Making friends as an adult is hard. I moved to St. Louis right after college and spent the rest of the year with basically no friends other than my roommate and a few friends from college, and a guy with uneven cornrows from across the street, if I’m being generous. Adults have several things going on and usually aren’t all like “Hey, do you want to be best friends?”
One of my good friends, Allison, moved to Chicago this year and has been suffering from friendlessness alongside me. One day a girl in Panera gave Allison a cookie she had acquired for free, and at the end of the visit, Allison extended friendship, which cookie girl accepted! They met for drinks for a solid two hours the following week.
I was encouraged by her success and the next week I gave a girl with a baby attached to her my number in the Commissary. She had struck up a conversation about corn oil, and complimented my Cardinals shirt so I thought she was nice. Since I spent most of my life living in a small town– Cape Girardeau, Missouri, which is where Gone Girl was filmed– I don’t know how to spontaneously have fun so we have not hung out yet. I would invite her to have dinner and drinks, but I was unwilling to sacrifice hanging out with my own husband at the time. (Judge me! I AM a newlywed and my husband will be away soon.)
A couple weeks ago, I told my husband that I don’t see myself ever having a bunch of friends at this duty station. Fortunately my adolescence of inept social skills has prepared me for this very isolation. I don’t exactly feel lonely–just bored. I have made friends with about 5 women since I have been here. Unfortunately, three of the women live about 40 minutes away. Since I don’t have a job, I’m not able to build functional relationships that can also serve as friendships through work. Basically, I’m just here. Fortunately my husband is a pretty good best friend, but he can only actively listen for somewhere between 3 and 4 minutes.
Reasons Its Hard
As much as I have found watching my neighbors walk in and out of their houses titillating, I haven’t been able to make friends with any of the ladies. The ones I have met are too young for me. It’s not that I can’t have young friends, but apart from the fact that we likely have different approaches to life, I don’t think they can relate to the desperation for companionship someone my age may feel. They usually don’t make it easy to create a friendship, from my experience.
Is it possible that military families are more focused on the survival of their family units than other populations? Is it possible that this results in decreased sight of those around us? Or is this just what it’s like to be married?
My husband joined the Army at age 26, which is older than most people who join. This means his immediate coworkers are younger, single men, or, younger men with children. This means his battle buddies haven’t provided a good friend pool for us as a couple. In addition, I have only met a few couples our age married without children. That isn’t saying much because I haven’t met many people. It might be in my head, but having children seems to affect what kind of relationships one cultivates.
I’m being dramatic by saying “joblessness,” but not having a job severely decreases the amount of relationships in my life. It’s not even that you become best friends with all your coworkers, but they are at least humans you can talk to on a regular basis! Once while Spencer was gone, I really thought I was going to spend a whole 24 hours without speaking to anyone, but was redeemed by someone who came to check for mold. At work, I made a couple of significant relationships, but didn’t find anyone I wanted to hang out with. Nonetheless, being present at a place other than my house on a regular basis at least offered the opportunity of going through the functions of a friendship. I have only spoken to one of my coworkers since I quit.
A unique experience as a military wife is having my husband gone for weeks on end while I’m home getting sucked into the dark side of YouTube watching pimple-popping videos. (Shout out to Dr. Sandra Lee!) This is when being
unemployed and friendless is the hardest. Living over 11 hours away from all my friends and family means I am utterly alone. I can’t exactly complain because I am far from the only one. I am an outgoing person so I really feel for other women who find themselves in my situation without the social skills I have. Some women even move back home to their parents when their husbands deploy and I can’t blame them.
I almost forgot about the blind friend-date I went on last month. A Facebook friend suggested I add her friend who was moving to my base. Six months later the friend suggested we go see ‘Dark Places’ together per a Facebook post. First of all, don’t let this terrible movie deter you from Gillian Flynn’s books, including Dark Places and Gone Girl. Second, this girl, whom I have never met, invited me to her house, 40 minutes away to watch this movie. It was onDemand because it was too terrible for theaters. I went. That’s how desperate we are. Fortunately, she was super cool.
I think everyone who has moved to a new town as an adult can relate to it being hard to make friends. I actually don’t know if all other military wives have a hard time making friends. They probably get better at it with experience moving around. It’s also probably safe to assume it is easier to have something in common with people if you have kids or A JOB. I just feel like I’m in this weird place in our Army life because of being both jobless and childless at 26. I am working on the job piece, but meanwhile, I’m cool with my husband being my best friend.