There are friends that can empower you and there are others, that can turn into a draining part of your life. I learned that sometimes, friendships don’t need any “further investments”. Why do I talk like a banker?
Because I think it is a way to describe friendships or relationships: you invest time, feelings, you put effort into building trust, a solid foundation and learn to understand the other person. You want them to become a supportive pillar, giving hold in life when times are rough and bringing joy and comfort when you spend time together. But then there are moments when you realize, you need to cut off friends and value yourself and your time enough, to walk away from a friend, that just doesn’t give as much back as you invest in. Or that doesn’t support you and hold you back by being a negative influence. It’s definitely not easy because there are so many memories and feelings involved.
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It doesn’t necessarily need to be black and white, you can walk away from a good person that just isn’t a good friend. I came to realize that at some point, I spend so much time and energy, fixing up friends that were going through a break-up, being unemployed or such. I let them stay at my place or stayed up all night to go through their thoughts and fears with them, trying to help. And after they overcame that period, some just detach because they are doing better and don’t need help anymore.. until the next fall back. Or some friends don’t feel the need to be there when you are going through a rough time.
By moving to other countries, I lost a lot of friendships from my childhood and teenage years in Germany, which is quite common because life is that way and everyone goes a different path. I stayed in touch with my closest friends and kept updated about their new life chapters but I don’t hear from them for months sometimes and that’s fine.
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I felt the clear differences between the friendships in the different places I lived. In Scandinavia, everyone seems to be more reserved and mind their own business. If you don’t get through the people and get into their circle of close friends and long-term friendships, you will always just be a friend at work or university, etc. I talked to many internationals in Denmark throughout the years who felt the same and ended up finding good friendships with other international people. Just a few managed to have profound friendships with Danes and usually it’s because they learned to speak fluent Danish, work closely with Danes or have a Danish partner. When I was in Asia, it was somewhat similar that international or Asians who are born abroad, tend to hang out together and not with local Asians, but within that, the friendships were more real and closer compared to Scandinavia (my personal opinion, it might vary).
No matter if its the culture or the age I am in right now or other factors, for me there are two kinds of friendships that can be made. The “I see you there” and the “We meet and go together“. It’s a small but for me, profound difference. The first statement refers to the type of friendships that doesn’t exclude you from anything, you are welcome to meet them there, but you aren’t really included in the inner circle either (that meets before or goes there together). The second one is the friendship that makes you feel a part of the circle and not just an outer person that gets invited to; you are an included from the beginning. A small, but yet big difference.
How are these friendships?
This was one moment, where I saw the difference of “I see you there” and “We meet and go together” types of friendships. In January, I left Taipei and my two close friends, Cindy and Rachel, and I spend the last days together, using every free minute. We stayed overnight at Cindy’s place and they brought me to the airport, helped me check in the luggage and we said goodbye before I went through security, the last place they could accompany me. Fast forward 18 hours, I landed at Copenhagen airport and there was no one to pick me up. Some asked for the day and maybe time, but not with the intention to pick me up. I went back to “let’s meet there”.
My roommate and her mom picked me up 20 minutes after I arrived and brought me home, for which I was really grateful for. And during the following days, friends came by to say hi and to catch up. After that, everyone lived their own lives and I saw them occasionally but we didn’t stay in touch on a close basis. It wasn’t just because I was working and studying a lot in Copenhagen, I used that as an excuse for myself and my friends. It is just how my friendships are here in Europe. It’s not just friends in Copenhagen but also good friends in Germany who I talk to occasionally and reminisce about good old times but within the past 5 years, most of them didn’t find the time to come visit. It wasn’t a priority.
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And if you say “Well Asia was just not a normal, daily life” – Cindy and Rachel were working full time in Taipei, I was studying and worked remote as well, so even if we had no time to meet for a few days, we kept in touch. Not seeing or hearing from them for a few days felt really strange. Even now, when I am back in Copenhagen, I hear from them nearly every day and know how they are. Meanwhile here in Denmark, not seeing my friends for weeks or months is just normal. It’s not the time and full schedule only, that can be blamed, it’s just the importance and closeness of my friendships here and if good friends stay in touch a lot or just an insignificant snapchat will do.
It’s not like I am complaining about my friends here in Copenhagen, not at all. I have sweet and supportive friends, our friendships are just different. And I understand why some expats and international students in Denmark feel alone, even if they have friends around them. To put it harshly, they aren’t valued as a priority compared to other (long-term) friends of their friends. So I don’t know where you are reading this article but if you have genuine friends that are in your daily lives, you are lucky to have found that. I know I can always call my friends here if I need them but I spend most days doing my own thing while in Asia, it was always an “us”- mentality, every day. I am grateful for all my friends, but right now, I am excited to head back to Taipei soon ❤️
Maybe you will enjoy my other articles:
Real-Talk: Dating, feeling lost and feeling home (and deciding not to date anymore) ; The Third Culture Kid
Friendships and relationships with a due date
German-born Vietnamese 🇩🇪🇻🇳
📍based in Taipei 🇹🇼
Co-Founder @arn.gency + @ouran.studios
#TaipeiTuni #BeijingTuni #TuniTravel #CPHTuni
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