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Everything You Need To Know About Dating A Military Man

Everything You Need To Know About Dating A Military Man

Dating a military man is tough. You’ll face challenges that can, at some point, become too much to handle. You’ll be tested – your patience, your adaptability and your feelings. You’ll experience a lot of uncertainty and worry.

For this reason, before you enter into a relationship with a military guy, make sure you really like him – enough to have faith that he’s worth dealing with everything you’ll learn about today.

If you eventually marry your military partner, things will change in some ways. As a military spouse, you’ll be expected to make more sacrifices, but some aspects of your life will become easier.

So if you’ve fallen for a man in uniform, this is what you need to know.

10 Things To Expect When Dating A Military Man

Military couple sitting outside hugging

I’ll be upfront with you: military life isn’t for everyone. But if the guy you’ve fallen for is a service member, it’s good to be informed and know what to expect.

Here’s everything you should know about dating a military man – the truth about what it’s like and useful tips to help you navigate this challenging relationship.

1. His job comes first

When dating a member of the U.S. Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force or Marine Corps – you must accept that his job comes first.

His job isn’t like a typical job. Long hours don’t mean that dating a military man is like dating a workaholic obsessed with work. A workaholic might be devoted to his job, but he still has control over his choices and can cut his hours if he wants to.

Being in the military means that if he’s told to go, he goes. He has no say in this, so it doesn’t matter what either of you wants. There can be no compromises when it comes to his job.

Your personal lives come second to serving the country

He’ll be gone more than he’s home; unavailable more than he’s available. If the military calls, he won’t be there on anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions.

A military man has to take his job very seriously, working hard to avoid making mistakes because they can cost him dearly. You can choose between accepting this and ending the relationship because it’s non-negotiable.

If you choose to stay, you’ll never be able to count on him being around and your plans will always be subject to change. The military can require that he works different hours than planned, so you must get used to uncertainty.

A stable job

However, being in the military has many perks, the most important being job security. If a soldier performs as required and doesn’t do something that will get him dismissed, it’s a job he can count on.

The pay is good and he doesn’t have to worry about losing his job, so he can make long-term plans that depend on financial security.

Additionally, a job in the military has excellent benefits, including those that are provided for his spouse.

2. You can’t avoid difficult choices

man sitting on bed with woman in background

The military comes first, so a lot of compromises that happen in typical relationships are impossible. Usually, when partners have different opportunities, the healthy choice is to agree on what will benefit both of them the most.

When you’re dating a military man, if your paths are going in different directions, he’ll never follow yours. Your education or career will never take priority over his job. You can choose to go where he goes, wait for him or end things.

Service members move a lot, so when he has to move bases, do you stay or follow? You might have to decide between giving up your life as you know it and the relationship with him. You’d have to leave your family, friends, school, job, lifestyle and more to stay with him.

If your plans don’t clash with his job, nothing has to change, but whenever there’s a compromise to be made regarding your life together, it will always be you who has to concede.

Rushing into marriage

Military lifestyle means that military couples marry sooner than civilian couples. The reason for rushing into marriage is to be able to spend more time with each other and because of the many benefits available after a service member gets married.

Once you graduate from military girlfriend to military wife, you’ll have access to various benefits that weren’t available prior to your marriage. On the other hand, you’ll also face new challenges.

• Single soldiers must live in the barracks and only after getting married can they move into a house. You’ll have a choice between military housing or living off-base.

• Even though you don’t get paid, the housing and cost-of-living allowances for a soldier increase when he gets married, so he will receive a higher pay.

• You’ll get educational assistance, recreational opportunities, healthcare, childcare and housing benefits. If you’re considering starting a family with a soldier, it’s much easier if you’re married.

• It becomes easier to keep in touch and, in case of a family emergency, your spouse can be sent home and receive assistance. None of this is available until you’re legally married.

• However, many military spouses are unemployed because of the challenging lifestyle which makes finding and holding a job difficult.

3. You’ll have to be independent and self-reliant

If you must have your partner around all the time, a relationship with a service member is not for you. Being independent will make the military girlfriend or spouse lifestyle much more manageable.

It’s of great importance that you don’t focus entirely on him. While he’s away, you must do the things that are important to you instead of putting your life on hold to sit around waiting for him.

Developing your own interests and connections can be challenging. Making friends, organizing your life or developing your career will be difficult because you’re never long enough in one place to put down roots.

• Choosing a profession you can do anywhere, such as blogger, virtual assistant, instructor can help you avoid feeling like you have to start over again every time you move.

Developing hobbies, staying busy and focusing on learning new things can fill your time and help you grow. Find something that fulfills you, so that you can live your life independently from your boyfriend or spouse. You’ll miss him, but you’ll know that you can handle it.

• This will also help you miss him less and worry less when you don’t know if he’s safe.

• Additionally, if he knows that you can cope and take care of yourself while he’s away, his time away will be much easier on him because he won’t have to worry as much.

• In military families, solo parenting is always a possibility. If you have a child, at times you’ll feel like a single parent because of how often your partner is absent. You should be prepared for this, emotionally, mentally and practically.

RELATED: 55 Empowering Hobbies For Women In Their 20s

4. It’s a long-distance relationship

woman working at night responding to her long distance boyfriend

Military love needs a lot of patience. Soldiers go away and you can never be sure when they’ll be back. He’ll leave for training, duty, mission, course; all pretty regularly. Service members can’t refuse to go, and you must accept this. Otherwise, your relationship can’t last.

A lot of your time will be spent apart, and even when he’s home, departure is always a phone call away. Often, you’ll feel like you’re in a long-distance relationship.

If he’s deployed, you won’t be able to come with him. You might be separated for months. He’s going to miss plans and special occasions and won’t be available when you need him. At best, you might be able to text him or talk to him, but it’s not guaranteed.

Going through deployment is tough, especially because it lasts for a long time. You can’t count on being able to reach him because sometimes there are no channels of communication.

While you’re dating, you can learn what to expect if you get married to him and what your future will look like. You’ll always be the one who has to make sacrifices, and you never come first.

For a military man, his job is number one. Until he leaves service and becomes a vet, he has no control over his life.

RELATED: 11 Long-Distance Relationship Tips That Will Bring You Closer

Infidelity

It has to be pointed out that, unfortunately, some military service members end up cheating on their spouses while away.

Stress, loneliness and the camaraderie born out of unique circumstances can result in infidelity. A soldier might rationalize it by believing that their partner stateside is cheating on them.

Of course, not all service members cheat on their significant others. Still, you should be aware that it happens before your relationship gets serious, especially if you don’t have complete confidence in the man you’re dating.

5. You’ll be lonely

You won’t only be alone, but you’ll also get lonely. Dating and especially being married to a military man is much different than dating a civilian. 

• Moving away to be with him will send you far from your loved ones.

• If you live near them, you still might face backlash and lack of understanding because of the choices you have to make to stay in your relationship.

• People who don’t know anything about military relationships might not be able to grasp what your life is like. You’ll feel like no one understands what you’re going through because outsiders can’t relate to the world you live in.

• Connecting with your boyfriend or husband might be challenging. Soldiers are trained to hide their vulnerability, so it might take a while for him to open up to you.

• After you create an emotional bond, you’re not done building your relationship; you have to work on it as long as you want it to last.

• During long periods of waiting, when you don’t hear from him for weeks, the feelings of worry and insecurity will become overwhelming.

• If your partner doesn’t want to talk about his experiences after returning home, it’s because he needs time to process what he’s been through.

Still, it’s not uncommon for military spouses to believe that the reason their partner doesn’t want to talk is their fault. This kind of thinking can make you feel even worse because you’re already feeling isolated, but things will get better when he opens up to you.

6. Life on the move

couple moving out

You meet a soldier through an online dating site or on an app, and you start dating. Things are getting serious, then one day, he tells you that he’s moving away. What to do? Are you willing to move with him? Will you opt for being in a long-distance relationship?

Continuing your relationship with a military man is going to be a challenge if you’re not committed enough to move with him or you don’t want to do it. Dating a service member comes with an expiration date if you want to live in a specific location.

Being in a committed relationship with a military man means that you can’t put down roots anywhere because a PCS can come at any time. PCS is an acronym that stands for Permanent Change of Station – a military term that means he’s being relocated and that you’re moving.

It can take you to a different state, across the country or anywhere in the world. If you like to travel and enjoy meeting lots of new people, you’ll love this aspect of being a military spouse, but if you’d like to settle down, it’s going to be tough.

Making friends with other military spouses wherever you end up is the best thing you can do after relocating, as it can save you a lot of headache.

They’ve been where you are now, so they can share their experience with you and give you advice. More importantly, they understand what your life is like the way no one else does, so they can make you feel like you belong.

7. Rules and etiquette

When you become a military spouse, you’ll be expected to follow various rules. They include:

• Following protocol on base. For example, observing ceremony while the national anthem and colors are playing and showing respect when you see the raising of the flag (stop doing whatever you’ve been doing, stand, face the flag and put your right hand over your heart.)

• Behavior in daily life. For example, you should always stay on the left side while walking with your partner so that he’s able to salute if you encounter a senior officer.

• Protocol for formal events, like mandatory military balls.

• Proper attire. No revealing or inappropriate clothes.

• Respecting the uniform. No one except military personnel is allowed to wear it; you must behave appropriately while your partner is wearing it.

• OPSEC awareness. OPSEC stands for Operations Security – exists to protect U.S. operations. Being mindful of OPSEC means that you’re not allowed to share anything that might lead to potential enemies discovering critical information.

For example, you’re not allowed to talk about your spouse’s job on social media, make his address publicly available, share pictures that might show the location of the base, etc.

8. Military friends

man hanging out with his friends

The military community is tight-knit. After going through rough times together, service members can even become closer than family. Their lives depend on having each other’s backs, so their bonds are unique and strong.

When you’re with a military man, you soon learn that his work buddies are also his friends. They socialize in their off hours and they’ll drop everything for each other. You’ll be seeing these people often, so learn to get along with them or build friendships of your own with some of them.

Even if you dislike some of his military friends, learn to at least tolerate them. You’ll often feel like you don’t fit in, but do your best to make friends. You might also develop relationships with his friends’ spouses along the way.

Military families step up for each other, which you will learn as soon as you need anything.

9. No control over your life

Many aspects of your life will prove to be out of your control. This might be the most challenging part of being with a military man.

• Someone else decides where you live. Random relocating means that you have to move even if you like where you are. The feeling of home is no longer connected to a place.

• His frequent and prolonged absences mean plans that change all the time, vacation available only when you’re allowed, and not being able to count on him.

• The constant uncertainty and worry that his life is at risk when he leaves on deployment.

Many aspects of your life will be decided by other people. You have to accept it, but don’t endure it in silence – ask for support from your own family and other military families. When you’re feeling frustrated, sometimes it’s enough to know that someone understands.

Furthermore, there are several official resources that can provide help when you need it, as well as military spouse support groups.

10. Emotionally demanding lifestyle

Military couple holding hands

You must be stable, flexible and adaptable if you’re to thrive in a relationship with a military man.

While you’re dating, you don’t have any rights that will make your relationship easier. If you move to be with him, you have to pay for everything yourself. You might have to leave your education or job behind. If he leaves on deployment, you won’t receive any information from official sources.

If you get married, some of these things change. On the other hand, you commit to an incredibly demanding lifestyle. Loneliness, lack of communication, lack of support, unfriendly attitudes – you might be overwhelmed the first time you realize what you’re in for, but soon enough, you’ll learn how to handle it.

When your boyfriend or spouse is deployed, nothing is certain. Not knowing whether he’s safe or not is incredibly exhausting and scary. Information can be scarce or non-existent, so there will be bad days when all you’re left with is worry.

Even though your partner has to be emotionally strong to do what he does, he’ll need lots of understanding and emotional support. Military experiences are stressful and can affect his mental health. Be there for him and listen to him when he needs it.

As demanding as the life of a military spouse is, overcoming the challenges you face will help you grow and learn.

See also: 19 Things To Know Before Dating An Irish Man

In Closing

Military couple watching their child

Do you think you can handle a military relationship? Dating a military man involves a set of challenges, but if you’re prepared and know what to expect, it’s easier to adjust.

Despite all the difficulties, if your military guy likes you and you like him back just as much, you have a chance to be one of the military couples that make it work. As with any relationship, if there is willingness, communication and love, you can find happiness with each other.

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