It’s Okay to Not Have a Core Friend Group (Especially if You Travel)

No New Friends, Sri Lanka Rombota Falls | Packs Light

Group chat that has a minimum of 50 new messages at all times. An assumed invite to every dinner date, movie, mall-trip, and hangout session. Being intuitively associated with 8 other people when one of your names are said aloud. You and your friends receiving, “Hey, where’s (insert one of many best friend’s names here)?”, when one of the crew isn’t present in an Instagram photo.

A list of things that I can’t relate to.

I do have friends (give me the benefit of the doubt on this, LOL). But for as long as I can remember I have never been a part of an exclusive, core friend group

You know the ones I’m talking about—the squad. The gang. The main crew. The ride or dies who are always with each other, and something is definitely wrong if they aren’t.

I am social, I love making friends and meeting new people—but somehow my friends never seem to form deep bonds with each other or be in the situation to fall together into a crew. And if you’re reading this, maybe you’ve noticed the same thing about yourself. Especially if you travel a lot like I do.

Why does it seem to be so effortless to everyone else, and yet we’ve never been a part of this Hollywood group-friendship experience?

One of the reasons that this could be is that we can’t consistently tolerate every personality type. This isn’t a good or bad thing, it’s just the way we are. In a group of people if there is someone who has dramatically different energy than us, whether it be extremely extroverted or shy, we don’t force ourselves to be around it. It’s not a matter of like or dislike, we simply don’t feel a sense of obligation to claim close friendship with people we don’t have a strong connection with.

Another reason is that we appreciate quality time with ourselves. We’re independent, and we don’t need to go to every event our friends attend to feel fulfilled. For some reason it seems that some groups need to go to every group function that happens or else they get serious FOMO. We’re secure enough in ourselves and keep busy enough with our lives that we’ll survive not going out to lunch with everyone for the fifth time this week.

Unfortunately, our independence may give off the the image that we may want to put in the effort to hang out with everyone, or that we may be trying to distance ourselves even if that it’s exactly the case. And while we don’t need to be in a core friend group to function as a human, we do appreciate feeling included. It sometimes hurts when we aren’t invited to every group function and we can feel as if it doesn’t make a difference to people whether we’re there or not.

We’re secure enough in ourselves and keep busy enough with our lives that we’ll survive not going out to lunch with everyone for the fifth time this week.

However, we also don’t blame them. We realize we do sort of have our foot in multiple friend groups and it would be impossible to be completely committed to all of them, or have all of them fully committed to us. We know it makes sense… but somehow still seeing all the Snapchats and group photos later on still stings.

For my fellow travelers out there reading this, I’m almost positive you can relate to this in some way. Our lifestyle is not exactly conducive to an exclusive, tight-knit, daily friendships in general, let alone sustaining a friendship with an entire group in a singular location. We come and go from many places, all the time. Our range of friendships change from best friends from home that we love but talk to only occasionally, to our best friend of the night that we met in a salsa club in Puerto Rico.

It’s almost impossible for us to have a core group of friends. Society has long told us that our dynamic and ever-changing lifestyle is peculiar, and we feel even more strange because it feels like we can’t even have friendships like everyone else! (And let’s not get started on romantic relationships… le’ sigh).

But let me reiterate, we do have friends. However, we choose to make bonds with individual people instead of with groups. We do have a numerous die-hard friends, though they may not hang out with each other or even know each other.

We aren’t bound to anyone on the sole basis of being in the same social circle, we’re bound because we invest in deep personal relationships with the individual, and vibe on a one-to-one basis.

I’m not saying that all friend groups have a foundation of shallow relationships. But have you ever noticed how some friend groups have members who never seem to hang out individually? Sam never seem to want to get lunch anymore if Sarah is the only one free. Yawn. Who has time to be “friends” by association, but not by memory or bond?

And if we were in one airtight friend group, we know we would feel stifled. Yes, it’s hard not having a finite 7 or 8 people that we can call no matter what, where we can all go over to one person’s house and eat McDonalds on someone’s bed while watching Netflix. (Like, seriously, how cute are those Instagram photos??)

But we acknowledge the value of not being exclusive. We can have deep relationships with vastly diverse people of different ages, genders, cultural groups, and walks of life—and that’s something a ridiculously tight-knit friend group may not get to experience.

We aren’t bound to anyone on the sole basis of being in the same social circle, we’re bound because we invest in deep personal relationships with the individual.

PIN IT! Why It's Okay To Not Have Core Group of Friends | Packs LightThe best friends I have in my life right now include: a girly, Irish, sorority-girl I’ve known since high school, a Mexican vegan, rave-loving friend from college, a Pakistani post-grad and fellow world traveler, an African American, male Computer Science major, and a Persian female lacrosse player who is studying in the UK at the moment.

Do I expect all of them to be in a group chat and talk to each other everyday, and invite me to every little thing they do? No.

First of all, that would be weird. Second of all, I know deep inside that I just couldn’t be there for every single thing I would be invited to, I travel too much and my life is too unpredictable, and saying no to the majority of invites would just feel like I was making excuses and make me feel like a bad friend!

Are they all a part of other friend groups that don’t involve me? You bet. And I, them.

Do I sometimes wish all of them could just appear on my bed for McDonald’s and Netflix without me feeling that I had to moderate conversation because I’m possibly the sole common link between them? Sometimes. It would be nice, honestly. And I may awkwardly force them into it one day.

But you better believe each one of them will be in my wedding, crying their eyes out because they love me as true friends.

As a matter of fact, all of my hodge-podge friends will be in attendance, even if the only thing they have in common is when they say “Bride” when they ask who they’re there for.

All you can ever really ask from your friends is for them to be supportive, loving, and honest, and my friends definitely hit that ball out of the park. So why does it matter if they may be scattered across the globe and not even know each other?

Read the repost of this article from the Huffington Post.


Do you have a core friend group right now? Do you not? If you can relate to this article, SHARE it with a friend who be feeling the same way, and comment below!

 

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22 Discussion to this post

  1. Katrina says:

    Wow. This is truly a resonating piece, thank you so much for sharing this. It’s so great to read and hear that I am not the only one who experiences these feelings! As a traveller there are days were I look around and wish I had a close knit group if girlfriends, but then I reflect a little more and know that my lifestyle – that I love too much to give up – is the reason why my friendships are not seen as your “normal”. I wouldn’t give up my way of life for the world, and the few friends I do have know me and appreciate my nomadic personality. Travelling can be lonely sometimes, but it also opens up so many doors, allowing you to meet so many different amazing people that you would never have crossed paths with otherwise. That is a true blessing.

  2. Sarah says:

    People do friendships differently, I suppose, but I totally get what you mean. Exclusivity kills! And so does overdependence on specific people for security.

    Just to share: when I was in high school, I was laughing with a few friends about how we each didn’t have a core group. And then we stopped laughing and said, “waaaaait how about we become one…?” And so the four of us became the squad, but we only hung out after classes; during classes we were always with other people.

    Fast forward to college, we only see each other every month (or less) because I was in a college four hours away, and because studying. And yet we’re still a squad. FAST FORWARD AGAIN to 20 years after we first became a squad, two of us are in different countries, and the two of us left in the country travel a lot and therefore only see each other once month or when we sit down and say we’ll be travelling somewhere together for a week. (The other two we’ve visited in the countries there in, too!)

    And we’re still a squad. They’re still my best friends. Because friendship knows no distance, really!

  3. Brigitte says:

    This is me as well! Always on the move, so groups don’t form around me anymore.. only now I’ve been abroad for a full year a group is slowly forming, but honestly.. such things take time, and travellers often don’t have that time. Unfortunately enough.

  4. Taylor says:

    I have been thinking about this so much lately and you hit it bang on. It makes me so thankful for the friends I have back home and will always be there for when I come back from my travels and for the friends that I meet while on the road who will always understand my travel obsession. Great post, so relatable!

  5. This speaks volumes to me. I like my solitary travel and if I want to travel with someone, I pick someone similar to me

  6. Anisa says:

    I think my takeaway from this is everyone is different and what works for one may not work for others and thats ok. Its good for people to know that not having a core friend group is ok.

  7. Erin says:

    Wow, I really love this post!! Honestly so true, thanks for sharing! x

  8. neha says:

    I can totally relate to and understand what you are saying. Even I have friends, some really close ones but I am not part of any gang as such. I am rather the silent type when I find myself in a group. I rather prefer a close company of one friend than a herd.

  9. Jacky says:

    Thanks for this post, it surely resonates with me 🙂 I’m glad I got Mihir by my side, I don’t think there’s anything we don’t do together, haha, whether it be explore ancient ruins in far away places or go to the shop to buy toilet paper. But sometimes I do feel it is strange that I don’t have a core group of friends anymore. When I left Austria the first time I didn’t expect anything to change only to find out that only one of five people was willing to stay in touch with me. When I left the second time I had no expectations but was still surprised how my contacts with people back home withered. Oh well. I have some friends in Finland now, but I know this will also change as soon as we leave. And then we’ll make friends in a new place. I have hopes that maybe one day when we finally settle I will have “my girls” to bruch with whenever I want. Let’s see what the future holds.. 😉

    Jacky

  10. Marteen says:

    I have 4 very close friends and the rest I know I would consider them acquaintances. That’s not to say I don’t like meeting new people or don’t have room for another friend in my life. Having a meaningful relationship with a small group of people means more to me than knowing a lot of people but having no connection with any of them. With one of my close friends, we can go without talking for ages and we message each other or meet up it’s like no time has passed at all.

  11. Synz says:

    I totally agree with you “We aren’t bound to anyone on the sole basis of being in the same social circle, we’re bound because we invest in deep personal relationships with the individual.”
    I do have a core friend group before. But when I move to another country, I meet new friends and build a deep relationship with them. But I know, the friends I left behind will always be there to support me. And when I start to move to another country again. These friends I have now will still be my friends.

  12. Joelle says:

    I thought I was the only one! So good to know I’m not alone in this. Thank you so much for writing this.

  13. Karyn Jane says:

    This is an awesome post. I have always wondered about this aspect of myself and the fact that for a long time I haven’t really felt part of a core friendship group but I just find I do better with people who I connect with one on one over certain aspects, rather than needing to fit in with the crowd. It took until I was in my 30s to really understand that this was okay.

  14. Chiera says:

    An absolutely beautiful read! Thank you so much for sharing! I said on FB but I really do struggle with this and it’s nice to know it’s not just me. Your eventual wedding will have the coolest guest list ever!! haa

    • Gabby says:

      Awww haha thank you Chiera!! It means a lot 🙂 Yes we aren’t the only weirdos in the world haha, especially as travelers we have chosen a life of scattered friends! You’re so invited to my hodgepodge wedding haha!

  15. Jaimee says:

    Thanks so much for this post. It’s something that (as a relatively new traveler and perpetual expat) I struggle with a lot because sometimes I feel so out of touch with my friend group and almost like they don’t really care about what’s going on in my life because I’m not geographically close to them. I love how you end it with that your wedding will be full of all these different people from all different stages/places in your life. It’s just so hopeful and real and such a positive way to think about it! 🙂

  16. Sara Essop says:

    I’m glad that I am also not the only one without a fixed group of friends. Sometimes I feel like a loner, and then one of my scattered friends will call me out of the blue or message me to go out and then I am reminded that I have friends too. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Dannielle says:

    Just discovered your blog on Instagram and I think it’s my new fave! I’m a Dubai based blogger too 🙂

  18. YES. Everything about this is so painfully true. A part of why traveling so much doesn’t bother me or make me feel lonely is that I’ve never had this. I never had a core friendship group even when my friends lived within walking distance. Heck, I joined a friggin’ sorority and love my sorority family, but, as far as I feel, none of it feels like a ride or die group. I do have individual friends, and my relationships with them are varied. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’m not the kind of person who’s going to have a core friend group, but I’m SO happy to have the relationships I do. The whole reason I went to South Africa to begin with was to visit friends there I had met in Korea. And if it wasn’t for travel, I would never have met all the creative minded people I have.

  19. Megan says:

    I really like this. I’ve been working seasonally for almost a year now and never really have a solid friend group. I make friends, and have a good group from home, but don’t see them often. It’s just something I’ve accepted and make the most of new friendships. I just really like this.

  20. Agness says:

    This was an excellent post and a great read! I completely agree that you don’t really have too much time for friends when travelling.

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