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Dreading the Friendship-Dating Scene, Again.

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With every PCS, I’m forced to start dating again – friendship-dating, that is.

Picture this. A speed dating service for military spouses, but instead of looking for a hot date, the service helps us find friends in a new community. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful idea? What should we call it? www.milspousematch.com or www.militaryharmony.com ?

I just PCS’d – again. Nothing but boxes and paper and unfinished rooms surround me, my children are bored out of their minds and need more than their mom and Wii to play with. I don’t know a soul in Ohio. A few weeks ago, I left the best group of friends and the “Dream Team” of military spouses. Now, I have to start over, again. I’m fantasizing of this imaginary online friendship matching service and if it were real, I would join in a hot second.

Finding and making new friends and re-building my support network after a move is a lot like dating again. And I hated the dating scene when I was single.

First, I have to leave the house. New friends are not going to find me while I’m under a ton of cardboard boxes, engulfed in dull brown paper and tripping on random items lying around the house. However, I can’t just wander outside in my ugly yoga pants and torn t-shirt. No, I actually have to make an effort before I leave the house because you never know if I might run into a potential friend at Target or the park.

Today is the day, I can’t take it anymore. I need to talk to someone else besides my kids. I put on my cutest “mom” clothes, run a brush through my hair and head out the door with children in tow. I can do this. To park I go, hoping to find a neighbor or another mom to connect with.

I spot someone who has the same age children I have at the park. I take a deep breath, wondering when is the right time to approach her. What could I ask her to start a conversation? Maybe she is new, as well? She could be waiting to find a new bestie, too. I’m so nervous. I frantically review different scenarios and questions in my head, hoping not to sound desperate.

She has a tennis racquet on her key chain. I play tennis. This is too good to be true. I try not to look anxious – kind of like not wanting to look like I put out on the first date. But, I’m so excited.

So I find a scrap receipt in my purse and write down my phone number. Yes, giving out the digits on the first meeting is totally acceptable. I even know several military spouses that have business cards with their contact info and they give them out like candy.

I’m going to make the first move. Maybe I’ll compliment on her scarf or maybe I’ll comment on how well-behaved her kids are – well, barely behaving. I’ve summoned the courage. I walk over to her with a sliver of confidence and then….BAM! She gets up and walks away to meet another friend she had been waiting on.

Uh, oh! I’m stuck in the awkward stance, clearly trying to disguise my missed-timed approach. She stares at me for a second without curiosity – more like absurdity, then turns away and I suddenly feel ridiculous and alone. Rejected. I make up some sad story about her in my head to make myself feel better. I conclude she has Xenophobia (phobia of strangers) and I give her the stink eye just to make her nervous. My vision of my first friend in this new place has been crushed.

But, I know that life is lonely without “that” friend you can depend on. Heck, I just need to find someone to list as my emergency contact at the children’s school. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? I felt like such a loser when the secretary at the school gave me the “pity face” because I didn’t know anyone yet. I had amazing friends at my last base. The friendship-dating scene bites in Ohio.

Just when I was feeling hopeless, a military spouse came to my rescue. See, I have an amazing friend, Carrie, who lives in Virginia. We were stationed together in Texas a few years back. She recognized that not only was I moving to Ohio, but also so was another friend of hers, named Crystal, living in Virginia. She introduced us via Facebook. We began an “online” friendship and eventually realized we were going to be living in nearby neighborhoods. (ok, so there is a frienship dating service – Facebook)

Carrie, the clever mil spouse that she is, gave Crystal a book to deliver to me. (The book was about Queen Elizabeth I, I’m a sucker for the Tudors) I think it was her way to ensure we connected in Ohio. Have I a mentioned that I love military spouses? Crystal stopped by a few days after I moved in with the book. It was the first time we’ve seen each other, but I felt like I’ve known her forever.

Later that week, she texts me and says she has a bottle of wine to give me. By the way, wine is the universal gift of military spouses. We decided to meet in the park in our neighborhood with our kids, the same park I was recently rejected in.

Crystal arrives in fashion on a bike with a backpack. We sit on the park bench and she proceeds by pulling out a beautifully adorned bottle of my favorite red wine and two plastic cups. She opens the bottle like a master and we sit together watching the children play, chatting about schools and our military life while the sun begins to set. It was perfect. We tap our plastic glasses together and cheers to Carrie, our mutual friend, who put us together.

After my child has her third meltdown, I barely noticed the first two, we realized it was time to leave.

I lean over and ask the burning question, “Would you mind if I listed you as my emergency contact for my kids school?”

“Of course!” she responds as if it had already been foregone conclusion.

Happy sigh. And now I have “that” friend. My friendship dating continues, but as least I know I have friend I can call, someone who understands this crazy life and is more than willing to take a chance on a new face. More importantly, she carries wine in her backpack.

Finding and making new friends is as nerve wrecking as the dating scene when I was single. It’s daunting, scary and full of rejection. However, life just isn’t the same without friends. And in this transient life, we are forced to find our “match” every time we move

So if you’re in the market for a friend, I might suggest first friendship-dating a fellow military spouse. I’m not saying they’re easy (he he), but I can tell you they understand the power of friendship and connecting more than anyone else you’ll ever meet. Together, we have an expansive network of spouses who can ease the sting of friendship-dating.

Feeling grateful and ready to conquer the dating scene again.


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