon 21-Jul-14 09:17:30

Have you tried to start a conversation with them? A lot of people, British and otherwise, don't like to start a conversation with people they don't know, so it may be a good idea to make the first move?
I'm British and I have friends from every part of the world. Though not sure what you mean by sympathetic? Good luck smile

Bookaholic Mon 21-Jul-14 09:23:31

I'm in London, I have friends of various nationalities. They all became friends because we had something in common - going to the same places/having similar interests/being friends with other people.

Maybe you have more in common with the other non-British mums and so have more to start a conversation with with them? You have 'being non-British' to start with, which has to help get things started.

It shouldn't be your job to always make the first move, but perhaps you can find something to talk about with one of the Brits that you are around, even if it's something as minor as 'oh, I bought that same babygrow/yoghurt/toy ... does your little one like it as much as mine does?'. Just something to open the conversation with.

MrsKoala Mon 21-Jul-14 09:29:56

I moved to posh area about 6 months ago and i have found this with the British mums. The only people who chat to me at toddler groups are 2 Italian mums, one Spanish and one Aussie. I'm British btw too. But where i am is very class riddled and i just get sneered at by a lot of the MC British mums. It's one of the reasons we are moving to a different area.

sezamcgregor Mon 21-Jul-14 09:33:44

It's better not to have friends like that. If they think they're better than you, let them get on with it - stick with the lovely mums you've found friendships with already.

Bonsoir Mon 21-Jul-14 09:38:10

I'm English and live abroad and I think that, right across Europe, there are groups of rather self-satisfied and blinkered MC and UMC nationals who are very preoccupied with maintaining the cultural status quo and aren't interested in or welcoming to foreigners. This can be incredibly frustrating if you are interested in the local culture and it's complexities and want to talk to those people!

ShiftLD Mon 21-Jul-14 09:51:59

I would really to get better on this specially because my DD is starting reception in a school that I belive the majority are british...

Enb76 Mon 21-Jul-14 09:54:33

You'll make friends at the school gates. I am British and now have a French and Polish friend this way. Smile, be friendly and talk to people. It's always worked for me.

Bonsoir Mon 21-Jul-14 09:55:27

Maybe you and your DD would be happier in a more mixed school? I wouldn't be able to cope with a French MC school for my DD!

Preciousbane Mon 21-Jul-14 09:58:19

You need to move up North mate, everyone chats to everyone where I live. I say that as an ex Southerner.

QuintessentiallyQS Mon 21-Jul-14 09:59:52

I have been living in London since 1993 (with the exception of 3 years), and I have yet to make any real British friends. I have aquaintances yes, and school gate mums are just that. I see them develop friendships between themselves, but as a foreigner I am never part of it. I think I am forever bound be have friendships with other foreigners! Dont get me wrong, I love having a mix of friends from all over the place, but it is just weird to see how most of the British keep to their own.

I just saw your other thread, and I think we are quite local to each-other. It is good that the area is quite multicultural. I would not rely on the school mums for friendships, but maybe if your child goes to any after school activities?

Zimtschnecke Mon 21-Jul-14 10:01:18

I have a few British friends but the majority are foreign.

Brits I find are very private people. I have no problem starting a friendship and finding out if we are actually suited to each other. Many British mums I know are far more reserved and would rather wait (a few years) before deciding this could be a friend.
The foreign friends are more open. Maybe the British mums are too scared they end up living in each other's pockets and then would not be able to get out of it if they don't like it, because they are too polite.

I'd have no problems with cooling off a budding friendship if I feel it's not for me.
That's my kitchen psychology for today.

(I really need that leg to heal and get off the bed/sofa real soon grin)

Zimtschnecke Mon 21-Jul-14 10:04:33

PS and it's really funny that in my dd's reception class there are 3 foreign mums, and all 3 (plus 2 English mums) have become friends. Maybe we just gravitate towards each other because our children are bilingual and it gives a topic in common immediately?

QuintessentiallyQS Mon 21-Jul-14 10:04:49

I think the British have enough friends by the time they are adults, they have had decades to forge friendships. From school, uni, neighbours, colleagues, ante natal classes, toddler groups, family and inlaws etc, by the time they are bringing their child to school. They dont need new friends, so they cant be arsed.

As foreigners, we left behind decades worth of friends, and family, and feel very differently.

ILoveCoreyHaim Mon 21-Jul-14 10:05:41

I think its a regional thing. In the North East everyone talks to anyone and i know this as my friends DP is from South London and he loves it here. I talk to anyone who talks to me.

Orphanblue Mon 21-Jul-14 10:06:48

I agree that it is way harder to make British friends than foreign friends. I live in a foreign country and it is amazing how the Brits here mainly seem to enjoy each other's company, but do not show much interest in non English speaking foreigners. Of course there are exceptions, but I also find this behaviour mind boggling.

I have only lived in one place in the UK, and I suspect that where there are large numbers of miscellaneous internationals (as opposed to a particular large group from one culture), the English mums tend to band together and be less chatty towards the international mums, who are more likely to chat to anybody with a foreign accent - "where are you from? why are you here? are you children bilingual? let's hang out!".

One of the baby groups I went to had so many international mums that the British mums stopped coming altogether. They just couldn't bear to talk to us, for some reason! But it was nice in the end - it was like an expat baby group, although the English mums certainly missed out on a lovely group of parents to hang out with by being so weird about us (and yes, we all spoke English and about half of us were anglophone).

We're in the South East, btw, and I'm Irish.

It definitely became better when school came into it - I've made way more English friends in the last academic year than in the 5 preceding years.

JackAubrey Mon 21-Jul-14 10:33:39

I'll probably get flamed for this but, I've mixed with lots of british and international mums and the very few that have moved past friendly to actual friendship are the British ones. For me it's a language thing. I talk in that very British way of layers of meaning: Normally, I actually mean the exact opposite of what I'm saying - it's all wrapped up in layers of irony, self-deprecation and sarcasm.

I only noticed this recently when I was talking to a lovely Ecuadorean Mum, and she kept getting me wrong, so I had to concentrate on speaking clearly without the layers. It's easier to hang out with someone who knows straight off that if I say eg I'm happy as Larry, it means I'm a bit miserable. I think it takes a native English speaker. Or English person. My Scottish husband said recently I was really whingey - I thought I was being funny!

Sorry - I feel like a dick writing it down. I am going to make more of an effort with the international mums...

TheBookofRuth Mon 21-Jul-14 10:42:24

Yeah, it's not a British thing, it's a south-east thing, so many people here are aloof and unfriendly. I'm a displaced Northerner and will chat to anyone, but most of the other mums look at me like I'm something they've scraped off their shoes.

I care not. I know I'm awesome and they're the ones missing out, and I've made some lovely friendships with the few exceptions to the rule.

Inkspellme Mon 21-Jul-14 10:52:10

I'm Irish and living in Ireland. However the school where I did send my kids for a few years had a 60% british background. It's very different. The British element that seems to pride itself on it's reserve or politeness isn't generally perceived as this. It is actually seen as being cold and unfriendly. Maybe it's not intended this way but is defnitly seen that way....

Nancy66 Mon 21-Jul-14 10:54:18

I hate this bollocks about people in the south being unfriendly. They're not.

I have made plenty of friends in London and find people to be as friendly, kind and helpful as other parts of the country.

Bonsoir Mon 21-Jul-14 10:55:04

It's not a "British" thing. It's a "people who've never moved away" thing. Once you've moved outside your culture of origin and challenged your inherited prejudices and assumptions you realise that there is more to "friendship" than a shared upbringing.

ikeaismylocal Mon 21-Jul-14 10:57:44

I have experienced the same thing but with Swedish friends, I have lived here for almost 4 years and I have 2Swedish friends, one of my Swedish friends has lived abroad for a decade and recently moved back, so in effect starting afresh, another Swedish friend is very un-Swedish and she doesn't feel she fits in with other Swedish people.

I have made some really great friends from all over the world, I love learning about different ways of bringing up children from all different cultures and I really enjoy celebrating the different traditions and hearing different languages, my 18 month old can say car in 4 different languages.

TheBookofRuth Mon 21-Jul-14 11:07:12

There are plenty of friendly people in London Nancy, most of whom have come there from all over the place. I've made friends with lots of them.

I live in the Home Counties now though, and it's full of snooty buggers. And the north is just friendlier and warmer generally.

OnlyLovers Mon 21-Jul-14 11:14:52

I hate the bollocks about London being unfriendly too. It's not my experience and I've lived here twenty years. FWIW I've come across plenty of unfriendly people and behaviour in all these supposedly delightful and warm northern/non-southeast parts of the UK where, according to myth, everyone chats to strangers constantly and is always ready with a smile or a cup of sugar or whatever.

It's not the area you're in, it's the individuals you meet.

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