Relational Patterns – An introduction

Relationships are often directly affected by the TCK experience. Most TCKs have a multitude of friends from many different places and backgrounds. This can seem quite impressive but at the same time the circular coming and going of the TCK’s lifestyle means that there is a significant sense of loss which accompanies this rich tapestry of friends and connections.

TCKs often reflect that their sense of belonging comes from relationships rather than a geographical place. This is perhaps why TCKs are often perceived to make a considerable effort to maintain and nurture relationships. The mobility that creates the opportunity to create diverse and often deep relationships can equally cause great conflict and pain. The cyclic lifestyle of the TCK means that the TCK has to leave people behind when they themselves move onto the next place. These frequent goodbyes can cause the TCK/ATCK to develop additional layers of self-protection in order to reduce or avoid the pain of saying goodbye. This can adversely affect their relationships throughout their lives.

The TCK builds a rich tapestry of friends across many continents, saying hello to new people and at the same time saying goodbye to old friends. These diverse international connections can be very useful for the TCK in life, whether it is finding a cheap room across the other side of the world or business connections for future ventures. This impressive number of relationships can sometimes become overwhelming, however, becoming increasingly hard to maintain despite the investment of having been created and nurtured.

It is also common for the TCK to experience awkward situations with ‘monocultural’ friends. Many TCKs do not ‘do’ shallow relationships or engage in small-talk. Arguably, the TCK makes connections at a deeper level sending signals to other people about close friendship and tight bonds. When the TCK moves on these relationships have to shift as well. Strong bonds weaken as the TCK is unable to maintain the relationship at the same level if they are not physically present. Whilst other TCKs will understand this quite readily, ‘monocultural’ friends may take it rather more personally.