Unfortunately, the military community isn’t always the most welcoming to military girlfriends. Unless you’re married, there’s a stereotype that you aren’t to be taken seriously as a partner to a service member.
But, many military girlfriends who are extremely committed to their boyfriends are looking for military girlfriend advice. Here, we’re trying to fill the gap and support military girlfriends to help encourage their boyfriends while also maintaining their sense of self.
Read on for the military girlfriend advice we’ve compiled from the experience of various military girlfriends who made it through the hard times you’ll likely face in the future.
Continue to pursue your own goals
As a military girlfriend, you might feel pressured to give up a lot of your independence to support your boyfriend’s military goals. While compromise is key in any relationship, it’s important that you work to maintain your sense of independence.
This might mean finding a hobby that’s fulfilling and that you can do on your own. Or it might mean keeping a group of friends in your corner that can spend time with you when your boyfriend is busy with the military.
One of the best pieces of military girlfriend advice is making sure that your boyfriend isn’t your “everything” and that you feel good about your life as an individual. It’ll help you immensely through the tough times since you’ll feel supported and like your life has meaning beyond his job.
Communication is key
Developing healthy communication strategies is essential to the success of any relationship, not just for military girlfriends. If you have a military boyfriend, it will be common to spend long periods apart and you’ll have to deal with constant uncertainty. Your boyfriend may even have to keep military secrets from you and working on communication will be imperative.
Make sure both of your expectations are clear but it’s important to not expect too much. Lay everything out on the table and do your best to manage the curveballs. Take things day by day with honesty and trust.
The military comes first
At the end of the day, the biggest piece of military girlfriend relationship advice is coming to terms with the fact that the military comes first in your relationship for now. Contrary to what social media and romantic comedies might try and have you believe, it’s ok for your boyfriend to prioritize his job from time to time.
Especially when he’s serving in the military, this is his time to put his career first for the sake of defending our country. It’s best to understand that fact from the get-go.
Do your best to understand the military
One way to come to terms with the military coming first is by doing your research and getting involved. When you have a deeper understanding of what’s expected of service members and why this commitment to the military is necessary, you’ll find the humility to take on this duty yourself.
Do your research and show your boyfriend that you take just as much pride in his work as he does and your relationship will be better for it with resentment out the window.
Prepare for the deployment
Generally, your boyfriend will be sent on at least one deployment during the time you’ll be dating. One piece of military girlfriend advice: prepare!
While he’s away, sign up for a cooking class or join a fitness program. Pack your college course schedule and make vacation plans with friends and family. Prepare to be lonely and plan to ask for the support you’ll need. Tell those around you what you’ll be going through and for them to expect you to lean on them. Have a game plan for what to do when you’re feeling down.
Especially with a boyfriend in the military, it can be easy to worry about their safety. It’s not a regular job where they’re just at a conference or on a business trip. They’re deployed and it’s easy to drive yourself crazy with worry.
Do your best to stay positive and no matter how long he might be away because every day that passes, you’re one day closer to being together again.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings
When it comes to military girlfriend advice, depression is sometimes a major topic of conversation. It’s not uncommon for military girlfriends to experience periods of depression due to loneliness, worry, and disconnection from the greater military community.
It’s totally normal to feel this way and important not to beat yourself up about it. Feel your feelings (as they are valid) and then let them go. Suppressing your emotions will only make things worse. So, be honest, breathe, and reach out for help if you need it.
Embrace your independence
Even though being a military girlfriend often means struggling with loneliness and feeling misunderstood, changing your perspective and embracing the journey is one way of dealing with the hard times.
There is so much to learn about yourself when you’re forced to be on your own. How will you spend your time while he’s away? Will you work on yourself while you have this time – before marriage and kids? Or will you pine the days away wishing he was here?
Do your best to check-in and take advantage of this time to focus on you.
Remind yourself that it’s not easy for him either
One of the most important things to remind yourself of while dating someone in the military is that you’re in it together. In short, things aren’t easy for him either and he’s struggling through loneliness and missing family and friends just as much. Keep this in mind to avoid resentment and offer support to one another.
Which leads us to our next point, which is staying supportive. After all, one of the greatest parts of having a significant other is the support system you have. Let him vent about his day and open up to him about your struggles – but be careful not to complain.
Let him know that you’re doing ok while he’s away and talk about the things you’ve been doing to keep yourself busy. The last thing he’ll want to hear is that you’re falling apart without him so stay supportive and keep moving forward.
Expect plans to change
In fact, you should expect not to have much information about his job, assignments, or deployments until the very last minute. It’s common for the military to leave your boyfriend without answers so prepare to go with the flow.
Don’t rush to get married
There’s a lot of pressure to head to the altar when you’re a military girlfriend since without being married, you’re not entitled to many of the benefits. Still, this isn’t a good reason to rush into marriage.
Once you’re married, it’s much easier to build up resentment if you didn’t take the time as a military girlfriend to work on yourself and do all the things you wanted to do before becoming a wife. Get married when your relationship is ready – not because of the military.
Connect with other military girlfriends
Although you may feel like you’re completely alone at times, there is a huge community of military girlfriends out there going through the same things you are. Using the internet is a great way to connect with them, so keep an eye out for Facebook groups and military girlfriend blogs to connect with other military girlfriends just like you.
Keep yourself busy
Of course, when you’re sitting alone in your room going through old photos of you and your military boyfriend, you’re going to feel sad and extra lonely. Keep yourself busy and avoid falling into pity parties.
This goes back to the military girlfriend advice of focusing on yourself and maintaining your independence. Keep busy with hobbies, friends, family, and reaching your goals. You’ll be surprised how confident you feel by the end of it.
Remember that the military isn’t for everyone and that’s ok
Finally, remember that the military lifestyle is tough and it’s not for everyone. Use this time to get honest with yourself about the kind of relationship you want and let yourself know that it’s ok to not want a military life.
The truth is, every relationship comes with struggles and no relationship is perfect. If it’s not one struggle, it’s another and military relationships are often stronger than most because of all the trials you have to overcome.
Being a military girlfriend can be just as rewarding as it can be difficult, but for the right person, it might just be worth it.