When we moved to our second duty station, I had one baby and was soon pregnant with our next. I quit my job when we PCS’d and wasn’t able to work at the new location. With my husband’s next deployment looming over our heads, I started to do one thing very well…panic.
I didn’t know anyone in town. Who could I talk to or hang out with while he was deployed? Who would give me a hand with the kids when I was juggling a newborn and a toddler, both in diapers?
I needed friends, and I needed them fast.
My strategy? I signed up for mom playdate groups on the website MeetUp.com. Usually, the site is for networking professionals or people who share a hobby and want to meet locally. But it also works for moms who need friends.
When my husband heard what I was doing, he was confused. “So you are going to a playground to meet up with some strangers?” he asked me. “What is this, like…a blind date?”
Yes honey, that’s what it is.
Making military spouse friends is exactly like dating. Sometimes speed dating. Sometimes a blind date. But still basically the same thing. After 10 years as a military spouse, I have learned how to make friends quickly each time we move to a new duty station. Here are some of the ways making new milspouse friends feels like dating all over again:
1. When you’re new on base, every conversation feels like speed dating.
Because you never know how long you have before one of you will PCS. So you skip right past the “let’s meet for coffee” stage, and ask all your questions the first time you meet. Soon, you’ll be hanging out together almost every day.
2. You use pick-up lines to make new mom friends at the park.
“Wow, that’s a nice stroller!” or “I love your baby carrier.” Or “Your kid is so cute, how old are they?” Yep, we all use them and we’ve all heard them. We use these to get to the real conversation, which is “How can I sign my child up for preschool around here?” or “How long is the wait list at the CDC?”
3. Hey, I just met you (and this is crazy) but do you wanna be on my kid’s emergency contact form?
Because it’s hard to fill out official paperwork with local contacts when you just moved into the neighborhood yesterday. So…. dear neighbor that I just waved to, do you want to be responsible for my kid in an emergency?
4. When you see someone’s post on the base FB page, you spend the next hour going through their photos.
You know how it is. You see a comment or a cute dog photo on one of the public FB pages. Then you realize the person must be from your state. Or even your hometown. Soon you are FB stalking them and you feel like you have known each other forever. Oh, better send a message to say hi!
5. You know the relationship is serious when you move past coffee dates and enter the ugly cry stage.
Deployments have a way of speeding this along. One day you are just casual acquaintances who met through an event on base. The next day, you hit the deployment wall and are collapsing into their arms sobbing about how much you miss your spouse. It’s ok, that’s how we find our true friends. They don’t mind the ugly crying and will sit there and cheer you up, no matter how long it takes!
6. Going out together is the highlight of your week!
When you were dating, maybe your calendar revolved around your significant other. Now it revolves around your best friend and their schedule. You may or may not plan “date nights” so you can hang out together!
7. They are there for your birthday, anniversary, and every holiday in between.
Milspouse friends make the holidays bearable when your spouse has to be away because of military obligations. Whether it is an impromptu potluck, a Bunco night, or a kid-friendly playdate, this is the “family” you see during the holidays.
8. Your milspouse BFF is the one who comes over to watch movies during deployment.
Best date night during deployment? Netflix and chill… with a fellow milspouse. Preferably with wine and cheesecake included! Hey, at least you can enjoy all the chick flicks your husband would never watch with you!
9. You cry just thinking of a time when you will be apart.
Once you have dated gotten to know your milspouse bestie, it breaks your heart to think about PCS season. You know that you will eventually have to move, but you can’t help hoping that maybe you’ll get orders to the same place!
I’m happy to say that these ‘dating strategies’ have helped me make amazing military spouse friends at every duty station. So if you feel like a fellow military spouse is hitting on you or trying to bribe you with homemade cookies, please understand… she probably just wants you to be her friend!
Want more on military life?
- To my military spouse friends, you’ll never know
- 15 hilarious stages of military spouse friendship – explained in GIFs
- 3 surefire ways you know you’re friends with an awesome military spouse
- The pain of saying goodbye to your military spouse tribe