9 Ways to Meet New People
Almost anyone in aviation will tell you that frequent moves are part of the job. It's one thing to move when it's your job. It's another matter altogether when you're packing up your life and leaving the people you know and trust to allow your spouse to follow their dream.
Make no mistake, moving across the state, country or even the world is a major undertaking. Physical effort and logistics aside, one of the hardest things about moving is undoubtedly rebuilding your social network.
Add to that, the fact that being married to a pilot means you spend more time alone than the average spouse and our friends play an even more important role in our lives.
If you've recently moved, or are about to, or if you just need to grow your social network, how can you meet new people and build meaningful friendships?
We've done the research for you and found 9 of the best ways to meet new people.
1. Find a Meetup
Meetup.com is designed to connect people with something in common. I don't want to say it's available in every country in the world, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a country where it's not active.
Simply choose from a huge list of topics which are of interest to you, select your location and search the upcoming Meetups in your area.
You may need to try a few different outings before you find the groups that are the best fit for you. And it usually takes a couple of visits to start building relationships where you meet with people you click with outside the Meetup group but you know when you go to a Meetup, it's usually a group of like-minded people who are also looking to meet new friends.
2. Volunteer Work
Are you finding yourself with a heap of extra time on your hands when your pilot is on a trip but reluctant to commit to some things due to the uncertainty of your partner's roster? Volunteer work may be the answer.
So many organisations are desperate for more volunteers you're sure to find something you enjoy doing.
If you already have an idea what you might like to do, you could reach out directly to a suitable service or organisation and ask if they're looking for volunteers.
If you need inspiration, simply enter Volunteers and your city into your favourite search browser and you're sure to come up with a variety of options.
Keep in mind, if you're volunteering as a way to help meet new people, the type of roles that would be the best fit for this. No point signing up for a role where you'll always be working solo!
Bonus points for volunteering are you're likely to meet someone with a similar interest.
3. Join a Gym
Gyms can be a great way to meet new friends. If you attend regularly and especially if you join group classes you will start to see the same people consistently.
You can bond over your shared pain as you sweat it out during class and from there you may want to see if they want to grab a coffee (or a protein shake) after a workout.
Some gyms like to focus on building community so it's always worth asking before you join if they organise social events outside of classes.
If you have kids it's definitely worth looking for a gym with a creche or at least making sure they have classes when the kids will be in school or daycare.
4. Join a Team or Sport Club
If you don't enjoy the gym, consider joining a sporting team or club.
Do you have friends who are already playing in a social league that interests you? Reach out to them and find out if they're looking for new members. Speak to your local gym or leisure centre. Often they have a noticeboard or list, either of teams who are looking for more members or where you can register yourself as an extra for teams when they need.
You can also search for the local or State organisation of a sport that interests you and find out if there are clubs or teams near you. Once you start reaching out, you may be surprised just how much is happening around you that you didn't even realise.
I know it can feel difficult when it's hard to commit to regular times, but since lots of social sporting teams can find it difficult to make up numbers often they'll be keen to welcome you, even if you can't commit to every week.
5. Find a New Church
Finding a new church can be a daunting prospect. There are so many factors to consider when finding a good fit for you and your family.
If possible, find a church that you are comfortable visiting both on your own and when your spouse is home. If you are reluctant to attend when your spouse is working you may find yourself struggling both spiritually and personally.
Look for a church which has smaller fellowship or prayer groups. These type of gatherings are usually more conducive to building friendships.
For more tips on finding a new church, you may like to read this article on How to Find A New Church.
6. Join a Playgroup
If you have young children, finding a local playgroup can be a lifesaver. Connecting with other mums is an amazing way to bond over shared sleepless nights, toddler tantrums and navigating the journey of parenthood.
A playgroup is a group of parents and kids who meet regularly. It is different to preschool in that the parents stay for the duration of the group. It usually runs for 2-3 hours, depending on the age of the children.
When looking for a playgroup, same as for volunteering, if you type playgroup and your city into your search browser, you're sure to find some options.
Some questions to ask to help you find a group that's a good fit for you are:
- What is the average age of the other children attending?
- What type of group is it? Are they quite structured with planned activities or is it more an opportunity for the parents to get together and chat while the kids free play?
- Where is the group held? Is it easy for you to get there? Is the location always the same?
Another place you can search for a playgroup is at mops.org. MOPS stands for Mothers of PreSchoolers and is suitable if you have children under 6 or are pregnant. MOPS groups meetings are usually held in church buildings however mums of all faiths – or no faith – are welcome to attend.
And remember, not every group will be the right fit for you. If, after a few visits, it doesn't feel like you've found your place, then don't be afraid to try somewhere new.
It seems obvious but don't overlook work as a place to find new friends. Even if you don't need to work, if you feel your social life is lacking, consider looking for casual or part-time work in a field you enjoy.
Having friendly, helpful neighbours is invaluable. But how can you build those relationships? Some neighbourhoods are more social than others but don't underestimate your ability to build and nurture a friendship with your neighbours even in a quieter street.
Simple gestures like taking them fruit from your overflowing fruit tree or fresh flowers from your garden, bringing their bins in, offering to mow their lawns when you're doing yours are all ways to start building a connection.
Consider having a street Christmas party or even setting up a street Facebook page where you can all start to connect and talk about local matters. You can set it up and then pop a note with all the details in their letterboxes.
9. PW Groups
Last but not least, use social media to seek out groups designed for partners of pilots. Connecting with others in similar situations, even if it's only online, can be helpful but even better, there are many location specific groups as well. All of the pilot wife/spouse/partner groups I have found on Facebook are listed here so check it out and find the ones that best suit you.
But most importantly, give it time. It takes time to build friendships. I know it can feel frustrating but don't try and force the connections or leave after a couple of weeks because it doesn't feel like it's working. Allow time for connections to build naturally. Make small talk each time you meet, offer to help others where you can. Over time, these small moments and gestures will build to more significant relationships and before you know it you will have build yourself a valuable network of friends who you can rely on and who you, in turn, can support as well.