Life as a military spouse can be challenging in the area of friends and maintaining friendships. I have a few close friends that live in other states and while it is difficult to visit each other, we still keep in touch. Still, moving around can get pretty lonely and it can be tough to make new friends!

I struggled when we were out at Laughlin for many reasons. For one, I had difficulty relating to a majority of the spouses out there. We were there for pilot training, so a lot of the spouses were brand new to the military life and they were just married. My husband had already been in the military for five years by the time we got out there and we had been married for two years. I am also in the military. Given all of this, we were used to the life and we speak fluently in acronyms.

Another reason why I struggle to make new friends is the fact that my personality does not often blend well with others. My closest friends know that I am an introvert to the max and while I do like people, I still come off as stand-offish (it’s a new word, I just invented it). This often rubs people the wrong way.

I spent a lot of time while at Laughlin wondering if people truly liked me and wanted to be my friend; or if they were just including me because it’s Laughlin and you can’t be picky.

Throughout all of this, I have learned quite a bit about the do’s and do not’s of making friends in new places.

Be Real

If you’re not into the same things that other people are, don’t pretend to be just to get them to like you. Be authentic and I promise you will attract a friend who likes the same things as you. It wasn’t until the last six months or so at Laughlin that I started branching out a bit more and meeting people with the same passions and hobbies as me. The friends I already had there were fantastic, don’t get me wrong; but I am truly different personality-wise.

Don’t Settle

Don’t settle for crappy friends. When I was in tech school, I only had a few friends because everyone else would pretend to like me and then talk behind my back (because I was an Airman Leader, otherwise known as a “Skittle Rope”). Some people wouldn’t even pretend. I still keep in touch with those few friends because I focused on my friendships with them and I didn’t settle for fake or crappy friends.

Get Involved

Get involved in things that you are passionate about! I became a Key Spouse on Laughlin because I thought that my military experience would be helpful (it was) and it also introduced me to a lot of spouses. Some of them I really only talked to when they’d have a question or needed something, but I made friends with other Key Spouses. I got to help out around base, which also introduced me to more people. Towards the end of my time at Laughlin, I became involved with an animal rescue and made friends through there, too. Advertising my personal training services also introduced me to a few people that I otherwise never would have known. I still keep in touch with these people.

Another way to get involved is to go to spouse social events. They are there for a reason! Everyone is in the same position so it is great to get out of the house and meet people who can relate to what you are going through.

Be Nice

Even if someone is not your cup of tea, it is important to still be civil and nice. The Air Force sometimes makes the world seem small and you never know who you’re going to run into. If you think I am joking, consider this: one of my friends from high school ended up in pilot training at Laughlin. Towards the end of my time there, one of my friends from tech school PCS’d to Laughlin, with her husband whom she had also met in tech school. Some of my BMT sistas are now stationed here in Tucson. It is a small Air Force! Plus, people will remember when you are unkind to them. That will suck if you ask them for a favor in the future (like a recommendation for a job or something) and they say no because you were a bully; and if you think I am joking about this, I’ll let you know that I personally have a mental list of spouses that I will never do favors for (thankfully it is a small list because most people I have met in my Air Force life have been nice, at least to my face).

Spouse Groups on Social Media

Honestly, spouse groups on social media are really helpful if you want to meet some spouses or if you need something. I joined the Laughlin spouse group and for the most part, it was alright. I met a few people through that group. The only issue with spouse groups is sometimes you get spouses who are rude or who are on a power trip.

One time I saw an officer spouse tell an enlisted spouse that “they deserve their crappy housing because they’re spouse is enlisted.”

Also the administrator of that group was the spouse of an instructor pilot and she created these ridiculous rules for the page. Anyone who broke the rules got their posts deleted.

So as you can see here, there are pros and cons to these groups.

Tinder for… Friends?

Girl, yes, you read that right! I just recently discovered an app that is like Tinder but it is for women who want to make friends (with other women). The app is called Vina. It is similar to Tinder where you swipe one way or the other depending on if you want to meet them. If they want to meet you, then you two will be matched and at that point, you can send each other messages! I have been matched with six ladies so far. I honestly think that this is a fabulous idea!

Truly, in the end, you just need to be patient and authentic, and you will find your tribe of friends. The great thing is that once you PCS, you will likely stay in touch with your closest friends from that duty station and even if they aren’t physically near you anymore, technology has made it so easy to stay in touch nowadays. It is also amazing to have friends in all of these places.

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