Why is it hard to be good friends with locals ðŸ‡¬ðŸ‡§:

In a recent post, I wrote few tips about how to make friends in another country. And I still personally put them into practice.
I already have a good social circle in Belfast and some people, I hope, will be my good friends in the future. But between all my new acquaintances there is one pattern – almost 100% of them are foreigners. These are mainly people from Lithuania, Spain, Italy, India. And I know some Ukrainians and Russians either.

Nice Dock cafe place for chatting, Belfast

But at the same time, I am faced with a lot of moments that sometimes upset me. I will definitely get used or be able to adjust to some of them.
The main thing I wasn’t prepared for and that hurts me the most was the locals’ attachment problems and their inability to let strangers/foreigners into their emotional space.
Here are the main points that confirm my opinion:

1. It is impossible to understand from the locals what they think about you. Even if you ask them directly. They’ll say something like, “You’re soo cool, we definitely need to meet again,” which means “everything was OK, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see each other one more time”.
2. Opening up in life’s details, they still have emotional distance. If for some reason you managed to meet 3-4 times and there was a deep long conversation between you, it doesn’t mean that you have become closer. Even if you think so.
3. No one will ever invite you home (like to have party or dinner with friends).
4. It’s normal here to make an appointment to meet and forget about it, not to come, not to warn about the cancellation
5. They are not ready for a long-term relationship. They make superficial connections. Both personal and friendly. They seem open and interested, but in fact it will be very difficult to break down the wall of emotional distance between you.

It would be much harder for me to put up with these points if it weren’t for my foreign friends who discuss with me the mentality of the local people and support me. So do you agree with my opinion or do you have something to object to?

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58 Comments

  1. Lov Verma says:

    You have said — I know some Russians and Ukrainians either. You mean . Either is used differently. Either he hated me or was indifferent — is an example.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is very hard to make friends except in childhood and in a different culture even harder. It takes time. It is hard enough even in one’s own culture. I wish you the best after all you have been through. Don’t lose hope. 🙏🏽

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sofia says:

        The main idea was not about making friends (I already have good friends here and I’m good at communication), but about making local friends (Irish, British). Anyway thank you ☺️

        Like

    2. Sofia says:

      Okay, thank you ☺️🤗

      Like

  2. Lov Verma says:

    You mean also.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Patrick Cole says:

    Hmmm, perhaps the locals “disqualify” a refugee (aka temporary status?) for a long-term relationship. Sad and short-sighted, I agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sofia says:

      🔅

      Like

  4. Wow, an interesting perspective. I can only imagine the struggle. I’m a local where I live, but I still notice a few of these points. It seems everyone nowadays is in their own little bubble, trying to get where they need to go, without opening up much to others. I wonder if this is an outcome of the pandemic, we’re all more closed off, sterile to the outside world. I hope not. Thank you for continuing to log your journey and I wish you good luck!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      It’s a good point about pandemic, I’ll definitely think about it.
      Anyway thank you 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

  5. granny1947 says:

    It is not easy but it takes time.
    You will eventually get there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Yeah! I already have friends here and I feel comfortable and more calm now, but I really want to become a good friend with somebody local just to prove that it’s possible 😄
      Thank you 🤗

      Like

  6. elsabeskryf says:

    I honestly don’t think it’s because you are a refugee. It is life… whenever you move to a new town or area even in the same country. Just keep on meeting people, keep on meeting the same people if possible, give them the opportunity to know you… and somehow, somewhere… something wil change. It is not easy, I know! Invest or be interested in their lives… it is a 2 way street.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      I didn’t write it’s because I’m a refugee and I don’t think so 🙈 The main idea is not about making friends (I already have good friends here), but about being good friends with local people (Irish, British). They’re really closed to foreigners. But the other way around all foreigners in NI are really friendly and easygoing ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. elsabeskryf says:

        I think somebody else commented that it might be because you are a refugee…. hense my comment.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sofia says:

        ☺️

        Like

  7. Sofia, I agree with you. I’m a Spaniard living in a small place in Germany, most of my friends are another foreigners. Only “locals” who moved here from other german towns are real friends to me. Locals know each other so long, they don’t easily open their circles for newcomers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Yes! That’s exactly what I wanted to say. That’s so nice you can understand me 🤗

      Like

  8. Interesting. To me your history would make you “exotic.” I like people and things that feel exotic and would probably be prompting you to tell me your stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      😄🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  9. draughtrider says:

    I have experienced this when moving only 50km from my childhood home – the ‘locals’ where I moved were very set in their ways and insular – a smaller town near the city I’d grown up in. I became friends with a couple of people, but both were also new to the area. Seems like a generational thing, and there’s a palpable distrust or reluctance to for them to get involved with people referred to as ‘blow-ins’ – perhaps the perception that new people don’t have the investment in the town or are unlikely to stay?

    Years later I moved many hundreds of km but still within my own country – it was the same but worse. I now live a couple thousand km from that place in a town with a considerable transient population – ‘blow-ins’, and a lesser number who came here for a short stint and ended up staying a decade or more – like me. The question of ‘what constitutes a local’ is often brought up – sometimes jokingly, sometimes seriously – but it reinforces the underlying problem.

    I now consider myself a local in this town and while my circumstances are ‘complicated’ they are not distressing. In a place of unusually high population transience I’ll ask someone I’ve just met how long they have been here and what does the future hold for them – ie how long are you staying – nearly everyone does ask these questions, quite openly, and I reckon the ‘new person’ often doesn’t realise why. I guess, in a sense, I’m now one of ‘those people’, cautious of blow-ins – but here, having lost so many friends who stayed only a year or two, it feels like a self preservation tactic, especially if there is the likelihood of an intimate relationship developing – many people I’ve called friend have moved on to places I’m never likely to live – its a big country. This town is a ‘special case’ in many ways though. Oddly enough, there are many people from foreign lands who have called this town ‘home’ and stayed for as long or longer than I with no intention of returning to a big city, much less their country of origin – some of whom I count among my close friends, and one even closer.

    I remember the early days of living here – one particularly ‘honest’ bloke told me quite openly that he wasn’t interested in being friends outside the sporting club we were involved in because he figured I’d be here a couple years then move on – he’d seen it all before, and I guess the subtext was, been hurt by it before. That was 12+ years ago and I’m really glad to call him a close friend now.

    Your post really resonated with me. It feels like a huge and complex topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rose2852 says:

    I think you’re being hard on yourself: bonding with the locals can take longer than nine months, regardless of your immigration status and cultural barriers. The obvious way to make local friends is through work and and activities. I actually made more Aussie friends through the scuba club, swimming club, my writers group, postgrad study etc., than I did through work. If you haven’t already considered it, offer to give a talk to local interest groups about who you are and how you came to be in Belfast. Push yourself into the community so people know about you. Above all – think positive! You only need a handful of locals to bond with you, not the entire population. I’m sure there are like-minded Irish folk out there waiting to be your friends – you just need to find them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sofia says:

      I didn’t want to sound negative tbh 🙈
      Just few things I noticed and shared here. But yes you’re right, I just need a little bit more time. And I started to look for friends not 9 months ago, but 3 months. Just after coming to Belfast. 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Monch Weller says:

    Terribly sorry to hear, but I guess it it what it is.

    You can actually observe that behavior here on WordPress. A significant majority of bloggers hailing from the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, NI) often interact with their fellow Britons, with only a few going out of their way to open up to other nationalities. US-based bloggers, on the other hand, tend to be more lively and accept more people.

    It mainly stems from cultural differences; whereas Americans are often extroverted and would make the first move to introduce themselves in a real-life setting, the British tend to be more reserved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Hm, British and Irish are the most friendliest people I’ve met. But it’s not reall friendliness, but just small talk. There is no any desire to really get to know somebody behind it. And it’s difficult for me, because in my culture, people are detached and closed, but if they talk to you and spend time with you, it means you can build a deeper relationship with them 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  12. margaret21 says:

    I’m sorry about your negative experiences. I’ve been thinking about it and wonder if the barrier is ‘She’s here because she has to be, not because she wants to be’. We lived in France for seven years, in a community with no other English. We were welcomed, into people’s homes and lives as well. I can only conclude that it was because (a) we spoke the language – but then so do you and (b) because we got involved in the day-to-day in the local community, and made it clear that being there was our choice. But that’s what you want to do too. Could we have grown old there? That’s a different question to which I don’t know the answer. I do think the pandemic has made us more insular. I know that I am less open to mixing and making new relationships, and depend on longer-established ones. Your post is a wake-up to me. Must try harder when I meet new people, wherever they are from! Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      I don’t think it’s a negative experience. It’s just differences in culture and I accept it.. But in one thing you are right for sure – now I am much more open to foreigners, because I understand what they have to face. Thank you! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ii is part of immigrant life. Actually, who says that it is easy to find close friend or even friends in one’s country of origin. When you come to new country with your education, life experience, traditions, behavior, and other things, you have to understand that all that stuff does not help to penetrate to the society of the new country. You have to understand and accept their style of life and all the rules of social behavior. Then probably you will make friends, although it is not a guaranty. It is just my humble opinion.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. chattykerry says:

    I think it depends on the place where you settle, Sofia. Currently we live in a small township in Texas that attracts oil specialists and medical workers. Most of us are not from this area so we are able to bond a little better. When I lived in small villages in the north of Scotland, I always felt like an ‘incomer’. People were kind but I only made half a dozen friends over 20 years – few were local. The best way to bond with locals is by having something in common – hobbies, volunteering etc. That said, Belfast has had few immigrants over the last 4 decades because of the fighting. My aunt was born in Ireland, lived in Scotland, America, London and finally back to Ireland. They still call her the Scottish woman and she is 93…😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Yes, I think such emotional detachment is a feature of the UK and Ireland. I accept it and don’t try to fight it, just find a different approach.
      And this story about your aunt is something! 😂🙈 I think it describes locals very well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. chattykerry says:

        LOL! I have to say that her neighbors are absolutely saintly – looking after her every need during this Pandemic.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sofia says:

        😆🙈

        Like

  15. Kevin says:

    Making a new and more importantly lasting friendship can be hard. I’ve moved many times. Making new lasting connections has never been easy, even though I look and sound like my neighbours. It’s like I’m a piece to a puzzle, but I’m in the wrong puzzle box.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Oh! That exactly what I feel sometimes!! 👍

      Like

  16. I am here in a small town in North Carolina (USA) and I wonder if that happens here as well? Most of my friends tend to be local folks that I have known for years. However, in the past couple of years I have made friends with 2 women from California and a woman from Minnesota. I like them very much and enjoy hearing stories from them as they are very different from me. However, reading this I realize that I have not connected with them the way I have with long time friends. Perhaps I’m just lazy – because I realize that it would take work to do that. Maybe folks in Belfast are like that, too – its just easier to be friends with people you already know. Thank you for posting this because it has given me a new perspective. I had not even thought that they might want a deeper connection. Your words have inspired me to change the way I interact with them. All that said, I would encourage you to keep trying. It may take some time. You have not been there long. I suggest that you seek out ways to connect with local people – what about a local church? or pub? Are there regular events that you could participate in? Is there somewhere you could volunteer? What about a writing group? Or a Book Club? Check out the local gardens and museums to see if there are events where you could meet folks? I’ll be following to see how things go. Best wishes to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Yes, I do all of the above except pubs. I don’t drink and don’t really like drunk people 🙈 I will definitely write about it later. And I already made good friends here, but noone local. So it’s like my goal – to make a good friendship with somebody local 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep trying! I predict it will happen.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sofia says:

        🤗

        Like

  17. Butterfly says:

    Nice post 🤠

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Thank you 🔅

      Like

  18. Hi Sofia, Thank you for mentioning your Indian friends too because I am an Indian.
    Friendship definitely need time to grow stronger but when it became stronger it lasts forever. We are all your friends.✌👍🥰

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sofia says:

      “When it became stronger it lasts forever” ❤️
      Thank you 🤗

      Like

  19. Transit says:

    Fare amicizia da un lato avviene spontaneamente, cosa di per sè bella e positiva e, dall’altro, quasi come un talento. E poi anche quando una persona vuole fare amicizia ci sono anche delle resistenze e dei limiti strettamente personali. Sono stato alcuni giorni fa una settimana a Lampedusa e ho fatto molte amicizie ed è avvenuto in maniera … naturale, istintivo. Sono di Napoli e ho fatto amicizie con persone di varie zone dell’Italia e questo mi è piaciuto molto. Bastava un niente e subito si entrava a parlare e a conoscersi. Forse ciò dipeso anche da quello che è successo negli ultimi due tre anni. Forse in tutti c’è voglia di viaggiare, quando è possibile, di aprirsi e comunicare. 👏😊

    Liked by 1 person

  20. S
    Don’t worry my brother. I’m in Switzerland for 25years and I have only one good friend from Kosovo but it’s difficult to see him with a family life and 2 kids . I got up early ( 5am) and I work hard in a hospital . My brother, don’t worry. We’re alone in fact but not in think and heart . I subscribe to your blog

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  21. locksley2010 says:

    I think it’s because us Brits (can’t say for the same for the Irish) have an insular mindset. So whenever we encounter new people (and this applies to people from different towns and counties, not just other countries) we find them different and new….. which for some reason makes us uncomfortable. Until we get over this stupid feeling and come to know the person and then we take them as our own. I know it sounds silly and it is, but give it time (years even) and becoming more involved in the locality whether it’s work, events or parties you will eventually find the locals opening up to you. That being said, some places simply don’t like new things or people. Keep trying!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ... says:

      Hi, from New Zealand. I think that in general people are more friendly over here but who knows really. Hope you are doing ok. Take care

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Sofia says:

      I really like your comment, it not only answers my questions about the locals, but also cheers me up. Thank you! ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. locksley2010 says:

        You’re very welcome! As a native to the UK, I know only too well what this is like. For example: take the cities of Nottingham and Derby…. Nottingham claims Derby folk are backwards and weird. Derby claims Nottingham folk as stuck in the past and indecisive. Now, let’s add a town, say Mansfield…. Where BOTH Nottingham and Derby folk agree and KNOW without a doubt that folk from Mansfield are small minded, racist and definitely are backwards!

        These are all exaggerated stereotypes, but you’ll find the UK is like this all over! 😆

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sofia says:

        😄🙈

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Francis.R. says:

    In Peru we have millions of refugees from Venezuela. I have Venezuelan friends but I met them in Venezuela, I have no Venezuelan friends among the persons that came to the country. The reason is mainly because they are in a dire situation so they need help and not friends; they don’t look for friends neither as it can be risky, specially to women, to just trust foreigners; they already came with friends and partners and they are, naturally, more concerned about their relatives and family in their country; in many cases they see us as uncivilized just because we don’t have their same customs, they label us as xenophobes for not learning while not wanting to understand our own customs in our country; some even recorded themselves saying they were doing us a favor because we are ugly people, or that is amazing our country is in a better situation despite all being so ugly, is true that we don’t have much a sense of public beauty and a foreigners should say the truth but their words seem more like lecturing about how we are wrong for being ourselves. So although polite and friendly there is always a barrier. I think I would say honestly the “you are cool, we need to meet again” knowing it won’t happen again because although we won’t be friends because their special situation it would be untrue that I don’t like them in the brief moment we had a contact, I always appreciate when they do an excellent work or take care so much about their image. In my specific part of the country we are told we are cold, and I think that sounds a bit like we should be warmer, but I think we should be just ourselves and not change for others because we don’t ask the others to be warmer. From our perspective is hard to know when warm people is honest because we only show affection when it is something very real. I say this not to lecture, there is no wrong or right side here, I just say what I think happens there if it is similar to what happens here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sofia says:

      Yeah, I think it is what it is and we all just need to accept it 🤔

      Like

  23. Francochuks says:

    I understand your ordeal.
    Just as the Holy Bible says “A PROPHET IS NOT RESPECTED OR REGARDED IN HIS OWN LAND”…
    Such is life🧡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sofia says:

      ☺️

      Like

  24. shankjoejoe says:

    Friendship is the strongest bond there is, even outlining intimate relationships. They’re out there but I don’t believe real friendships can be sought after. They will find you when you’re in the right place and with the right people.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. MNSKY says:

    Sounds like you want “locals” to fit into the mold you expect of them. I grew up in Miami during the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s…boat loads of Cuban refugees all the time. Hard working, partying, and extremely friendly people. Never heard one complain, tho I sure they did, about what the “locals” did or didn’t do. Maybe they were too busy working ‘n partying to notice? 😉 Maybe you’re overthinking the situation…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sofia says:

      Maybe 🤔🤷

      Liked by 1 person

  26. usfman says:

    I think in America, you would be much more readily accepted by locals in an urban situation. Small town people as you probably know tend to stick to themselves pretty much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sofia says:

      Yeah, you’re right..

      Liked by 1 person

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