Moving to a new country thousands of miles from friends and family has been a mixed bag of emotions. Three years ago when I applied for my job in the US, Chris and I thought very hard about whether leaving the UK was the right thing to do. We had only been married for about two months, and in the three years we were together preceding our marriage, I had spent one of those years in Afghanistan and another half a year traveling with work. So as you can imagine, it might have seemed a little crazy to be moving half way across the world so soon after we tied the knot. But it was our dream to live abroad, at the least before having children. So we went for it, and on 1st January 2013 we packed our two suitcases and got on a plane to Virginia, USA.
We have missed weddings, birthdays, births, parties, funerals along with just missing friends and family in general. But we have made new friends, and experienced weddings, parties, birthdays and births here in the US too. At the ripe age of 32 years old, we are not the socialites that we used to be. We pretty much like being in bed by 10pm, some nights you will find us in bed at 9. We even joined a sports and social club where we have met some very lovely people, and made some very lovely friends. But I can’t help but feel in friend limbo. We haven’t been here long enough to have established the types of strong friendships that we have in the UK, whom we have known since childhood or university. I think part of this is our age. We are old enough that we don’t bond with people who like to go out drinking or partying, but people who are our age tend to have children, and it’s difficult to bond over something you don’t have yourself. Dreaming of having children isn’t quite the same.
In the US the average age of a parent is 25.1, in the UK it is 30. And that statistic sums up our predicament. Maybe I am mistaken behind this reasoning, but I feel like we do not bond quite as well with people our own age here in the US because they typically have children. We have a couple of friends who have children, but I can’t help but feel like our bonds haven’t fully sealed. Just as we started to make friends with some younger people, but they have moved on, just like we did….to other parts of the country, or even other countries. And I really honestly have reached a point where I feel like not bothering to make new friends. Working with the military, I am now getting a bit tired of making friends just for them to move on after 2-3 years.
With infertility looming over our heads, I sometimes feel lost without good friends by our sides. Fortunately, I have some amazing friends back in the UK who have been so incredibly supportive through everything so far. I am so lucky. But I have hardly told anyone here in the US about our infertility treatment. And so this is why I am considering going to our local RESOLVE meeting; I hope to actually meet other couples similar to us. Friends in the UK are great, but it’s not so great when you just want a hug or just fancy doing something random and spontaneous to help get you out of hole.
Without knowing if my contract will be renewed at the end of the year, we are on a weird cliffhanger. This may be our last summer here. We may only have 6 months left to see and do everything. But we may be here longer. We keep telling ourselves that we should live in the present and not hold back. But even still, I can’t help feel like we are caught in a friend gap right now. Why does it feel like as we get older, having a kid is the ‘get out of jail free’ card? It just doesn’t seem right.
2 thoughts on “Caught in a friend gap”
I totally understand the feeling… I wasn’t in the same situation, but I was definitely in a friend gap where the only way of socialising in the place I used to live was through your children. And we didn’t have children. It was so, so lonely and I don’t think I ever would have gotten over it (as I still don’t have any children and sadly the relationship didn’t last).
I think in the UK anyway the social set up is either through old friends (many of whom now have children so I’m excluded), new friends who are “out on the town” and through work or friends of friends – and this is all pretty much drinking based or sports based (neither of which I want to do that much of), or the people who have children. So I would agree that it’s easy to get into a friend gap.
I’ve been lucky as I have quite a lot of old friends who still don’t have children, and I work so much during the week that I’m happy to have time just with my partner at the weekend. But you definitely need to make more effort in your 30s to socialise, I think, and I have really noticed a splitting of the friendship group into those who have kids and those who don’t.
Not sure what the answer is… I can only say that I empathise!
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Thank you! Maybe I’m just seeing it from a UK perspective and stuck in that culture still….I think you hit the nail on the head with work – if you are both so busy during the week, you need the weekends to catch up with each other. I definitely feel this too.
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