The Hamilton Spectator

I’m lost and lonely. When will it stop?


Q During COVID-19, I became close with my neighbour. We live in a small town just outside a big city. We originally bought our place as a weekend retreat, but we spent so much time up there during COVID that we sold our city home, bought a small condo and we now live mainly on the farm.

There are only a few houses on our street and this one neighbour was the only one there permanentl­y during COVID. We started going on walks together, we shopped for each other and we looked after one another.

We’re both married with two young daughters, so the kids also had friends to be with outdoors during the height of the lockdown. As I said, we all became very, very close.

We have stayed up here and chosen this slower, quieter lifestyle to raise our family. The other family goes back and forth more often to the city, but are still here a good 50 per cent of the time.

It’s the other 50 per cent that she just forgets about me. I’ll text, call, whatever, and if she’s not here or on her way up here, she doesn’t respond. It’s as though our friendship only exists in these invisible boundary lines.

I really like her otherwise and feel very close to her. But this hurts my feelings and I’m not sure what to do.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

A You took the words right out of my mouth; it sounds exactly as you signed off. When your friend is close by, living in your world, she’s all yours. When she’s in the city, she has another life (and presumably other friends), she’s all theirs.

She’s compartmen­talized you to the Farm Friend status. Now it’s up to you. I don’t suggest you call her out because she is who she is. She may or may not realize she’s doing this, but either way, I don’t think she’ll change. It’s how she manages her life.

You say she’s there 50 per cent of the time, so if you want to maintain your closeness, make plans with her for when she’s there. Find out before she leaves when she’ll next be up, and make plans in advance. That way you won’t have to contact her when she’s in the city, and you won’t be hurt when she doesn’t reply.

Q My husband was transferre­d here from our home country to work in his same business. Most of the people in the office are also foreigners bringing their expertise, and learning the ins and outs of how the company works over here.

There is a department that helps the employees’ partners get settled, find homes, schools, programs for their children, etc. But they don’t help us find friends.

We have been here three years now. My husband loves his office and the people he works with, and we have gone out as couples and had families over. My children love their school and have friends, and they are also involved in extracurri­cular activities.

I had to put my career on hold when we moved, which was fine, but I’m feeling like a lost island. I’ve made sure everyone else is happy, but what about me?

Lost and lonely

A I am so sorry you are feeling this way. From what you’ve said, you are probably not the only employee partner in your situation. It sounds like the company has tried to help with relocation, but have fallen short.

There are therapists who specialize in expatriate issues and relocation challenges, which tells you that it’s not uncommon. You can contact one in your locale.

If it interests you, you might want to talk to the company and help them set up services for other people in your position.

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