I recently became a consultant with Thirty-One (YAY!!!!) and hosted my first party at our house. When I started making a list of people to invite, I realized that I actually have a lot more friends here than I thought I would. I’ve always been an outgoing person, but my freshman year in college made me realize that I’m really not as good at making friends as I thought I was. Maybe it was just the school I was attending, but I wasn’t too fond of most of my peers and I felt like they didn’t really care for me, either.
After this marvelous college experience, the amount of names I was able to come up with for my guest list was pretty shocking to me, considering that I’ve only lived in California for [almost] 8 months. (It also made me feel pretty good!)
I’m definitely not an expert in the friend-making field, but I do have a few tips for anyone who just arrived at a new duty station and needs a little girl time. (By the way, if you’re looking for a way to get paid for having girl time, contact me!)
Here’s 15 ways to get you started:
1. FRIENDSHIP SITES
Friendship sites work the same way as dating sites, but they hook you up with lady friends instead of desperate single guys. I know, this seems kind of weird, but it could be a great way to find a workout partner or a just someone to blab with over coffee. GirlFriendCircles, GirlFriend Social, and SocialJane are a few sites that can get you started. It’s not weird.
2. WORK OR SCHOOL
This one is probably a given, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. If you have a job or you’re enrolled in classes, why not make friends with some of the people you see on the reg? Add them on Facebook or ask for their phone number and make a date. Lunch, coffee, whatever—even if it doesn’t seem like you have a lot in common, you might just click really well.
3. NOT IN SCHOOL? TAKE A NIGHT CLASS!
If you’re not in school, there’s nothing stopping you from taking a night class once a week. Why not pursue a passion or start a new hobby? Most community colleges offer fun electives like pottery, welding, or creative writing, and it’s a great way to meet others who share common interests with you.
4. …OR A FITNESS CLASS!
If you’ve never taken a fitness class before I strongly recommend it. The gyms on military bases offer classes like yoga and Zumba for free, and it’s a fun way to meet people while working out.
5. TALK TO STRANGERS
I know that as kids we were told not to do this, but now that we’re all grown-ups I think there’s nothing wrong with striking up a conversation with people you run into. Who knows, that lady standing behind you in line at the commissary might just become your best friend some day!
6. GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
I haven’t been alive very long, but based on what I’ve seen on TV and what my grandparents have told me I think it’s safe to say that our society just isn’t as friendly as it used to be. How many of your neighbors do you actually know? When I was growing up I knew almost all of mine, but now I can only name a handful of people who live on my street. Don’t be afraid to be a little old-fashioned! Bring a new neighbor a homemade dessert, hold a block party, say hi when you see someone checking their mail, or even knock on a busy mom’s door to let her know where you live in case she needs some help. Wouldn’t be nice if we were actually a community instead of just strangers living next door to each other?
7. GO TO CHURCH
Or a synagogue, mosque, or wherever it is you prefer to worship. Some of my closest friends are ones that I’ve met through church!
Don’t know where to start? Check out your local animal shelter, YMCA, or food pantry. You can even volunteer with organizations on base (such as BOSS and SADD), and it’s a great way to connect with other military spouses.
9. SPOUSE’S COWORKERS’/FRIENDS’ WIVES
Chances are that your husband has at least one friend or coworker who’s also married. Arrange a double date and get to know his friend’s wife!
10. FACEBOOK GROUPS
There are TONS of Facebook groups out there for just about every military community. I’m part of a few of the groups that exist for the base we’re currently at, and I actually have a few close friends who started out as just Facebook friends. Sometimes I’ve met them through events arranged by the group admin and other times I’ve simply added someone as a friend and we’ve decided to meet up after connecting so well online. Don’t be shy! You just might meet someone really awesome.
11. REAL LIFE GROUPS
Sometimes Facebook groups like I mentioned in #10 will have real-life meet-ups, but sometimes they won’t. If you’re at a new duty station it would be a fantastic idea to join a group that has regular meetings. Stroller Warriors is a great one (it’s a group of military spouses & moms (you don’t HAVE to be a mom, though!) who meet on a regular basis to run together—click here for more info). You could also join book clubs, Bible study groups, or even a knitting club, if that’s your thing.
12. GO TO A MEETUP
Need help finding a group to join? There’s a website for that! You can sign up with MeetUp for free and find a group for just about anything in your area. Surfing, hiking, bird-watching, music, eating… You name it! There are even groups for entrepreneurs, skeptics, and shy people. (Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself!)
13. RETREATS, CONFERENCES, AND CONVENTIONS
No matter what your thing is, I’m willing to bet that there’s a conference for that. From Comic Con to women’s conferences to marriage retreats, there are plenty of ways to connect with people who have common interests. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Weekend to Remember. It’s a marriage retreat hosted by Family Life, and it’s FREE for military couples! My husband and I got so much closer during & after that retreat, and we’re definitely going again this year! We also met several good friends, and we’re actually hanging out with two of the couples we met at that retreat tonight. See, you never know where you might meet good friends!
14. FRIENDS OF FRIENDS
It’s okay to be a friend-stealer. If you’re new to an area and you have at least one friend who isn’t, ask her to have a ladies lunch or girl’s night out so you can meet some of her friends. If you like her, chances are that you’ll like her friends.
15. TRY GROUPER
Once you have at least a few friends, why not make more together? With Grouper, you and your small circle of friends sign up and then Grouper pairs you with a similar posse that’s compatible with yours. Worst case scenario, you and your friends will have hilarious stories at the end of the night about the awful people you were paired with. Oh and one more thing—Grouper pays for your first round of drinks!
Any that I missed? What are your favorite ways to make friends at new duty stations??