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Why dont we meet new people when we know weshould?

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  • Why dont we meet new people when we know weshould?

    I’ve been living abroad for six years and there are a few things that expats seem to care about more than anything else. One of them is having friends that can relate to what our “new life” is like. Friends that we “click” well with.

    Personally, I tend to think about it when a good friend leaves the city. It usually comes in the form of “oh ****, another one! I should meet more people”... and then life gets in the way.

    We might have conversations with colleagues at the office but how many of them are more than work-talk, badly translated jokes or superficial niceties? Why are there so few people that we connect really well with and how can we find more?

    Common advice tells us “just go to meetups”, “learn the language” and “be open-minded” as if we didn’t already know that. If that’s all we needed, we’d just google for meetups, go, and it would be solved. This year things are different with the Coronavirus but if that was the only thing holding us back we would have solved it last year anyway.

    I have a feeling that it might be deeper than that.

    Learning the language is a good point but it takes a while to practice enough to carry meaningful conversations and what are we supposed to do until then?

    Let’s explore why we don’t build new, meaningful, relationships even though we know we should and how we might be able to do that during the Corona-season.

    Why don’t we build new relationships when we know we should?

    Here are a few ideas I thought of and I’d like to hear yours in the comments, so we can all learn.

    Most of us focus on things that are urgent in favor of what’s important. It’s not that we are bad people or aren’t serious but it’s a lot easier to prioritize an annoying deadline from our boss than some arbitrary deadline we set for ourselves (like going to meet new people), with no reason as to why we can’t move it a day or a week.

    Since we have limited willpower and energy, there is only so much we can do until we get tired. And sometimes, after a long, intense, day at work, there is just nothing left.

    We are creatures of habit and predictability. We tend to like things where we know the outcome. For example by applying for a job: a) send a resume b) get a job. Predictable. Going to an event can often feel like a time-waster since we don’t know who we’ll meet and what’s going to happen.

    Another challenge is that making new friends isn’t exactly something we are taught by our parents or in school. Most of us don’t move abroad and hang out with the same friends since we were kids -- and we even take pride in it. “I’ve known them since high school” we might say.

    It is interesting because we know that we naturally grow and evolve, yet it’s like we don’t accept that we can grow apart from our friends after 15 years. It is only when we move abroad that we start to realize that as we see how our friends at home react and slowly drift away.

    We might think that the only way to meet new people is by getting drunk at a bar or machine-gunning business cards at networking events. Or we feel shy and that it is easier to stay home and watch Netflix.

    Now, in the year 2020, since meetups and events are limited we need to get creative.

    Ideas to meet more meaningful friends in times of the Coronavirus

    I wanted to share a couple of alternatives to meeting new people now that events are on hold. I’m not really a networking event-kinda guy but fortunately, there are other ways that can also work well. Personally, I like a more targeted approach:

    - Reach out to people nearby that have posted something you are interested in online (like reaching out via email, FB messenger, LinkedIn, etc. - there are many options)

    -Connect with people working at companies from your home country with a location in your city e.g. by contacting your embassy - they often have a list of those companies with a contact person from your country. Tell them you got curious about what the company is doing here and if you can get e.g. a tour of the office

    -You could also ask friends to connect you with some of their friends in your city who have a particular interest/job, etc. that aligns with yours (be specific when you ask them). Then ask them for coffee

    Some people will be living in a small city. If that’s the case, you might be able to schedule trips to visit people on the weekend or use the internet to connect with people.

    2020 is a great year to try other approaches to building deep, meaningful, relationships now that networking events are out of the question anyway. How has your experience been? What worked well for you?

    Please share it in the comments so we can all learn more and build meaningful relationships.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Fareastexpat View Post
    ... Why don’t we build new relationships when we know we should?...

    I guess there are many problems :
    - most people are busy and/or not well financially to join a club or similar
    - most people are selfish , so one becomes interested in a friendship only if he/she sees a benefit other than just getting a new friend
    - the few ones that really want to just get friends will only be interested if there is something in common
    - most people are lazy , so a friendship must be between people living or working nearby

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    • #3
      I agree marcus, particularly that we often just become friends with people living/working nearby

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      • #4
        Now talking about my experience , I tell you that I have only 3 Indonesian friends now , only one of them is a close friend . I had another 2 long time ago (1 went to work in US and the other moved to Bali , we don't communicate , even having email address) .

        I still have "friends" in my country but we almost don't communicate , even having Whatsapp number and/or email address . Rare contacts are mostly by voice (I do prefer texting but they don't) , which is more difficult due to : the 10 hours time zone difference + my old fashionable way of life (I still watch pay dish TV and as there is no programable video recorders anymore , I need to watch my preferred programs in a fixed schedule) .
        Last edited by marcus; 1 week ago.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Fareastexpat View Post
          a- Reach out to people nearby that have posted something you are interested in online (like reaching out via email, FB messenger, LinkedIn, etc. - there are many options)

          b-Connect with people working at companies from your home country with a location in your city e.g. by contacting your embassy - they often have a list of those companies with a contact person from your country. Tell them you got curious about what the company is doing here and if you can get e.g. a tour of the office

          c-You could also ask friends to connect you with some of their friends in your city who have a particular interest/job, etc. that aligns with yours (be specific when you ask them). Then ask them for coffee

          d- Some people will be living in a small city. If that’s the case, you might be able to schedule trips to visit people on the weekend or use the internet to connect with people.

          a- I still didn't see anything useful in social media in general , except Whatsapp .

          b- My Embassy is useless and , anyway , there are very few companies in my city and even fewer hiring foreigners . And most foreign workers stay here few years only .
          And just because they are from my country doesn't help much . I once knew a person from my country who lived nearby (here in Indonesia) for 21 years , but we did meet very few times (maybe around once per year) . Once I met a couple from my country in a supermarket (the husband was working here in Indonesia) , I gave them my WA number but they never contacted me .

          c- Very unlikely to me .

          d- From my experience , a friendship does not work well with people not living nearby .
          Last edited by marcus; 6 days ago.

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