Just a few weeks ago, I was talking about making friends after a military PCS move. That article got a lot of positive feedback, and it inspired me to write about more ways to make friends! Building friendships in military life is not always easy.
Sometimes it feels an awful lot like dating to me, and that can feel like a lot of work. On the positive side, investing time into creating meaningful friendships can really change your whole outlook and experience at a given duty station.
For me, the more valuable friendships I have, the better I feel about myself, and the better and more confident I feel during deployments. Friends are our life line in military life and we all need them.
Here are a few more ways I’ve made awesome friends in military life:
1. Host a Scentsy Party.
Okay. Well it doesn’t have to be a Scentsy party. It could be any kind of party like it!
Hosting an in-home shopping party or any kind of party similar in nature is a great way to meet new friends. Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Avon, Lia Sophia, Silpadia—the list of in-home parties is enless.
In-home shopping parties are easy ice breakers because they combine an activity with socialization. Lull in the conversation? Simply check out a few of the products for sale and talk about them. Then follow up with a personal get-to-know-you type question. Conversations are more casual and feel less awkward than simply going out for a one-on-one lunch or coffee.
2. Facebook friend the people you meet.
Once I attend a social gathering or meet a potential friend, I don’t worry about asking for an email or a phone number. Instead, I friend all the people I meet on Facebook. It feels much more casual and others seem more willing to commit to becoming Facebook friends than sharing an email or phone number.
Plus, it’s an easy way to see what’s going on in a person’s life. Not in a creepy way! Just so that you can see enough to jumpstart the conversation the next time you see the person.
Sometimes I say something like, “Hey I saw you went to the playground with your kids this weekend. You looked like you had a really fun time in the pictures you shared on Facebook.”
It can be really hard to start up a conversation with someone you don’t know very well, and Facebook is a great way to give you a few topics of conversation, instead of using the same ole’ standby, “How are you?”
3. Send out FB group messages.
After meeting new people, I may send out a Facebook group message a few weeks later. I might message 3 or 4 people as a group and say something like, “Hey I was thinking about heading out to lunch this Thursday at noon. Would anyone else like to join in?”
Sending a group message on Facebook is much more casual and relaxed. Plus, you can include more people. The benefit is twofold: First, it increases your chances that at least one person will say yes. Second, it increases your chance to have a group lunch instead of a one-on-one lunch.
Having lunch with several other ladies is easier to me that a typical one-on-one lunch date. The conversation flows easier ,and you have more to talk about it seems.
4. Head to the playground.
I also like to head to the playground at least once a day. My son can play with other kids, and I can say ‘Hi’ to another mom. It’s another great way to feel like you are doing something (i.e. keeping busy watching your kids) while fitting in some casual conversation intermittently.
If I run into someone a few times at the playground, this is usually another time that I may say, “Hey are you on Facebook?”
Again, it feels very casual, while still making some sort of connection and having a way to contact a person in the future.
I did mention this briefly in my last post, but we love inviting our neighbors over for dinner. They don’t necessarily have to be right next door, they could even been neighbors down the road. If I see one of my neighbors in passing, I will just say, “Hey my husband and I would love to have your family over for dinner next week. Is there a night that would work for you?”
If they say yes, I always set a date and time right there. In general, it’s all too easy to say you will do this, and then never follow through.
Setting a concrete plan, right there and then, really helps. After setting a time and date, I will share my phone number or friend them on Facebook and simply ask them to let me know if plans change.
Another reason I like inviting the neighbors over is it’s a group situation, which makes conversation easier.
Bonus: Forming a relationship with my neighbors helps immensely when my husband is away for work. I feel like I have a life line right in my community.
6. Invite your husband’s co-workers over for dinner.
Basically the same as above, except I ask my husband to invite a co-worker and his family over for dinner one night the following week. Works the same way, just a different group of people.
7. Start a weekly playgroup.
In my last post I talked about joining a Facebook group in your area, such as ‘Wives of such and such military base.’ Using a Facebook group, I may ask if anyone is interested in starting a weekly playgroup for kids similar to my son’s age. Being specific with a weekly day and time that you would like to host helps. I am often surprised at how many moms are looking for this opportunity as well.
8. Join a stroller group.
There are groups like stroller warriors or walking groups around many military base areas. If there are none nearby, I simply start my own. Again using a Facebook group to reach out to other spouses is a super easy way to get the ball rolling.
9. Say “Hi” to others.
Being a friendly helps build friendships. I always try to say ‘hi’ and wave when I see someone. This opens the door for a potential conversation. It could be at the grocery store, the playground, or while out for a walk in the neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a simple hello.
10. Volunteer with for your Family Readiness Officer.
A family readiness officer (FRO) is only as strong as her volunteers, and more often than not, they are looking for people just like you. Events or meetings that a FRO holds are often child friendly since in the many of us in the military community have small children. Explore if she has an opportunities for you. It could be a great way to meet other military spouses just like yourself.
It probably seems like I’m on Facebook all the time after reading this post, ha ha. Speaking of which have you seen my Facebook page yet?
Truly though, it can be an incredibly useful tool if you are looking to make new friends. Moving around every few years does put a damper on friendships, but I think there are a lot of opportunities for us as military spouses. We are all in the same situation, looking for new friendships to build. Making the effort and trying a few of these tips can really make all the difference in the world. It’s helped me immensely!
What are your best ways for making new friends in military life? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments so we all can learn!
Want more on military life?
- 21 Long Distance Friendship Truths Only a Military Spouse Will Understand
- The One Thing You’ll Miss Most During Deployment
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife
- 3 Telltale Signs You’re Friends With an Awesome Military Spouse