Your friends use you, when you accept this is normal, you can discover what benefits you bring to the table and have more friends.
Do you people avoid you?
I think the reason is simple, there is no benefit for them, there is no way to use you, you are not of value.
This is not harsh, this is a fact of life.
In the book, "How to Win Friends, and Influence People," Dale Carnegie in a nutshell explains the easy way.
"Say the persons name out-loud."
"Joe, how are you?"
"What are you doing today Joe?"
People love to hear their name, these principals are the essence of why Facebook.com is popular, it allows a person to put their FACE up, to look at themselves in a mirror. It allows you to celebrate you, it allows vanity to fly.
Few of my Friends want to talk to me when I am abroad, I have no "immediate" value.
I have real friends, they would do anything for me, they would even come to Mexico and save me from corrupt police. But, they truly do not want to talk to me when I am overseas, they know there is no promise of instant gratification.
Friendships with people in close proximity are easy, we can give these people some tangible benefit, it is "cost them money value."
Example: I have often realized, only my best friends will help me move from house to house, they will be be labor for day. That is tangible, real value, that is given, it would cost money to buy this service.
Abstract value, like making their self-esteem feel good is easy, cheap, just start to say the your friends name out-loud.
Learn from a Politician
When you meet a politician, they will shake your hand, glad you, smile, look you in the eye, and say your name, they are personality plus. A politician understand the value of charisma, this should be taught at business school.
Do you know how your friend can use you?
Do you know what tangible or abstract value your friend assigns to you?
I do, and I have many friends, because I freely give value to my friends, and I receive value from them. I have friends where we only play basketball together, and other friend where we talk about the meaning of life.
Reciprocity is what you want --- interdependence.
Discovering how we are of value to each other is the cement that will eventually glue you together and make bond that transcends to the end of life.
Wow Andy. You really, really hit the nail squarely on the sweet spot with this one. I also had read about greeting a person with their name. And you are accurate to the tee. All basic psych classes would say exactly what you have said. My family is the same. They would do anything for me stateside but they kind of lose track of me when I travel.
I totally understand that and so I always email and call them using skype.
I also send pictures of my traveling and they love it. My family has a really close bond and I have we have a saying. "That's what family is for." I guess I have been fortunate in having friends who feel the same way. Life can be so sweet and places are nice when you are with the right person.
Good luck on your trip. Enjoy the USA. All too soon you will feel the need, the urge and the passion for once again winging your way to distant shores. I know. We share that dream. I cannot stop traveling either.
People who live in one place, who never move, are surround by "stuff." People often make their stuff, their possessions their friends, sort of a greedy protection of their house, car, and stuff until the day they die. Truly we undervalue the day to day conversations we have, the friendships give at work, the friendship I experience on a bus. The porter who carries my bag, the taxi driver who delivers me to a doorway. I can live without the freindship of one dear friend, I cannot live without the daily noise made my people I barely know. Yes, I want both, but the one is more important, and I must buy these relationships.