I hate dating. It’s one of the top reasons I just went and got married (you know, right after “love”). I just didn’t want to deal with the whole playing the field thing anymore.
Little did I know that the life of a military spouse means forever dating new people. The moment you get settled into a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship that could go the distance, off the military trots you to a new duty station, where you must find that perfect someone all over again.
Dating for love is hard. Dating for a best friend is harder. Not only do you need to find someone who can love and support you despite all of your faults, but she also needs to be willing to listen to you complain periodically about the only person on the planet who liked you enough to marry you.
It’s a tall order to find one person like that in your lifetime, much less a new one every two to three years.
I have a very busy work and family schedule, and so it’s important that I strategize where and how to meet people that I think I’ll click with. I also tend to be an overzealous friend dater. When I feel a spark with someone and think “this is it! She’s The One!” I get lets-hang-out-tomorrow-or-maybe-even-this-afternoon kind of excited. That tends to scare people off.
To keep myself at bay and make sure I’m getting the most out of my friend dating time, I’ve developed some friend dating techniques and tips that every female spouse should know. (I’m not really qualified to help the male spouses with this – sorry). And so I bring you:
Amy’s Dating Tips for Military Spouses
Have a dating strategy:
Are you looking for someone with kids the same age as yours? Attending an on-base playgroup, MOPS, hanging out at a popular playground or hitting the library’s story time may be a good start. No kids? Try a Bunco or Spouse auxiliary group. Religiously inclined? Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) or its sister Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) may be the perfect start. The most important thing to remember is this: only spend time in places that will be rich with your kind of people. If you don't want to be friends with someone who doesn't share your religious or policital views, either vow to avoid those subjects entirely, or only spend time with people who do.
Don’t be scary:
When you meet someone you think could be a great match it’s easy to get too excited and scare them off. Do your best to play it cool. Wait a day or two to find them on Facebook and a few days more to casually suggest a play or coffee date.
Make your first date a success:
When preparing for your first date with a new friend, think back to what you would do if you were preparing to date a guy … and then do the opposite. Who wants to be friends with someone who intimidates them? Keep the make-up and outfit low-key – somewhere between sweat pants and business casual. Keep the conversation to your families and, assuming she is also military, service experiences. Ask her how she met her husband. If you need to tell her your love story, make sure to keep it short and sweet. Save any and all birth stories for much, much later.
Women also don’t like people who make them feel fat, so just be yourself and, for heaven’s sake, order that coffee cake.
Identify deal breakers early:
Can’t handle people who are always late? Think always having pants on your child is absolutely necessary? Need to be friends with someone who has a spotless toilet? Keep a mental list of your personal friend pet peeves and make sure you ID deal breakers early and often. Nothing hurts more than thinking you’ve found The One, only to realize that your priorities are completely different.
Save the life drama for later:
Don’t spend your first few dates talking about how your husband drives you crazy, problems with your unit, the stupidity of other spouses, your crazy in-laws or any other host of problems. Save that stuff for when you’re actually friends.
If you’re pregnant and it’s not yet obvious (and assuming your date is not obviously pregnant) save all maternity conversations for later as well. Your potential new friend does not want to hear about how you got pregnant, names you are considering or any other medical drama. Wait until at least the third date to tell her you are growing a new human.
If your pregnancy is obvious and the subject unavoidable, talk about it briefly and then drop the subject entirely.
Skip the other drama entirely:
Gossip, backbiting and rank wearing don’t look good on anyone. Need to offload that stuff from your brain? Keep a journal. No one wants to be best friends with a hater.
Now -- go and make new friends! Please share any of your personal friend dating tips below. We need all the help we can get.