Man sitting with dog on dock

Maddie’s Answer: Settling in to Your New Duty Station

Dear Maddie,

We recently PCSed after 3 years at our last duty station where we had a great circle of friends. We currently do not have children and I am finding it difficult to make friends. I feel like all the moms think that I don’t want to be friends with them because we don’t have children ourselves and that just isn’t true. How do I crack the code and make friends here?



Dear Kara,

I have been on both sides of this equation, so I understand completely where you are coming from. And kids or not, it is hard to make friends after a move, especially if you have a great, established circle of friends back at your old duty station. Moms may seem like they have the advantage with the bus stop chatter, play groups and sports teams, but sometimes moms want friends outside of their kids’ circle. I think the standard rules of making friends apply whenever you move. Regardless of your kid status, you will also build up a great network of friends at your new installation with a little bit of elbow grease and some old school methods. Just like dating, you need to find an activity or hobby you are interested in and pursue it in your new community. Obviously solo, anti-social activities do not apply, but let’s be real, you can even make a love of reading books into a social activity with book clubs. If you are racking your brain trying to figure out a hobby, then consider the old cliché of volunteering in the meantime. It’s cliché because it works. I have yet to leave a volunteer activity without at least one new friend. It may take a few attempts before you hit it off with someone and other times you may hit it off with someone immediately. Not sure where to start? Consider a program on your installation (where volunteers are always needed) or a passion in your local community (dog walkers at your community pet shelter anyone?). There you will find like-minded people and it will already lay the groundwork for a friendship. Also, why not put yourself out there? If you are a foodie and dying to check out a new restaurant, post in a spouse group on social media to see if others want to plan a meet up. Same thing goes with a movie you want to see or activity you want to check out. Of course it goes without saying to use caution when meeting people for the first time, so make sure it’s a public place and let others know your plans for the day. I believe your friend circle will soon be growing regardless of the “mom status” of you or your new friends!


Dear Maddie,

We just got to our new duty station and to sum it up, I hate it. How do I survive the time we have left here?



Dear Brandee,

I know you want to pack your bags and head out of town and tell your spouse you will see them on the flip side, but put the suitcase down. Most spouses have been in your shoes and have lived to tell the tale! I promise I am not going to sit here and tell you that you will learn to love it, or ask what is wrong with you. I firmly believe that it is OK to not like where you live. We are all meant to thrive in different parts of the world. However, I will tell you to bloom where you are planted. That phrase used to be nails on a chalkboard to me, so I modified it to fit my situation. Sure. I will bloom where I am planted, but only short, sustainable roots that can easily be picked up and moved to another location to thrive.” I made the choice to power on by finding the good things about our new location. I also had to psych myself up with daily positive affirmations about the benefits of living in that particular place. Literally, I would publicly share on my Facebook page something positive. It was a bit of a mind trick and it got me through. I got really involved in social activities and volunteering and before I knew it I had some of the best friends I had ever met and suddenly our time was up! I was sad to leave! Sad! Can you believe it? Not so much because of the duty station itself, but because of the friends we made. Since you mentioned that you just got to your new home, might I suggest my rule of thumb? I make sure not to make a decision on a duty station before we have lived there six months. That gives me enough time to experience a few season changes, get to know my way around, and get settled. If at the end of the six months I still don’t like it, I allow myself to be OK with that, but still find ways to thrive. I am willing to bet you too will find the positive in your new place and grow your roots to fit your situation. Best wishes!



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