Thursday, April 18, 2013

10 Things To Consider Before Dating Someone In The Military

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If you are going to date someone who is a member of the military, part-time or full-time here are a few things to consider and be ready for:

1) If you are someone who needs a boyfriend or girlfriend at your side at all times or their constant attention and affection, a military spouse life is not going to be a great choice for you. Do not expect they can do that for you and do not make them feel guilty that they should. Make a different choice or find a way to become more independent.

2) If you do not want to spend prom, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, babies births and holidays without your significant other or future spouse do not date someone in the military. This is a given in the military and other professions like medical, fire and law enforcement. Make plans for how you will celebrate holidays without them and enjoy them.

3) If you are someone who needs to live close to your family, do not date or marry someone in the military. You will move a lot, potentially in far flung places around the world. Do not expect anything otherwise. Do not pretend this is not real. Do not be dramatic or unhappy when this happens.

4) If you are not supportive or interested in the military as a family life choice do not date or marry someone who loves their career in the military. Do not anticipate that you will get them to leave it and do something else.

5) If you have a very defined career path that requires a specific location & number of years spent in one place a military partnership will make that very difficult. Choose a career that is easily portable. If you want a big career that demands you live in a particular area, or long years in one place, don't date people in the service.

6) If you have a lot of anxiety and worry a lot, being a military spouse may not be something you are built for. Your choices are find every way possible to strengthen yourself and survive or choose a less stressful life for yourself. A military spouse works with uncertainty and danger every day. If that isn't something you handle well it will add a lot of stress to a service member's life, which isn't fair to them.

7) You need to understand that when men have been eating dirt, crawling on their stomachs under barbed wire, on a ship, or dusty, remote camp, sleeping on the world's worst mattress (if they even have one) they are going to be ornery. And sorry to say it, but some of that is going to blow back on you because they can't vent it anywhere else. You cannot take this personally. This will be one of the biggest challenges to your relationship because it's eventually going to get you hot under the collar and sick and tired of hearing it and then you're going to lose it a little and there's going to be a fight. The fewer times you can let it get that far, the better. (Not that I know anything about this, I've just heard....wink). Read more about military couple deployment arguments here.

8) Consider that in a local or national emergency if is likely your service member will be called to serve the country or local community. They will likely not be available to take care of you. You will need to make plans and be ready to stand up and act on your own to protect yourself and your family. There is enough emergency preparedness information out that that you should be able to be ready for anything - especially things particular to your geographic location.

9) If you aren't a happy person, you won't be happy with the military. There will be lots of things to complain about and get frustrated by. Obsessing about all these things will make you, your partner and everyone around you miserable. If you can see the glass half-full, you will have a fantastic experience with a military spouse.

10) If you meet a military man, fall in love with him and are up for a great adventure you will find a lot to love about dating and potentially marrying a service member. There is a lot to enjoy and love about the adventures the military can bring to your life. If you chose, it will make you strong, courageous, brave, more outgoing and give you a network of friends around the world.


  1. I love these and all of them are so true!!

  2. Hi-

    I just started dating a submariner a couple weeks ago, so everything is very new and very terrifying to me. I grew up in a Navy household so I've been through deployments with my dad, but it has been about 10 years since he retired and my separation anxiety handling skills are somewhat rusty...

    I love your blog and I'd love to see more stuff like this. It's really wonderful for us newbies to have someone to look up to and grow with. I can already tell this will be a learning experience but I think this one might be worth it.

    Thanks again for posting.

  3. Hi. I found your blog very helpful. I am extremely independent and am on board with everything in my relationship with my boyfriend of almost a year who is training for SF now. He moved but we have kept in touch everyday when possible. I am a state trooper however and have six years left in my career and am worried about when he gets stationed somewhere etc. any advice??? He is also resistant to me leaving my job and is worried about "ruining" our relationship because of the intense training and not being able to talk for long periods of time. I couldn't be more supportive of him and while I have dreams of my own and my own life my dream is that he succeeds.

  4. Thanks for the great comments and kind words. Being in a military relationship is definitely one that pushes you to grow and if you don't respond to the call it will break you down. It's our choice how we respond but it is not easy. Batgirl, I think you two are the best guides to your relationship. If you are both committed to it and to making the best decisions for your life together you will find ways to work things out that are the best for you. Don't spend more than a few seconds worrying about 'what could be' but instead put all that energy into doing what you can do to grow in the relationship and to support each other. Be sure to let him know what he can do that helps you when you cannot be in contact for a time or when he really has to focus on work. You have a challenging career too and it's a big decision to decide if you would leave your job or wait for retirement. I would prioritize your goals & dreams and them work together to make those happen & everything else be damned in a way. Life is short. It should be as happy as possible. One other thing I would share. My husband was in SF and we have talked about how much I could have helped him if we'd been together during that time. You have the chance to be there for your guy, even from a distance. Figure out how you can support him and he will be beyond grateful.

  5. Thanks so much for writing this! I especially loved tip #9, which is so true for any relationship. I liked it so much, in fact, I included it in a recent podcast on military relationships (with a shout out and credit to you, of course!). I'd love to send you the link when the show is up!

  6. Loved reading this! It was helpful :) I have been talking with someone who is getting ready to go to boot camp. He's pretty amazing and while there is nothing official yet relationship wise, we have talked quite a bit about what it would be like when he goes and if I'd be ok with that kind of life long-term. I of course reply with being fine with it because I'm basically head over heels at this point and would probably follow him to the moon.

    Anyway I have noticed he has been pretty distant lately. All he will really say is that he is stressed. Little by little he is sharing more about his family's disapproval of him joining. He has changed his tune from talking about how this relates to us and just says that he needs to sort things out and feels too bogged down to really think of anything other than just getting to boot camp. I wanna be as supportive as I can to him and give him his space to processes but of course I wanna know where he's at because he's leaving soon.

    I'm new to all this and can't even begin to understand all the transition to full time especially with the lack of family support :/ my gut just says wait it out but I think most would say if he can't tell me what I'm waiting for then let him go. I just don't think it's that simple considering the circumstances... Am I right? I hope you don't mind me asking! He just seemed to go from so confident in us moving forward, talking about how visits would work, me coming to graduation etc to being quite vague as transition has come up (ie: preparing to leave, selling items, transitioning out of his current job) but not necessarily absent totally. Any thoughts? I appreciate it!

  7. Thank you for the great comments. I have a friend that is in the military, and he just recently got married. They seem to get a long good enough, but at the same time, I know there is some friction that has to do with him being in the military. I think this advice could help them see where the friction is coming from, especially the part about anxiety. Thanks for the help!

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