In my psychotherapy practice I often meet clients who migrated to Australia many years ago and made it their home. They built careers, brought up children and lived through many satisfying years in this country. However when faced with difficult life situations, perhaps related to marital issues, or health problems, many people often seek support but find themselves lonely.
Surprised, people look around and see that all these years of life passed by leaving them with hardly ever a single close friend.
In The Privacy Of The Counselling Room I Hear Statements Like…
“I never got really close to people”
“I had many friends, but they are busy with their own lives and families, so we are not that close”
“I can only rely on my partner, otherwise there’s no one else”
So here we are with my clients, trying to figure out the reasons why at critical points of their lives they discover they have no friends.
We find a few valid reasons, among which are dedicating much time to work, or children, not really getting to know others or not looking after social aspects of life, to name a few.
For some people, missing out on chances to cultivate more intimate friendships leads to feeling never really at home in Australia.
But It’s Never Too Late, Is It?
In our counselling sessions we often work out a few ways for clients to start making friends again and reconnecting with old contacts, perhaps this time aiming at developing deeper and more intimate relationships. Here are a few tips that come handy and also good to consider at any point of our life journeys.
Make Time For Your Social Life.
This is easily overlooked and pushed aside in favor of family commitments, work and that very much needed gym workout. However try and reconsider your schedule and shuffle it just that you can free up at least one evening per week that you can dedicate to meeting people.
Join social activities that unite people with common interests.
Those can be sports activities, local community classes or even mothers groups. Make sure you are open to meeting people and getting to know them, rather than just hurrying home straight after an event, no matter how much you want to get back to your cosy couch at home or catch up with your family members on the day. Staying out for a drink or a cup of tea and a chat is a nice way to establish contact with the group of people you see regularly.
Reconnect with the old contacts.
I’m sure you’ve met hundreds of people in the past few years and even added them to your Facebook friends list. However finding a time to catch up and to get to really know each other requires an extra effort. You may have spent great nights out with some of them and have had great chats with the others, but haven’t been in real contact for months apart from getting Facebook updates. Contact people from your Facebook friends list that you want to know more and try to get to know them better.
Share The Joy Of Family Weekend With Others.
With so little time available for families to get together weekends are often the time solely dedicated to family outings. For couples with young children weekends can be particularly designated for a downtime with lots of chilling, taking it easy and simply taking kids to the park. Socialising might feel like quite a bit of an effort. However this time is also your chance to find and strengthen friendships. If you’re planning a day at the beach or the park text another mum from your mothers group and invite them to join.
Recognise When To Move On.
Expect that some people will decline your invitations to an evening out or a weekend together and some will accept. Just like I mentioned there are many barriers to people to stay motivated and cultivate friendships as this is often pushed to the lowest priority. In their free time some people will just want to relax, be alone (busy mums and dads finding time for a book and a coffee) or spend time just with their family. Do not wait around and keep messaging same people over and over in hope that one day their schedule will be cleared and they find time for you. If this happens, they might let you know. In the meantime, move on and find someone who wants to hang out!
Establishing satisfying social relationships isn’t easy. It does take much work and commitment, and then again work and commitment. But the benefits are great!
Imagine feeling truly at home in Australia where you can feel supported and cared for not only by your immediate family but also by dearest close friends.
That would be a much more enjoyable lifestyle, I reckon. But it doesn’t have to be all effort. Have fun and begin by saying hello to your neighbour!