5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Date Someone in the Military

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Hear this truth:  Military life isn’t for everyone.

Some of folks genuinely like it; others put up with it because it is a condition of being attached to the person they love. And I want to be clear: those of us who date or marry someone in the military are no better or worse than any other significant other.

There was no particular email or conversation that got me thinking about this topic. Rather, it just seems like it’s been a post that’s been writing itself for the past (almost!) 3 years as I talk to more and more military significant others who have successful relationships.

Yep, there are reasons why you should walk away from a military relationship. Don't date him or her if you see yourself in these five reasons. #military #milso #militarygirlfriend #navygirlfriend #airforcegirlfriend #marinegirlfriend #armygirlfriend #deployment #ldr #longdistance #longdistancerelationship

Every relationship has its own difficulties; it just happens that when the military’s involved, there’s a special breed of inevitable obstacles that spring up. And I think, when you start out dating someone, you rarely think about everything that will happen next. Or that could happen.

When you’re thinking about dating a military guy or a military gal, there’s a bit more to think about. That’s because there’s so much outside of your control. From little, annoying things– like restricted communications during certain times– to big, overwhelming things– like deployments and moves across the world, military life can throw a lot at a new relationship.

Yes, the allure of a dating a military man or a military woman can be heady, romantic stuff when you’re envisioning the homecomings, farewells, traveling, and your military boyfriend or military girlfriend in uniform (because, oh, that uniform!). But there are a lot of practical things to consider, even when you’re “just seeing where this goes.”

Military life (and military relationships) seem to move just a little faster and need more planning than others. Dating can be complicated without the military. Adding the military into it can be even more so. If you’re teetering on the edge of this particular path, think through what military life means for you and your relationship before you jump in:

1. Don’t date him/her if you already know you can’t be faithful.

And don’t date him/her if you believe that “everyone cheats” during deployment. Period.

During John’s deployment, I had more than my fair share of people who asked me if we were cheating on each other or if we had ever entertained the idea. (Answer: No and no!) While it’s unfathomable to me why someone would think it’s acceptable to ask that, it’s true that there’s a stigma and stereotype surrounding military relationships.  People often expect military relationships to be unfaithful, owing to the amount of time and distance spent away from each other.

So, let’s talk about that.

Yes, people in the military cheat.

And you know what else? So do people in the civilian world.

But– and this is important– that doesn’t mean everyone does. There are healthy, faithful military relationships, just as there are healthy, faithful civilian relationships. You get to chart that course with your significant other; no one else has a say in it.

Here’s the bottom line: You will be separated from the person you love at some point during their career in the military. If you need physical touch and constant communication so that you won’t stray, you need to do some soul-searching. Being apart is hard, but it shouldn’t be hard to stay committed.

2. Don’t date him/her if you’re not resilient.

Military life is hard. You’re going to move. You will leave your family. You will leave your friends (over and over again). You will  put up with deployment, weird shifts, emergencies, trainings, and a whole bunch of other stuff that will happen at inopportune times and will be the least helpful thing.

It’s okay to get frustrated, be angry, and cry, but you’ve got to pick yourself up and move on. If you have a hard time being resilient in the face of challenge (and if you’re not willing to try to be), the military lifestyle probably isn’t for you.

Here’s the good news: You can learn to be more resilient. You can stretch yourself and practice flexibility, picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. You can try to be a more resilient version of yourself. If you’re prepared to do the work, you can make military life work for you, whatever that means in your situation and in your relationship. But if you’re not honest with yourself about your needs and your ability to be flexible and resilient, you might just find yourself angry and frustrated in the near future.

3. Don’t date him/her if you care about rank.

Uniforms are cute and all and ceremonies are exciting, but really, if you’re attached to the rank rather than the person, or more attracted to the allure or prestige of being with someone who is in the military, you need to really do some deep thinking and soul-searching. That’s not a healthy way to begin a relationship and it’s not fair to the other person.
Here’s the truth: Ranks change. (So do uniforms!) People can go from enlisted to officer. People are passed over (sometimes unfairly and sometimes otherwise) for promotions. Things change. A rank or job position is not enough to bridge those things that are difficult in a relationship.
Here’s another truth: Your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, wife, or husband’s military career will eventually come to an end. Everyone’s military journey ends at some point, whether it’s in two years, ten years, or thirty-five. Do you still want to be with your military man or military woman when their service is in their past?

4. Don’t date him/her just because of an impending deployment.

Deployments put a lot of pressure on everything– you, your military member, the relationship. The time leading up to a deployment can feel like a pressure cooker… and it can also feel very, very romantic.

Deployments can also be tough for people in the most exclusive, committed relationships. If you know that you want to be with that person and you’re committed, then go for it! But don’t let the sole reason for committing to someone be because of a deployment.

Just as there’s more to a person than the military, there’s more to a relationship than a deployment.

5. Don’t date him/her if you don’t have a sense of who you are.

I’ll say it again– military life is tough. It can mess with your self-esteem and sense self-worth. You need to know who you are. Have interests, hobbies, and friends. Have a plan for your education and/or career. Know who you are without your military guy or military gal– because chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time separated. If your whole identity is wrapped up solely in your service member, it is going to be a tough, lonely life.

Keep reading…

18 Responses

  1. I’ve been dating a military member for over a year now. He’s been deployed 8 months now. I was married but separated from my ex at the time. I am now divorced with 2 small kids. Before he left we were dating for about 5 months. We fell in love, he supported me through the divorce, we shared I Love Yous and cried before he left. We talk or text through a WiFi app everyday. He still helps me out while he’s across seas. But now he has orders that is on the other end of the US when his deployment is over. He asked me and the kids to move with him, I would in a heart beat because I love him and he makes me so happy, but my kids. I dont know if we are on our way to marriage but he says he dosent want to be without me. Although their dad is mostly active in their, life I don’t know how it if I can take them away from that. Any suggestions or advice would greatly help, I’m drowning in these decisions.

    1. That is such a tough, sticky situation. I have not been in your shoes, so I may not be much help. Is it worth it to uproot your children for a relationship that is not “official”? I’ll be praying for and thinking about you as you make decisions and work through it. :-)

  2. Great post, Jo! I think thanks to Hollywood a lot of people romanticize being with a military man, but it is hard work. I understand that all relationships are work, but it’s especially hard when you are working on a relationship together across (and sometimes under) oceans!

  3. I found this to be very honest and insightful! Ive reconnected with someone I dated back in high school almost 5 years ago, he’s in the Navy and overseas. Honestly, its tough but at the end of the day you’re with that person because they sing a song only you can hear so to speak. I would the qualities highlighted above are imperative to have if you’re going to be with a military man.

  4. on the resiliency thing – I think often we underestimate what we can handle and tackle. I don’t know one single spouse who went into this life thinking they were tough enough for this gig. I think it’s good to acknowledge that dating and marrying a service member will test you, but I don’t think anyone should say no to dating or marriage out of fear for the unknown.

  5. on the resiliency thing – I think often we underestimate what we can handle and tackle. I don’t know one single spouse who went into this life thinking they were tough enough for this gig. I think it’s good to acknowledge that dating and marrying a service member will test you, but I don’t think anyone should say no to dating or marriage out of fear for the unknown.

  6. I’ve been dating a guy in the military for 4 months and we are preparing for him to leave for training this summer! You’re blog is so helpful! Thanks so much for doing it!

  7. Another super helpful post! I have seen so many people I went to high school with who married their high school sweetheart because he/she joined the military. Unfortunately, so many of them are now already ended because they could not handle the distance that came along with it sometimes. I’ve been in a military relationship now for just shy of a year, with a lot of it being over distance. It hasn’t been easy, but I do have to say what has helped make our relationship work is the fact that both of us want the relationship and want it to work.

  8. I do agree with some points out of this. I have been married to my service man for over a year now and it is the most humbling spot I have had to be in. I always said I would never date a military man because I didn’t think I could handle the distance-after all, marriage is about two people bringing their lives together as one. There are always marriages that fall prey to infidelity, neglect, and abuse. The issues being an active duty married couple bring are unique and extra challenging. I don’t recommend it for everybody, and it is not a lifestyle I would ever choose again. You lose freedom in order to fight for freedom. Your marriage is under controls more extreme than any other career out there and you won’t get that until you live it. Thankfully we are child free otherwise it would be even more terrible to put up with. Though I hate every ounce of being a military wife, I decided to commit to my marriage and my husband and sacrifice now so we can have a happy retirement later. You win some and lose some. Best wishes all military spouses out there.

  9. I know this article’s old, but reading it helped put some things into perspective. I honestly didn’t expect the military life to be so…spontaneous. Like, extremely so. I thought it was just deployments and some weekends here and there, but not THIS. I feel myself being tested constantly as new challenges throw themselves like a game of dodgeball, and though I try not to I very often cave in to a good ol’ cry. I don’t know if it’s normal to cry or feel this sheer amount of emotion in a relationship, even in a military one. My family is not supportive of this relationship at all either, so it kinda adds salt to the wound. Oh, and this is my very first real relationship at 22, so I have zero experience to back me up when things get so rocky, especially those weeks we just can’t be together. But I hope above all I can be resilient–I thought I was before taking this relationship on, in fact life was fantastic. But until we’ve been faced with a real challenge, we can never really know. Thus far I think I’m learning at a reasonable rate, enough so that I’ve enough energy to regain my old independence and lust for life and knowledge. I just have to be more pro active in muting all the negative emotion. Of course I still break down when triggered here and there, but that’s a whole other beast to tackle! Anyway, I think my greatest crime so far has been having unrealistic expectations and not appreciating what he does more. As much as my bf dislikes and complains about being in the army, I have to remember it’s a very noble pursuit regardless!

    1. My husband was my 1st real relationship too at 19. As you know it won’t always be easy and it’s ok to cry sometimes b/c it can be really hard at times. And I think they all complain about it, but I know there are things they typically miss once they’re out haha. But anyway, I think what’s most important is that if you’re both selling to put in the work and can deal with not seeing each other every day, you could potentially hand a great relationship!

      1. omg that’s honestly such a beautiful story. How did you cope with being away from each other for so long? And how did you guys communicate?

    2. I don’t know if you’ll get this, as you posted this a while ago. What challenges were thrown at you besides deployment. Is it getting any easier as time passes by?

  10. I’m a newlywed to a U.S. Marine and I agree 100% ! People get so caught up in how nice the uniform looks ( they are Really nice!) and they forget all about their job description and the distance that is likely to be separate them for months at a time. It can be really tough sometimes, but if it’s the right person and you’re willing to tough it out and be supportive, the reward is absolutely amazing.

  11. I strongly disagree with the point “DON’T DATE HIM/HER IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SENSE OF WHO YOU ARE.” If you are a confident and ambitious person, it can very likely make you UNSUITABLE to be dating a Military person. If you have strong ambitions and want to have a successful career, be very aware that military life WILL LIMIT your career growth. Let’s face it, unless you work in the Military as well, very few jobs can accommodate the constant moving. You will most likely end up choosing the job that will accommodate the military life than fulfilling your dreams. Unless you are okay with doing long distance for long periods of time. Also having interests, hobbies, and friends works as long as they are easily replaceable when you move. And it’s hard to have great friends when you move that often, so it is inevitable that you will depend on your military other for company which will result in loneliness. You only choice is pretty much to be friends with other military spouses and commiserate. It is definitely not for everyone, quit if you don’t like the sound of it.

  12. Yes am been texting someone going 6months.we say care about each other but im having doubt that he being honest with me I’ve tried every way to see if. He is in the military I need some help to find. These answer.I have alot of information but don’t know were to go thank you hope you put in the right place

  13. I was dating a military guy for a year and a half who I had liked in high school but we broke up because he would constantly lie and cheat on me along with pulling me along or accusing me of cheating when I was faithful to him. But now I know maybe he wasn’t the right one for me and I honestly wouldn’t mind dating someone in the military again when I’m ready because I was ready to pack up and leave when they moved him to a different station.

  14. my boyfriend starts november 19th, so thats pretty soon. we’ve been dating for almost a year now. Im scared but excited that he’s going to be living his dream soon, his plan is to be in the army for 3 years, then switch from one country to another. How do I tell him that im scared, and concerned for our future. I love him so much, but i want him to be happy, and im not sure if he’s going to be happy being away from me for 3 years. Any tips on communication, or advice would be great. thank you!!

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