Dating in the military has become overly romanticized by movies like The Lucky One and Dear John. Even more so by social media videos and hypothetical TikTok skits. However, the reality is dating while serving is extremely difficult, and has a low rate of success. Everything from petty misunderstanding to full blown Jodies can sabotage it. Here are my best tips for dating that I wish I knew at 20.
Communicate your way to success
Never fight through text. It is too easy to misinterpret tone, and inflection. The reader will always assume the message was written in a tone that reflects their assumption. Fore exampe, if they are already irritated, they will most likely assume you have an attitude as well. Read about the psychology here, but you know it’s true. Any serious conversation should be held in person, over video chat, or a phone call. No exceptions. If those options are not available, agree to wait until they are to discuss. If the relationship is so fragile it cannot last until you can call, then pop smoke.
Talk whenever you can, but remember letters were the primary mode of communication since the dawn of language. Do not get too wrapped up in instant communication. Especially, since adults have lives and a cell phone is not a leash. Ask meaningful questions, and explore topics that reveal relationship compatibility. Liking the same band does not mean you’re soulmates.
We all know a new love can be incredibly intoxicating. Likewise, being heavily invested and breaking up can be devastating. Reign yourself in and be aware that texting for a month is not the same as going on dates for a month. Do not over invest emotions or finances. Give yourself time to save money before making any big decisions. Also, remember people evolve and grow over time. Do not intertwine your life with someone you were only supposed to intersect.
Do not get into debt
The desire to want to buy presents for a crush is overwhelming. Being able to send flowers while you’re away is incredibly romantic. However, save money for those things. Active duty troops do not make a ton of money, and your bae should know that. Don’t max out a credit card trying to craft a certain perception. Buying a $3,000 engagement ring as a PFC is incredibly irresponsible, not romantic. Similarly, always being the one to pay for dinner, or plane tickets is very telling of their view of you.
Know your worth
The best tips people will give you relate to how you feel. Relationships are supposed to make you feel happy, right? Being the one to always initiate conversations, or be the one to always travel is unfair. If that person cares enough, they will want to split the burden. Work, family, and school will have to be considered, but a discussion needs to take place as to how to do that. You both set reasonable expectations and allow the other to fulfil them. The key word being “reasonable” though. You can be a good person, but not able to provide everything someone is looking for. You need to have enough self appreciation to acknowledge the difference. As well as, the courage to leave a relationship you are being taken advantage of.
In conclusion, emotional maturity is the key to successful dating while serving. Do not be afraid to read couples books together, or ask others for advice. What are your best tips for dating while serving? Sound off in the comments below!