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Moving Away From Family: Overcoming Guilt, Anxiety & Sadness

Lolo & Nate | Updated: January 22, 2023

Moving away from family and friends is one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever make.

We know, because we’ve lived it, multiple times.

For university (California), our long distance relationship (Canada) and soon, as we move back to Australia.

Whether you’re moving for love, a job, school or simply wanting a new adventure. The decision can create a lot of internal and external struggles.

There’s guilt, whether it’s from within or people around us. Anxiety, as we question the unknown. And even sadness, from becoming disconnected from loved ones.

moving away from family pin

While completely normal, these feelings can be totally paralyzing. Preventing you from having true clarity on what decision is best for you.

To navigate one of the biggest decisions of your life. We’ve put together this guide to help you cope with the rollercoaster of emotions that will emerge.


Coping with the Guilt of Moving Away From Family

Whether you’ve just broken the news to your family or are still in the stage of practicing in the mirror. The first wave of emotion that crashes over you will probably be guilt. 

Guilt can be all encompassing, and very convincing. It can make it almost impossible to distinguish what is best for yourself from what is best for other people. 

In order to deal with your guilt in a productive way, start by taking a step back and asking yourself:

Why am I feeling guilty and where is this guilt stemming from?

Internally driven guilt

Internally driven guilt comes from that little voice in your head that can make you question every big decision.

Although the guilt may be triggered by the decision you’re making, it rarely stems from the actual decision. Instead, it stems from the impact you worry that decision will have on the people you love.

How to deal with internally driven guilt

Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with wanting something different, something more or something new.

If that is what you want, then that is what you deserve!

In a situation like this, you need to look within to reframe how you talk to yourself.

  • Instead of “I should…”, “I shouldn’t…”, or “I could…”. 
  • Try “I deserve to…”, “I can…”, or “I’m allowed to…”.

For example:

Sometimes, the guilt is a complete projection and is not at all representative of how your family is feeling.

Having a conversation with your loved ones to express your concerns can help alleviate your internal guilt and separate assumptions from reality. 

Externally driven guilt

Unfortunately, the source of your guilt can come from the people you love most.

You may experience family members saying things that make you feel as though you are abandoning them or being selfish. 

How to deal with externally driven guilt

It’s important to keep telling yourself that placing this guilt on you says much more about them than it does you. Guilting someone else is a form of self-preservation and thinking about their own needs and preferences. 

Make a list of all the reasons you came to this decision in the first place, and the benefits you believe this decision will have on your life and your happiness.

Then it’s time to rip off the bandaid:

  • Sit down with whoever you’re having issues with and share this list with them so they can better understand why you’re making this decision.
  • Reassure them that you care about their opinions but help them understand how their reactions have been hurting you.

If certain loved ones continue to guilt or shame you for considering moving, recognize the toxicity of that behavior and set boundaries with them. 

We’re not saying you need to cut them out of your life! This is about letting them know that you respect their feelings, but aren’t open to talking about moving and will remove yourself from the situation if they insist on bringing it back up.

But if it gets to a point where they are unwilling to respect your needs, regardless of their reasoning, they might not be someone who you should have in your life right now. 

Having & Dealing with Anxiety About Moving Away From Family

Moving is one of the most stressful life events you can go through. It’s no wonder that you’ve likely been experiencing a spike in anxiety during this transitional time.

You might be questioning your judgment, staying up at night running through a million possible hypothetical scenarios, or feeling concerned about the overall strength of the relationships you’ll have with friends and family from afar. 

However your anxiety may be manifesting itself, healthily coping starts with identifying the source.

Uncertainty about the future

So much unknown comes with a move, and with the unknown comes lots of questions like…

Recognize the difference between what you can’t control and what you can control.

It is normal to wonder about these types of things leading up to the move. But these scenarios are impossible to answer until you go through the experience. It’s a waste of energy to overanalyze things that haven’t happened, better yet, might not ever happen at all. 

Go through everything you’re feeling anxious about, and ask yourself if you can control it now. If you can’t, try to let it go. If you can, then what’s something actionable you can do to improve the situation? 

Making the wrong decision

Just because you make a decision doesn’t mean you need to commit to it for the rest of your life.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with moving back if you eventually decide it’s best for you.

Even if moving back ends up being the right decision for you, at least you have new clarity about what you want out of your life. 

Missing out on important memories

The fear of missing out is REAL, especially when it comes to your family and close friends.

There’s FOMO around big events, like celebrating holidays together, or participating in important family traditions.

But the small things are just as special. Like that much needed drink with your best friend after a stressful week, or an impromptu dinner at your parent’s house.

The thought of moving away and removing yourself from those experiences can naturally make you doubt your decision.

Nothing will truly replace physically being with the people you love. But there are many ways to reduce the feelings of being emotionally distant. Luckily, technology continually gives us the ability to stay connected regardless of distance.

Three ways we’ve continued to stay connected include:

  1. (Separate) Friend and Family group chats are a must. They’re a great way to stay causally connected with everyone and a much easier option to manage than multiple separate conversations.
  2. Missing important moments like birthdays, engagements, or other milestones? Make a point to join in through video calls and have virtual celebrations.
  3. Even if there are no special events, having weekly check-ins via phone, video or text to stay up to date with each other’s lives can help maintain a sense of normalcy. 

Is watching movies a family tradition? Check out our post on the easiest ways to watch movies together online and in sync.

Overcoming Sadness & Depression When Moving Away From Family

If you’re moving because of a long distance relationship, you already know how difficult it is being far away from your partner.

No one better understands how to maintain a strong intimate connection from afar better than someone who has been in a long distance relationship.

But even if you’re moving away from family for a different reason, because of:

You likely are or have maintained a different type of long distance relationship at some point in your life.

It could be a friend that moved out of state, a sibling that shipped off to college or maybe it’s a previous colleague who took a job overseas.

Maintaining a distanced relationship with your nearest and dearest is likely much more daunting than those examples. But the point is there are tools at your disposal to help strengthen your bond and keep you connected from afar.

Staying connected

If you’re moving because of a long distance relationship, all of the ways you stayed connected with your partner from afar can be used with your friends and family!

For example, if you always reserved a night of the week for virtual date nights. Why not use that time to host virtual family dinners or game nights. 

Even if the reason you’re moving is not for love, some creative tweaking to your current social interactions and routines can help integrate your friends and family seamlessly into your new life.

If you used to spend your lunch break with your closest coworker, have video calls during your lunch breaks or use that time to exchange emails to update each other.

Or if you and your group of friends had weekly happy hours, swap out your local bar for an online wine tasting or cocktail making class.

Want a subtle yet powerful way to stay connected? Check out our post on long distance touch lamps and see how they can strengthen your bond with your family form afar.

Getting social

While nothing will replace the amazing relationships you have with friends and family members back home, moving to a new country or city is a great opportunity to form connections with different types of wonderful people.

You’re allowed to miss your loved ones, but don’t let that sadness consume you completely.

Isolating yourself and fixating on what you’re missing will only perpetuate feelings of loneliness.

Ask a co-worker out for coffee, participate in a sports league, join a book club. Finding a social circle will help you feel as though you’re part of the community, and help this new place feel more like home.

Look at it as an adventure

We’ve covered how anxiety-inducing the unknown can be, but it can also be extremely exciting!

You have a whole new place to explore, and every day should be treated as an adventure. 

Find your new coffee shop, ask a local for restaurant recommendations, and plan a day where you and your partner play tourist, and visit all of the top attractions. 

Settle into a new routine

Create a sustainable and healthy routine for yourself to help you stay grounded in the middle of so much change.

Some great options to start include:

  • Join a gym, work out class, or find a new route for your morning run.
  • Pick a space in your new home for your morning journaling or meditation.
  • Find a neighborhood stop for date nights with your partner.

Having pieces of comfort and normalcy will give you healthy coping mechanisms for when you’re feeling lonely or overwhelmed. 

Build new habits

Being in a new environment provides you with new opportunities that your previous environment may not have! 

What kind of new hobbies could you pick up or experiences could you try that weren’t accessible to you in your old city?

Maybe now you live by the beach and can finally learn how to surf, or now you live in a new country and can really focus on picking up a new language. 

Whatever it may be, taking advantage of your surroundings and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can help you appreciate the benefits of your new adventure. 

Now It’s Your Turn!

Which of these areas resonates with your current situation? 

It doesn’t matter if it’s one, or all. The best part is that you’ve acknowledged what is impacting you and that you’re taking the first steps to overcome them.

It’s time to take action and alleviate any guilt, anxiety or sadness you’ve felt while considering this decision.

  1. Share this article with your loved ones to help them understand how this move is weighing on you.
  2. Then, talk with friends and family to start putting a plan in place for how you’ll remain connected.

Remember, whether you are closing the distance, pursuing your education or profession, or just desire for change. This is something to be celebrated! 

If you’re able to listen to your own needs and make big changes in your life that align with your priorities, you will be able to do the same thing with the other people you care about and continue to prioritize your loved ones from wherever you are.

Lolo & Nate author image for bio
Hi, we are Lolo (Canada) & Nate (Australia) a couple that had to go through all that a long distance relationship has to offer, just like you. With our experience and lessons learned we want to help you keep your long distance relationship as strong as ever and ultimately last the distance!