If there was a dating app for finding new friends at each new duty station, my profile might read something like this:
Hi, my name is Grace and I am seeking new friends! I moved here a few weeks ago, and now that I am settled into my house I have to get out or I will go stir crazy!
I have a sweet puppy who loves to play with all dogs. I am always down for trips to the dog park or taking a walk. She has never met a dog she doesn’t like.
I love Starbucks, ice cream, and lunch dates.
I am about to be a new mom, so I am looking for little baby friends for our soon-to-be little girl.
In my free time I love to lounge in my yoga pants and watch Gilmore Girls, Friends, and just about any romantic comedy you could name, while I browse through Pinterest!
If I sound like someone you would want to hang out with, let me know!
Look familiar? Posts like these are plastered all across different milspouse Facebook groups at different duty stations. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if there was a built-in way to make new friends at each new duty station?
And the thing is, we can make friends. But it requires us leaving our couches and getting our from behind the phone. And that is vulnerable and scary. Having an app gives us a feeling of safety because we can avoid that initial social contact. It removes the fear of rejection because we won’t be rejected to our face.
But sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones and show up somewhere in person. So here some tips for getting out of your comfort zone and finding some friends in person, until someone really does create that friends app!
Get help from people you already know
If you have at least one friend or a friend of a friend at the location that you can look up, it can make it a lot less intimidating to walk into a room of strangers. Having a familiar face makes it seem more manageable because even if you don’t find someone at the event, at least you aren’t sitting there by yourself. I have already seen how small the military community can be, and you may even know one other person at a new duty station. Or a close friend may know someone you can get in contact with. Use those connections!
Choose one meeting place and stick with it
Don’t try to do too much all at once. It can be really discouraging to attend several events, all really close together and not feel like you’ve made a connection with anyone. Try attending the same event even multiple times—like go to PWOC more than one week. Go to more than just one playgroup. By spacing them out and becoming a more regular face, someone already established in the group is more likely to come and greet you.
Take recovery time when you need it
If you’re introverted, make sure to take some recovery time after each event. This way you won’t get burned out and quit trying. It can be easy to get burned out of energy when you feel like your attempts are fruitless. And when that happens, you are more likely to give up.
These are some of my guidelines when I am trying to make new friends. Coming into military life, I have always had built-in friends from school such as classmates and roommates. But military life was a whole new ball game. I quickly realized that if I didn’t make the effort to put myself out there, I wouldn’t make many friends. And as an extroverted person I need those friendships!
How do you make new friends at each new duty station?