Making friends. It’s something we all know we want to do. But actually doing it is another thing entirely. Like I talked about last week, it seems to be so easy and come so naturally when you are young. Then you enter the grown-up world and it’s suddenly not so easy. Add in the military spouse lifestyle (aka frequent moves and sudden, unpredictable life changes) and it only gets more difficult.
But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. As military spouses, we are told to “embrace the suck” in so many different situations. This is one more of those times. That said, I’ve made plan of action to help you through the process!
You’ve got to get out there.
Friends aren’t going to magically pop up on your couch while you binge Netflix. (Sorry. Kicking this off with some tough love)
If you want to meet people you’ve got to get out and go to where the people are.
Know what you are looking for in a friend.
If you want someone who has kids around the same age as yours that’s a good thing to have in mind and will help you have a better idea of where to go to meet people. If you want to meet people that also love sitting on the couch binging Netflix, that’s awesome too!
But if you want a friend that likes to play board games, a running group might be the wrong place to start looking. So having a clear idea of who you want to meet will help you narrow down the places to go in order to meet friends.
Listen. I get it. Making friends is really hard and when you find someone you might actually want to hang out with it can be tempting to say or do about anything to make them like you. But if it turns into a real friendship the truth will eventually come out and that could possibly get weird. Or you’ll make a friend that you don’t actually have as much in common with as you pretend to. Also not great. So just be you and that will attract your real “tribe.”
Let go of fear.
There are other military spouses out there feeling lonely and looking for friends. And yes. You will make friends and a PCS will pull you apart. But it’s so very very worth it (I talked about that last week!) I promise.
The fear of rejection, loneliness, and loss is just something you have to stare down every time. Because making friends as a military spouse will drastically improve your time being married to a service member.
Join groups and find activities that align with your interests.
I found my local Stroller Warriors chapter and started attending group runs. I knew that I was likely to meet other moms there that also enjoyed an active lifestyle. And that’s exactly what happened. Now I hang out with a few of the other moms outside of running and they are introducing me to other people they know.
The first step is the hardest, but once you take it, it becomes so much easier to find your friend group. To find group that align with your interests, check out Meetup, your base’s spouse Facebook group (these can be full of drama but they are also often full of great information), and check out events happening near you on Facebook! And of course if you are looking with someone who shares your belief system, a church group for young adults is an awesome place to start. Volunteering for a cause you are pasionate about is another sure way to find friends with similar passions. I personally am not involved in the FRG for my husband’s unit…we aren’t 100% sure there is one…but that can also be a good place to start.
It can sound so easy on paper and I am sure this oversimplifies a process that truly is challenging and occasionally emotionally draining. But remind yourself why you are doing this. When you have doubts about finding friends, visualize your time as a military spouse with a solid group of friends…then visualize that time without a friend group. The first option is a clear winner 99.9% of the time. And if you have a clear image in your head of what having a strong group of friends looks like, it can keep you motivated to go out and find the people to build that group!
I want to hear from you: where do you start when you move somewhere new and need to make friends?