You’ve read my posts about for an army girlfriend, navy girlfriend, or military girlfriend. There are certain things that strong military relationships have. Maybe you just met this person in the military and are curious about the “what-ifs” that come with the relationship. Perhaps you are already dating someone in the military but want to know more before making a serious commitment.
Dating someone in the military isn’t as glamorous as Hollywood makes it appear. If you are considering seriously dating a man (or woman) in the military, there are a few things to consider.
Here are 15 things to know about dating a military man.
This list is not meant to DETER anyone from dating someone in the military. It’s meant to give those with questions or curiosity some realistic guidance into what goes into a military relationship.
- You will be far from family or each other. At one point or another, you will have to live quite a distance from family (unless you’re really lucky). You will most likely move a lot and these places will most likely be places you’ve never been before. Or perhaps your service member may get moved to somewhere far (or get deployed) and you decide to stay back.
- There’s little you can do when they complain about their jobs. There are days when they will love the military and then days when they say they can’t wait until they get out. When they’re having a bad day, you can listen and try to offer advice, but unless you served yourself, there’s not a whole lot you can do. In the civilian world, it’d be easy to say “ find another job”. Not so much, military world.
- They cannot be at your side at all times. If you are someone who needs constant attention and affection, know that a service member may not be able to give that to you. You can’t expect them to be physically there all of the time when it comes to military duties and it’s certainly not right to make them feel guilty about it.
- Your education or career may take a detour, backseat, or change entirely. If your career field demands that you are in one place for a long time, know that a difficult choice may be in your future if you are in a military relationship for the long haul.
- They will break tradition. This refers to tradition in their personal lives. Service members may miss birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, holidays, births, deaths, etc. If it’s a tradition that so-and-so always dresses up as Santa for Christmas, then you must be ok with either celebrating without him/her or arranging Christmas for another time.
- Your anxiety and stress levels will be at all-time high. While you don’t serve in the military, you care for someone that does. You may receive phone calls where you hear bombs or guns in the background. Then you may not hear from them for days or weeks or months. On top of that, you have to manage things on the homefront by yourself. Be sure you are able to handle this kind of stress or at least know the resources and support at your disposal.
- You may find yourself making grown-up decisions faster than “regular couples”. When you date someone in the military, you may found yourself asking when you will move in, get married, or have kids a lot sooner than you would any of your other relationships That’s because with the military, there are so many uncertainties so you have to figure out these decisions perhaps a little earlier than you’re comfortable with.
- You have to be able to pick up and start over. You have to be able to form new social circles wherever you go. As much as you LOVED your friends at one duty station, it may be hard for some to find new friends at another duty station.
- You may not always fit in. When you’re dating someone (just DATING), you may feel a little left out when you hang out in military circles. I’ve written about this when I was “just the girlfriend”. Everyone will be talking about their jobs or different bases and throwing our military terms, phrases, and acronyms, and the only acronym you’ll think about is “WTF?”.
- You might encounter dependapotamus jokes. There’s an ugly (and I mean UGLY) sector of military life where online bullies/trolls make fun of anyone who’s in a relationship with a service member. They ridicule anything from your personal life to your looks to the things that you buy. It’s a ridiculous drama-filled world. Stay light-hearted and don’t buy too seriously into it.
- You may find yourself comparing to other military couples. I don’t know if it’s because there’s a competitive nature built into the military (Physical Training/PT stats, rank structures, boards-interviews, etc), but it seems like there’s always that one person or couple who must out-do you. As in, their service member had been deployed longer, or they made rank faster, or these people have moved this many times and these are all of the places they’ve been to. The best shot you have is to downplay or avoid it.
- There’s lots of rules… and some apply to you too. It can be as simple as dress codes (some commissaries have really strict dress codes) or what you post on social media (yes, people can and have gotten in trouble for posting sensitive information.) There are many rules that your service member had to abide by and some spill over into their personal lives.
- Some people will see you as naive or crazy. They might think you’re loony for getting into this world. There are times where you just need to vent, but someone might (rudely) say “you signed up for this” or “you knew what you were getting into. It’s best to acknowledge their opinion but know that you are dating the man (woman) not the uniform. But with that said….
- So much of your world will be controlled by people you don’t know and will never meet. Even when you’re dating, the military already has so much impact on whether or not you guys will be able to take that vacation or visit your family or even have a night out. It’s about planning for the best but also preparing for the worst.
- If you date someone in the military, fall in love, and take the plunge, Be prepared. Be prepared for new adventures, new people, new locations. With all that military life can throw at you, it can make you stronger, braver, more independent, and give you a network of people all around the world.
Need more on military life? Check out the Ultimate Handbook for modern military spouses and significant others.