dear sharideth: Is the Relationship Doomed?

Dear Sharideth,

My boyfriend and I have been dating a grand total of two weeks, although we’ve been friends for months. Those ridiculous feelings of puppy love are floating around, so I won’t harp on it, but let’s just say I’m quite a fan of this guy.

So why the letter to you?

He’s in the military and is moving in about a week. At first he will only be a handful of hours away so we’ll see each other weekends here and there. Then he’s going to move across country and from there we don’t know. We’ve planned Skype dates and phone call times, promised to be honest if there’s something wrong, and we are both determined to make this work. Oh, and if this could get more fun, throw in the fact that he is my first boyfriend and both his previous relationships ended because the girls were cheating.

My life is already awesome on its own; he adds to that. I have zero intention of being the girl who mopes and pines for her boyfriend when he’s gone. I do have every intention of being an encouraging and supportive girlfriend, and to make it clear that I am invested in our relationship.

So my question is this: do you have advice, recommendations, wisdom or sarcastic thoughts on how to make those things happen? Any secrets you can share for a soon-to-be-long-distance couple? Anything would be appreciated, as everyone gives me the “you’re DOOMED!” face when they hear he’s moving…

Sincerely,

Becoming The Long Distance Girl

dear BTLDG,

as a matter of fact, i do have some thoughts.

and the world was shocked into stopping it’s rotation.

the first and biggest thought is that this is going to be a perfect trial by fire to see if you’re up to the task of being a military girlfriend.  no slam on those who can’t/won’t do it, but it really takes a special breed of strength and independence to do it well.  you’ve got an advantage in that you’ll get to see him, however sporadically, for the first little while.

the rest of my thoughts will come in list form, because that’s what i must do to keeps things in order and not come off like a complete asshat.

1.  if you’re clingy, you’re dead.  you’re going to have to get your head around the fact that no matter how much he wants to, he is not going to be able to meet your every emotional need, be there for you when you get a flat or listen to you gripe about your best friend stretching out your favorite pair of True Religions.  the time you do get to be in his presence or talk to him on the phone is precious, so don’t make it emotionally taxing or make him feel helpless because you’re dumping things on him he can’t fix.  feel free to dump on your friends and family at will.

2.  always be honest and demand the same from him.  tell him you will take honesty over fairness or nobility any day.  i dated an army guy for a while and would have been willing to do just about anything to stay with him.  he insisted i see other people to be “fair”.  i speak fluent guy and “i want you to see other people” means “i’m seeing other people”.  so i started seeing other people.  namely, the man i’ve been married to now for almost 20 years.  turns out, my boyfriend was trying to be fair to me, but what he really wanted was to ask me to stay with him.  but he didn’t.  and i moved on.  honesty.  honesty.  honesty.  there’s no way to make it work without it.

3.  set up a schedule.  as best as possible.  i know this can be rough, but if calling you at work is a problem for your boss, he needs to wait until your off hours.  his schedule is going to be written in military blood, so be as flexible as you can.  Skype often and tell your friends to bite me when they complain that it’s cutting into your hanging out time.  being as available as possible is the sacrifice you’re going to have to be willing to make.

4.  grace and patience.  you’re both going to need more than Job.  when he doesn’t call on time, when your internet goes down (damn you Comcast) or a phone got left on vibrate and went unheard…you get the idea.  these aren’t personal slights, but they sure can be taken that way when even the smallest amount of insecurity exists.  considering his history with girls, he will probably be even more touchy about that sort of thing.

hand written letters, pictures and care packages are always awesome for our military men, too.  makes the other guys jealous.

as for those who look at you with pity…screw ’em.  only time, not distance, will tell if this is going to work.

good luck.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

have you ever dated anyone in the military or do you come from a military family?

any other advice for our friend?

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8 comments on “dear sharideth: Is the Relationship Doomed?

  1. Nothing military here, but I’ve got some experience on a long distance relationship. Most of all, I think your advice on having a schedule that no one can break into is gold. I call her twice a day and everything and everyone gets shifted to second place.

    Also, not every time you skype or call is going to be magical. I actually don’t really like skyping, as I get distracted after a while. Sometimes, we can have a week in which no particularly good conversations happen, but don’t let that discourage you. You’re building on your relationship anyway, and you’ll know as you see him again.

    Lastly, I don’t know whether you’re a christian or not, but I have experienced how reading the bible and praying in our conversations adds a layer to our talks and in our relationship to always fall back on and deepens the relationship.

  2. Lauren says:

    Dear BTLDG,

    I am also dating someone who is involved in the military. I completely understand those looks that people will give you when you tell them A.) You are dating someone long distance and B.) You are dating someone involved in the military. You know what you tell them to do “(insert my favorite choice word here) OFF.” Sharideth is right when it is time that will tell, not distance.

    Enjoy the time that you have with him for this next week, be present, try not to act like he is already gone. Communication now between you two is key for setting up how things will work out while he is gone. Yet let me just tell you, no matter how much you will try to plan a phone call, or a skype date there will be times when he will not be able to follow through. Just remember he is doing a job and well he is at his job 24/7 living eating breathing his job. So when he does call or skype take the precious time you get with him drop whatever it is your doing and focus.

    It makes me glad to hear you are independent, and have a good life of your own. You must be a strong woman to be able to date someone in the military. You can’t be wavering in your feelings for him for even a second though. You have to be very very sure and direct of how you feel, not mimsy around like you know we (meaning all woman) do saying one thing and meaning another.

    Sharideth is also right when she said we are a special breed. Trust me, I never in a MILLION years would have ever guessed that I would be dating someone in the military. Yet here I am completely in love with someone who is. There is no one way to dating someone, or having someone give you advice and actually sticking to it. Sharideth and I could spout out advice to you all day. Yet at the end of the day it comes down to the two of you. So what, it is long distance tons of people have done it. Dating a guy in the military, sure tons of people have done this too. You two will figure it out together. There is not one right way of making this work. Just remember to be supportive, be present, be direct, and most of all be loving.

    I have full faith that you two will sort things out just fine, and get into a groove that you find works out. Best of luck girl!

    – Lauren

  3. I don’t really have too much advice for the dating aspect, as I haven’t been in a relationship before. However, my dad was in the Air Force for 24 years, so I definitely have experience with long distance friendships. Hand-written letters and phone calls definitely help keep things going. And I loved Sharideth’s idea about the care packages. I try to send care packages to our men in the military every once in awhile. I’ll contact a few friends who are currently serving and ask them for names/ addresses of their friends out in the field that I can send a care package too. It really does mean a lot and is a very thoughtful gesture. 🙂

  4. asoulwalker says:

    I was in the military. I had a girlfriend long distance. I could tell you more than you ever probably want to know. The first thing is that he will most likely also get lot’s of shit for dating you long distance (pardon my french… it’s just such a beautiful language I can’t help it sometimes). I can also tell you that I am unlikely to ever have a long distance relationship again… but don’t let that stop you. I am a big fan in letting other people go their own way and I wish you the best.

    When it came to things I liked… well, hand-written letters were like oxygen to me. At my unit I literally ran to the mailboxes after we had our last formation of the work day. I ran because there was a chance that there might be a letter from my girl. And I wrote every day. I wrote in the field even and would just send a pile of letters all at once when I got back to post.

    I hate talking on the phone. I talked to that girl almost two hours every day that I was near a phone, though, because she liked talking on the phone to me. I might recommend that when you are talking on the phone you think twice before fighting about something. Some people tend to put a lot of stock into body language and facial expressions and such (and that is fine), but if you are not video chatting you won’t get any of that and if you are one of those people you will be prone to getting your feelings hurt over nothing… a lot.

    I wish the two of you well. May you have a long and happy future together.

    • Edwin - Awkwardlist.com says:

      Wow, I know what you mean about getting crap about long distance relationships, I give it a lot myself haha. But I have a question, you see, I’ve let go of women because of distance reasons, but the “what ifs” stay with me for a long time thereafter.. how does one deal with that?

      • asoulwalker says:

        I recommend asking someone in their forties who is married. Not me who is thirty-three and single. Whatever I have been doing… apparently not something to emulate– unless you want to be single. Have I learned a lot of lessons over the years by doing things wrong– aka. the hard way, sure. Seriously though– ask a married person older than yourself.

        If you have regrets, you probably did something wrong, or think you did something wrong. I couldn’t begin to tell you which.

  5. bethagrace says:

    My sister did something similar, except he was already stationed far away when they started dating. They’re married now, and he finished his tour, so, no, it’s not doomed. The advice you’re getting is good.

  6. Kelsey says:

    I’m doing this right now, my boyfriend is in pilot training for the Air Force and I actually met him through a mutual friend who thought we would be good for each other, yes we started long distance. We skyped a lot then since his training had not started yet and now I get to maybe every other week. I get maybe 5 text a day. He told me to be upfront with him when we started talking so I told him that I get he can’t talk while training 12 hours a day and studying after that but I need to know he still wants to date me. He understood and is trying to make me feel wanted. I don’t want to add stress to his day though. That’s just what him and I are going through. It’s hard, really hard, like a lot of military men he will tell you the mission always comes first (mine did). You just need to have open and honest communication with him. You will figure out what works and doesn’t work for the two of you. Don’t tell him he has to call you every day, ask him when will he be able to call you, it might be different from week to week.

    I wish you both the best. It’s hard, but the effort you put into it is worth it when you get to see him.

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