Do you remember hoping to be picked to sit at the popular lunch table in middle school? Or did you ever dread that "seat's taken" bus experience from Forrest Gump?
As we grow older, we are supposed to spend less time to be hoping to be picked as a friend. Instead we grow are meant to grow wiser about doing the picking.
Learning to pick the right friends really has been really important for me as I moved through my military spouse adventure. Your friends become your family ... and at times they’re literally all you’ve got. That said, I wanted to share some words of wisdom on some attributes of military spouses I believe help make the best friends.
Attributes that make a great friendWitty & Positive
Positivity is SO important in milfriends: Debbie Downers will drag you down. Think about how you feel driving home after a lunch with a happy, positive person. Now think about how you feel driving home after one with old Debbie. You will be happier surrounding yourself with positivity.
Relatable & Open Minded
I believe in surrounding myself with every type of (good) person possible. I have friends who are gay, straight, old, young, of every ethnicity and every upbringing.
I’m a pretty "natural" mom. I gave birth to my daughter without any meds. We use cloth diapers. I get our meat and dairy from farmers.
But one of my best military friends is a nurse I call on a weekly basis asking questions about my family’s health. She doesn’t judge me for being “granola,” and I don’t judge her for not spending a ridiculous amount of money on organic groceries every week.
We all know those military wives who wear their husbands’ ranks. Ugh. We were stationed in Pensacola after we were first married, and I remember a husband telling the best story ever about his wife: she was driving through the main gate behind some woman who was driving 10 miles under the speed limit.
Wife A sped around Wife B and possibly gave her a dirty look. Wife B lost her mind and caught up screaming, “Do you know who my husband is?! I have your license plate!”
It turns out Wife B’s husband was someone important and Wife A still didn’t care. Husband A was harassed by Husband B and it turned into a legendary story over beer at the O Club.
I will never understand the ranking system of any branch other than my husband’s, and I’m fine with that. But if I’m friends with you it’s because I like you, not because your husband is important.
Finding real friends in the military world is almost like a chess match. Your initial moves have to be extremely careful and well thought out.
I often say the military is an entirely unnatural environment because, for most of our spouses, their best friends are also their co-workers.
The same is true for us: our best friends become our family here, but we must tread lightly at times if their spouses work with ours. There are certain friends I will tell things to (like my husband buying unripe bananas from the commissary and not understanding why they were hard as rocks) and certain “friends” I won’t.
I don’t worry about my real friends running home to their husbands and telling them what’s said in confidence.
Honesty is the most important factor in any relationship. Not only do I look for honesty in a friend, but I look for someone who is a terrible liar, like me. I can’t tell a lie to save my life. My face turns red, I get nervous; I’m a hot mess.
Several years ago one of my dearest friends started dating a guy I wasn’t a big fan of. She asked me what I thought and I danced around the topic for a minute before shouting out: “I think he’s a serial killer! I get nervous when you say you guys go for walks in the woods!”
She listened, still dated him for a few years, and was never mad at me for saying that. He did turn out to be a super creep, but that’s neither here nor there.
SO military spouses…
I hope you can learn from my tidbits about what I find important in our friendships, and, more than anything, remember to surround yourselves with other military spouses who are exactly what you need on your military spouse journey. Most important, befriend people who bring out the best friend in YOU. And yes…if you fit all the categories above, I’d would gladly say, “You can sit here if you want to…” (again, Forrest Gump.)
Bridget Platt is the CEO & Founder of Daddy’s Deployed, LLC (www.daddysdeployed.com). She is a Marine Corps spouse and mother to an energetic and talkative 2-year-old. She looks forward to hearing from you at Bridget@daddysdeployed.com