Finding friends all over again
Right on LaDonna: "There is a vast chasm between meeting people and making friends. Especially friends of the heart. The kind of people you want to sit around and pull weeds with."
My husband and I moved to Portugal (in the Algarve – Lagos specifically) 6 months ago and are just settling in; I've been thinking of ways to meet people who I can pull weeds with (thank you Ashley for the heartfelt metaphor!).
To that end, I recently posted an invitation on a few local Algarve FB pages, which I'll share here (perhaps if it resonates for anyone in the Algarve reading this – if that's ok?):
"An Invitation ... I finally have our Lagos apartment in a comfortable and cozy state – and am reaching out to see if you'd be interested in creating a circle of regular gatherings at my place for community and connection? Creating a life in another country, like so many of us have, can bring on Big Feelings of loneliness – often interlaced with bouts of self-doubt, anxiety, depression and the like. I think it's fair to say we've all been there?
But I find with mood challenges, a regular intentional group gathering can be very reassuring, healing, and inspiring. And it'd be my pleasure to host something like this – as I'm both a group faciliator and a woman who would love to meet others drawn to exploring whatever is knocking loudest on our head so we can release these emotions for more calm, centered clarity.
So I'm thinking a regular little group gathering in a comfortable warm space can allow us to let our hair down with enjoyable like-minded heart-centered others. No obligation and I'll supply the hot herbal tea:) As I say, I'm in Lagos in the Algarve – so anyone who has an accessible drive and is up for meeting regularly at my place please DM and I'll be in touch!" -30-
Several people have responded and I'm eagerly looking at dates to meet!
LaDonna thank you always for your precious insights channeled through the gifted writer you are!
I think that as you age and know yourself better, you can be more realistic.
I realise that I have never made friends easily. I generally get on better with men than women which makes people suspicious.
My only genuine long-standing friends are former work colleagues with whom I shared my personal and professional life in Liverpool for 25 years. When we meet up we can cut to the chase. No need to be polite or discuss trivia.
I didn't get married until I was 41. We decided to move south to Plymouth. We have two couples there who now count as firm friends. We had many acquaintances, but moving to Portugal left them behind, apart from Christmas emails.
We have been in for over seven years now, but only have one couple who are the kind of friends on whom you can rely. They are Portuguese and help us greatly with our language skills with the added bonus of speaking fluent French like me. My neighbours are also good friends. We meet up for lunch with other people but there isn't that feeling that we are really connected. I'm quite outspoken and once we get over the introductions and begin to relax I try to discuss more 'important ' issues and often find that they support Russia or gun ownership, which means that I could never really get along with them.
Fortunately both my husband and I are reasonably self-reliant and are finally relaxing into a simple life of small pleasures. Good friends are a bonus, but one that we could live without.
Thank you for this thoughtful answer to my comment! It’s definitely an introvert’s conundrum. My husband once filled out a “getting to know you” survey that Lu’s teacher had sent home with the phrase, “slow to warm,” and it was something I had never realised about him (or myself) until I saw it there in writing. The warming always does happen, it just takes longer. I really appreciate and relate to your experience of the early days of moving there and the willingness to try on being extroverted for a while. I wonder what it is that leads humans to be able to sniff out other similar souls. The psychology of it is fascinating. Sure, in high school or college or young-adult hood (ok maybe even now) you could get tipped off by a band shirt or a quirky fashion choice or tattoo or whatever, but that’s still just one facet. It truly is hard to find those people who tick off most of the boxes. I feel like parent friends (or the parents of the kids’ friends) are a whole other category and I am happy if they just seem like someone I can relate to long enough to muddle through half-conversations cobbled together over the course of a play date. There’s a special kind of awkward that comes with working at your kid’s school and socialising with the clientele. Reading about your experience really helps it feel more normal that some of us are quiet, careful, slow to warm. I’m so encouraged that you found neighbours who are ready and willing to help out. I tend to think in terms of webs rather than linearly or even in concentric rings and imagining the little silk strands running now from your quinta to your neighbour’s, to baixa, to the cafes where you had met up with earlier friends, to new beaches and shops etc. seems like a happy structure is filling in as your life fills in there. It makes sense that it takes time to build something when you are a careful, thoughtful weaver.
U.S. resident here: I want to move abroad and have been researching and dreaming about it for years, but as a HARD introvert, I have a lot of anxiety about leaving friends, routines and a culture that I know intimately.
Thank you for this issue. I know I'll be uncomfortable if I pull the trigger and move, but hopefully everything will work out with some hard work on my part to be open to new people.
It took you a year to let me in and now you’re stuck with me foreva! And I’m keeping a special patch of weeks untouched until you get here :)
beautiful. of course, it doesn't matter if you move across town or across an ocean - the work for finding your people is similar. i only moved across LA in 2005, but most friends found it difficult to
leave their locale for 'parts unknown' merely 25 miles away. i didn't lose the friendships because i traveled to them. now contemplating another move, out of the state (plans to resettle in portugal aren't going to work - but i'll certainly be back). i will work hard to meet new people. church/synagogue, classes, culture and outdoor activities will keep me busy and around people. after a certain age, it gets a bit more difficult - but now there is also a melding of the generations and i'm certainly ready for that! best to you!
LOL this is great. Tea and chocolates, wine and cake. It does take time and its worth it <3
You've done it again, LaDonna--a masterfully (mistressly?) crafted piece that speaks to the concerns of many expats and immigrants ... and with a hopeful ending, yet! This one is definitely worth publishing in Portugal Living Magazine. May we?