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How to Be a Military Girlfriend or Boyfriend

While dating can be a fun and enjoyable experience, it can also be a scary one. Add to the mix that your significant other (SO) may be in the military and your relationship just became a little more interesting. However, this doesn't mean that your relationship will always be difficult but rather that you will learn much along the way both from the experience and your SO, and perhaps develop a much deeper understanding of military relationships.

Steps

  1. 1
    Understand your SO's career choice. Choosing to be the in the military is not always an easy decision to make, so when you choose to be with someone in the military, respect their choice. At the end of the day it was their decision, not yours.
    • Do not talk down about the military, regardless your past experiences (i.e., a past negative relationship within the military or negative "military brat" experience).
  2. 2
    Be their biggest fan, but don't be weird about it. Being in the military is downright difficult at times, so when your SO is down or has had a bad day, choose to do something to boost their morale.
    • Praise your SO for their service and career choice but don't overdo it. A simple action like cooking them a thank-you dinner or a random activity like making them a "You're my #1" poster is sometimes all you need.
    • Do not be weird about it, though. If you just met less than a week ago, chances are you don't know your SO well enough to be constantly bragging about him or her like you've known them for years, so show your support in way that are consistent with your time together.
  3. 3
    Understand the military concept of loyalty. The military values loyalty and trust, and chances are your SO has been bred to be loyal and protective. Your SO will be loyal to you if you can promise them the same.
  4. 4
    Be respectful of your different schedules. Just because you and your SO may have differing schedules does not mean you cannot have a successful relationship. Learn to plan around schedules. Figure out what works best for the both of you and work with that. Chances are their schedule will ease up as time passes.
    • Make the most of the time that you do have. Be creative. If all you've got is a couple of hours here or there, find activities to do together that forge and strengthen your bond.
    • Do not constantly complain because your schedules are too different. Doing so will only antagonize your SO and make both of you feel worse.
  5. 5
    Be your own person. When your SO is not around, don't spend  your day wishing they were there so you can do things together. Instead, spend time developing and being yourself. Focus on what's going on in your own life. It will be beneficial for your relationship in the long run and will give you more to talk about when you are together.
    • Focus on your schooling or work.
    • Find a hobby for when you are apart that will not get in the way of your relationship.
    • Don't forget about your friends - they were there before your SO and they will be there no matter what.
    • While it may be tempting to brag about your SO to your friends, don't overdo it. Bringing up your SO and praising them is a good thing as long as the entire conversation doesn't revolve around them.
    • Just be independent. Don't become an emotional leech who can't be alone and without your SO.
  6. 6
    Grow your relationship. Do things together that strengthen the relationship bond.
    • Go to the movies. bowling, for a walk, anything. Do something.
    • Include your SO in your life and ask to be part of theirs.
    • Make plans to hang out with friends or family, theirs or yours.
    Whatever you do, do not berate your SO if their work comes in the way of a plan you may have had.
  7. 7
    Be supportive. Your SO will undergo and experience many situations that will mentally and emotionally test them, both at home and on the field, so it's important that you not only respect their career choice but also unconditionally support their roles.
    • Be part of their military life. Attend military social events and/or family days together and connect with other people. Connections are good.
    • Be a good listener when your SO needs to vent or a steady shoulder to cry on. You can expect the same in return.
    • Be mindful of their need for space and give them that time alone. While it may be tempting to want to spend every living second together, time apart does both of you good.
    • Be happy for each other!
    • If your SO has a bad day and brings it home to you, take it with stride. You are also human and you, too, have had and will have bad days. However, do not let your SO use a bad day as an excuse to mistreat or abuse you physically or emotionally. If you feel that you are in danger, seek immediate help.
  8. 8
    Be ready for deployment. The hardest aspect of a military relationship is when a SO deploys for a lengthy period of time. In the long run, while it may be difficult to deal with and process at first, deployments can and often strengthen relationship bonds when both partners help each other navigate the change. If your SO is preparing to be or is already deployed, the following actions can be helpful:
    • Be consistently and unconditionally supportive of your SO. Deployments are not only hard for those of us left behind, but they are equally hard for those who leave.
    • It's good to let you SO know that you miss them, as this lets them know they are not only loved but yearned for. This is good.
    • However, be mindful of how much emotion you put on their plate when they reach out to you for support. The stress of the job and being away may be made worse if you put your stresses on their shoulders.
    • Know that you are not alone: thousands of SOs feel what you are feeling right now.
    • Reach out to others whose SOs are or have been deployed; they may offer healthy advice on how to cope with the separation (especially if you've had a lengthy relationship).
    • Reach out and find support groups. Take to Facebook or other social media outlets and find support groups dedicated to the SOs of deployed men and women.
    • Reach out to others in your community. Attend military events and chances are you will meet the SO of a deployed member.
    • Communication is key, especially when your SO has limited time to speak during the day. (see next step)
    • Be supportive. Deployments are hard even for those who have been deployed in the past, so do your best to be as supportive as you can.
    • In all honesty but not to be rude: it sucks, but suck it up. You are not the first and you will not be the last person who will experience a loved one being deployed. Time will pass, especially if you keep yourself busy.
  9. 9
    Communicate. Communication is key. Having honest communication is healthy for any relationship, military or not. So do your best to have a positive way to communicate with your SO, but keep in mind that you're getting to know them and it may take time to adapt to their communication style.
    • Be open-minded about their relationship style and don't assume they just don't want to talk.
    • Find more than one way to communicate. Verbally is but one way, so communicate emotionally through small gestures of appreciation or love.

      Tips

      • "Unconditionally supportive" literally means unconditionally supportive, especially if your significant other is deployed. In some rare instances family members and even close friends may start to show that "out of sight" truly means "out of mind", so your loved one may need extra support during their deployment.

      Warnings

    • If your SO is deployed, whatever you do, do not cheat. If you don't want to be in a relationship, talk to your SO and let them know. Don't cheat. That's not cool.
    • If you are not fond of the military, don't date someone who is in the service unless you are willing to change your perceptions.

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