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OIT practical tips to make new friends as a military spouse article

The Challenge of Making New Friends as a Military Spouse

Did you know that studies show that those with active friendships live longer than those without a circle of friends? Having friends is even linked to a decreased rate of depression. I’ve learned so much from my sweet friends, including how to be transparent, how to laugh at ridiculous circumstances, when to shut up and when to speak, and most of all, how much I need these wonderful people in my life!

This all sounds well and good, you’re saying. But I just moved here and don’t know a soul!

I’ve been there. I know the feeling of loneliness when the dust settles after a move, your kids and spouse are caught up with their own activities and busy schedules, you haven’t found your place or can’t find work yet, and there you sit, alone. Add in a pandemic like we’re in right now, and this business of making connections is ever more complicated.

So, how do you find friends when you’ve just moved and don’t know a soul? There are no easy fixes, but here are a few ideas if you’re not having any success with making connections:

  • Check your installation’s paper, Facebook page, or website for lists of spouses’ groups or activities.
  • Go old school and check your local library or coffee shop’s bulletin board or newsletter for like-minded groups (I found a great homeschooling group—and friends—this way from a flyer I happened to spot at Starbucks!)
  • Get off the base! Visit the local sights and get yourself out there. Invite a neighbor or new acquaintance to explore with you.
  • Volunteer. This is one of the best ways I’ve found to meet others. Working together for a common cause is a quick way to break the ice
  • Go to the newcomers’ briefing or orientation. Most military installations offer briefings for military and family members new to the area. The service member should be receiving this information, but if not, can easily find out for you. Ask your spouse to remind you when there’s one coming up, gather up your bravery, and go! You never know who you might meet.

If you’re looking for some ideas for making friendships off the installation, here are more resources:

Military Wild: This non-profit was founded by military spouses and is dedicated to helping military and their families connect via time together in the outdoors. They have chapters all over the world! I just interviewed Kailey Brown, one of the founders, on Milspouse Matters episode 50, and you can also learn more about this great org at (opens in a new window)!

MeetUp: Though I’ve never personally used it, I’ve heard from several spouses who’ve had success finding connections through MeetUp local interest groups.

Are you lonely? Look around. I’m certain there are other military spouses around you who feel the same way. Sometimes it takes so little to reach out: take a chance, ask someone over for coffee, knock on a new neighbor’s door, make a point of saying hello. Try it—you might be surprised.

And remember…you are worth knowing!


Jen McDonald is the Amazon Best-selling author of You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse and the host of the Milspouse Matters podcast (opens in a new window). She is passionate about strengthening and encouraging military spouses in the unique challenges they face. She was a military spouse for nearly 30 years and is the mom of four, including one son in the military. She and her Air Force husband were stationed all around the world from Europe to the Pacific. See more from Jen at her site, Jen McDonald (opens in a new window) and find her on Facebook (opens in a new window), Pinterest (opens in a new window), Twitter, and Instagram as @jenmcdonald88 (opens in a new window) and @milspousematters (opens in a new window)

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