Recently, I’ve been thinking about how selfish expats can be.
(Bear with me.)
Despite our best intentions and most often without realising, we can become so consumed with the changes going on in our own lives as we move abroad, that we completely forget to consider what the people we have left behind are going through.
Recently, I’ve received a few emails from readers telling me that they are struggling with the reactions and attitudes of their loved ones after they move abroad. It is an extreme time of change and adjustment for all involved and I hold my hands up and say that I have realised as I have been writing this post that I haven’t really spent enough time supporting the people that miss me since I have left.
Instead, I have felt defensive that they aren’t more supportive of me.
I have got frustrated when they may show some resentment towards Canada or my boyfriend who ‘took me away’ to his home country.
It’s really a
SO I decided to approach my absolute best friend in the entire world, (who now lives 3,547 miles away from me) and asked her to tell me honestly how she has felt about the entire process…
Her responses were so beautiful and incredibly heart-breaking that I felt it was important to share with you all. All expats should take time to understand the emotions she describes. Here is what she said:
What emotions do you feel when someone you love moves abroad?
Worried that you will lose that person forever.
Unsettled because a part of your life has left and you have to adjust accordingly. It takes time. Little things every day remind you of that person and you can’t always speak to them whenever you want to due to time differences.
Sad (for selfish reasons.) It’s not like I can just come knocking when I need you or fancy a cuppa! I definitely cried a lot after you told me.
Resentful and Heartbroken. Why would you be leaving? Who is making you leave? How could you do this to me? What are we going to do? How are we going to adjust to this?
Denial. For a long time I didn’t think (want) it to be permanent and kept holding out for an ‘I’m returning’ announcement. I didn’t want to talk about it with you for a while and kept making comments like ‘oh it will only be a year then I will get you back.’
Acceptance. Happy for you and hopeful that you are going to find the life you want and deserve. I understand that you wouldn’t make such a big decision if you didn’t want to go or didn’t feel like it was right. So as a friend, I have to trust that your decisions are right for you and, ultimately, I’m happy to know that you’re happy!
What are your biggest worries for them?
- Are you going to regret the decision?
- How are you going to adjust without me to physically be there to help when needed?
- WINTER – How are you going to cope?!
- Are you going to like their food and culture?
- Where will your home comforts be when you need to feel grounded and content when you feel homesick?
- Is the country safe?
- Are you going to have the best time ever and never ever return?!? (A selfish one again…)
What do you think the person moving could do to help those left behind adjust to the decision?
I’m not sure the person leaving can do anything specific to assist the adjustment… It’s a personal journey for all involved and feels a bit like grieving for the person left behind.
Each individual will have different grieving processes. Make sure that you take some time to understand and accept all of the emotions that they will be going through. Then, all you can do is explain to your loved ones that it’s what you want and that you are excited and happy about this new change in your life.
Consider scheduling lots of quality time with them before officially leaving as offering a ‘large dose’ of yourself beforehand helps soften the blow a little.
It is then also very important to continue regular contact with those back home and share updates with them about your new life once you get there.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to TELL someone they love that they are leaving the country?
Be prepared for ALL emotions, especially if it’s someone very close to you.
Allow them to feel resentful, upset, angry and all of the other negative emotions. Remember, as much as it is a massive adjustment for you, it will have a big impact on them too. You’re taking part of their home and home comforts away from them and it isn’t their choice.
This will be a massive test on friendship. True ones will eventually come around and be happy and supportive of your decision. They will always have that pang of sadness but only because you are such a massive part of their lives.
What could the person do to help once they have officially left?
Plan lots of visits both ways and if money is a hindrance, plan a once a month hour-long catch up via
What do you think a lot of people leaving do not realise about those left behind?
It’s not going to be an easy ride. Leaving your loved ones is one of the hardest things you will do and there are negative consequences of that action that affect not just you but the loved ones that stay behind. That person is happy with their life and having you nearby. By moving country, you are taking one of their comforts away from them and they feel powerless when faced with this unwanted change. Their resentment that ensues can therefore be frustrating and upsetting for the person moving away, however it is important to understand where they are coming from and treat them with kindness and consideration despite how negatively they react. Your friends and family ultimately want you to be happy and content. Humans are selfish and will only act a certain way because they will miss you in their day to day lives and don’t want you to leave; and it’s their right to feel that way.
Any other tips or thoughts?
Personally, I love you and know that you have made a very difficult and scary decision. I know that you struggle with homesickness on a daily basis. However, I think it was the perfect decision for you. You are with the love of your life and starting a new life in a beautiful country and I will always love you and support you. Yes, I did feel some of those negative emotions but I had to feel those in order to now be 100% supportive and happy for you. I still get pangs of jealousy and sadness when I miss you or wish you were around the corner from me, but as long as you are happy and excited still about your decision then so am I.
What would you do if your best friend moved abroad?
Has this changed how you see your loved ones reactions?