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I need help making friends.

(13 Posts)
Rosmarin Tue 11-Oct-11 22:20:24

I don't really have any friends. There, I said it. I'm 21 and should be at the peak of social interaction, so not only do I feel upset about not having really any friends, but pretty humiliated too. It also consistently undermines any self-confidence I do have because it makes me fear that my worth as a person can't be very great if no one wants to be friends with me. sad I'm really close to my df and my boyfriend but certain events in the last couple of days (wrt boyfriend) really woke me up to the fact that I need to develop other close relationships. I really would like to have a female 'best friend', especially as boyfriend is long-distance.

The problems that I have with socialising are that I find groups very uncomfortable and incredibly exhausting and that so much socialising I see/experience seems false and flakey. I have certain emotional difficulties which seem to have got in the way of past friendships, but that was when I was a younger teenager and not really aware of the issues so perhaps I could deal better with them now.

I've just moved to a new country (quite small town with few people my age) where I don't speak the language fluently so I don't really know where to turn. I'm only living here for a year so am a bit torn about what to do.

It's perfectly acceptable to place in ad in a newspaper looking for a romantic relationship, but asking for friends is not the done thing, is it? It looks a bit desperate, I suppose.

What to do?

FabbyChic Tue 11-Oct-11 22:45:12

Join local groups, go to an evening class to learn the local language.

Find a hobby where you meet other like minded people.

izzywhizzysfritenite Wed 12-Oct-11 04:47:49

Are you working or at college?

I've seen ads in my local paper where women are looking for friends (as opposed to looking for romance) with people of their own age for evenings out and that doesn't look at all desperate to me, so why not place an ad?

Are there any ex-pat groups in the town you're living in? Sometimes there are notices of functions and events in the Embassy/Consulate.

Have you thought about placing ads on supermarket boards offering to teach your language to adults? Or children (they have parents!).

Join a salsa dancing class or any dance class so that you'll get to meet others.

Do you have any hobbies or is there a craft you'd like to learn? If so, look for ads for evening classes or informal meetings of like-minded people.

Smile at the people you meet when you're out and about and show that you're trying to learn their language. Go into cafes and bars on your own - take a book and 'people watch'. If you go regularly to the same venue, you'll soon become one of the 'locals'.

Best friends don't grow on trees and special friendships develop over time. As you'll only be in the town for a year, look to have an assortment of friends, male and female, of all ages so that you can have a rich and varied social life rather than confine yourself to one or two close pals

ArtVandelay Wed 12-Oct-11 08:16:07

The good news is that being an ex-pat can actually make it easier to make friends. I know in our group we are always interested in a bit of fresh meat! Sorry, thats our joke for a new English speaker. Fabby's right, start with language lessons but don't be disappointed if the people there aren't on your wave length or are on your wave length but have other commitments. I did a government language course and found a lot of my classmates were working all hours to make ends meet, others had fled persecution or a couple were internet brides - so they rarely had the time or inclination to go out to bars! We did have a good time in the class though.

Have you got a military base near? That would indicate US and maybe UK women living locally. Go into the library and see what they know about groups locally (ex-pat and native). Google and see if you have a local Internations group - I think they are pretty much everywhere and do a monthly meet-up. Once you do make contacts just show up to everything! You'll eventually develop friendships with the people you have most in common with.

ArtVandelay Wed 12-Oct-11 08:21:10

Oh and with regard to going out on your own. Just make yourself aware of the local customs and norms for man/woman interaction or familiarity with strangers. Its wise to behave within these norms to avoid any unpleasantness or embarrassment. Good luck though!

Dontbugmemalone Wed 12-Oct-11 08:22:00

I'm in a similar situation so watching this thread with interest.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Wed 12-Oct-11 09:18:10

certain events in the last couple of days (wrt boyfriend) really woke me up to the fact that I need to develop other close relationships.

What happened with your boyfriend?

Confuseddd Wed 12-Oct-11 09:25:01

Rosmarin, you mention some emotional issues, and I definitely think you need to seek to resolve those as it sounds like socialising is a trial for you. If it's painful, you're probably going to avoid it. It's natural to feel a little nervous in company but if it's exhausting/ extremely worrying, you might have some issues there.

Perhaps you think it is not safe to be close to others, or you think that you aren't acceptable in some way - you need to question these myths if they seem real to you. There are loads of self help books that may give you insight.

That said, if you are able to join groups etc, then great.

FeastofBeans Wed 12-Oct-11 09:28:24

I'm in the same situation too (and I'm 34 so even more despairing that I should've made friends by now)

If it's any consolation I have a second home abroad and have already made far far more acquaintances among the ex-pat community there than I have in the UK...

Horopu Wed 12-Oct-11 09:32:21

Wow, so many good ideas. I moved nearly 2 years ago. I'm in NZ and here for good and nearly twice your age but I still really empathise.

I find it easier to talk to people when we are doing something e.g. I helped out at a working bee at our local playground recently, today I helped sell sausages at a fund raiser for St John's. Look out for things that need volunteers to help out. Possibly don't do what I have done, I am now on 4 committees so always up to something. I like being busy and useful so I am happy even though I haven't got loads of good friends.

Good Luck

Rosmarin Wed 12-Oct-11 11:04:59

I will start looking in to ex-pat groups. I am working here in a school so doing language classes both at work and privately (but the school only goes to age 16, and the parents of the children are in a very different place in their lives to me) and have been studying the language for years but the fluency will take at least a couple of months to arrive and in that respect I find it easier (of course) to talk deeply with people in English. Otherwise I feel I can't express myself beyond the surface (though I can understand everything)! Equally, there is a very strong push to only speak the local language and people are sometimes annoyed to have to speak with me in the other official language as it's a bit of a political issue. I have tried to apply for a course in the local language but it's already full and there are major pressures from my home university to perfect the other language.

I would jump at the chance to sort my emotional issues out but can't see myself finding therapy (affordably/free) in English here so I'm not sure what to do wrt that. Any suggestions on where to look? I'm a bit on hold with this aspect until I get back home.

Thanks for the suggestions about the military bases/internations groups - I hadn't thought of those. I might also go ahead and post an ad for friendship in a couple of local papers.

Wrt boyfriend: we have been going through a rocky patch and were on the point of calling it quits, but the realisation that I had no one to turn to for support or even company or chats nearby or far away terrified me. I'm prone to depression and the prospect was so bleak that I was really scared about how I could possibly cope with such a hopeless situation. For too long I've unhealthily depended on one relationship (with various people at different times of my life) for everything. It's also an impossible expectation/weight to put on the other person. Also, as I said before I am in a long-distance relationship (he doesn't live in the UK) so I would love to have people to just hang out with and be myself around. I completely missed out on feminine experiences (shopping, heart-to-hearts, nail-painting, the cliched things) with my Mum who passed away too early and it would be nice to do some girly stuff.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Wed 12-Oct-11 11:29:41

Rosmarin that's very perceptive of you to realise that you are dependent on a small number of close relationships, and to want to take steps to solve that by forming a wider circle of friendships.

IME, there are 2 steps to acquiring friends, especially for someone like you who identifies as prone to depression and unhealthily dependent on relationships:

1. Work on your low self-esteem, then only can you really apply step 2:
2. Develop friendships.

I suspect there's nothing wrong with you -- no obstacle to you making friends -- other than your own low self-esteem. Do you find yourself worrying constantly about how you come across? Do you think that people can't possibly like you? Do you feel that you are somehow not entitled to ask acquaintances for favours or on outings?

You may need to get to a stage where you come to truly believe that you're good enough as you are, and you feel that other people's opinion doesn't matter when your own opinion about yourself is good enough.

You say you can't access therapy where you are, which is too bad. But until you can access some talk therapy, there are plenty of CBT techniques you could already try, to counter your self-critical inner voice and replace it with objectivity and positive self-talk. There's a free on-line course here, if you want to try that.

It will get easier to put into practice the practical tips you've received upthread if you are reaching out to people with tools to counter your own negative self-image. I totally echo the suggestion of finding groups of any kind: it's far easier to mingle and feel less in the spotlight in a group, and you will also have a wider pool of people from which to single out those more interesting people who you would want to pursue a deeper friendship with.

Finally, I am concerned that you are isolated in a foreign country, staying with a man who you are having relationship problems with out of fear of being alone. Please make sure that you are not selling yourself short in the relationships stakes. You deserve a relationship that enriches your life.

Dontbugmemalone Wed 12-Oct-11 11:31:23

OP- You said you work in a school, are there any other teachers that speak English?

Do you have DC? There is a nice American teacher who works at my son's school and when she returns from her holiday, I hope to arrange a meet up as there are a couple of other ex pats too. Maybe ask around at other language schools if there are native speakers?

Can you afford one-to-one language lessons? Or how about teaching someone English in exchange for them teaching you the language?

Feel free to PM me as I know what you are going through smile

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