Friendship Observations

1 October 2013. Filed under category Nomad.
Long Distance Friendship

The most difficult problem I’ve had as a nomad is to maintain strong and active friendships. I’ve hesitated to write about this before as I never felt that I had a good grip on the issue. I thought that if I just gave it a bit more time, I’d ‘fix’ the issue, and I could then come down like Moses from the mountain with ten pithy directives to fellow nomads on how to deal with friendships.

Two years later and the problem is as intractable as ever, and I can’t wait any longer to write about it. This site is meant to inform and guide those considering a nomadic lifestyle, and so I must be honest and forthcoming especially with the difficult aspects of nomadic life. The issue of friendships may be the only deal-breaker I’ve come across so far; anyone considering the path of a nomad must reflect on the potential cost to his or her friendships.

This article will only focus on my personal and subjective experiences of how my friendships have changed since I began my journey. I will not try to explain why these changes happened nor suggest ways to deal with them because I honestly haven’t got a clue.

Expectations

What I hoped for.

During my ten years in London, I formed a wonderful circle of friends. We played board games, gossiped over coffee, complained about work, bragged over conquests and drank ourselves silly like any good group of friends do.

At times, a friend would move to establish a new life elsewhere. Despite vows to stay in touch, within a few months of their departure, the communication dwindled to a trickle, then stopped completely. The only time we really interacted was if they returned to London for some reason.

I didn’t want that to happen to me. So I took steps to prevent it. I had heart-to-hearts with friends telling them of my concerns over the impact my nomadic life would have on our friendships. I invited people to add me on Skype so we could video-chat.

This very blog was a big part of my strategy for keeping in touch with my friends. I figured that if I wrote about my whereabouts in a personal, honest and entertaining way then my friends would read it, and when later we spoke or e-mailed, then I could focus on hearing about what has been happening with my friends rather than repeat my travel stories for the 25th time.

What is it you say about plans? Best laid plans of mice and men often come crashing down like a hydrogen airship in a thunderstorm?

Close Friends

Peter Pan Wisdom

In reality, communication between me and most of my London friends stopped immediately upon my departure. It wasn’t a slow gradual tapering off; it just stopped dead. I was shocked! I felt like a useless loose thread cut away from the fabric that comprised my circle of friends.

Out of sight, out of mind.

I had hoped that writing this blog and having my friends subscribe to it meant that I would at least be ‘in sight’ whenever I posted a new article and therefore, albeit briefly, be back ‘in mind’. That hoped faded when I found out what a small fraction of my friends actually follow The Modern Nomad.

There are of course exceptions to the above. I won’t mention any names, but you know who you are. Thank you for being there for me. I can’t express how much it means to me.

Hibernating Friendships

Real Friendship Lasts

This next bit is important, so I’ll write it in bright and bold pink.

My friendships did not end when I became a nomad, only our communication.

Every time that I’ve returned to London, my friends have received me with eager embraces. Then it is as if I never left. We act just the same way as we did before I left, over two years ago. We have coffees, dinners, game nights and all the other fun times as we always did.

Then when I leave again, the silence resumes. It is as if the friendships hibernate when I am gone.

This is exactly the same pattern as I have with my childhood friends back in Ljungby, Sweden. We see each other only once or twice a year, but when we do, we hang out effortlessly and in much the same way as we did back when we were teenagers. Those friendships have survived 13 years of dis-location, hibernating for much of the time.

There are degrees of hibernation as well. Some friendships are in full torpor, and there will not be as much of a whisper from them until your return to their city. Other friendships are just lightly frosted, and these friends will stay in touch occasionally. And then there are the few golden exceptions, the heroes who see the inherent challenges in long-distance friendships and decide to do whatever it takes to maintain an active and rewarding connection.

New Friendships

The above patterns repeat themselves when it comes to the new friendships I’ve formed since becoming nomadic. I settle into a location for a few months during which I establish new friendships, sometimes deep and intimate friendships. However, when I move on, the now familiar silence descends. Out of sight, out of mind.

Just as there are exception among my old friends with whom I stay in touch, so are there similar exceptions among these new friends of mine. In fact, I think the tendency for these new friends to stay in touch is slightly greater.

It goes both ways

It Goes Both Ways

Communications stops when friends become de-located. That has been my recurring message throughout this article. I am not going to go into why. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I do want to stress that it is not only my friends who have stopped contacting me; the reverse is also true. Days become weeks become months and I suddenly realise that I have not written or phoned a particular friend once.

Whatever forces are at work to kill off communication between long-distance friends, I the nomad am in no way immune to it. I believe I resisted it for longer, fighting for the communication to remain open and flowing, but I have had to make it a conscious effort. The default and seemingly natural tendency is for distant friends to fade from the front of one’s concerns and eventually, the friendships hibernate. I don’t want that to happen, but it does. I love my friends, of course I do, but amidst the hubbub of everyday life, they quietly slip out of mind.

Emotional Impact

Missing

The effects of this lack of contact with my friends draw a trajectory through emotions over time. At first, there was surprise and disbelief. I couldn’t believe that the effect of distance would be so immediate and drastic. Surely, this was just a short-lived transition period during which I and my friends would figure out new ways to remain important and present in each other’s everyday lives, despite the distance.

When I accepted that so was not the case, I got angry at and disappointed with my friends. What egocentric and inconsiderate bunch they were that they could cut me off like that, and how callous must they be to do it with such ease.

As the extent of the problem dawned on me, and as I saw the pattern repeat itself with new friends I made around the world, I shifted the blame from my friends to myself where it turned into self-doubt and self-pity. It was unreasonable to think that everybody else was wrong and I right. The much more likely theory was that they were just normal people and that the problem was inherent in me. I figured that I must be so unremarkable and insignificant that I was simply forgettable – unimportant.

At this point, this was becoming a real dampener on my mood, and I dedicated some serious reflective time to analyse the whole mess. My self-pity theory could perhaps explain the phenomenon if the majority of people who move cities reported strong and resilient bonds of friendships with those they left behind, but almost no one does. Most have experiences that resemble my own down to the details! Thus, the explanation is not to be found in me or my friends but rather human nature and the nature of friendships.

Which leaves me at my current emotion: doubt. I’m no longer angry or sad, but I am starting to doubt the validity of the nomadic life. Is the nomadic lifestyle inherently volatile when it comes to loneliness?

Never give up!

Loneliness is the final destination for anyone travelling through life without strong and active friendships. In my current situation, whether I am lonely or not depends on if I’ve made local friends in my current location. This is not conducive to emotional stability and probably not very good for me. But what can I do about it? I see three options.

  1. Abort the nomadic experiment and conclude that it comes with too high of an emotional price due to our dependence on friendship and friendship’s inherent dependency on co-location.
  2. Accept that friendships will hibernate whenever I leave and accept that the active friendships I can rely on at any given time are limited to the local friends I’ve made and the few exceptions among my distant friends with whom I naturally stay in touch.
  3. Fight. Fight with all the research, ingenuity and strength I have to defy the natural tendencies for friendships to hibernate. Refuse to give up and refuse to accept a poor compromise. Instead, I’ll shape the world around me to be what I need it to be. I’ll experiment with new ways to interact with my friends until one leads to a solution which will, in the long term, allow me to naturally and effortlessly remain connected with my friends, no matter the distance.

What do you say, my dear reader? Which door should I pick?

76

Should I abort the nomadic experiment, accept its compromises or create another option?

Skip to bottom
  1. Anthony says:

    I recommend #2 and #3.
    I travelled for 14 years of my professional life and this was long before we had email, Facebook, Skype and mobile phones at the ready lol… We communicated mostly by snail mail and on the odd occasion by phone. The phone call was normally used for either cheerful news or the complete opposite and needed a friendly ear to dump on during those difficult times.
    As you suggest, I was inclined to rely on active friendships I made locally or other cast members in the show I was in at the time and who more often than not have become lifelong friends with sporadic communication.
    I have many friendships that hibernate and I cherish these just as much as my current active friends. We’ll get together after long periods apart and it’s just like we were never apart. In saying this though we can always drop each other a line here and there on fb/email and for those who actively live there life online you kind of feel you are really never that far away from them.
    Remember everyone is only a click away. I say embrace and immerse yourself in the local friendships you make as these are once in a lifetime and all your established “London” core friends will always be there whenever you need them.

    BTW this reply is +1 for me staying in touch ;)lol…

    1. Hi Anthony,

      Yes I remember that you had the mother of nomadic lives as a travelling showman. No wonder you know much of what I go through.

      Funny, you telling me to immerse myself in the local friendships kinda feels good. I have always felt a little guilty for not staying in touch with my old friends. Always felt that I should do better, and vice versa. But perhaps option #2 is less … stressful. I’m not sure what I think or feel anymore. But, the advice to immerse and enjoy my local friends make sense to me. Like we did, back in Sydney. And from that I got a really good friend, even if we are now de-located. I still really appreciate our friendship though.

  2. Carl Martens says:

    Option 2 seems a pragmatic response to a situation that’s akin to herding cats. One of your best posts!

    1. Thanks! Funny, I thought everyone was going to go with option #3, but it seems #2 has gotten a landslide victory.

  3. Burndett Andres says:

    I vote for acceptance, Option 2. Twelve years ago I moved from New Jersey (USA) to Maine (USA) a distance of 500 miles/10 hours +/-. I had lived in NJ all my life and left family and many great friends behind. My experience with reconnection whenever I return to NJ for a visit mirrors yours…exactly. It seems to be the nature of friendship. Many people, including two of my children, are just not good communicators. This does not make them bad people/friends/children. It just means they’re lousy communicators. I decided to accept the situation – after all, I am the one who decided to move away. They don’t owe me anything and their silence doesn’t mean they don’t love me. I write an email bulletin every once in a while (similar in nature to your blog) about what’s happening in our world here in Maine, which most read, but to which few respond. So, everyone knows what I’m up to and when we get together I don’t have to do much of the talking; I just listen and find out what they’ve been up to. Like you, I have established great new friendships to add to the great old friendships. Also like you, I’ve taken on the burden of keeping in touch with friends. I’ve become a regular ‘people collector.’ So, not to worry; your experience seems ‘normal’ enough. Another thought I had while reading this post is about the loneliness you mention experiencing. Could you have put yourself in this situation because you need to learn that although you may be ‘alone’ sometimes, you needn’t feel ‘lonely?’ A person’s own companionship is supposed to be sufficient…or so the gurus tell us. 😉

    1. Ah yes, the difference between being alone and lonely. In my view, the difference is that of choice. If we chose to be alone, we are alone, and it can be a great place of rest and recuperation. But when we are alone without having chosen it, when we are alone because there is no one around with whom we can not be alone, then we are lonely. I’m not sure there is anything good about that. And as a nomad, it can be easy to fall into from time to time, especially a week or two into a new place, when the initial excitement has died down but before you’ve had time to form new local friends.

      1. Burndett Andres says:

        I’m inclined to think that being alone isn’t a choice; we’re always alone with ourselves really. We are each the only person ‘in here.’ So…loneliness is a state of mind, i.e. feeling sorry for ourselves that we have no one’s attention. Whatdayathink?

  4. J. says:

    Gustav, as previously mentioned, option 2 is the most practical. I think that when separated, friends go into what I call “vacation/holiday” mode. A blog, a quick text, or a Facebook posting or like is enough to keep us in touch, which is enough for most people. That is why I think that the relationship resumes where left off when we get back together again.

    You can fight, that is option 3, but from my experience that left me frustrated, disappointed, and angry.

    Enjoy your new friends and take comfort that your old friends are still there.

    1. I have had the same experiences from option #3, the frustration, disappointment and anger when nothing works. But I can’t help but feel that option 2 is a bit like giving up. Eventually, if option #3 doesn’t work out, and I can’t find a way to have strong meaningful active bonds of friendship with distant friends, then I’ll be content to fall back to option #2. But not before I’ve given #3 all I can!

  5. DM says:

    You have to decide how much effort what you want is. Superb post, with no easy answers.

  6. Rich says:

    I recommend a mixture of 2 and 3. As you know, I’ve travelled a fair amount, and every time I leave a place, I leave most of the friends behind. They’re all still friends, and I could get back in touch with 90% of them at any point, but there’s very little communication with the distant friends in between.

    Having said that, YOU are the exception – all your friends still have their networks of friends, and you are just one among many that has left the group, and hence easy for them to not think about. You are the one who has left a whole group and moved away, so you are the one who will have to make the effort to get in touch (personally, the blog, or any other “broadcast” contact won’t do it). And when you do, people are glad to hear from you, and will respond in kind, but the initiative to reach out won’t often come from those who still have most of their circles around them.

    1. Yeah. I totally get that second paragraph. In fact, this blog post was the second one I wrote on the topic of friendship. I never published the first. But in that unpublished post, I dedicated a segment to discussing the asymmetry between the person who leaves and the group of people left behind. As you said, one person ‘lose’ all their friends in one go while each individual in the group lose only one small member.

      So Rich, any idea of how to go about with #3? Maybe re-launch the Google Hangout role-playing storytelling games? When we did that, I really enjoyed seeing and hearing from the old gang once a week, and we had a reason to log on.

  7. Janeesh says:

    Gustav.

    For about 3 months, I have stalked your website and ruminating on your muses, experiences and adventures.

    It was a couple of months prior to visiting your website, that i decided on the nomadic path. Mine is going to be a structured and planned exit. All the plans have been set, most importantly the financial part and I will be out of mainstream – August 2014…

    Ok enough about that…I felt compelled to write because of your question..

    Friendships – here is an amalgamation of random thoughts, questions and things to think about…

    Initially when you were in London, despite your job, despite your environment, there was something missing and thats one of the reasons you chose the nomadic path. Now friends were a part of that environment. I believe that there is possible genetic/psychological/ circumstantial component to a nomad’s choice as well.

    Why do we have friendships? Because we are generally societal in nature and would like to talk to somebody else. Despite our societal nature, i think that all of us are inherently selfish to various degrees. Who is a friend? –> Is he/she inward or outward? What exactly about friendships do you miss? Is there a component to being single or not having a constant companion the core issue?

    Id like to know your views on the definition of friendship..Is it somebody who knows you and your past? Is it somebody whom you know? What is there to know about us or for that matter any individual? In essence it can be summed up in a few hours, rather than years of association. But again that might be too idealistic in today’s world of perception, judgement, brain chains, etc…

    What if we were to not have any allegiance and treat people on a situational basis? At that point in space and time, that person is your friend. Like everything in life the concept of friendship is fleeting?

    Nomad doesnt want to get up and see the same people and do the same thing.

    How many close friends does one need? 1, 3, 100?

    Ok… I rambled enough…But my $0.02 —-> Friendship is not a reason to give up nomadic life…. Your choice number 2 is the way to go!

    1. Congratulations on chosing the nomadic lifestyle! Not so much because I think the nomadic way is better than others, but it is always cause for celebration when a human actively choses how to live his or her life! Enjoy!

      So yes, that was a whole bunch of thought all at one go. Not really sure which to respond to. I wrote another friendship article (never published) where I tried to define friendship. I didn’t think I nailed it (hence no publication) but my rough sketch was this. Friendship is someone you have as a playmate (someone to do fun stuff with), supporter (helps you with stuff, both practical and emotional), validator (someone to express yourself to and in doing so, have yourself validated. Also, someone who knows you and your past.) and a few other minor roles. But those three are the big ones, I think.

  8. Andy DelliColli says:

    I have similar issues with my far away friends, but that light is always there, the bit about hibernation couldn’t be more true. When I come back to them, its like we never parted. I guess holding on to that is solace, if not a solution. They never really leave my mind… Hell I even think or talk about you at least twice a week.

    1. Solace is in itself the solution, if I can actually accept #2 as a good valid happy compromise, and knowing that the friendships are there, hibernating and safe, then maybe I can let go of that nagging worry that my nomadic lifestyle is going to leave me friendless and lonely later in life.

  9. Bella says:

    I think you should continue the experiment but only as long as #2 makes you happy. If the great revolution in friendship styles hasn’t happened yet by the time you’re feeling unhappy with the situation, it’s time for #1.

    1. Absolutely. Fully agree. I still treat my nomadic life as an experiment, and I try not to be biased about the outcome. If it turns out that it doesn’t make me happy, I will stop. That was a promise I made to myself on 1 January, 2011.

  10. Martin says:

    Gustav, what do you think about adjusting nomadic life to traveling between several fixed places with occasional offshot to something new ?

    This way it should be more possible to nurture a stable set of fiends and still maintain the thrill of constant change.

    1. I have given that quite a lot of thought actually. In some way, I’m doing so already. I’ve returned to Long Beach, California, several times. I always fly through London whenver I go through Europe, and then usually stay a while to meet my London friends. And of course, I go home to Sweden fairly regurlarly too. And generally, it works!

  11. Craig Brown says:

    o I heard on NPR about a year ago that the most people anyone can reasonably keep up with is about 150. After that they are merely acquaintances or someone in a deep freeze. After thinking about this since that time, I have found that to be about right. At about 350 facebook friends, approzimately 200 will not hear from me unless there is a new reason (I visit Kenya where they live; I become interested in their bird watching hobby). If I no longer think there could be a reason they get axed.

    o With most of my friends all over the world and few in my hometown (flight attendant from a very small town) I find that I have to make special effort. They have their friends where they are. My friends aren’t moving along with me. I’m willing to make about 80% of that effort, but they must reciprocate the rest. I liken this issue to a garden. If I plant a garden and just leave, nothing is going to grow. I shouldn’t be surprised when there is an empty plot when I get back. Stuck on the side of my computer I have a list of all the most important people I have to make sure I don’t forget about. It’s a “Grow your friendship garden list.” They got on this list by conscious choice. I periodically go through this list and greet and update them. This is probably strange but it works for me. I also have lists of friends by geographic location. You have to decide that your friendships are a high priority and not just take it for granted. Tend to one or two everyday.

    o I like Janeesh’s answer. He has obviously been “ruminating on your muses”!!

    1. Hey Craig. You are one of those people that I (mainly) have known since I became a nomad, and we haven’t spent a whole lot of time togther in the same place, but we have spent a great deal of time emailing back and forth and so on. So you’re my little proof that you can maintain active friendships with friends over long-distances, even if you don’t have the deepest friendship to start with.

      Oh, and it was great seeing you 20 minutes ago at the Chicago airport. What a random meeting!

  12. Yasir Samir says:

    I have to say that it’s far more 3 for me than 2… but 2 is a my fallback when 3 just gets too much at times.
    I do fight for my friendships – Facebook helps a lot.
    My friends are spread far and thin across the world and I have lived in different countries.
    I experience what you write about, very acutely.
    I fight hard to keep the good people in my life but sometimes I drop the ball and let a friend down or don’t write or contact them so much as before.
    They rarely fight as hard and I do to keep in touch.
    This last trip, of 4 months on the road has been an eye-opener for me on this subject too.
    It’s part of the human experience. We are tribal by nature. We are communal/social animals. If we took on the nomadic life in our pasts, it was as a mobile community, not mobile individuals and herein lies the problem with your nomadic choice, it’s not natural to travel alone.
    I travel largely to visit friends as part of the fight to keep that friendship alive, either that or I travel with friends.
    One of your most resonant posts for me. Thanks Gustav.
    Yx

    1. Discounting my childhood friends, you are one of my oldest friends and the best example of just how deeply a frienship can hibernate and how quickly it can be defrosted again once in the same city. For those who don’t know, you (Yasir) lives in Sydney and we spent a fair bit of time together when I lived there. But we first met in London… a long long time ago, like a decade. (do correct me; you know you want to!) Well, we didn’t have much contact at all when we were apart, but once I was in Sydney, it didn’t matter. It was so good to see you again, and I immediately remembered why we were friends in the first place.

      I am as surprised about this natural tendency for near-perfect preservation of friendships through hibernation as I am about the strong tendency for communication to die off as soon as you leave town, only I’m happily surprised about the former and negatively surpised about the latter.

  13. Ernesto says:

    First of all one of ur best ones Gustav, kuddos !

    Friendship is a tricky topic. How many people REALLY know… your likings and dislikings? … your deepest and darkest secrets? … your funniest and most embarrasing momentos? … the stories that can bring you down in a heart-beat? etc … Do we miss our REAL friends or we miss that feeling of hanging out with someone? … someone who can make us laugh till we pee ourselves or go to the movies with coz we are tired of goin’ alone … ? etc…

    After studying abroad and also as a result of the up-n-down traveling coz of my job I realised that we will get 2 know a bunch of people, yeah people you can gossip with, go shopping with, even travel with buuuuuut only a less than a handful of ’em will become real FRIENDS and some of them will appear just IN THE RIGHT time, just when we need ’em even and we don’t know it … they will fullfill their purpose and then we will detach … slowly …

    Sadly some of our friends might appear that come with a SELL BY DATE, but waaait, that SELL BY date refers to the fact of being physically together, that does not mean that the relationship is dead. Of course communication will decrease, but during the time “together” both parties enjoyed, learned and starred a fun and nice story that can continue every time we see each other again, skype, email, whatever …

    I have missed weddings, birthdays, divorces, big fat milestones of my friends coz I wasn’t around, so when I’m back I need to quickly catch up otherwise I feel like the Mom who hasn’t watched the last chapters of the group’s favourite soup-opera and is left behind. GASP! So, maintaining friends is not an easy task, they requiere INDIVIDUAL follow up, I mean c’mon, not even recruiters embrace well the idea of MASSIVE addressees when sending a resume, why friends (even worse from different groups) would be OK with the idea of non-custom-made emailing, calling, IMing, etc … I understood that, so I embrace the idea of enjoying friends when I have ’em with me/near me and learned how to maintain the best possible when we are way far from each other (BTW thank up whatsapp for letting me do this with friends in London, Switzerland and Panama) 😛 LOL

    XoXo

    1. Your fourth paragraph brought up something that I’ve thought a lot about lately. It’s got to do with the validity of things that end. The most obvious example to describe what I mean is that of relationships that end, perhaps end badly. Say that you and I had a wonderful and rewarding relationship for two years, and then it ended. Does the fact that it ended somehow invalidate or cheapen the ‘worth’ of the good years. I think it is fairly obvious that the possibility is there. Taken to the extreme, this is easy to see. Say that on our last meeting, I boiled your pet bunny, well, I’m sure you won’t say, “Yeah, Gustav was a sadistic prick during our last meeting, but he was a lovely guy for the first two years.” Or you may say it, but you wouldn’t feel it.

      But what about friendships? Part of my anxiety, and part of why this topic has weighed so heavy on my mind is that I somehow fear that this hibernation state cheapens the wonderful memories I have of my friends. I have a hard time putting my finger on why this should be so, but the vague thought is there. Perhaps I think that if the friendships really were that good and strong, then they should persist and overcome the communication barrier of long-distance friendships.

      Oh, and btw, WhatsApp is not nomad-friendly. It is tied to your phone number, and I keep changing mine every time I move. So I can’t get hold of my old account when I change phone because my SIM is different.

      1. Craig Brown says:

        Right after college I lived with a female college friend for eight years, utterly non-sexual, but with some emotional entanglement that sometimes looked like a marriage. She had a completely different outlook than I did as far as what was possible in life. If you don’t like your nose, change it!! Ask the hot guy out! Go on that exotic vacation on the other side of the world! If you want a job at that company go ask the CEO. I was raised with a poverty mentality and this woman utterly revolutionized what I thought of as possible in life. Unfortunately, she was also extremely emotionally unstable.And to make a long story short, when I decided I could no longer live with her wild ups and downs in the same house, she cut me out of her life and made sure there was no way for me to ever contact her. But the point here is that I’m very very grateful for having had her in my life because I’m a bigger person today, but I’m not unhappy that she is no longer a friend of mine. I still look back on her with fondness of the good times and with gratitude, and I hope wherever she is she is happy and more emotionally peaceful than she was.

        1. Jono says:

          I suspect this experience is probably common to a lot of girlfriend/boyfriend relationships that end (as inevitably most do). One or both parties shut out the other even if a few weeks before they were inseparable.

          However, there were still some great moments that are worth remembering. It was all a learning experience. “That that doesn’t kill you etc. etc.”

          Personally I have observed the way I compartmentalise friendships to a particular era of my life. I might have spent a lot of time with some people but now have no contact at all. Not through any malice….just inactivity, and moving on.

          However, if anyone from the past EVER writes to me, finds my e-mail etc, I will write back. Pretty quickly too. Because even I can get nostalgic….weakness that it is!

  14. Hogarth says:

    Hey there Gusty. This is one of your best blogs yet, it’s an excellent entry and very pertinent.

    You make some very good points about the nature of friendship, and I’m glad that your perspective has changed.

    Friendships do hibernate when one is away: this is human nature. Unfortunately there is a price for the life of the rolling stone, and that is having to start afresh- a new start with an old burden- remember the proverb that… ‘The rolling stone gathers no moss…’

    But also know that true friendships are timeless and never age. That feeling of never have been away when months or years have past is the truest test. You can always come home Gusty, and it will seem as if you had never left.

    I would like you to take option one, but that would be selfish of me.
    The realistic option in number two.
    Trying number three could drive you to drink so avoid that one, lol!

    Keep blogging Gusty, and great photos btw.

    Hogie :)x

  15. Hey everybody, I am currently sitting on a plane to Los Angeles (I’m ultimately heading to Long Beach and Palm Springs). I have been very busy these last few days, so didn’t get time to answer the comments until now, on the plane.

    I’m totally amazed and deeply moved by your comments. Wow, just wow. You guys are just the best, thank you so much for taking the time not just to read the article but to comment on it. I always find that I learn a lot while writing these aricles (this one btw took four days to write) but I then learn a whole lot more when I get to read your comments, and this time you’ve outdone yourselves!

    I fully expected everyone to push me towards option #3. I totally wrote that last option in a biased and favourable light, but you had a different idea! Option #2 huh? Perhaps you are right. At least it is there as a backup if #3 fails.

    Regarding #3, does anyone have any tips on how to establish habits for staying in touch with long-distance friends?

    Thanks again everybody! You rock!

  16. Burndett Andres says:

    Re: staying in touch with long distance friends. I find personal emails and Skype work best for me.

  17. Liz says:

    #4: Schrodinger’s Friendship needs not be aborted nor fought. It just is.

    And I have two perspectives on this that exist simultaneously but do hinge on the understanding that loneliness is ok to experience, and like the dawn, it passes.

    First, EACH RELATIONSHIP IS AS UNIQUE AS THE PERSON WITH WHOM YOU ARE HAVING IT. I grew up in a remote area of Queensland, in a time well before the Internet was stock standard. Friendships were made in brief meetings, and existed with very irregular contact, but the affection was real. Some would write regularly. Some, you would have regular active contact on the phone. Some would descend into barely annual social commitments (Christmas cards, I’m looking at you), but the affection remained real and active. There is no yes/no programming rule for friendship, other than treat your friend like a valuable human. Over the course of a lifetime, people will appear in your life, disappear and then possibly reappear, or not. There are people with whom I’ve had little or no contact for years, yet I would still want to hug the BeJesus out of them and buy them dinner just from the joy of seeing them again. And there are others that I couldn’t give a fuck about. This reality cuts both ways.

    Second, it’s ok. It’s ok to feel lonely. Loneliness is an emotion that passes. It’s ok for people to just pass through our lives. It ultimately doesn’t matter. It matters if the people you care about don’t know how much. And it does if you feel that you don’t have a support network to reach out to. Please notice the use of the word ‘feel’. Because in the course of a myriad of life experiences I’ve always been surprised at those friends, acquaintances and kind strangers who are just there, even though I didn’t feel there was anyone there.

    1. Yes, loneliness is OK if it passes, just like sadness and anger can rise and fall, and do no real damage. As long as they don’t become dominant emotions in ones life, in which case it really isn’t OK. I bet there are people who would find it hard to deal with not having a stable circle of friends around them most of the time.

      I find it hard to deal with too, but some of that might come from a highly set bar for what kind of remote friendships I would have. If I lower it, and thus become less disappointed, then perhaps I’d feel better about the whole thing.

      Oh, and I love the Schrodinger’s Friendship quote.

      1. zB says:

        I agree with #4 Schrodinger’s Friendship needs not be aborted nor fought. It just is. … but also feel that deeper friendships are easier to place here – while something that is new and not mature needs fitting among other 3 options.

        For me personally social software makes good tool for informing people about what I am busy with more-less (it is not so precise), but it is spontaneous skype and face2face 1on1 meets that make the difference. Technology can be helpful, but individual effort, commitment and care to keep in touch is still a must for most relations…

  18. Jono says:

    Given the responses this one has prompted, you have hit on a subject relevant to everyone. Most people these days have moved around a bit and made/lost friends along the way.

    I doubt you are going to chuck your nomadic experiment in over this issue. Mainly because you can always arrange a catch up with any one or more of your friends if you swallow your pride at thinking everyone else is useless and make the effort (Rich speaks wisdom)!

    Giving some thought to option 3 is a good idea. The Google hangout thing for Role Playing games worked probably better than I expected, and it was just as worthwhile having the chat before the game started as the game itself. Therefore, inviting a few people to a hangout a week in advance and grabbing a drink is worth a try. Each meeting could even have a light hearted topic…or something more meaningful, anything to get the comedy started.

    Skype is an interesting tool because all the time I see people I know there all lit up in green but am never prompted to call unless it has been arranged beforehand.

    Anyone who lives in a different country (or city even) from where they’re from knows the hibernation effect of friendship. The cool thing is when you get together again and it’s like no time has passed.

    HOWEVER, it’s also important to understand that in other ways nothing stays the same anyway. Meaning, if you stay in the same place you still fall in and out of friendship with various people. Everyone has different phases in their life that might not overlap so much with a particular group of friends.

    Apathy also plays a big part. I like Craig’s idea of a list on the side of the computer. In a similar way I write post-it notes for meetings because I always forget to check my calendar!

    1. Ah yes, that green skype symbol… I know exactly what you mean. So many times, I’ve seen you online and I think, “I could call…. but… is he there? Or… busy maybe? What do I have to say anyway? It might be awkward. Better not…”

      The scheduled once-a-week RPG hangout was awesome, and I have considered bringing it back. But, I don’t have the time to prepare a weekly game anymore. If someone else would run a game, I’d join.

      Or perhaps it doesn’t have to be centred around a game. Could we simply have a beer for the sake of just hanging out a bit? Not sure. I’ve never tried. Shall we?

  19. Cassia says:

    Dear Gustav,

    I have luckily stumbled upon your blog yesterday and today decided to read it from head to toe. I have been chewing this idea of becoming a full – time nomad for some time. But now, I am quite inspired!
    Reading your post on friendships, and evaluating the options laid, I do choose none of them. I have solved it in another manner: use the the lack of deeper human interaction as a good reason to build spiritual muscles and enhance knowledge.
    Whenever have the opportunity to meet someone, cherish it, learn from it, and let it go, like water flowing in a creek. That’s the beauty of a nomadic life: to live one minute at a time, learn, grow, be and retain nothing, for everything is borrowed.
    You said you wanted freedom in one of your posts, well, now you have it, but you also need emotional freedom, not only financial and physical, even though both are wonderful to have, but, lack of emotional freedom can lead you to a nasty depression and then, get sick like a dog. Think about it 😀 .

    1. Jono says:

      I look forward to the response from our Nomad King on this one. G is too sentimental and he knows it. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

    2. Wow, reading the blog from one end to the other will take a while! 🙂

      Thank you for the perspective. It sounds to me like you are inspired by the Buddhist philosophy around dependence, pain and freedom. Personally, I’ve never liked Buddhism and its self-annihilating theories. I like emotional dependence. I enjoy longing for the people I love. It makes me feel alive. Sure, it is painful at times, but I don’t want to be free of that pain. It would nullify the friendship if I was utterly without any emotional dependence with respect to my so-called loved ones. Love and friendships are very important to me, and I don’t think I could ever treat them borrowed blessings, there for only a moment.

      I think there is good advice in what you wrote, but I wouldn’t go as far as you. I think there is a middle road between complete emotional freedom from your past and utter dependence on it. Either extreme is bad in my book.

      I hope that this approach of yours to appreciate the people around you for when they are there but never turning your head to look for them over your shoulder as you walk away, I hope it will work for you. Me… I’m a different breed of animal, and it wouldn’t work for me.

  20. Jeff says:

    Gustav,
    I’ve held your mail about this subject in my inbox instead of filing it for some time, always meaning to comment. While not being a true ‘nomad’, my life over the past two decades involved living abroad 50% of the time, and while abroad travelling globally as much as 60-70% of the time. I found the experiences you’ve outlined mirrored mine; and I confess I haven’t found a solution yet either.

    I also found that my friendships, most of them at least, ‘re-activate’ when I return to New York, Chicago, London, etc.,. What was surprising to me the first time I returned from living abroad was that no one, not a single soul, asked me what my life had been like, or how I’d changed. Ever. Of course their lives were the same and they treated the absence as if we could just pick up where we were. For me, the challenge isn’t to reconnect, its to do so in a way that connects to the changes – in both of our lives – that continue to shape us as people. And my desire to be connected to the people that matter to me on a regular basis is to engage in that community of like minded people who can help process, filter, and connect to that kind of change.

    To be clear, I’m as guilty as they are around this issue. As you suggested, I drop off the radar too. And I miss it, and them. I’ve always thought of myself as independent, resilient. I love to travel and am comfortable doing it alone. I don’t mind going to a show or dinner on my own. Perhaps our needs ebb and flow and its unrealistic to expect that we’ll always need the same thing. I’m looking to settle again – for a while at least – but in a place entirely new to me. We’ll see how it goes.

    It’s been interesting to read everyone’s thoughts. Thanks all for sharing so publicly. Gustav, glad you are well, keep writing. Enjoy the west coast.
    Warmly
    Jeff

    1. I have similar experiences to you as far as friends ask about how my time away has been. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that no one has asked a single question, but the interest in my ‘away time’ is very limited. A few polite questions but little real digging.

  21. A Friend says:

    You document what appears to me, in my experience to be a fundamental truth about the human species and perhaps all life.

    Ever since I first left for college I have felt that it’s as I’m dead to my family once I walk out the door for my flight. Granted my family are particularly extreme case as families go in making no effort to keep in contact. I use to call every week but after a few years of never ever being called and getting the feeling my calls were an inconvenience I’ve cut my calls down to once every couple of months and if I didn’t do that I’m not sure how long would pass before they’d think to call me. I like to believe that most other families are somewhat better at keeping in touch but if blood isn’t enough to bridge the long distances what does that say about the nature of family bonds and friend ship?

    Then consider long distance romances and love affairs and how difficult even the most smitten couples find it once sepearated by any distance and this despite all the technologies that now exist to allow people to communicate the relationships become heroic efforts to preserve

    But there is something bigger here than just lazy humans and out of sight friends. Let’s consider community and the bonds of support that use to exist between people that lived together. I think it’s widely held that communities are not as close as they were in the past. Even in small rural towns it’s possible and common for people to be entirely unknown to their next door neighbors! Why is that? I think it is the key to understanding the aspect of friendship and community.

    My belief is that geospecific community has become less important to people as their survival is less dependent on it. Back in time a strong rural community would greatly improve your survival prospects, nowadays that’s not so important so people can choose to form community relationship with others to improve their day to day existence and that doesn’t need to be there physical next door neighbor. But there is no doubt that physical proximity is very important . Far a way friends are less likely or able to improve our day to day existence , help us out in a bind , cook us a meal, or share a drink in a bar, or stand with us in a fight, care for us when we get sick, so they become less important to us very rapidly. It’s not that we like them any less or don’t care for them but it is more effort to keep in touch and the rewards of that effort are greatly diminished. Which explains the other side of your observation and mine – when you return to old friends the relationship resumes rapidly and very often at the exact same closeness as before you sepearated regardless of the duration of the separation.

    This brings me to you options and I think you left out one. Your problem is being a solitary nomad. Traditional nomads were always tribal – they had to be to survive . community is even more important to nomadic peoples that a agricultural community. After all without community a nomad has little else, no home, very few possessions and as you’ve noted every where you go you start establishing community . but then you move on but you have to leave that community and that is going to be hard and painful.

    So the option you left out is that you need to form a nomadic tribe. I’m not sure how you’d form a group but just one more person in your tribe would change everything probably 5 or 6 would make it very interesting. The desert nomads, the gypsies, the Irish tinkers all survive for generations only because they were part of a tribal community.

    So there you have it old boy. as straight as I can call it. You need to either form a long lived tribe or you will end up abandoning the nomadic lifestyle because every time you move it will beak your heart to leave a community completely and you never set out to be the ‘modern hermit’ the only solitary humans….

    Your ‘far a way friend’

    1. J. says:

      Just an additional comment: If you define a hibernating friendship as being cheapened, so be it. I prefer not to define it that way. Perhaps you can consider reframing it differently as well.

      I agree with what “A Friend” stated as a solution to feeling alone. Don’t be a solitary nomad. Although 5 or 6 might not be practical, a party of two can be a simple and practical solution to feeling alone, frustrated, or angry.

  22. brother Henrik says:

    To much happening in my life right now and i dont like sitting by the computer to much so i dont have time or energi to wrigt big novel on your blogg so i skype you instead.
    But i like to say keap up with your normadic life so long as the joyful feeling of being normad overcom the joyful feeling of having friend around 🙂

  23. Rachel says:

    You must never give up your passion in traveling. For you are so blessed to have witnessed almost everything this planet could offer mankind. And like you said, it’s easy to make friends. You have tons from every places you’ve been, though you’ve lost contact with most of them.. but it’s normal, because you’re not seeing each other physically, you’ve got nothing much to talk about and that’s when the communication start to fade out.

  24. Francisco says:

    You shouldn’t be asking yourself why friendship (or communication) ends (or hibernates), you should be asking why friendship started in the first place. Friendship is born from sharing moments, school, work, holidays, nights out… Even if you manage to keep communication active after you’ve re-located, you will reach a point where you have nothing to talk about, because you are not sharing things anymore. Maintaining communication doesn’t usually imply maintaining your friendship.

    My advice would be: keep being social. Keep sharing moments with people and creating friendship. Enjoy the friends you have at your current location and learn from them. And don’t feel bad about the ones you’ve left behind, because once you are back and you start sharing things again it will be as you never left.

  25. Andy DelliColli says:

    Here, here, Francisco… Well put.

  26. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

    wonderful post and it hits me right where I need it. Having moved just over four months ago, just hopped from one state to the neighboring state, I really thought I would stay in touch with the friends I had made in the four years since my son’s death. We were a solid group of women who had met at a support for suicide loss and we were BONDED. Everyone was sad to see us leave, ( my daughter and myself) as were we but, on to bigger and better things. What has turned out is with only a couple of exceptions, there is no contact between us. We are all on FB and it is so easy to just comment at the very least on someone’s post and yet, silence. I comment , they for the most part don’t. I send PM and some respond. The ones who do say they miss us and yet, there has been mostly silence when I posted we would be back for two days after Christmas.
    I went through the feelings you describe. Anger, frustration, sadness. I mean, we share such an incredible bond, what the hell is going on?
    This post has been a God send for me. I have taken much away from it. I will continue on my path and realize they still love and miss me even if they are silent. I do think it is a sad commentary on society we can discard friendship so easily or assume it takes no effort to maintain it. We’ve become a society of soundbites. Technology is a double edged sword giving us easy access to each other but also allowing us to become lazy at nurturing relationships.
    I need to let go of the pissy feelings and allow them to be just what they are. Good people who are able to go on with their lives even if I am not there. And, maybe they are just a little pissed at me for leaving them. ????

    1. Jono says:

      Apologies if it has been said before in the raft of replies to this blog post….but Crys mentioned something which triggered a thought I have been pondering recently….

      The curse of technology has been that people use it as a substitute for actually connecting with people – face to face. What we tend to have lost is a sense of fellowship. Specifically, regularly meeting up with people even if they are not necessarily good friends. Humans are social animals and we mistake social networks for socialising.

      In days gone by a community might be held together by church groups and the like. Many of us are, to say the least, skeptical of religion these days, but we have not replaced its worthwhile aspects with a suitable alternative.

      As a result people feel disconnected and have less friends than they used to have.

      Nevertheless, I think you (Crys) do have a right to be disappointed if an old friend you directly make an effort to contact seems uninterested in replying – for whatever the reason.

      Our guru Gustav was passing through London last weekend and it was elemenary that I would want to meet up. Hell, at the very least I would have responded to the message he was coming to town!

      Some people should correctly be referred to as “useless” when it comes to maintaining friendships, although that does not necessarily make them bad people.

      Also, it doesn’t seem to apply to you, but always make sure you meet the same standard you expect of others….in other words, has anyone reached out to you and you just got sidetracked and forgot to respond? It happens.

      1. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

        Jono, point well taken. I can’t expect others to always do or act the way I expect if I don’t live up to my own standards. In fact, I am guilty of leaving this very blog for awhile which I felt in my heart was an abandonment of Gustav and once I worked through my issues which were really frustrating and time and emotion consuming, I wrote him and hoped he understood. He of course did. In fact, as someone said, he probably didn’t even realize I wasn’t here!!! But,it made me feel bad to leave someone I consider a friend behind. So, YES, it takes two to tango.
        Friendship is a complicated thing. I can go long periods of time without seeing or hearing from someone and I still know they are thinking of me as I am of them and when we connect again, it makes no difference. Other friends just drift away and are gone. I guess it all goes to the truth of the relationship.
        I have a tendency to allow my innate shyness to hold me back at times and I am learning to grow up and step out of that. If I want these relationships to grow and flourish, then I damn well have to put the time into them. On the other hand, when others just really don’t care, it’s time to let them go and move on.
        Thanks, Jono. You understood perfectly.

        1. I noticed you were gone, or at least not commenting anymore. In fact, I noticed both you and Jono, usually frequent commenters, having a break. But I wasn’t sure if you were lurking or gone. Glad you are both here as I appreciate the time you take to read these posts and your great feedback.

  27. Nomad, shared your blog with my little world today – your design is the best I have ever seen! Seriously good sh*t.

  28. Nosson says:

    There is another option. Change your life style so that the friendships you have are more meaningful. This will mean that you will miss your other friends less and also when your new friends leave there will be a reason to stay in touch.

    If you build a group of friends that help others and build communities or something meaningful like that I think this problem will go away.

  29. Nosson says:

    Another answer is do option 3. Not because i think it will be successful but because its the only way. You make the way itself in to a ‘thing’.

    Like an artist that uses art to express himself. It’s a journey. He never resolves a problem.

    Many comedians do comedy because they are frustrated with certain things. The comedy doesn’t resolve those things but gives an outlet and lets other people understand the situation and even enjoy it.

  30. Laurenne says:

    Hi There-
    As one who has also embraced the nomadic lifestyle (though I’m somewhat newer to it than you), I very much appreciate your post! This has been a topic at the forefront of my thought for the past few days and I’m delighted to find I’m not alone in my musings.

    I’ll start off by saying that I love people hard- even strangers, but especially friends. I want to shower them with love and for me this means spending time with them, helping them in some way, and letting them know that they are in my thoughts. To make find a way to make people feel loved is a great joy for me. When I uprooted my social life in Boston to start traveling, the same thing happened where people just stopped communicating. I had even gone through the lengths of writing heartfelt letters to people, hoping that our friendship love would not die. I’m glad to say that it hasn’t! I have a practice I called “inspired friendship”. Whenever I get to thinking about my awesome friends, instead of feeling loss and loneliness, I make them something whether it’s a handmade card, a beautifully written postcard, or some other little artifact that shows I care. While I’m making it, it forces me to think about how grateful I am for them and the fantastic memories we’ve had, which often distracts me from being lonely. Instead I feel love.

    Instead of trying to force a friendship in an inconvenient situation, I honor the friendship when I feel inspired to do so, just going with the flow. Sometimes I even get random messages of love in return and it lights up my whole day. Sometimes I don’t get responses from people and I just let it go because I like to think I gave them a gift without expecting anything in return.

    Anyway, I hope this helps in any way! Thanks for writing, you’re keeping me inspired!

    1. That is a fantastic way to do it! I love it. It takes a person of exceptional compassion and initiative to both think up something like this and then actually doing it! Well done.

  31. […] I remember meeting Gustav Andressen of The Modern Nomad at the 2011 Bay Area Rodeo.  Swedish by birth, he left his job in London for a life out on the road.  No home, no corporate ladder, just a guy out to experience what the world had to offer.  That encounter had a lasting impact on me.  I’ve followed his blog and always had more than a “hmmm” when I’ve come away from his posts: particularly this one. […]

    1. Funny, but the same day I got this (very kind) ping-back from your post, I worked for my employer (ThomsonReuters) on writing a guide to JIRA, and I wanted to link to some good tutorial on JQL. I did a quick search and, tada! There you are, Dan, having written this JQL recap. Turns out, you are affiliated/work for Atlassian? Just like the coincidence. 🙂 Good to have met you in person!

      1. Dan Radigan says:

        Hey Gustav-

        I do work for Atlassian. I work on the JIRA team writing articles about JIRA for our customer base. Got any topic suggestions?

      2. Dan Radigan says:

        That is totally crazy! What a small world. You in Vancouver these days?

        1. Well, yeah, for another 15 hours. 🙂 Then off to New York, Philadelphia and Long Beach (CA). I love Atlassian stuff, and have in the jobs been the self-appointed JIRA guru.

  32. Aurélie says:

    I have a similar experience even though it’s not in a nomadic context, as I moved abroad 10 years ago. I first opted for option #3. I tried everything I could think of : a blog (more than 20.000 people were reading it but almost none of my friends!), emails, skype, phone calls, letters, postcards, sending birthday/baby shower presents, etc. NOTHING worked. I have now resolved to option #2! But I have lost friends in the process, some of then I don’t see anymore, even when I am back, even if I keep them informed of my visits, even if I did consider them very close friends at the time… So an amended option #2 I guess : resolve to hibernating and lost friendships. 🙂

    1. Amazing, isn’t it? And a total surprise. I know how you feel. It is a good lesson in not frantically holding on to things that are not yours to possess.

  33. Elaine says:

    So I guess I would also go with number 2 and I have a few thoughts that have come to my mind recently surrounding this issue…
    I read and liked your mental monsters blog and the issue of Facebook – I have come to the conclusion recently that there is nothing like meeting people in person. Skype is brill, a phonecall is great and to receive a physical piece of post sent from loved ones is beautiful. but I cannot get over how much better it is to see someone and chat with someone in them physically being present there in reality (in both senses of the word-as like you said people can distort how they are through social media). So that leads me on to quoting the film Hitch ‘when you’re in the room, be in the room’ which keeps coming to me. Although language can be a barrier we need those friendships with people in person,often 1 friend for coffee solves a lot of my demons and is a lot more enjoyable and light that I anticipated. Where we find ourselves we gotta invest. And I’m not the best at this but when I do it pays off. (Sometimes I slip into my hibernation ball but as an extrovert I need to spend time with people as its good for my soul). It is important that I have those friendships with people that have known me for years though and they just ‘get me’ but yeah interesting to see how we all travel through life and things get busy and people and situations adapt. However I do think for the majority we can pick these friendships up again as when u love people, you love them.

  34. Levin says:

    Lots of random thoughts (probably repeating what a lot of people have already said). I moved around a lot in my childhood and have friends and acquaintances (of all levels of closeness) all over the world these days …

    – It’s a cliché, but loneliness is possible even being surrounded by friends.

    – A good friend is a good friend. Constant communication and exchange is probably not the defining descriptor of a close friendship, however we may feel. We have all experienced the joy of reconnecting “as if the conversation had never been interrupted” with close friends.

    – Each relationship is different and each friend has a different way of living the friendship. I’ve been disappointed too, even with friends who still live nearby but have vanished because they have a partner and children, now. The challenge is more – I’m realising it even as I type! – to discover the level, or channel of communication which fits both of you. Some will prefer e-mails, some will prefer phonecalls, some will prefer meet-ups every time you are in town. And then there’s Facebook …

    – You don’t mention Facebook, but for me it offers both the helicopter view and the detailed interaction with friends. It clearly misses the physical interaction. But I love that I am (as they used to ay a few years ago) “ambiently aware” of what a lot of my friends are up to all the time and we interact (as if the conversation never ended) on each other’s posts and Walls. This requires, of course that you have friends who choose to be active in this channel. Many of my best friends hate Facebook. We use other channels. Whaddaya gonna do?

    – Since I see a lot of my own struggles in yours (even though my life goes in a completely opposite direction to nomadism), I hope you will forgive me for projecting a little: I suspect a lot of this loneliness and disappointment comes from the lack of a life partner to share the moments of your life – something you touched on before in a previous post. Some will counter that it’s essential to be self-fulfilled, rather than dependent on someone else for your happiness. This is also true (but difficult to learn/accept/live). I know they’re not solutions, rather opening up more cans of worms, but perhaps these are the directions to focus on: the search for a partner, or the search for self-fulfilment …

  35. Cindi says:

    I just found you after listening to your interview with Amy Scott – this topic is a good one. I’ve not been completely nomadic but have lived in a few places for short periods.

    If you (anyone) can nurture the pieces of those friendships you want to grow, it helps. I’ve found that people tend to love one another the way they want/need/wish to be loved so expectations can get messy sometimes when we want a friendship to stay the way it was but are changing the dynamics ourselves.

    The same can (re finding/building friendships) be said about people building businesses online whether nomadic or not – the effort to find, grow and maintain friendships is high.

  36. Gigi Blaze says:

    Reading your blog feels like a deep breathing with fresh air coming from raw nature, an expansion on my sternum as if it were an enormous hot air balloon being filled.
    And it’s probably a consequence of your choosing a nomad life. In this case my vote for option 1 is a catch 22 because if you give up your current life style, you wouldn’t have this fantastic blog anymore. I take my vote back then. Just live your life as fully as possible. Love. GigiBlazeNY

    1. Ha ha, wow. Thank you! Never had quite such a surreal compliment on my writing. 🙂 I hope you’ll subscribe to the email list and keep coming back!

  37. Jerrrbare says:

    Well I think You should fight for what you care about! But you can only fight for so long before it starts wearing down your soul. When that starts to happen then just let things hibernate and your true friends will be there for you whenever you need them and till the end no matter what! You seem like a kind caring person and making friends and keeping them won’t be a problem so maybe dont over think it and just go with the flow 😉 hope it works out for you and love love love the blog! Shared it with everyone I know!! Happy trails my good man!

    1. Thanks for the comment, and welcome to the Modern Nomad. Thanks a whole bunch for the shares. Much obliged.

      Oh, and overthinking stuff is what I do. But I agree, I probably shouldn’t.

  38. Jerry Phelps says:

    Hello! Thank you for writing this! I too have struggled with the loss of friendships, but not from a nomadic lifestyle. My story is a bit different.

    I have had trouble keeping friendships with former coworkers after losing my job to health issues. I worked there for over 20 years and made very strong friendships with a few individuals that included a fair amount of interaction outside of the work environment. Unfortunately, after just a month or so, these friendships declined to the point that the only interaction I had with them was to return to my former workplace and visit. I did that for a year, trying to maintain or even rebuild what was lost to no avail.

    These individuals all live within a 15 minute’s drive from my home, yet there is no willingness to get together on their part, even after much effort on my part. It appears that proximity is the most important thing in most people’s interactions. If proximity is lost, so is the friendship. In my case, these friendships aren’t in hibernation, they are completely lost. I have sent numerous text messages to each, most without a single reply even. Facebook activity has even declined to the point that there is zero interaction on their part, despite my continued interaction on their pages.

    At first, I thought that maybe I had done something to upset them, but that is not the case, according to them. They just don’t have “time” anymore.

    I’m not sure if this helps or not, but I am at the point of acceptance and have moved on. It has been much easier on my emotions since doing so. My advice for you is settling on number 2, but not until you have made significant effort to obtain peace with yourself by trying to stay in touch. If not reciprocated, it is time to accept and move on. There may be certain times when you see them again and a shallow re-acquaintance is in order, but don’t expect that things will ever be the same again. Proximity is everything in relationships. There are a few exceptions, as you mentioned in your blog, but they are few and far between and you only find them by trying number 3 first, before settling on number 2 for the rest.

    1. Thank you for this comment! I am surprised at the responses I’ve been receiving on this article, and many confirm what I thought was a suspicious finding, that proximity is super-important. But, now that I’ve been hearing more and more stories from people like you, well, it sure seems to be a major factor.

      Thanks again for sharing your experiences, and I wish you many new friends in the future!

  39. […] – You’ll probably form relationships / friendships with people you meet in each destination, add them as friends on Facebook and move on to the next […]

  40. Peter says:

    Abort! Abort! You’re killing me!

    Seriously, I’m surprised at the lack of #1 responses on here. I’m a person who has always lived in the same town, and very nearly all the close friends I’ve ever had have eventually moved away. In many cases, it’s only been to a neighboring city, an hour away or so, but it is enough to weaken the friendship. I’m a person who makes very deep friendships… call me up and come over and cry type friendships. And when those friends move away, yes, you are right in a certain way that they hibernate and can be revived. But it’s kind of like microwaving frozen food; the texture suffers. Sure, we can get together and reminisce about things that happened years ago, but it will only ever be in scheduled, rare, pre-portioned doses. Gone is the spontaneity and the constant communication that gave life to the friendship when they were here. I suffer greatly when my friends leave, and it makes me feel unvalued and unloved. That’s one reason it’s hard to keep in contact. I for the life of me can’t see what it is everyone is running from in today’s culture. What is the void everyone so desperately seeking to fill by changing addresses? Don’t they realize that happiness isn’t in that? Don’t they value the bonds we have forged by caring for and about one another? Apparently not as much as I do. And so when a friend leaves, I’ll admit I am often guilty of becoming cold. It’s a defense mechanism, I guess. I have to rip a chunk out of my heart to let them go, so to mitigate the damage I tend to distance myself emotionally. I wish it didn’t have to be so. I wish people would just stay put.

    1. Thank you very much for that comment. I guess people work, think and feel differently, and much of the misunderstandings between people come from that. So it is always good to hear another’s point of view so we can see things from their perspective. Maybe a lot of my friends feel like you, hurt that someone close to them chose to leave.

  41. Martin Genhede says:

    Hello Gustav!

    Don’t abort! NO! NEVER!

    I’m enjoying your blog too much. And I would really miss if you give up.

    Selfish? Absolutely!

    I’ve moved quite a few times in my life and I’ve learned that it’s always the one that moves away that has to stay in touch with the friends that are left behind. Because the friends still have each other.
    You should be happy about having friends all over the world. Enjoy them when you meet up and accept that you are the one leaving them. And look forward to meet them again.

    Sometime.

    /Martin

Should I abort the nomadic experiment, accept its compromises or create another option?

Click to see allowed HTML.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <ol> <ul> <li>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.