Thursday, October 18, 2012

Being a Navy Girlfriend - Now that was Rough!

After having so many awesome Navy Girlfriends read and comment on this post, I started writing a series specifically for Navy Girlfriends called "Navy Girlfriend Guide." Feel free to search those keywords in the search box on the left upper side of this blog to find all of these posts tailored for you. Also many of the general posts may also be helpful and relevant even if they aren't tailored specifically for Navy Girlfriends, so check those out too. Thank you for reading and for being so strong.  =)

Navy Girlfriends, what are some of your current experiences? If you have any questions or concerns, post them in the comment section and I will answer it.

How many of us Navy Wives actually got married because there was no way we could survive as a Navy Girlfriend? Don’t get me wrong, we married him because we loved him, but how many of us rushed to the courthouse to make it official on paper for survival purposes?

photo credit: maxgiani via photopin cc

That’s what my husband and I did. We were in love and engaged, but with only a few months before our very first cruise together, there was no time and no money for a wedding, so we eloped. The thought that I wouldn’t be the first to know if anything happened to the love of my life was enough motivation for me. From my husband’s standpoint, he feared that I wouldn’t be taken care of if something happened. Plus, at the time if a single Sailor lived off of base but there was room in the barracks he or she did not get BAH (off-base living allowance). At the time we were living off of Airmen pay and begging our roommates for crackers. On top of that, I didn’t have health insurance!

But even without a cruise, being a Navy Girlfriend sucks! Going on base felt terrifying, as though you had no business being there and were an evil spy. It felt like you didn’t belong, like the U.S. Navy itself considered you an outsider.

Everything is so very strange at first too. Everyone lives together in these similar houses, and most have similar trucks and possessions, they have their own stores and restaurants, and half the people wear the same uniforms all the time. It feels like you’ve walked into another world, a completely self-sufficient island you never knew existed, and at any moment you might insult their cultural rules.

Then one day something happens, like your boyfriend doesn’t come home or call and you don’t know what’s going on. You don’t have his work number. It’s not like the local U.S. Navy base is listed. You don’t even know how to find a number for the base hospital and if you did call, would they tell anything to a girlfriend? Whatever it is that happens, that day you realize that your feelings of being invisible to the Navy are real. Without marriage, you mean nothing. If anything were to ever happen or you ever needed help, you wouldn’t have it. You wouldn’t have the support, or access, or any right to the Sailor you love. That’s how it feels at least.
photo credit: RubĂ©n Chase via photopin cc


The good news is, that’s not completely true. The problem is, most Sailors and their girlfriends don’t realize it. If the girlfriend is in a dependent situation, there are ways to get assistance, but it’s not the same level of assistance as wives get. Also, it would have to be something humongous for the official Navy assistance organizations, like NMCRS, to help, but the command can help girlfriends/boyfriends with minor issues.

If something happened, like say your car broke down while he was on cruise and you didn't have any family or friends to help, they would try to figure out a way to help. Your Sailor has to give you the right information though. If your car broke down, you would have to know who to contact and just as important your Sailor should inform those individuals of your existence before a detachment/deployment. As long as you or the Sailor informed the command through the ombudsmen, then various support groups should step in to help you.

The Ombudsmen (a spouse that acts as a spouse emissary of sorts) and the FRG (Family Readiness Group) are the primary ones that will step in to help. And if for some reason they couldn't, you better believe the wives would rally together and help "on the down-low!"

Unfortunately, a lot of times girlfriends don’t know that and sometimes their Sailors don’t realize it either. I know my husband and I didn't. I thought without marriage, I didn't even exist to the Navy. It takes a while to understand everything about this new culture you are a part of especially when boyfriends and husbands suck at giving you the information. Trust me, even wives get surprised with, “oh yeah I’m going on a detachment in two days.” It’s not because they’re total jerks. It’s because the schedule jumps around, and they struggle to keep track too.

photo credit: mescon via photopin cc
That’s why attending the FRG meetings or at least getting on their email list are especially important for girlfriends because the board members get information direct from the command. Nevertheless, a lot of girlfriends feel nervous around wives and frightened about asking someone to sign them on base. I know I did, but if you want that support, you’re going to have to face your fears of being an outsider. Just remember that most wives were girlfriends once too.

Most Navy Wives really want to help our fellow Navy significant others keep what’s left of their sanity. We want to give them encouragement, helpful advice, and an offer of friendship because a lot of us didn't have that blessing and know what it's like to feel like you don't belong.

I hope that if any Navy Girlfriends find this post, that they keep coming back and reading my blogs. I know it looks like it's only for Navy Wives but Navy Girlfriends need to share their experiences and be empowered too and that's what this blog is all about.

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About Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author
Buy Her Book A White Room!
Photo by Randy Enriquez
I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
  
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

Learn more at www.stephaniecarroll.net and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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70 comments:

  1. Since writing this post, I contacted my FRG and Ombudsmen and they confirmed that the assistance available to girlfriends is limited, but there are still things the FRG and Ombudsmen can do.

    Also, policies state that girlfriends are welcome and encouraged to participate in the Family Readiness Group - FRG.

    The Ombudsmen too could help by referring the girlfriend to outside organizations that could assist where the Navy cannot. So NMCRS can't provide a temporary loan to a girlfriend, but there might be a civilian organization that can.

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  2. Thank you so much. My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 1/2 years. He recently joined the navy back in October & is in A school training to be STS. Lately, I've had a lot of trouble coping with the idea of him being deployed next year for 6 or so months--undersea-- in a nuclear death trap. I know I want to be that strong woman beside him & I'm determined to be that for him. However, already I find it depressing those days he has to work, PT, go to school & I wait by the phone all day without so much as a good morning. It's hard not knowing. Not being informed. He won't even be able to tell me when he's shipping out. It's scary & lonely. Reading this today has made me feel a bit better. Hearing reassuring things from a woman who's already had to endure all these situations is comforting.

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  3. Taryn I'm so happy that this post provided some comfort. You sound like you are doing a really good job though. I felt like I was going mad-hatter on those days when I didn't hear from him, when he went away and didn't check in constantly, but I didn't want him to think I was "a crazy girlfriend." It's such a difficult position to be in when this man you care about works in a dangerous job daily and you are not on the "keep informed" list. You are doing great though. Just remember everything you are feeling is completly normal and you have every right to feel it.

    Check back again soon. You've inspired me to write another post for Navy girlfriends specifically. I think it will be something like "A Navy Girlfriend's Guide to What the Hell is Going On?!?!?" I should make it a regular thing. =)

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    1. You should. Haha I would definitely read something like that, and that's the perfect title for it.

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    2. My boyfriend is also leaving next year for about 6 months. We're young and have had a kind of on and off relationship for about 4 years. Once our relationship started getting really serious, he was only about 5 months from leaving. Id known he was leaving for a while and it honestly never did phase me much because I thought it wouldn't be that hard. But the wait is dreadful and lonely and it's only been 37 days and there's still 3 months to go. I still visit with his family often but the stress is still horrible. I took in a lot more than I was expecting this past month. Hearing that I'm not the only one makes things seem a bit better. Thank you!

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    3. Hi Stephanie, I've been dating my boyfriend for four months now, and he recently went on deployment June 5th. I guess my problem is outside of work I've made him my world. Not a bad thing, but its also so hard being without him. We plan on getting married when he comes back. I just have no clue how to adjust especially because we found out I was pregnant, and then I had a miscarriage. I'm not mad that he isn't here. Its just I feel so alone in going through that. I'm sure he feels the same way, and I'm sure he's hurt knowing he can't be here with me. Its even worse because my family isn't all that supportive. His family is, but their 10 hours away from here. We talked about me moving up there with his family so I could have more support, but I don't want then to feel like I'm a burden, and I want to be able to say I was strong enough to get through it. For him to know that I can make it and be okay when he's gone so its one less thing for him to worry about.

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  4. I just found out, two days ago, that my boyfriend is enlisting for the Navy. It was a huge shock, and i'm having a hard time with it. Reading this helped me out alot, and made me realize that i'm not invisible and my feelings aren't me and me alone.

    I'm very scared, but very proud of him.

    But reading this also re-enforces the thought of us getting married. Thank you so much for this article.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting Melissa! I am so glad that this post was helpful. It is completely normal to be scared and it's normal to feel invisible too but there are a lot of resources for you specifically. Everything you are going through and feeling right now is completely normal and warranted. I want to tell you a bunch of stuff to help you with those feelings so I'm going to write a post for Navy Girlfriends in your very position: Finding out he's enlisting and knowing the pros and cons of the Navy Life. I'm putting it on my calendar for the last Weds in Aug 2013 - 8/28 so check back!

      In the meantime, make sure you check out some of the other posts for Navy girlfriends and subscribe to get the notices of when I post my new monthly segment for Navy Girlfriends not to mention the post you just inspired me to write. =)

      And always feel free to ask me any questions. Or ask on our Facebook forum to get all kinds of advice from all kinds of Navy Wives and girlfriends. =) https://www.facebook.com/groups/146515915554210/

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  5. I'm in the same boat with you Taryn. Only he has was in military for years before we met. We have been together 2 years. A year ago we decided that it was easier for the both of us if i relocated and lived with him. We lucky have off base housing so that is not an issue but its hard becuase the wives and the FRG meetings are all on base and I have no way to get to them. I have recently reached out to e few of the wifes I have met and they are making sure I get the information they recieve. If it weren't for them I would be lost. I live 7 houers away from my family and have had a hard time making friends were I relocated. He doesn't always understand why I get frustrated because of it all. But hopefully now that I've reached out and planning on going to next FRG meeting things will hopefully get a little but easier. :) Stick in there It's hard but worth it!

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    1. Thank you for commenting Emily,

      It can be so incredibly difficult being a Navy Girlfriend when you have relocated the way that you have. I went through the same thing. It's very hard to make friends, and it's so true that the boys just don't get it. It's difficult to meet people, when you are relocated to a place for reasons that are not your own and then isolated from other women in the same position. It's not like you moved there for a job or school where you might meet friends. Even after my husband and I married, I've struggled to make friends because we've always lived off base. It's easier when you live on base and are surrounded by people in the same situation. You don't even have access to base!

      It takes a lot of courage and love to stay with your sailor and not have that extra support. You are obviously a very strong person and dedicated to him. Remember that the next time these things get you down. Also keep checking back. I'm going to write a post on how to make friends after moving for your sailor. It's on my calendar for the first post in September 2013.

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  6. Hi. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years and he has decided to join the Navy after Undergrad, as the Navy will help with Med School expenses. I know nothing about the Navy what-so-ever, so I was doing some searching to try to understand everything a little better and I found this website. I still don't know a lot about it, but I really liked reading your post and I definitely plan on making this a regular stop when on the Internet. Thank you for taking the time to explain all of the craziness to all of us!

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    1. Thank you for commenting Anonymous! I'm so glad you found this article helpful and I hope you find the other articles on this site helpful too. Feel free to ask any questions via the comments, Facebook, or Twitter.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll

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  7. Teneish

    My boyfriend of 3years just told me he was joing the navy at frist i couldnt stop crying...but now iam having mixed emotions. Iam pround of him, nd willing to stand by his side reading some of thses post realli helped me out alot its good to know iam not alone.

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    1. Thank you for commenting Anonymous. I am so glad that you know you are not alone. Feel free to search the words "Navy Girlfriend Guide" to sort out all of the articles I post that are specifically written for Navy Girlfriends. It's a new series so I'm writing them regularly. I hope that those posts will continue to help you and I hope you continue to reach out through the comments or through our Facebook page.

      It is really scary having a long-term boyfriend drop that news on you and you have every reason to be frightened and upset, but it is so awesome that you are also strong enough to stay with him as he goes on this journey. It might be rough sometimes but there are also many benefits, and it will be a journey for you too.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll

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  8. I know its been some time since this post was written. I just wanted to say thank you for writing it, and all of this. I just recently started dating my best friend. After only two months of dating he left last week on a nine month deployment. I know that we're meant for each other, but I am struggling a lot because I only know two other wives/girlfriends and they're both in different branches. I feel incredibly alone, and after googling navy girlfriends and reading this post I realized that I'm not. So sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thank you so much for commenting. I am so happy that your found this post helpful, and I hope you will find the other posts here helpful as well. I highly recommend you search the blog for Navy Girlfriend Guide and Navy Girlfriend Report to see more posts written just for women like you.

      I hope you will also join us on our Facebook Forum, which you can find using the tabs at the top of the blog.

      I completely understand how lonely it can feel, so I'm so glad you found us because you are not alone. We are here for you and will help you with this experience in any way that we can. Please feel free to post questions or email me directly. I'd be so happy to help.

      No matter what happens, remember that just by making the decision to stick with your Sailor and go through this experience shows that you are already stronger than most and much stronger than you think.

      The road ahead will be hard but you can survive it. There will be moments when it feels like you won't, like you are weak or going insane, but you're not. Those roller coaster, emotional, insane feeling experiences are perfectly normal, and it's going through those experiences that makes you one of the strongest women in the world.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Stephanie Carroll

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  9. Hello, my boyfriend and I will have been together for three years in september. A year ago he told me he was interested in the Navy and that college just wasn't for him. I respect his decision and I am so proud to call him mine, but he is leaving for basic in 15 days and I am starting to become more and more scared everyday. This man is my first love and I desperately want for him to be my only. I know that I can committ to him and remain faithful, but I am starting to get really scared knowing that soon he wont come running whenever I need him. Any advice on just staying strong and keeping hope alive for our relationship? I hope this doesn't sount like I am complaining.. thank you so much.

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    1. Hi Anonymous, thank you so much for commenting. No it doesn't sound like you are complaining at all. In fact the way that you feel is perfectly normal, and it's the way everyone feels when their boyfriend, fiance, or husband is about to head off to basic or on a deployment.

      I really hope that you check out our Facebook forum because there are a lot of people on there who can share their experiences on this matter as well.

      What I can tell you is that it’s ok to feel what you are feeling, and that you shouldn’t fight it or deny it or feel guilty for it. It’s normal and healthy to feel scared, doubtful, sad, and even angry, even though it often doesn’t seem like we should feel that way.

      It’s also correct to be a bit scared. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be rough, but that doesn’t mean that countless others haven’t survived it or that you can’t because you can. Basic is pretty scary because there really will be very little contact. He might not call you or write you for a couple of weeks right from the beginning, not because he doesn’t want to but because they make it difficult for him to do so.

      I know the thing you said you are afraid about is the fact that he won’t come running when you need him so it will really be scary at first, but it is ok to be scared and it’s okay to freak out or do what I do and become a big crying mess. Just don’t be hard on yourself for getting that way because it’s perfectly healthy.

      It might be helpful to talk to your Sailor now about how you both will be feeling when there’s no communication that way when you haven’t heard from him, you can remember what he said. Maybe even write each other some sealed emergency letters to open when the time comes that you desperately wish to talk to each other and cannot.

      You can’t fight that you will be separated and you can’t prevent the lack of communication. It’s really bad in basic but that type of experience is something both of you will have to deal with as a Navy couple so you’re getting the worst of it out of the way now. I know talking about this stuff with him is difficult especially right before he goes because the closer you get, the weirder talking to each other gets. The best thing you can do is embrace however you are feeling and talk with each other about what’s coming. Talk about how you think you will deal and how you can both help each other by knowing what you both feel before the communication is no longer an option.

      You are strong anonymous. You can do this. Remember that. You are strong and you can do this. Your feelings are normal and healthy.

      Please feel free to write in more and please find our Facebook forum so you can ask more questions. We are here for you and we can all give you great advice. The link can be found at the top of the blog. I wish you all the best and hope you keep in touch and let us know how it goes.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll

      Delete
  10. I heard a lot of women end up breaking down and cheating. Is that just movie talk or real?

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    1. A lot of women do and a lot of women don't but when you really compare the two, the cheating rate is probably about the same as it is for civilian couples.

      Delete
  11. Hi Stephanie,
    So, I'm new to the " Navy girlfriend" thing. My boyfriend and I just started seeing each other about 4 months ago after we both relocated. He's an officer and works non stop, and while hes been absolutely wonderful in terms of communicating with me up until now, I feel as if I may very well blow my lid. It's not his working that bothers me, it's not the fact that my time with him is limited, it's the way he handles his stress..
    He's been overwhelmed, this week in particular due to this huge inspection on the ship and I can't help but feel completely shut out. Not only had I not heard from him in a few days ( understandably so) but once I did hear from him it was only him breaking the plans we'd made for this coming weekend. He say's he's stressed out and is miserable and he doesn't want me to see him like that. But, if i'm not mistaken, part of being in a relationship is being a team and working through things together.
    I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this kind of relationship and I want to try to be as understanding as possible.
    Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to listen to me rant. lol

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  12. No problem Anonymous. I love a good rant! Being in a Navy relationship has its difficulties, one of them being that when the military needs its people, it consumes them. It makes sense, they are either training to or actually dealing with life and death situations. If he is an officer then he is making decisions that could keep his people alive or allow them to die. Whether that's in a real situation or in a training scenario, it's got to be pretty freaking stressful!

    Those kinds of situations tend to affect people in a big way. It can make people respond to everyday situations in a way that to everyone else would seem cold, harsh, indifferent, etc. After that level of stress, he surely needs time to decompress, and specifically not have to worry about anyone else but himself.

    If he is a good boyfriend, he probably spends a lot of time making sure you are happy and comfortable when you are around him, but after spending so much energy making sure everyone else is doing what they need to be doing and doing it right, he probably just can't handle thinking about anyone else.

    A lot of military people isolate themselves in order to deal with their emotions and to let go of the military mentality. This is most predictably seen right before a deployment (when they leave for 6-10 months or more). Sailors tend to detach and isolate themselves in an effort to prepare for the long separation, and its a coping mechanism that usually drives girlfriends and wives nuts.

    Feel confident that what you are experiencing is completely normal. It's just a way for him to make sure you stay happy and comfortable in your relationship. =) Its good that you are open to the differences that come from military relationships. They are subtle and it takes some figuring out and just the fact that you are aware of that means you are ahead!

    I'm sure he would appreciate you letting him know that he doesn't have to worry about you, and that he can focus on himself during this inspection. Also, feel free to talk to him about how you understand there are things that are different for military people but you aren't familiar with them and any tips he can give will be appreciated. They are so surrounded by it that sometimes, they forget. lol!

    I hope this answers your question! Feel free to always ask more either here or on our Facebook Forum which you can find using the tabs at the top of the blog.

    Best wishes!

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie Carroll

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  13. This is an incredibly helpful read. Just reading the comments and article as one really helped me understand that it's not going to be as bad as I thought it was. My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 months and he is leaving in a week for the navy. My biggest fear is being forgotten by the one I love. I want to support him and be just as enthusiastic as he is about joining but it's really hard to when I don't want him to leave as it is.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I'm so glad you found this helpful. You are certainly not alone in your feelings. It is very hard to be supportive when you don't want him to leave. Any woman who is willing to try is already proving themselves stronger than most. It's okay and natural to struggle with it and going through that willingly is what makes you a strong person, the type of person who can do this.

      I wish you all the luck in the world and hope you will check out some of our other articles and the Facebook group for more support and camaraderie.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

      Delete
  14. Hi. My boyfriend and I met online about 4 weeks before he was to leave for boot camp for the US Navy. I live in Finland. He's now in A school, and recently said he was scared he'd never be able to ever come and even see me, things turned out much different than he initially thought, and we had talked about him moving here. Is that even possible? Are we fooling ourselves? Can this work?
    Kemi

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  15. Hi Stephanie.

    My boyfriend and I met online 4 weeks before he was scheduled for boot camp in the US Navy. I live in Finland, but we were determined, before he left for boot camp, that we could make it work. Making plans. We've been together for close to 5 months now, though we have not met in person, and he has finished his boot camp and is now in A school. I don't think he expected things to change as much as they have and he has uttered concern about not being able to see me. Initially he wanted to move here to Finland as moving overseas really isn't an option for me. Are we fooling ourselves, or can it actually work out some how?

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  16. Hi Anonymous,

    I understand your concerns and frustrations and you have every right to feel the way that you do.

    Can it work? Are you fooling yourselves? I wish I had the answers but honestly, I can't say. Everybody is different and different people can handle different types of relationships. Is what you are doing possible, definitely. Will it be hard? Yes. If it works, will it be one of the most touching and romantic stories of two people coming together? Oh my YES! It sounds like the beginning of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

    If you two want to stick this out and try to make it work, then try. It may not work out but that's the case for any relationship. There are the common type of relationships and then there are the not so common. Either one can work and when it comes to military relationships, they are all very hard so why not try a different approach. Who knows, maybe it will be easier your way.

    Have faith and confidence in yourself. If you two are dedicated to one another and willing to do what you have to, you can do it! I can tell you are a strong and independent person. You are more than capable of handling this if it is truly what you desire.

    I hope this helps. Comment again if you have anymore questions or concerns. We are here for you!

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie Carroll
    U&E Founder

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  17. Hey Stephanie,
    I just dropped my boyfriend of a year and a half off to leave for boot camp. He is in Great Lakes and is training to become a Navy Diver. He keeps telling me that he will write all the time but I have read a lot of posts saying that you don't actually receive that many letters while he is in boot camp. Is this true? Are they only allowed to write on Sundays? And can I send as many letters as I want knowing that he will actually receive them in a timely manner. Knowing that I can write and that he can write me back is about the only thing that I think will keep me sane during these next 8 weeks.
    Thanks for any advice!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I'm afraid there is limited communication, but it's not like you won't hear from him or like he won't get your letters. It's not going to be easy but it's not prison either. I'm under the impression that they get a mail call on certain days, so the letter might arrive on Tuesday but not be given to him until a day or so later.

      I wouldn't expect to receive a letter everyday. He's going to be pushed to the limits and even if he wants to write daily, he might just be too exhausted. Even if he does write daily, the mail might not go out daily. You might get short letters when you want long ones.

      This is the nature of him being gone and like I said it won't be easy but it won't be intolerable either. Try to think of this experience as boot camp for yourself. The military means deployments. When he is out of boot camp and in the Navy proper, there will be regular deployments when he goes away from 4 weeks to 6 months, to 8 or 10 or 12 months at a time. There is limited communication during these deployments, not exactly like boot camp but similar.

      You will have to endure that as his partner and you can. You have the strength and ability to do so. If anyone can do it then so can you. Keep reading for more helpful information and keep asking questions too.

      You can do this and we are here to help. =)

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

      Delete
  18. OK so me and my boyfriend been together two months I meet him two weeks after he came home from the navy after doing four years and just this pass sat.the 30th he left to go back he said it was for business but I'm scared and very nerviyst of what to think really he said he would be there from now until Dec of this year and when December comes he will.k ow for syeww how long in when he will be coming home should I be worried I'm scared can't stop crying I don't know what to do .....

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Everything is okay. You don't have to be worried or scared. This is a part of being in the Navy. The Sailor comes and goes all the time. He will be all right and so will you. It's okay to cry and to be sad and upset when he leaves because we all are but it will be so wonderful when he returns.

      Since you only just met him, I'm sure this world is very new and confusing but you will feel a lot better if you get to know it. Talk to him about how it all works. Find out what you should and should not expect. Read around on this blog and other blogs.

      Be strong and stay busy - that always helps when a Sailor goes away. You will be ok and can get through this.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  19. Hey Stephanie,

    My boyfriend of 8 months just graduated from boot camp and is on his way to Virgina for his A school. I am so proud of him! But at the same time I'm really sad. You're blog has been a really big help but I still have some doubts about myself. I feel as if I'm acting like a big cry baby and a crazy girlfriend, and I don't want to feel this way! I never acted like this before I met him but now I'm feeling like I'm acting desperate for his attention and I don't want him to feel dread towards me. I've been keeping myself busy but when I have moments to myself all these emotions come hurling at me like a bunch of bricks and I know you said that talking to each other helps but I don't want to worry him, I don't really like talking about my feelings and I know he gets very worried and I don't want him too. I want him to focus on his work and better himself for our future but at the same time I want him to talk to me all day long and say how much he loves me. I sound crazy right? But it's true. I don't know how to handle this and I feel it will be worse when he's deployed. Or better yet when I join the Navy soon and we're both deployed! I tried talking about this with my family and friends but they say it would be better to break it off so we won't hurt each other but I feel like that would hurt me even more. I know I sound crazy and my message might be confusing but I'm just so lost... I don't know what to think.
    ~Thank you for your time

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I understand how you feel because I felt the same way only during my first experience of separation, I sent my Sailor a crazy long email with all of this freaking out energy and madness in it. It wasn't good or helpful. It didn't make me feel better, and it made him feel worse because he couldn't do anything about it, so if it's your instinct to not pour out everything while he's away, that's good and okay, but you can't hold it in either.

      Talk to friends or family and make an effort to find Military Girlfriends or Wives who you can talk to ... I say that because if you are like me, you will start to feel like your friends and family might not understand. It's also sometimes hard to find other Mil Girlfriends or Wives so you might want to check out our Facebook group. It's important to have some kind of support.

      You can also journal your feelings.

      Acceptance of those feelings is another big and helpful step. I know you feel crazy and like you are losing it, but you are not the only one. We all go through this, especially the first time. Separation from someone you care for involves a psychological process (Google Deployment Cycle) and this is a part of it, but it's only a stage of it, the mourning stage. You will get past this stage, and it won't always be this hard. You won’t feel like this the entire separation. It will get easier and better and you will get through it.

      But going through this stage is important and it shows strength. I know it doesn't feel that way and may even feel the exact opposite but by bearing this and experiencing it shows you have immense strength. You can do this and you are doing it. I can tell by the way you talk about it, you are doing a great job!

      Keeping you in my thoughts,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  20. Hi Stephanie, I was just wondering if it was a normal thing for new navy girlfriends to get into petty fights with their sailors? For example, my boyfriend and I are new to the military life. He just began ATT and we are both trying to get used to that lifestyle and being apart from each other. However, lately we've been having some issues with arguing over stuff like not being available for Skype or not calling when we planned, and I admit it's all me. I'm the one who expects too much from him, even though I realize he's a busy man. I know I have to give him his space and I have to realize that he can't always be there when I need him because he has a job to do. I'm just so worried that I won't be able to adjust. He's only just stated ATT about a month ago. Is it normal to have fights like that? We've already decided to get married once i graduate from college which will be soon. I just want to make sure that I'm fit for handling the military lifestyle as well. I don't want to make it an issue every time that he can't be there at the end of the day because I know it's going to happen. I know I need to learn patience and tolerance, but these petty fights that we've been having lately have really been getting to me because we NEVER used to fight. Did you ever get into fights with your husband when you both first started out this process?

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    1. Hi Soniaeli140,

      Thank you for writing in. Is this normal? Oh yes! Do you need to be afraid? No, you are doing okay. This is not only normal for Mil couples, it's normal for all couples! You've got to figure out how to re-arrange your lives to accommodate one another - that's hard! Then the Military Lifestyle adds that extra stressor, but that's okay because this is very common.

      When I was first starting out my relationship with my Sailor, it dawned on me that we learn how to do everything from math to driving in our society, but no one ever teaches us how to be in a relationship, how to share your world with someone else without going insane! So I decided I was going to educate myself.

      Even though my Sailor and I weren't in dire straights, I wanted to learn how to better communicate and cooperate and coordinate without getting into fights all the time, so I bought a book on relationships. It led to a major turn-around in our relationship. I don't even think he read it, but I was able to explain things that I learned and we both put them into practice. Plus, also, just my doing things differently led to more successful occurrences of working together.

      Check out the post 5 Tips to Strengthen Your Relationship at this address: http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2013/02/cruise-boxing-round-two-five-tips-to.html

      It talks about some of the techniques I have found the most useful and also some of the great books I personally recommend.

      Rest easy. This is all normal and you are strong and will get through it. You are doing a great job.

      Keeping you in my thoughts,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  21. Hi Stephanie, I'm really glad that I ran into this article. It's one of those nights when you just can't sleep and are thinking of all the horrible what if and what's next and what's going to happen. And reading this article just made me feel better because it reminded me that I'm not alone and that everything I'm feeling someone else has felt it.
    Im 19 years old, I've been dating my boyfriend for 4 years. 2 years ago he enlisted in the navy. And starting was really hard. But now, I feel like it's a little harder and I find my self more frustrated. I'm starting my second year of college and I'm thinking "what am I doing?" I'm studying Political Science because I wanted to go to Law school and become a lawyer. But, I recently realized that being a lawyer and a Navy Girlfriend is simply impossible. I find my self having to give up something I want to do with my life so that my sailor and I can be together. And thats frustrating but I can live with that. What really gets to me is that now I don't know what I should be doing. Going to school for that major feels pointless now. I live in FL and go to school in Orlando while my boyfriend is station states away. I don't know what I want to do in life or what a practical job is for someone like a navy girlfriend who has to up an move overtime their sailor does. I know this is assuming we get married eventually and what not. But I do have to think of the future because the choices I make now are going to have an effect on my future life and career.
    I guess I'm just frustrated and really missing my sailor. I know I'm young and have a lot to live and experience but sometimes thinking about what I want and my career I just feel so lost.

    Thanks again, any advice if you have it would be tremendously appreciated.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I'm really glad this was helpful and really glad you wrote in because this is a topic I've thought about a lot myself.

      A lot of times we feel like we have to give up our careers for our Sailors, but I can tell you from my own experience and from the other Mil Wives and Girlfriends that I've met, you can pursue your dreams even as a Navy Girlfriend or Spouse. Yes, you have to move around as a Military Spouse but you are generally stationed somewhere specific for a period of 3-4 years at a time, and people choose the same duty station sometimes again and again, so they can stay in the same place for longer.

      3-4 years is a decent amount of time at a job before moving on, and if you find a job you want to stay at, you and your Sailor will have the ability to make the proper arrangements for that to work out. Compromises will have to be made but that's the case with any couple where both spouses work.

      Basically, don't give up your dream because you think it won't work with the Mil Lifestyle. Make it work. You can. You really can. I've known Military Wives and Girlfriends who work in all kinds of fields like medicine and teaching. I've known Navy Wives who are also officers in the military themselves. I've come across Military Wives who are comedians, Fitness personalities, public speakers, and who are in politics too. I myself am a published author and I know several others.

      Pursue what you want to do and make it work with the Mil Lifestyle. If you don't want to be a lawyer just because you don't want to be one, that's okay too. Keep going to school and just choose classes that interest you, and your interests will lead you to something you do enjoy.

      Also keep in mind that a lot of people end up working in fields that have nothing to do with their degrees, so even if you get a degree in one field, that doesn't mean you are glued to that field. You can change your mind even after you have graduated. =)

      Thanks again for writing in and I hope this helped. Make sure to check out our Facebook group if you'd like to ask several people about this - I bet you will get some great stories, and if you are looking for some extra comfort, sign up for our newsletter!

      Keeping you in my thoughts and wishing you the best!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of "A White Room"
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

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  22. Hi Stephanie, I'm really glad that I looked at this article. I've been going out with my navy boyfriend for about 3 weeks and he went on his deployment for 9 months on 19th October and I've been looking at the internet and have heard stories about their navy boyfriends cheating on their girlfriends. I've been speaking to my friends and a friend that has experience with this and knows a friend that has done this to his girlfriend and I'm really worried about my boyfriend doing this to me even though it's only been a week since he left for his deployment, but I just couldn't help but worry about it. I don't want to look and feel like a fool if I don't know what's going on behind my back and it wouldn't be fair on me if he did cheat because I'm waiting for him to come back home in February. I just don't know what I should do and I do worry about him sailing out there and I do think that maybe he will need to fight and what should I do when that happens? My boyfriend didn't tell me about the FRG or the Ombudsmen who could contact me if anything goes wrong with him and I'm annoyed because he's on his deployment now and I thought they would contact me anyway if anything happens to him which they won't as I haven't contacted them and I don't know how to. But I did meet his mum for a brief moment and I heard from him that his mum likes me but I haven't properly met her and she doesn't know my number if anything did happen to him. So what should I do if this were to happen? He emails me every day when he can from and he calls me when he arrives at different countries when he has days off and he did a really sweet and beautiful thing for me which he made a heart out of stones and it said I <3 Jude on a beach when he was at Greece. Should I worry about him cheating on me? How will I know if he cheated on me? Should I ask him questions about it when he comes back home in February? I'm sorry if it sounds negative of me thinking about this, but I'm really worried and I really do love him. I don't want to feel like a fool as I'm naive and gullible and I just want to be cautious about these things rather than not knowing what can go on out at sea because I don't know what he's doing. I just really don't know what to do even though I don't know if he has cheated on me. Also, I want to know what are the chances of me being with my navy boyfriend if I want to join the Raf?

    Thanks for reading and if you have any advice it would be considerably appreciated.

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    1. Hi Jude,

      You don’t sound negative or wrong in any way for feeling the things that you feel. It is completely normal to feel all of these concerns. I felt these concerns and probably all Military Girlfriends and Wives do. So to start, tell yourself it’s okay to feel worried and scared. It’s natural in fact.

      Fear of both service members and their spouses cheating is a big concern in the Military simply because couples spend so much time away from each other but there is no real evidence to suggest that more cheating actually occurs in the Military than outside of it. The difference is the amount of fear and the amount of awareness of when people actually do cheat. You see when your next door neighbor cheats on his or her spouse, you may never know about it, but in the Military both professional and family life are so mixed up together that if someone cheats, everyone, EVERYONE ends up finding out, so leads to this perception that Military couples cheat more often.

      Something else to consider is that cheating is something that doesn’t happen on accident. Cheating is something that happens when either there are problems in a relationship or a weak commitment to the relationship. It’s also okay to talk to him about this fear by expressing how important it is to you to remain loyal and committed to the relationship and how much his commitment and loyalty means to you.

      Don’t be upset that he didn’t tell you about the Ombudsmen and FRG. A lot of Military Spouses and Boyfriends just don’t think to do it. Just ask him how to get in touch with these people. The squadron he is with will usually have information as well via their website or Facebook group. You can email them to ask if he doesn’t know how to get that information. Ask him to give your number to his mother or to have his mother call you so you two can come up with an in case of emergency plan of notification.

      We have a couple great articles on U&E that may also help you. Search for “Resources for New Navy Wives & Navy Girlfriends” and “Why Do Sailor’s Take So Long to Respond to Email.” Or just poke around and see what you can find. We have lots of answers and advice in our backlist.

      You may also really benefit from joining our Facebook group so check that out too.

      Don’t worry Jude. I can tell you are a strong woman. Be confident in your strength and ability. You can do this and we are here to help.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of “A White Room”
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

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  23. Hi i recently started dating my boyfriend about a week and a half ago. Hes recently been deployed and i know most of you must be thinking a week and a half? But we have been best friends for six years and I could not have known anyone better. I am literally just being thrown into this world and as one who has had quite a tough upbringing I was taught independence at a young age. So I believed that I qould be fine that nothing could be that difficult! But not hearing from him everyday like I am used to took a toll but I am continuing to read your experiences and I know I was destined to come across this because its given me hope and strength. I love him more than words can say. Thank you for this. You have really helped me see things differently

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    1. I am so happy that U&E has been helpful. I think it's very smart to be doing some research to get in better touch with what you should expect. It really is hard work being there for a Sailor and getting informed is really important. It is really hard the first time but I can tell you that it gets easier as you become more experienced with the lifestyle. Keep being strong. You can do this.

      Wishing you all the best in your relationship and experiences. Thank you for reaching out to let me know that this helped you. It means the world to me.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of A White Room
      www.stephaniecaroll.net

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  24. Hi stephanie,
    I am not a navy girlfriend yet but seems like thats where I am headed so i found your blog and i have been reading it to get an understanding of what to expect from this experience.
    my boyfriend and i met when we were nine, however we didnt start dating until we were 14 and then we broke it off a year later at my fathers request and remained really close friends. we are now in our early twenties and i have grown to love him so dearly and he loves me the same. we have been through a lot, from having people trying to pull us apart to him being in and out of the hospital at one point due to a sports injury, and i was with him every moment i could be. however i am not sure if i can handle this. I am not use to being alone at all. and he wants to get married after he finishes boot camp but idk if i can handle it. I grew up in a big family 5 siblings, both of my parents and surrounded by cousins and friends so i literally dont know what its like to be alone. Dont get me wrong I am capable of taking care of myself but I am so use to being with him or with someone. However at the end of the day being without him isnt an option. So i am at a lost because i want to be his wife and be with him but i am unsure on being by myself for long periods of time. He told me that i can visit home as much as i'd like but thats not exactly cost effective and not to mention i am not every good at making friends. He is going to sign a four year contract, which is a good chunk of time.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for writing. I think it's very smart to be looking into what this lifestyle is all about. Not everyone thinks to do that. So you are off to a good and smart start!

      I'm sorry you find yourself in this very difficult position. I know it can be really scary and hard to figure things out. You never know what things might be like. I can't give you your answers, but I can tell you some things based on my experience.

      I was like you. I wanted to be with the person I'm with all the time. The thought of not being with him seemed insane. In fact when I first started seeing my Sailor, I thought I would never marry him because I wouldn't be able to survive the separation. Well, love conquers, and I survived.

      Here's the thing. Don't do anything you aren't comfortable doing. Don't rush into a marriage if you have concerns. Take some time. Be a Navy Girlfriend. That's okay. I know women who were Girlfriends for years before marrying their Sailors and they are married now and doing great.

      The good news is that just as he will be introduced to the Military Lifestyle in boot camp and then A-School, which comes after boot camp, you will have the opportunity to experience separation and see how you do with it.

      I can also tell you that in the beginning I was the type who couldn't stand being a part from someone I was with for even a day, but each separation is a little easier than the last. Now, a month apart seems like nothing. Deployments get easier too. They aren't sunshine and lolly pops but they get easier.

      Just from reading your comment, I can tell that you are a very smart, capable, and strong person. If you want to do this, I can tell you that you can. You have the strength and capability to do it, but if you don't know, don't rush, and if you don't want to, then don't, but no matter what happens, you will get through it because of that strength.

      Keeping you in my thoughts.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of "A White Room"
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

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    2. Thank you so much, for this word of encouragement! I really appreciate it, I have no one in my family that i could really talk to this about because they arent really about it nor do they have any experience. we havent had a sit down with my parents yet so they have no idea.. I am a little worried about how they'll react, but i know i will be alright. Once again I really appreciate you and what you are doing here and I pray that God continues bless you as you take the time out to encourage young ladies like myself who are entering this new and very different stage of life.

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    3. I am so glad that I was helpful Anonymous and know that you are always welcome to talk to someone here or on our Facebook Group. Wishing you and your Sailor all the best.

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  25. Hi Stephanie,
    Even though I am not a navy Girlfriend yet, I will be one very soon. I'm glad that I came across this article when I was searching about the navy and what to expect when being with someone who is going to be involved with it. Most of the questions that I asked my self we're answered by you whether it was in the article or the comments.
    Me(17 will be 18 soon)and my boyfriend(18) have only been together for four months, but we love each other and are for sure that we want or wish to be together for the rest of our lives. Towards the beginning of our relationship we hit some HUGE rough patches that caused some trust to broken on both of our parts, but we care about each other so much that we we're willing to try and rebuild what was broken. Now, we still are rebuilding and trying to heal the damages that we're caused, but he enlisted into the navy. He doesn't leave for basic training until may, which means I have some time to try and get used to the lifestyle or prepare myself. we have talked somewhat about the future and how it's going to be, but we haven't actually talked about what we're going to do. We've talked about the marriage and about how neither of us want to rush into it or do it because we think it's best, but we haven't actually talked about what we want to do or what we are going to have to do. As of right now, we both live with our "guardians" in the same area in the same state. Since his A schooling is going to be in pensecola and my mother lives in tallahasse, our plan is to move to Florida in January where we'll have our own space together to live in(given by my mom)until he has to leave for basic training. I plan to do online college courses and also maintain a job with my mother cleaning beach houses while being down there and when he is away for 8 weeks. When he returns from basic, he'll be in pensecola and I will be in Tallahassee. Those are our plans, and we intend to follow through with them, but I'm questioning if it's a great idea or plan.
    I wanted to give a little bit of my situation before I started rambling on about questions and concerns.
    Is it a good idea to move closer to where your navy partner is doing their A schooling at?
    If you both commit and you rebuild the trust that was lost by both partners while adjusting to the mil lifestyle, can it still work out between them?
    How is the best way to show the navy partner that you support them and are proud of what they are doing?
    What is the best way to bring up the "future or what do you want to do" topic to the navy partner?
    And is there any advice you can give me about helping him or making him feel more comfortable about him being away from me?

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    1. Hi Cassandra,
      I am very happy to answer your questions and want you to know that if you would like to hear from others on these as well, you can always ask them in our Facebook Group. Okay, here we go:

      Is it a good idea to move closer to where your navy partner is doing their A schooling at?
      Unfortunately, no. I say unfortunately just because you sound concerned about having a plan and this was kind of your plan, but it's going to be ok. So It can be really confusing in the beginning about what's going to happen. You want to plan but the Navy makes it really difficult.

      This is actually a common desire but you see there are two issues with moving to where he is doing A-School. First off, A-School is kind of like boot camp light, the Sailors are kept extremely busy and are not allowed to live off of base. You probably wouldn't even get to see him very much. Secondly, after A-School he's going to move again when he is assigned orders and he may not have full control over where he goes, so if you move to Florida to be with him for A-School then you will have to pick up in two months and move to his duty station, which could be almost anywhere. When he gets there, that's when you want to move.

      This might sound a little scary, being apart from him for 8 weeks and just after the boot camp period, but this is not just boot camp and training for him, it's for you too. Separation is a major part of being with someone in the military and this is going to be your crash course.

      If you both commit and you rebuild the trust that was lost by both partners while adjusting to the mil lifestyle, can it still work out between them?
      People have made all kinds of relationships work even in the most difficult and dire circumstances. If you both love each other and are both willing to stick it out and try then you can make it work, but it will be hard. You both need to be prepared for that. You are going to both be under tremendous stress as individuals and as a couple. You can get through it though.

      My advice is to get as much help as you can. Get books on relationships and on your specific relationship problems, read blogs about those problems, and if you can see a counselor or if you attend church, you might benefit from speaking with a church counselor or pastor. Communication is my other advice. Make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to everything about the relationship the way you plan to handle these upcoming experiences.

      continued in next comment....

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    2. continued from previous comment...


      How is the best way to show the navy partner that you support them and are proud of what they are doing?
      Telling them directly is a big component and also just being there, sticking it out even when it gets rough (that's a big one in the Military), helping him, encouraging him, and supporting him.

      What is the best way to bring up the "future or what do you want to do" topic to the navy partner?
      When you are going into the Military, you don't have the luxury of figuring it out as you go or beating around the bush. Sit him down and tell him you would like to discuss your future. Explain your concerns, ask him questions, let him know that you want to understand and stay informed about what's going on, and let him know what your expectations are and ask him what his are.

      This is a time when both of you are going to be thrust into a new world and both of you are going to feel like you don't know what is going on. There will be times when you are both operating under different information and it will lead to miscommunications, so be prepared for that possibility.

      And is there any advice you can give me about helping him or making him feel more comfortable about him being away from me?
      You can keep doing what you are doing - research. Find out everything you can about preparing for this experience and tell him how you are preparing. The talk about the future will put him at ease too as will defining your expectations for the relationship. Communication really is key. You are a strong and capable woman and reminding him that you are confident in yourself and your relationship will help him feel confident too. Then you can also do things while he is away, like sending him regular letters and care packages, being understanding when he literally cannot write you or see you for chunks of time.

      I hope all of this is helpful and if you have more questions ask away. Also poke around and search this and other blogs because there is a lot of information that you will find useful.
      Wishing you all the best and keeping you in my thoughts.
      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of "A White Room"
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

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  26. I don't exactly know how to cope with the situation. My partner just enlisted in the Navy, and soon will be going to basic training. Im in highschool, and frankly I don't know what to expect when he tells me he's leaving. We've been together for almost 2 years now, and now I pretend I'm okay with it, but I tend to break down every born and then. No one else is going through this specific situation with being a 16 year old teenage girl...

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      So glad you wrote in because you are not alone. Since many Sailors enlist as they are leaving high school, some will sign up before they even turn 18, so there are other girls out there going through what you are. Still, it isn't as common so I'm sure you feel alone.

      First, I can tell you that it will all be okay. It feels really scary when any girlfriend goes through the enlistment process with their significant other because there is so much that you don't know and so much to fear. It's normal and healthy to feel the way you do. It is okay that you are breaking down and freaking out.

      For now, as hard as it can be, you will have to try your best to cope with the here and now and not worry as much about the future because for a while, he won't even know what he's dealing with until he gets there, which means you will know even less.

      There will be times when it is hard, and you will feel like you don't know what's going on or you can't cope, but I can tell you that it's normal to feel out of the loop and freaked out and you can cope with it.

      The thing that I try to talk about here at this blog a lot is that you will go through moments - and it sounds like you already have - when you are breaking down and you feel like you are weak or crazy or not handling it, but it's the fact that you are going through those moments, that you are experiencing them and surviving them, that is what coping and surviving and being strong looks like. To me it sounds like, you are already proving that you are strong and you are capable of doing this.

      Try to do your best to keep the lines of communication open with him. Don't hide your feelings or pretend you are okay with something when you aren't. Be clear about what you expect, what you want, what you need, and what you fear. Be understanding and supportive of him and what he needs and feels.

      It's important that you both understand by going into the military as a couple, it means that you are going to have to go through these things too. He's not doing it by himself. When he goes to boot camp, you will experience an initiation process of your own as you get used to not being around him all the time, having less communication, etc.

      It's great that you found this blog because it means you are looking into things, doing your research, and willing to learn. That right there is already setting you up for more success than others so keep doing that. Educate yourself. Ask questions, find answers, and stick around because there is so much you can get from this and other blogs.

      Also check out our Facebook group because we've got tons of supportive women who are more than willing to answer any questions you might have.

      I hope this was helpful and I am keeping you and your new Sailor in my thoughts and prayers.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

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  27. Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for sharing your story and for opening up to Navy girlfriends around the world! I'm based in Seattle and I met my Navy bf here over two years ago. He and I are very much in love, it's like I've met my best friend and we do everything together. In feb 2015 we moved in together and all has been good so far. I moved to Seattle in 2012 for Job reasons and just recently in July I started a new job that I like very much and that it has great potential for career growth. I'm an environmental engineer and for me working is something that I'm very proud of. We are both very independent and he understands that my position with job stability.

    He says that he is trying to choose a base near Seattle so that we are close to each other but November and December didn't have any openings in the WA state, only Japan (:/) and Virginia.

    All his friends are married and they all ask him why he doesn't he ask me to marry him but I don't think we are ready just yet. Have you seen any relationship (BF/GF) survive when they are probably years in other states? I'm concerned and sad and many other feelings that I can't explain.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Kind regards,
    Cris

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    1. Hi Cris,

      Thank you for writing in. You are not alone in your concerns. Many women feel this pressure and fear that not going along with it will end the relationship but that's not actually the case.

      I do know women who remained Navy Girlfriends for years. They spent time having to be in other states and in other countries. One of them even did a work program so she could travel to India while her boyfriend was deployed.

      The women I know who did this made it work. At different times they did end up marrying their Sailors and are very happy today.

      There is a lot of pressure to marry military members, but it is not the only option. It is especially not the only option if you are not ready. Rushing into a marriage before you are ready is far worse even when it comes to military couples. The military has a high divorce rate. Part of that is due to the fact that military couples have to go through a lot but another big part is that so many couples are rushed into it before they are ready by the military culture and the military system.

      Do what is best for the both of you - that is how you will best survive as a military couple.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

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  28. Hey Stephanie..
    So I'm new to the whole "Navy Girlfriend" thing.. Him and I have been together for 7 months, and we're a long distance relationship. He lives in Mississippi, and I live in Indiana. We've met before in person several
    time, but anywho enough about that.
    He left for basic training in November on the 12.
    I'm really confused as to what happens after he graduates. I was suppose to go to his graduation but his mom says the seats are full even though she told me she would save me a seat... Since only 4 people are
    aloud per person. Him and I have kept in contact with letters and he would call every chance he got. His graduation is on the 8th of January.. Which is also
    my birthday. I will be turning 18..
    I'm really confused on how him and I will keep in contact after he leaves basic? Since his phone, and stuff was sent home when he got to basic. When he was telling me about him going into the Navy he made
    it sound so easy... Now that the time has come, I realize it's not as easy as he made it sound. Him and I had plans of getting married after he got out of basic, sometime in February, but I'm not sure how I will have contact with him?
    Will he get phone calls? Will he be able to have his phone sent to him? I'm not really sure how that works. Also he will be in Charleston South Caroline when he graduates.
    Will him and I even have time to get married??

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    1. Thank you for commenting. You are not the only one who feels this way. A lot of Sailors are convinced that joining the military is like getting a job or going to college and then that's also the impression their loved ones receive. It can be quite the jolt to realize it's not the case and I'm sorry you had to realize that this way.

      It is hard while he is in basic and it will be hard for a while but then things will eventually settle down and get easier. With time, it will also become more predictable but for a while it mile feel a little chaotic. It will almost seem like he's not telling you everything but the reality is that he doesn't always exactly what is going to happen either.

      There is a really good post on the blog that answers a lot of your questions: A Sailor Answers Your Questions About What to Expect in the Navy - http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2013/08/navy-girlfriend-guide-sailor-answers.html

      He will be able to communicate better after basic but it will still be less communication than what you would like. He will have phone access again and even some freedom to visit but very little.

      Things will calm down more once he arrives at his first duty station but even then, it will be like starting at the bottom of a new intense job and will require a lot of his time and energy. He will likely go to a sea duty tour so he also might have to immediately start preparation for a deployment.

      Will you ever have time to get married? Yes, but you needn't feel rushed to do so. There are plenty of people who remain strong couples without getting married right away and a lot of times its better to take your time. Many Navy marriages end because they were rushed into.

      You may also be interested in: Should I become a Navy Wife - http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2013/08/navy-girlfriend-guide-pros-cons-to.html

      And

      The Pros and Cons of Remaining a Navy Girlfriend through Deployment: http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2013/12/navy-girlfriend-guide-pros-cons-of.html

      I hope these answer your questions and I hope you will ask more if you need to. Also consider our Facebook Forum where you can ask other Navy Wives & Girlfriends what their experiences have been. Everyone in the group understands that U&E is about encouragement and support so you will find friendly faces.

      Wishing you a Happy Birthday and you and your Sailor all the best.
      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

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  29. Stephanie,
    Thid blog is so helpful to so many women, like me! My boyfriend of over 11 months, itll be a year in two weeks, has always considered joining the Navy. I've always supported him with this but now its actually happening, and much quicker than I thought, he's joining in a couple of weeks or possibly a couple of days. I was wondering what things you recommend talking about before they leave. I know i want to talk to him about cheating and whats going to happen if he gets stationed far away, but is there anything else you recommend? Is there something you wish you communicated with your husband before hand? I love this man with all my heart and I know we can make it work Im just panicking at the idea that hes going to be gone for so long.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for commenting. I'm so glad you found the blog and that you have found it helpful. It means a lot to hear.

      It sounds like you are already ahead of the curve just by knowing that you need to have these conversations before he leaves.

      This is also a very good question, one that might even inspire a post and a question in our Facebook Forum.

      For now I can say that discussing expectations on a variety of fronts is important. Decide beforehand what you expect from each other and how you feel about certain things. A lot of times, military couples suffer from miscommunications and accidental upsets because they don’t realize how the other person would feel about something. Make a list of “how you would feel if . . .” and then add in anything you are worried about happening or that you think might happen. Simple things like not hearing from him after a certain amount of days or things he might do in port or with other military members, etc.

      Also discuss how you both plan to handle it when things change or don't go according to plan because that happens a lot in the beginning when neither of you knows exactly what to expect from the military.

      If it were me, I’d make a list of things I’d like to talk about before he goes and ask to have a discussion, maybe suggest he makes a list too. Some things that come to mind:

      Faithfulness: That you both expect or don’t expect fidelity. What you expect if one of you is unfaithful.

      Commitment-Level: Where you are now in your relationship and where you want to be in a year or two.

      Views on marriage: Depending on where you are at in your relationship, this might be awkward, but it’s good to get these views out there now because once he goes in, there will be some cultural pressure on both of you to get married. I can tell you right now that you don’t have to get married to last in the Navy and in fact rushing into it can doom the relationship if you aren’t ready for it. Same things goes for having children.

      Establish who will keep you informed: As a girlfriend, you do not have rights to information. If he gets injured or worse, his next of kin, likely his parents, will be informed. If it were me, I would sit down with him and his primary contacts and make sure it’s all clear who contacts who in case of whatever, trade emails, find out if they do texting, whatever, so it’s not awkward when or if you decide to call them to ask about something. You guys might think this won’t be an issue and it might not be, but there will be a time and very possibly when he first goes in, when he cannot communicate with you, and you might find yourself freaking out because he said he would call or write and he hasn’t. If you can call his mom or dad and ask if they’ve heard anything, or if you know they will contact you, then you can rest assured that it’s one of the many occasions when he’s not allowed to communicate. (This is the one I wish I had done.)

      These are the thoughts I have on this right now but I feel like there could be more said here which is why I mentioned I might make a post about this or ask the question in our forum so keep up with the blog and maybe check the forum to see what comes up. Fantastic question.

      Wishing your and your soon-to-be Sailor all the best of luck.
      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder


      Delete
  30. I've been dating my navy boyfriend for a month and I live In California and he is stationed in Japan. We met online. He wants me to come see him and I want to as well so I told him in July. I'm just really nervous because by the time July comes we will have only been dating a little over 4 months he wants kids I have kids from a previous marriage he is also divorced. We are both 32 years old and we both know what we want. I'm just a little scared about going out there being around his friends and everything will they accept me? Is it too soon to make that kind of trip? He is going to visit thanksgiving time for 3 weeks but we don't want to wait until then? Advice?

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    1. Hi Shalana,

      Thank you for writing in. Forgive me for taking a while to get back to you. I've been out of town.

      Your two main questions are if it's too soon to take this kind of trip and if his friends will accept you. I'll answer the second one first as it's easier.

      They will totally accept you! Navy people are super nice and just like normal people when it comes to welcoming others into the fold. Is it possible that you might meet someone who isn't so nice? Sure, but that's the case no matter where you go.

      Is it too soon to make this trip? That's something that depends on you two. There is no law that says that it's too soon. You two are both old enough, mature enough, and have been through enough life experiences to know how to be careful and safe.

      If you know that you want to go but you have someone telling you it's a bad idea then you know what you want. You just have to listen to yourself.

      If you feel pressured by him and you know you just don't feel comfortable then again, you know what you want, and you got to stick with your gut.

      My husband and I moved in with each other after only dating for six months and we eloped after dating for less than a year. This seems to break all of those "rules" and I was concerned about that at the time but I just had to follow my heart, and here we are twelve years later and we couldn't be happier. So you determine your own rules.

      I think deep down you both know how you feel and what you want. Yes you are taking risks, but that's okay and even good sometimes in life and in relationships. Have a back-up plan in case the worst should happen. You will be in a foreign country and all so be aware of emergency hotels and if there are English cab companies. Make sure you tickets are exchangeable in case you have to or want to go home early, stuff like that. Though I'll doubt you'll need it, it's always good to be over-prepared in out-of-country situations, if you ask me.

      So follow your heart. You got this!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  31. I broke down and cry when I read the part of there are million women doing this and you can too.
    I have been questioned by people who don't understand what I am going through and thought I might be a navy wife material.
    This is the first deployment he has to go after we Clare together , it is not easy at all. I tried to reach out for help after he left , but it is limited. I am alone here , family's far, far away. And like you said, making friends could be a challenge. And it is to me.
    What hurts me the most is that my bf has been in a very stressful working environment, abd he's become into a different person after he left. He told me it's a switch he has to flip while he's at work and when he's finally back he will switch it back to eh a family man again. At this point I really worry and doubt about everything.
    He's been really distant and cold, also very grumpy whenever we get chance to speak to each other , emails less and less day by day ,I get to that point I feel hopeless and stop writing emails anymore. I don't really get responses anymore like the beginning.
    I get so discouraged by people constantly questioning me how can you suffer this much, and what if questions. Seriously how would I know? What if he has to go away for how long , I really don't know I just want him to come home this home so I can hold him tight and ease all the pain in my heart I feel everyday ever since he left.
    I start to doubt myself if I am ever gonna be navy material, if I am ever gonna be able to cope with his deplotmyment , if I would be able to stay with him till the end of the life time.
    My bf wants me to understand his struggles and his pain but who understand mine?
    It's not the loneliness that really kills me, it is the pain of not being heard and understood kills me.
    Now I am scared and doubt myself even more :(

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    Replies
    1. Dear Ez,

      I'm so glad you reached out here because you are heard and understood here. My heart goes out to you because I felt so much like you do now when I went through my first deployment, and I think many of us experience exactly what you are. It feels like you are the only one because there are so few people around you who have gone through it but, we have and I can tell you that it's all okay.

      Everything you are experiencing, the hard parts, the scary parts, and especially struggling with the unknown is all something we go through. In those moments of doubt and fear, we often break down into tears and feel like we are weak or like we are going crazy, but I can tell you right now that you are not. Just by going through this, by enduring it, you are revealing incredible strength and resilience. By enduring this despite feeling so alone, you are demonstrating how dedicated and in love you are. It's okay to cry, to break down, to feel like you are falling apart, that's all normal, and it's all strength.

      It's normal for them to flip the switch. It's normal to feel distant and like he's not the same, and that's because he had to flip the switch. He has to turn off his emotions, so he can deal with being away from you. It doesn't mean his feelings or his personality have changed. It's just a coping mechanism.

      The few emails is also a frustrating normalcy. It's because they are so busy and they have to actually wait for computer time. A lot of times they only have time to read your email, but that's what keeps them going so don't give up on writing him even if he's having little time to write you.

      It's hard to know all of this stuff, and it can feel like he's keeping it from you, but that's how it is with all of them. I think it's because they are trained not to say much about what's going on. I only know a little bit after 12 years of marriage.

      It's hard to communicate and maintain a relationship long distance, long term, and with only email, so know that you are both doing really well. It's hard. It's really hard, and it's okay that you are having a hard time with it, but it will get easier and you will gain more endurance.

      For now it's important to find ways to stay busy and keep your mind off of it. Get a project or join a club. Find something social, something that forces you to get out there and live because that will help tremendously.

      Yes it's frustrating dealing with the questions, but it's okay not to have answers. Come up with a few stock answers, smile and shrug. You don't have to explain everything. You're doing what you are doing because you care about somebody, that's all that matters.

      Just remember all those moments of frustration, tears, doubt, fear, screaming, all of it - it's not weakness. It's strength because only someone as strong as you could go through it.

      Keep up the good work. Be kind and easy on yourself and your Sailor. You are both in my prayers.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  32. My boyfriend just finished boot camp and is now in Pensacola for A school. Let me tell you, i don't think that i have ever felt this insecure, mostly because of all the stories that i have heard about women in the navy. Nonetheless, reading this really makes me feel better. Although we have not talked about it, i'm not ready for marriage, i think, but also reading everything, i would want to be contacted immediately if something were to happen. I'm a little on the edge about this whole situation, but at the same time i dont think that i would change a thing. Its just frustrating sometimes.

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    1. Hi Karla,

      Thank you for writing in and sharing your experience. I'm so glad this post was helpful. A lot of what you hear about in the military is rumors and exaggeration. It's okay to feel worried or insecure. We all do at times. Just remember that your experience is normal and your feelings are natural. Be open with your Sailor. Let him know your fears and your feelings. Be kind to yourself and give yourself rewards for your efforts because you are doing so well. Your positive attitude is fantastic too. You are definitely the type of person who can handle this.

      Wishing you and your Sailor all the best!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

      Delete
  33. I'm 17 years old and didn't know it was possible to fall so in love at such a young age. My boyfriend of almost a year is joining the Navy (his boot camp should be in about 6 months.) We originally discussed staying together, but recently have been thinking differently. Six years is a long time, and only seeing each other a few times each year makes it seem even harder, but when discussing the possibility of ending things, I was heart broken. I've never been so painfully saddened by anything in my entire life. I'm going to college in a year, most likely a high-scale university and will need to focus on schooling. Is there any way we could stay together? Is it possible or even rational to consider it? I'm hoping for advice because I don't know all of our options but I can't stand the thought of losing him. It makes it harder because being so young, we can't get married any time soon. We're still together but I can't be happy in a relationship if I know it's going to end. At this point I just don't know what to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Rebecca,

      I'm so sorry it took so long to get back to you on this. I wish I could have sooner because I can hear your struggle through writing voice.

      Yes it is possible to stay together. If you guys want to do it, you can do it. Navy relationships are hard and long distance and can involve unconventional situations but it's doable if you are both in it 100%.

      Many, many Navy girlfriends endure those years of separation and long distance relationships. Many, including myself, go to college and graduate and have a career, many successfully pursue their dreams, many wait to have children, and many have happy and strong relationships.

      Obviously, your success depends on the two of you and how much work you put into the relationship but can you do it? Is it possible or is it doomed? Yes it's possible and no it's not doomed.

      Check out this article "Can a Military Relationship Work" for more: http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2016/06/can-military-relationship-work-do-i.html

      My heart goes out to you and I wish you and your partner all of the best as you begin this journey.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

      Delete
  34. Hi Stephanie,

    I'm Jen. I know it's been awhile since there has been a post here but I feel the need to reach out to someone.

    I'm 19 and going into my junior year of college. My boyfriend of 5 months is a submariner. His submarine is a nuclear powered fast attack submarine. It's currently in dry dock 2 hours away from my school & home. Lately I've been struggling with the amount of attention he is able to give me. I get sad when hes off going duty and I don't get to talk to him for 2 days. In alittle over 6 months the submarine will be stationed on the opposite coast. He has doubts that our relationship will work long distant because of how busy he will be and his 6 month deployment periods on top of many smaller excursions. I'm really broken up about this because I love him more than I've ever loved someone before. I feel guilty for expecting him to give all of his free time to me and unintentionally making him feel bad since he doesnt.

    He told me to think long and hard about this but I already do all the time. I've come up with solutions to all the issues I could think of and that he brought up but I feel like it is too soon in our relationship to discuss some of them. I already know he doesn't know if he's ready to commit to a relationship across the country not being able to see eachother almost all of the time. It scares me to bring up topics such as relcoating during the summers or moving in together once I graduate. He still has 2 and a half more years in the navy. Then he might re-enlist. I just don't know how to bring up sensitive topics without just breaking down and it becoming a bigger issue.

    Also, thank you for the information above everything is so helpful. Once I tall to him more and we come to an agreement of what the plan is for the future I will contact the FRG.

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    1. Hi Jen,

      Because of the serious decisions you as a couple have to consider, it is important that you bring up the serious topics. It probably seems too soon in the relationship but it's unavoidable really. Once you start talking, it will be easier to bring those things up.

      I don't think you need to worry about bringing these things up because he specifically asked you to think about them. So your opening is simply that you've considered what he asked he to consider. Talk about options and your own desires and concerns.

      I'm not sure if this answers your question but just know that's it's okay that you have to talk about this stuff so early on. It's just one of those unique things about a Navy relationship.

      Wishing you and your Sailor all the best.
      Stephanie Carroll

      Delete
  35. This is wonderful! My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year now and the first half of that he was lucky enough to be stationed in my city. The second half is a whole different story since he has had hopped around a bit for A school and training. He actually just left today for field med and that is why I found your post! It was wonderful to hear that when he finally settles into his next command and I do move there that I have options. We both thought that marriage was really the only way to effectively be together, but I worried that rushing into that could put a strain on us. Do you have any tips on how to get through the long distance until that happens? He has had to leave a couple times now and it doesn't seem like its getting any better especially when the Navy isn't telling him anything about what will happen next.

    Thank you so much for all your support and wisdom. I did feel like I was fumbling around and it is comforting to know that its how navy relationships are.

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    1. Dear Marissa,

      I'm so happy this was helpful for you. We have tons of posts on how to cope with deployment and long distance so poke around, use the search bar, and I"m sure you will find plenty. Also check out our Facebook forum group (click the tab at the top of the site for FB) so you can chat with others who are going through similar situations.

      Best of luck to you and your Sailor!
      Stephanie Carroll

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  36. Hi stephanie,

    My name is Thalia and I'm 19. My boyfriend has some family members in the Navy, including his older brother so since he was a kid he wanted to be in it. My boyfriend told me yesterday that how things looked joining the navy is been on his mind lately and he wanted to discussed it with me. I told him that I've actually done my research before since he's made some comments here and there. I'm a dental assistant and while I was in dental school majority of my classmates were military wife's and I actually had the opportunity to ask some questions. I understand that the lifestyle is hard mostly on the Sailor's partner, although I know this I told him that If he really wants to do this, I'll do my best to support him and be there for him and that we'll take things little by little as they come. I also told him that one of my main concerns are that if he gets stationed somewhere away from our city/state that I'm scared of moving just because I know that as a girlfriend I'll have to live outside of the base and pretty much on my own. I'm scared about being on my own, paying bills and not being able to sustain myself. Is not the same living with someone else to help you pay things than all by yourself..I've tried to search about it and see how other girlfriends deal with the whole leaving alone financially wise and how hard it was so I can have some type of knowledge but so far no luck. I like to be somewhat prepared for things and know what I'm getting myself into. Were you or someone that you know in a situation like mine, or at least about the living alone part? I'm definitely going to find the rest of the navy girlfriend's guide posts I think they'll be very helpful just like this one was. Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you soon!

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    1. Dear Thalia,

      Your concerns are understandable and the living situation as girlfriend and boyfriend can be a difficult one. Different people work it out in different ways.

      Some find a living situation that is financially stable, like renting a room, some Sailors manage to get permission to live off of base with their girlfriends, some girlfriends stay where they are and do a long distance thing. Really it's something the two of you have to figure out, but it is early being that he hasn't joined yet. If he does join, you should plan for a chunk of long-distance relationship time because he won't actually have official orders to a base until after he's done boot camp and A-School, the time of which is different depending on the job he ends up doing.

      One of the difficult things about being in a Navy relationship is that it can be hard to plan for the future. Usually you won't know where you are getting orders to until right before and often times he will be left in the dark about things as well which is equally frustrating.

      However, many, many, many girlfriends do this kind of thing in many different ways and they make it work. I know plenty of girlfriends who have done it, so just remember that it can be done and you two can make it work.

      I also recommend checking out our Facebook Group. There's a tab at the top of the site that will take you there. That's where you can ask what others' experiences have been.

      I hope this helps and I wish you and your soon-to-be Sailor all the best.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      www.stephaniecaroll.net

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I love, love your comments and questions! Just remember to not mention any security info about your Sailor! Thank you!

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