It can be said that all relationships are work, but being involved in a military relationship adds another level of difficulty to the mix. The military has its own lifestyle, language, expectations and complications. Being with a military man is not always easy but it can be worth it. The key to a successful military relationship is to cope with the ups and downs of military life.
- Skill level:
Decide if military life is for you. Before you run headlong into love, determine if you are up to the challenge. Being a military girlfriend means dealing with deployments, his buddies, military formalities, military acronyms and sometimes coming second to the military. If you are not ready for that and more, move on to another man.
Learn to be independent. Be aware that your boyfriend can be swept away by his service at any time. Although you can depend on him, you have to depend on yourself more. Learn to do things on your own. Be brave and try new things.
Build a trusting and communicative relationship. Talk with each other about everything. Be completely honest with one another. Be patient with your military boyfriend when he can't tell you something work related. Sometimes the secrecy is due to the nature of his job, other times he may not want to tell you because it is too disturbing. Trust his decision.
Join an online military girlfriend support group or forum. Many of the military wife forums also welcome girlfriends. Shop around before picking one that suits you. Each forum and group has its own personality. You want to meet people who match your needs. The women in the groups can answer your questions, lend a listening ear and understand your situation when no one else can.
Learn the basics of military acronyms. Every branch of the military has its own language and acronyms. When you hear your honey say "I have to take the APFT before my CO lets me change my MOS." Ask him to translate. By the way, in Army-ese, that means "I have to take the Army Physical Fitness Test before my commander officer lets me change my military occupational specialty."
Be patient when driving onto the base. Unless your military man is with you in the car, getting on base can be a real pain. You need your driver's license, car registration, proof of car insurance and they may have you call your boyfriend to prove you have reason to enter the base. You have to present your documentation to the gate guard where they may inspect your vehicle. They then give you a visitor's pass. There can be long lines to get a pass, so bring a book.
Meet other people in your military man's unit. Go with him to unit functions and meet the guys he works with as well as their wives and girlfriends. When you are a military girlfriend, you are often left out of the loop when it comes to the dissemination of unit information. The unit tells things to the wives, but not to the girlfriends. If you make friends with one of the wives, she can fill you in. This is especially helpful when your military man is deployed.
Get used to military time. It's not 6 p.m., it's 1800 hours. Also get used to arriving at functions at least 15 minutes early. Military men are punished when they are late, so being early becomes a habit that bleeds into their everyday life.
Prepare yourself for a deployment. Whether for a few months or a couple of years, deployments are a reality. They are rarely easy for you (or him), but you can get through them. Use your support groups, communicate with your military man as much as possible, take the time to achieve your own goals and limit the amount of news you watch (it makes it easier).
Tips and warnings
- Be supportive when he tells you about a deployment. Although you are going to miss each other, deployments give him a chance to put his training to work. It is scary knowing what circumstances he is going to face, but trust in his abilities and enjoy the time you have together.
- Do not dwell on the fact that your boyfriend is gone for long periods of time and do not blame him for being gone. He feels guilty enough when he leaves you behind.
- Do not be offended if you are called a "civilian." There are so many differences between military life and the "civilian world" that military members often make the distinction by calling all those outside the military a "civilian." Sometimes it's a dirty word. If used in that context, defend yourself.
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