8 things civilians should know before dating someone in the military

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Photo: Spc. Sharla Lewis/U.S. Army

Dating a service member is different than dating a civilian. But just how much different is it? Here are eight things to consider before jumping into a relationship with someone in uniform.

1. Service members are independent and you should be too.

Troops have to deploy, which means not having him or her around for important events like anniversaries, birthdays, and weddings. If you’re a person that constantly needs their physical presence, dating a service member is probably the wrong choice.

2. Don’t be jealous.

Most of the U.S. military is integrated. They deploy to remote locations and work long hours with members of the opposite sex. You’ll have a hard time trusting your significant other if you’re naturally jealous.

3. Don’t overly display supportive military gear like you’re rooting for your favorite sports team.

It’s okay to be proud of your boyfriend or girlfriend serving in the military, but you can take it a bit too far. Gear includes t-shirts, bumper stickers, jewelry and more. You may think it’s cute and supportive, but you’ve just painted a target on the back of your significant other as the butt of many jokes. You’re also on your way to being labeled a “dependa” without actually being one.

4. It’s not being mean, it’s tough love.

Service members are used to direct communication, so avoid that passive aggressive, vague, manipulative language that you practice on your friends and co-workers. Direct communication is instilled from day one in the military. I can still remember my drill instructor yelling, “say what you mean, and mean what you say!”

5. There will be secrets.


Depending on their specialty, service members are trained to be more guarded than others. This is especially true with members that require secret clearance to do their job. You can poke and prod all you want, but it’s not going to happen. You’ll have to be okay with not knowing that part of their life.

6. You have to be willing to move.

If you’re looking for a life partner in the military, you’ve got to be willing to give up ties to a specific location. This could mean giving up your career and being away from family. Some service members move every three years. Are you willing to live like a nomad?

7. You have to be flexible.

Plans might change or be canceled at the last minute. One moment they’re free to go on a date night, the next day they’re pulling an all-nighter. Same goes for weekends. Just because they spend one weekend with you doesn’t mean that next weekend will be the same.

8. Learn to tolerate his buddies.

The military is a brotherhood. Their lives depend on this special bond, so don’t think that they can just go out and get new friends. Learn to get along with friends, even the annoying immature one.

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