• Resolving Problems

Ex-pat friendships

Published: June 4, 2013 | Last Updated: June 4, 2013 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
A common language, customs and culture can help bridge distance but don’t always make for solid ex-pat friendships.


Hi there,

I hope you can help me with this one because I am at a loss!

About 12 months ago my fiancé and I moved from the UK to the USA. A couple we knew had previously done the same thing 12 months earlier, and so when we moved I struck up a friendship with the woman (Friend A). We would spend time socially, both one on one and with our respective partners, going to BBQs, dinner, drinks out and I thought we were starting to build some sort of friendship.

About eight months ago, another couple from the UK moved to the USA. I though this would be great as there would be another woman (Friend B) that I could build a friendship with. Everything seemed to go pretty well for 4 or 5 months. We would all hang out, arrange events, ask and respond to favors for each other, but more recently I feel as though there is a tension in the group and I don’t know why.

Initially I though that it was Friend B just not really liking me (when I first met her she joked that she didn’t have that many friends and that she didn’t like many people – clearly this was not a joke). I got the impression that she was looking down at me as though I was not good enough to be around her. She didn’t bother to respond to group messages I sent, and then later acknowledged she received them. She would ignore conversation when I tried to initiate, and just generally make me feel uncomfortable.

During this time Friend A & B have also clearly spent one on one time together and have not invited me to come along. They seem to have inside jokes or conversations that I am also not involved in. This has now spread to them not only pushing me out but also my fiancé. The husband of Friend B has suggested and twice cancelled plans with my fiancé, the last one we found out was because Friend A & B and their husbands had planned a day trip out and not invited either of us.

When we were last together as a group Friend B was suggested that ‘they’ all take a two-week trip together, she was clearly talking to the other couple not my fiancé and I. If they don’t want to invite us then fine, but does she really have to say it out loud in front of us like that??

What is strange though is that I bumped into Friend A the other day whilst I was out and she was as nice as anything, no suggestion that she had a problem with me!

I don’t understand why this has become a problem or why there even is a problem, and for weeks now have been trying to figure out if it is something I have done wrong.

I understand that not all people get along equally, but the only difference between them and me is that they are married – I am engaged to be married, and they have children – we want to start a family shortly after we are married.

It is really starting to make me feel lonely and like I could move back to the UK. Whenever I am now around either of these women I just feel uncomfortable, and generally try not to say much as I feel I will be judged. I would really appreciate advice on how to deal with this…

Many thanks.



Hi Brette,

I’m so sorry that you are in a situation like this. Given the things Friend B has said and done to you, trust your instincts that she is more interested in being friends with Friend A than she is in having a relationship with you, or with you and your partner. Moreover, from what you say, it sounds like she lacks tact and good judgment. There is no justification for her making plans in front of you or ignoring/not responding to you.

Not everyone has to like everyone else and threesomes can often be challenging—whether or not friends are ex-pats. You probably didn’t do anything wrong, per se, but Friend B may simply have decided that she was more interested in being friends one-on-one with Friend A than in embracing a threesome.

You were fortunate to find a fast friend after your move and, understandably, must be disappointed that the threesome didn’t work out and you lost Friend A in the process. If I were you, I would speak to Friend A and let her know you have valued her friendship. Tell her that you had no problem being friends with Friend B, too, but now feel excluded. You can ask her if she knows why things have soured. Based on her response, you may gain a better understanding of what has happened. It may also open the door for you to have a better one-on-one friendship with Friend A, apart from Friend B.

Differences in culture and customs can make it difficult for some ex-pats to find new friends with whom they feel comfortable. In effect, they narrow they potential pool of people from which they can find friends. Language differences can exacerbate the problem, too (even though it doesn’t seem to be an issue in your case).

I would suggest you explore some new ways to make other friends, both expats and U.S. citizens. By expanding your pool of potential friends, you’ll have more opportunities to find people who are more friend-worthy than Friend B. You didn’t say whether you work or go to school but if you do, that would be a starting point to find new people with whom you share something in common. You can also find out if there are organizations or Meetup groups for ex-pats in your community.

I hope this helps a little.

Warm regards, Irene

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Comments (6)

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  1. Julie says:

    I don’t like how that one friend B is treating you at all! Oh and you can have friends in all places..and you do NOT have to be friends with just the friends from your country either!! I reach out as far as I can..and I try to get to know people as much as possible! I DO like people a lot! LOL!!!

    You do NOT deserve to be treated soo badly!! Thats’ really unkind and RUDE in my opinion!! Shame on that woman for treating you like that!!

    I also think that if you mention a trip in front of another group of people that’s rude to me in my opinion..but, it also depends on the situation and circumstances as well! I do agree though.. it’s uncomfortable and NOT very nice though in what happened to you!!

    Ignore Friend B..and keep being friends with A!! Keep reaching out to others around you …and this is from an American! LOL!!! 😉

  2. Amy says:

    I agree with Bronwyn about expanding your circle of friends beyond ex-Pats. It’s important to find friends that you share more than a country of origin, even though that might have been the initial reason you became friends. I don’t think merely because you’ve introduced two people, that they are obligated to make their relationship part of a threesome with you, perhaps they have more in common with each other than with you. I understand feeling hurt, mine would be hurt too. Some folks socialize more easily one to one than in small groups. Inviting you, or at least not discussing the trip in front of you, would have been kinder to include you, especially you’ve only known them less than a year. Once I found out mutual friends had gone away from the weekend and not included me. When I said I would have liked to be included, they told me the plan was to hike during the day (I can’t I’m disabled) and get drunk at night (I loathe being around drunk people and have a drink once every month or so, plus we’re in our 40s, not teenagers). I still would have liked to have been invited, but nobody was trying to hurt me. Good luck meeting new people!

  3. Beatrix says:

    Eh, I think you are being excluded because you aren’t married & don’t have kids. And I think friend A & B are being a bit rude. Not your fault.
    Oh well, move on. Check the internet for blogs & forums by other UK-US expat couples, intercultural relationships are a hot topic for bloggers nowadays. ‘Gladley from the UK to the USA’ is one well written & fun blog by a young woman from the UK recently married to an American.
    I’m an expat living in the rural Himalayas. Talk about isolated! But I’m doing what I love with whom I love (my husband) so it really doesn’t matter where we live.
    I’ve met a few expats in person while living here, you’d think we have a lot in common but most of the time we don’t. I’ve found most of my girlfriends online reading blogs written by American/Australian/European women married to men of my husband’s nationality.

  4. Bronwyn says:


    I think it would be good for you to try to expand your circle of acquaintances beyond expats from the U.K. You would be amazed how many people are charmed by a British accent and will want to get to know you better. Yes, that is superficial, and you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of people talking ad nauseum about where you’re from, your accent, etc., but it at least opens the door to meeting new people.

    Cultural differences aside, rudeness is rudeness on either side of the pond and who needs that? Is there any reason you haven’t ventured beyond this group? Presumably you came to the States for a reason, so I’d encourage you to start exploring and celebrating what’s different about it.

    And it doesn’t sound as though you’ve done anything wrong. Some people seem to think being bitchy is cool — it’s not, it’s just rude.

    • Tracy Hansen says:


      Friend B clearly has a problem and is toxic. You sound like a lovely person who has compassion and a great personality. Try to expand your circle. Best of luck to you.

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