Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Navy Girlfriend Guide: Insider Information for the Navy Girlfriend

Today I'd like to introduce my newest segment "A Navy Girlfriend's Guide," which will focus on advice for Navy Girlfriends. Navy Wives were all girlfriends once, and we all know it kind of sucked.
So, I hope that both Navy Girlfriends and Navy Wives will take part in the conversation in the comments or on the Facebook Forum by sharing experiences and providing further advice. 

                        You are More than Just An Outsider!

photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc

Navy Girlfriends don't just feel like outsiders, the Navy makes it clear to them that they are outsiders! It's of course not like the Navy set out to make you feel bad, but still it kind of hurts. 

You have to get signed on to base. You can't shop at the Commissary (grocery store) or the Nex (other needs kind of store). Those types of restrictions make sense. They don't want people breaking onto base to shop tax-free, but when you are on base and just want to a buy a soda and can't, I'm sorry but it almost feels like segregation. Sorry - you are not one of us. No soda and skittles for you!

Then there's the feeling of time warp when you first see base housing. I'm sorry, I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but base housing is creepy when you first see it. At least it was for me when I was a Navy Girlfriend. All the houses look the same, everyone has a truck, everyone has the same TVs and video game systems! It's like the beginning of Edward Scissor Hands where everyone's houses match!

photo credit: USACE Europe District via photopin cc
Insider Knowledge: The similar stuff is because we have a tax free store on base. We all shop there! The truck thing well - boys are suckers for fads. It's a little creepy at first, but just remember, the people inside are all still unique individuals just living the most efficient and affordable way the Navy provides. 

Then what really got scary was when we went to someone's house for a party or BBQ, and all the wives and the husbands split off into separate groups. More segregation? Navy Wives know this is done because the boys are too work crazed to talk about anything else and we are sick of hearing it, but when you are a girlfriend and you go to a party with your boyfriend, you don't want to hang out with  women you don't know. You want to hang out with your boyfriend!

photo credit: qousqous via photopin cc

Insider Knowledge:There are two types of Navy get-togethers: the splitting off kind and the kind that involves a game or activity. Try to go to the game nights to ensure you get to stay with your boyfriend and can make friends with him by your side as opposed to having to go it alone. Or if you get roped into a straight BBQ, go prepared with some kind of party game idea that doesn't involve an actual game board. Try Matador's 7 Boardless, Cardless Games. 

Plus, I know when I was a Navy girlfriend I was so incredibly intimidated by Navy Wives because I felt like they were all looking at me as a potential problem, a break-up waiting to happen. They had no reason to befriend me when I might be gone the next day. 

Coming from a Navy Wife perspective now, it wouldn't surprise me if Navy Wives feel this way. Navy Wives are already guarded against friendship because they move every couple of years and so do other Navy Wives. It hurts to make close friendships and then lose them. So when a Navy Girlfriend comes along, it's even more likely her friendship will be lost. 

Insider Knowledge: Guarded yes. Evil and trying to be cruel, no not usually. Navy Wives are still women and women will like you if you ask them about themselves, compliment them, and are polite and helpful. Just don't clam-up. They're guard will prevent them from reaching out. You got to put in the work. 

But this is all just uncomfortable and unpleasant stuff, the real hard part comes when he goes away. First off - why does this A-hole hardly ever write me? 
photo credit: mattbeckwith via photopin cc

Insider Knowledge: This took years for me to understand even after becoming a wife. The boys don't write a lot or even call a lot if they can call on a detachment because it's actually easier emotionally to distance yourself. Boys seem to be more capable of this than women, but in my experience when I finally did start to distance myself and write him less, he started to write more. ;-)
Separation is hard for Navy Wives, but it's even harder for the Navy Girlfriend. If something happens to him, no one will contact the Navy Girlfriend. So now not only is she worried about his safety, but she's constantly wondering if she's even going to know if something happens.

Insider Knowledge: Before a deployment or detachment, ask your boyfriend to introduce you to the Ombudsmen (Official Family Liaison to the Squadron) and FRG President(Family Readiness Group). These are the women who keep the wives informed. They are totally open to helping Navy Girlfriends, but usually the Navy boyfriend doesn't think they are and doesn't even mention it to the girlfriend. Hell my husband didn't tell me about the Ombudsmen when we were married! I went two cruises totally clueless. These ladies also have email newsletters that go out to keep you informed and you can go to their meetings too. When your afraid or need help, you contact these ladies, and if they know you and your situation, they will keep you informed if something happens to your sailor. 

photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc
Then the inevitable does happens - he doesn't write . . . for like a long time! The problem is, Navy Girlfriends don't know this is inevitable because the Navy boyfriend told them nothing! So the Navy Girlfriend of course fears the worst has happened and no one has told her. She has no options or recourse to try to find out (if she doesn't know about the Ombudsmen or FRG President) because no one from the Navy will tell a random person just because she says she's the sailor's girlfriend! She doesn't even know who she should call. She just has to wait it out. Now that SUCKS!

Insider Knowledge: The boat has email blackouts and sometimes it's just not in range, so there are times when you won't hear from your sailor for 24 hours or longer. He may have even written. It's just not getting through. It's really difficult the first couple times it happens to any Navy Girlfriend or Wife even if she knows what's going on. It's just scary. Just remind yourself it's normal and be connected to the right people, so you can have the assurance of being told if something happens.
photo credit: Patrick Haney via photopin cc
So Navy Girlfriends whenever you feel like an outsider or like you are lost in a strange world, just remember that what you're feeling is totally normal, and we all felt that way. There is still support resources out there for you. You're reading one now. =) 

I hope this post offers some help for the Navy Girlfriend, and I hope you will post your experiences of feeling like an outsider in the comment section - go on vent! Navy Wives, what's your advice for these issues or others I didn't cover or just advice for the Navy Girlfriend in general?

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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.

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  1. This is really good advice. Especially the stuff about the FRG & the navy wives. Alot of navy wives have very cold hearted advice for navy girlfriends like me because they assume I'll do what alot of others do, unfortunately--cheat or leave because I just can't handle the stress. Well, I won't lie.. it certainly isn't easy only seeing your boyfriend 2 weeks out of the year & hardly being able to talk much --and I haven't even had to suffer the dreaded first deployment yet which will undoubtedly be tough for both of us, especially considering on subs there is even less communication... but when you try reaching out to groups that support people in my situation it's even harder because you almost feel like you don't belong. I know I'm painfully shy so going out and meeting people is really scary. There's still so much I have to learn since, out of the 2 1/2 years my boyfriend & I have dated, he's only been in the navy since October. It's a confusing, scary & often lonely situation but just like any other navy girlfriend or wife, I'm proud to support my sailor. Thanks again for your terrific advice. :)

  2. Thank you Taryn for commenting! I'm glad the advice is helpful and I'm sorry you've so far had cold welcomes from other groups and Navy Wives. It kind of reminds me of joining a sorority when they haze you first, but really it shouldn't be that way.

    I think in addition to being guarded - a lot of Navy Wives almost feel like they need to warn girlfriends because so many of us were unaware of what it really would be like when we committed, but that warning shouldn't come out as being cold and rude but often times that's how it goes down.

    I would really like to hear from some Navy Wives as to what they think on this matter.

  3. My boyfriend is currently going through the steps of becoming apart of the navy. We have been together for alittle over a year and have never been seprated. we are really committed to each other and really want our relationship to last. Both of us have talked about settling down together. I'm really scared and upset and depressed that I won't be able to talk to him, hug him. etc. the recruiter said that he will be able to see me when he goes to school after bootcamp is this true? Also I know there are some men who are apart of the navy that have never set foot on a boat. what kind of jobs can he train for that don't require him to be on a ship? Also any advice on how to make it less painful when he leaves?

    1. Thank you Anonymous for posting these really great questions. To answer the questions that are more about the Navy job, I've asked my husband to comment with his insider knowledge.

      I can tell you that you will be separated and you will have to go through the pain of that separation throughout his career. But know that it is something you can handle, and if you both commit, your relationship will not only last, but be stronger than most because you are capable of being loyal to one another even while apart.

      It will be very hard, especially the first few times but it will get easier and your tolerance for being apart will get stronger. There are some good things that come from being apart too. Do you remember that magic and passion from when you first got together? It's something that once gone in a relationship is usually gone forever but when you go through this separation - when he returns, there is what is called a honeymoon phase and it's like you've gone back to that magical period at the beginning of a relationship.

      Also if you two are hoping to settle down together in a marriage capacity, the Navy has a lot of benefits for married couples and for many young couples just starting out, it provides you with opportunities and resources you wouldn't have otherwise like full medical insurance and on-base housing or a housing allowance, etc. However, if you don't plan on getting married soon, his initial pay will not be enough to afford off-base housing. It's possible with room mates but not otherwise.

      You may also be required to move. I'm not sure where he is hoping to be stationed but if there isn't a nearby base with available billets, he may have to go somewhere else. If you are married, the Navy will pay to move you there.

      There are a lot of things that can make the separation easier and I have a lot of posts on this blog that details those things. But my top recommendation would be to make sure you maintain a life outside of your relationship, as in friends, hobbies, a job, an educational path or goals, etc. I can tell you from direct experience that if you have nothing else in your world except for him, it will be so much harder. If that is the current case, commit to going out and creating that life - get hobbies that involves social interaction, commit to a project for when he's gone (I always do this because you will discover you have a lot of extra time.)

      Finally, follow this blog and find the blog on Facebook and the Facebook forum so you can interact with others who understand and can continue to offer advice and guidance.

      I feel like this comment might not fully answer your questions. Please feel free to follow up or re-ask if I missed something. And I'm going to post the question on the Facebook forum too so you can see some extra advice from other Navy Wives:

      No matter what, just keep reminding yourself that you are a strong woman and you can do this.

      Stephanie Carroll

    2. Dear Anonymous - as I mentioned in my response to your comment, I asked my husband to answer your questions regarding the Navy job. Well his response was so in-depth I've decided to actually post it as a guest post. The only thing is that I cannot post it until 8/14 because I already have a scheduled guest poster for 8/7 but I really don't want you to have to wait so please email me at sp(dot)carroll(@sign)yahoo(dot)com and I will email you the post early.

  4. Very helpful and wonderful advice. Especially the FRG information. I had no clue about how I could be offered any information if something happened.

    My boyfriend and I are not engaged as of yet, but is there any advice you can offer as to planning a wedding with this life and his upcoming deployment and weird schedule?

    1. Thank you for commenting "Me." LOL! I get notices in my email when someone comments and I saw that - early in the morning, just woke up and thought to myself, I didn't comment on anything. =)

      That is a really great question about the wedding stuff. Checkin' the calendar and I'm free next week. Check back next Wednesday. That is definitely a question worth a full post!


      Stephanie Carroll

  5. Hi Stephanie,

    I am so glad I found you/this blog. I am currently dating a sailor on a sub. We are in the middle of his first deployment. We had gone to the same high school, our younger brothers were very close friends throughout childhood but we had only recently reconnected this past summer. Things moved very quickly and discussions quickly turned to things like marriage and children (I should mention I am 28 and he is 29, a little older than your average enlisted member). While I was so happy and excited at the prospect of he and I in the future, getting through deployment and working toward a life together, I am now dealing with a lot of doubt and worry due to the change in his tone recently. As you have been discussing on this forum, maintaining communication through sub email is difficult for any relationship, this has been especially difficult considering ours is somewhat new and not as secure. Recently, seemingly out of the blue, his tone has COMPLETELY changed. Where there was confidence and descriptive messages about babies and getting married, he is now saying we should be friends. That we are over eager, not engaged and he "doesn't know what will make him happy or if these things are at home with me". I am trying to take into consideration that sailors will detach as it is easier for them. Also trying to keep busy with good things and not focus too much on this, that wont be good for either of us. Hoping that there hasn't been some event that has completely changed his mind on me. He doesn't know where he will be stationed which is difficult, there are other obstacles in our future if we were to try and be together, but I dont know why his view on this has suddenly changed from optimism to almost a complete shut down. Even more, why would he chose to communicate this to me now? Of course the "lets slow down and be friends, we are over eager" message came right before a blackout. I waited hopeful that the next message I would get would clear some of this up but unfortunately, this isn't the case. The most recent ones say "I don't know whats going to happen, thank you for your love and support." He does explain that there are things he cannot discuss that he has to sort out, that he wants to focus on what is in front of him before making any decisions and that things may change when he comes home. While I will admit, I thought his focus on jumping into marriage and babies right out of the gate was a little rushed and actually frightened me a bit (although it is romantic) I did not anticipate for him to completely pull back and like I said, especially at this point. I am worried because of this total change from him. Why hard left and now hard right? Is it possible his messages were read and someone within his command has told him to cool it? Maybe this is more normal behavior and the rushing to the alter stuff was really the stuff that was wrong? I dont know. I am cautious of what I respond with, I cannot imagine what he is going through and the last thing I want to do is stress him out but I'm sure you can understand how hurt I am. Any insight as to what may be happening on his end, why the change of heart and tone in his messages half way through this, or how I should react would be greatly appreciated! I feel like the normal rules ("play hard to get" etc...) don't apply in this situation but I cannot believe I am the only girl who has ever been here. Should I leave him alone? Should I try and focus on when he comes home and being the girl he wants? I'm lost and this is unique, hard to get advice from people who do not have experience in this situation. Really appreciate any help! (I am posting anonymous because there have been OPSEC issues with our boat and I dont want to get in trouble )

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you so much for commenting. To answer your questions, I’ve sought out the advice of my husband to provide the male perspective and I plan to post your dilemma on our Facebook Forum (Click on the Forum tab at the top of this blog) to possibly get some more thoughts from other Navy Wives and Navy Girlfriends.

    From my personal experience, I have found that there is a mentality among military men to detach from girlfriends, loved ones, wives, children, etc., in order to survive a deployment. This detachment usually involves less communication via email, rare phone calls, and somewhat cold but not necessarily mean conversation, that lacks the warm closeness it used to have (i.e. focusing on bills and house problems instead of the I miss you’s).

    However, it sounds like your boyfriend isn’t just lessening communication, he is outright trying to break it off after you have spent several months waiting for him. And yes you have every right to be pissed and hurt because of how and when he’s pulling this.

    Based on what you said he is saying "doesn't know what will make him happy or if these things are at home with me." To my husband and myself, these sound like the words of someone who is enjoying a deployment and is now unsure if starting a family is wise when he is thinking he would like to spend as much time away from home as he can because he enjoys it so much.

    On the other hand, it kind of sounds like he isn’t trying to cut things off with you in a certain way. From your comment, it almost sounds like he is leading you on and giving you hope that relationship will be as it was originally planned but then he’s not giving you any certainty.

    Obviously something has happened that he isn’t discussing with you, which is making you suffer more because you are left in the dark.

    Is this normal? To some extent yes. Deployments are an emotional and psychological roller coaster and relationships end during deployments all the time. Is it also possible that when he gets back some strange deployment haze will lift and he will return to you? It’s very possible but not guaranteed. Is it normal to play hard to get while deployed, definitely not. But confusion, uncertainty, and doubt are normal.

    So what can you do? It’s not fair for him to make you wait around unsure where the relationship stands. You have stood by him this long into the deployment. It is clear that you are a strong and capable woman who can handle this situation and a mature relationship.

    If it were me, I would write him and explain exactly how I felt in non-accusing terms. I would explain how leaving me in the dark and expecting me to continue to wait around to see how he feels is not fair and not what a real relationship is about . Something happened that he doesn’t want to talk about? Too bad. That’s what serious committed relationships are about, talking about and getting through problems together, not separate. Open communication is one of the #1 Rules and Musts of a real healthy relationship.

    You are separated by physical distance but that does not mean your communication and honesty should be separated too. Ultimatums are not good, but insist that he lets you in and lets you know what’s going on with him and the relationship because it is not fair to you to be left in the dark while you are waiting for him to return.

    I hope this advice is helpful and I hope that if any questions are not answered here, that you will comment again. You may also be interested in this post written by my husband “Why do Sailors take so Long to Respond to Email & What to Do About It”

    And please check the forum for the advice and suggestions of others.

    My heart goes out to you. Just keep reminding yourself that you are a strong and level-headed woman who is handling this situation incredibly well. Everything you are feeling is normal and you have every right to feel it.

    Stephanie Carroll

  7. Growler Girls Comment:

    Growler Girl has left a new comment on your post "Navy Girlfriend Guide: Insider Information for the...":

    I am so lucky that I found this blog. I have been seeing my Navy man for almost 6 months now and he gets deployed in about a month. I have been feeling very much on the outside of his life, especially his work life. He is a Commissioned Officer (still in junior ranks) and NFO, and I feel like that pushes me even further to the outside. He is incredibly busy and I am still finishing college so we only see each other for a few days every couple of weeks if we are lucky, living an hour apart doesn't help either. When he and I first met he was texting me everyday and pushing hard to make plans to see me all the time. Naturally that subsided, as i had expected it too, but now that his deployment is getting closer i feel him withdrawing from me more and more. He and i never really had any discussion about our relationship until recently, we have been way to busy having fun and enjoying each others company, and i honestly have been kind of afraid to bring it up for fear of getting the answer that i was only temporary all along. I told him that I wanted to be with him and he pretty much said that he refuses to be selfish by asking me to wait for him while he's gone, but he still cares for me very much. As you can imagine this was heartbreaking for me, despite his continued absence from my life i have still grown to love and care for him very much and as much as i don't like it, I understand why he wants things to be this way. I trust that he isn't using me, he isn't that kind of person, and we are only seeing each other, and i can't help but wonder that if things were different and he wasn't leaving for 8-10 months he wouldn't be so apprehensive or withdrawn from me. He has invited me into his personal life, not his work life, the only times we really hang out and spend time together are on his down days, which i find kind of sweet, he has brought me into the space he has to himself and instead of taking the time to decompress by himself he chooses to have me there. It also makes me nervous because it feels like he is keeping me away from his work life, which IS his life. I understand there is a lot he can't tell me, but he doesn't volunteer any information at all. I have met a few people from his work life, and they were in no way making it a priority to make me feel welcome, in fact they made me feel just the opposite, I was completely ignored and it was like i didn't even exist to them. This whole thing has been on my mind a lot lately, especially with his deployment rolling up so fast. Now that you have some background my questions are:
    - Is there anything i can do about him distancing himself from me?
    - Is he just being a typical Military man? (i have zero experience with military men).
    - Has our relationship been a (i don't feel like this phrase is appropriate, but it will have to do) waste of time?
    - Should i be worried that things are going to fall apart before he leaves?
    - Is it strange he has kept me out of his work life?

    I respect, admire, love and care for him so much and all i want to do is figure him out, and support him through his deployment.

    Thank You

    1. Sorry Growler Girl. I accidentally hit delete when I was trying to hit publish which is why I riposted your comment as Anonymous.

      Before I start answering your questions I want to reassure you that everything you have experienced thus far is 100 percent normal. Very normal. Sailors and their wives have a tendency to keep outsiders at a distance for fear that if they get attached they will be heartbroken when they lose that person. that's why he is not asking you to wait and why his friends act like you don't exist. They don't know if in a couple months you'll be the girl that sent the dear john letter which happens ALOT on the deployments.

      Now ur questions:

      - Is there anything i can do about him distancing?
      Continued in next comment cus blogger is being weird...

    2. No and Yes. I say no because he's not just going to not stop, he's going to do it more. It's a psychological thing Sailors tend to do in preparation for deployment and they do it with wives and children too. They distance themselves so that it's not so hard. I say Yes because what you can do is prepare for that distancing. Don't push him in an effort to get closer. For some time I would smother my husband before he left and it would piss him off making our time together even more distant before he left. Give him space when he needs space. If he's not texting you every hour. Don't text him every hour. If he only sends one short email a day while deployed, only send him the same thing. I know that sounds unpleasant but I have found that when I try to bombard him, he becomes overwhelmed and pulls farther away but when I meet his briefness with the same, I often times get more eventually. I highly recommend you read the post "Why Sailors Take so Long to Respond to Email and What to Do About It." Search that title and it will pop up.

      - Is he just being a typical Military man?

      Yes, this is typical and it's perfectly okay. There is a psychological process that occurs with deployments. Not only is he going through it, so are you. It's going to be scary and confusing at times, but remind yourself the craziness is normal. I also recommend you keep your eye out for our "Navy Girlfriend Reports" to help you prepare for what you should expect.

      - Has our relationship been a waste of time?

      Only if the both of you go your separate ways. If you want it to continue, tell him so. But don't commit if you think if you don't like the experience you can bail with a Dear John email. Breaking up with someone who is deployed is one of the most horrible things for the Sailor to experience. It destroys their world out there. It's a much bigger loss than a normal breakup.

      - Should i be worried that things are going to fall apart before he leaves?

      Things can fall apart at any time. It's up to you and to him to hold things together when the waters get choppy. Don't take his continued distancing process as things falling apart. That's normal.

      - Is it strange he has kept me out of his work life?

      Not at all. Sailors oftentimes do this because their entire world is about work. They go to work and when they come back to the barracks they talk about work with their roommates, they go to a party and talk about work with their work friends. It's easy to become surrounded with Navy life and work when you are a Sailor. He just wants something that is separate from work. Give him time and he will open up. A little while later, you'll wish he stops talking to you about work. LOL! It's not really very thrilling stuff believe it or not. Even secret clearance stuff is really boring. I only know because some stuff got declassified. ;)

      I hope that answers your questions and points you in the right direction as where you can get more answers. Search this blog for Navy Girlfriend Guide and Navy Girlfriend Report to see all our series on the subject, but also check out other posts because you can benefit from the general stuff too.

      And feel free to ask more questions! I won't delete them next time. LOL! Also join our forum on Facebook where you can discuss with some of the other readers and writers!

      Stephanie Carroll
      The Veteran Navy Wife

    3. Hello Again!

      It's been almost a year since discovering your blog and I just wanted to say thank you for the solid advice! My man came home from deployment in early August and things have been going well ever since. I honestly don't think I would have made it through if it weren't for all the articles and comments reminding me that my struggle is not just my own but shared by many wives and girlfriends. The man I knew before deployment was certainly not the same one that returned to me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was so much more happy, outgoing, and far less stressed compared to the 6 months previous to deployment. He has pulled me into his work life and introduced me to some of his bosses and squad mates and has me accompany him to dinners and other small events. Now that I have stepped up to a more serious role in his life I am finding new challenges in our relationship. One of the things I seem to struggle with most is trying to find a way to help him feel better when he's had a bad day and he can't talk about what it is that happened, I'm used to talking things out and obviously this is not an option for he and I. Another thing I am finding challenging is where to draw the line when it comes to Me vs. the Navy/squad issues? From time to time he will cancel plans of ours for things squad related. I understand completely when it is a work related emergency or one of his sailors needs him for something, but sometimes it's just because someone is having a birthday outing or a fellow officer requests his presence for pretty much anything. I guess I'm just curious as to how legitimate his duty is to his co-workers is to just drop everything and go running to them? So far I've been rolling over on these issues and trying not get upset about him bailing on plans when I really am upset, but I can't always say yes can I? I don't know when it is appropriate to put my foot down. Thank you again for the wonderful advice! I look forward to hearing back from you.

      Sincerely, Growler Girl

    4. Hey Growler Girl!

      So happy to hear from you again and especially to hear about your Sailor coming home and things going so well. It truly fills my heart to hear how much the articles, advice, and community involvement here has been a help. That is just so amazing.

      As per your experience where he cancels plans for the squadron, I can totally relate. I think this happens a lot because they are trained that the Navy comes first and so do the people they work with because their lives are in each other's hands. However, I think it happens even more after they come back from a deployment because they have lived with each other for so long, they struggle to let go a little but it should calm down a bit in a while. I remember my Sailor wanting to go to dinner with the people in his squadron the night he got back and I was like - wha?

      When to put your foot down? Don't wait until that's required. Sometimes I feel like I have to wait until the thing I'm bothered by happens in order to talk about it but then when it does happen, it doesn't seem right at the time. So I suggest letting him know when things are calm and you have time to discuss it. Let him know how it makes you feel and how you understand why but would appreciate if your plans together are important as well. He probably doesn't even realize he's doing it so much.

      Let us know if that works and so happy to hear things are going well and that your Sailor is back healthy and well! I look forward to hearing from you again.

      Stephanie Carroll

  8. Hello! I have been cruising around multiple blogs trying to find one that has people that have gone through or are currently going through what I am, and to get some insight. I'm so happy I found this one!

    I met my solider about 6 months ago, and since day one there was something about him. From the beginning I have also known that he was being deployed, along with the fact that he had previously been deployed to Afghanistan. Going into the deployment, he was engaged to a woman who a week into his deployment cheated on him and got pregnant. Because of this, he informed me he just emotionally could not be in another relationship going into a deployment again. Six months ago, I said okay. We haven't gone more than 2 days without seeing each other, and before he left we spent every day together. He is being deployed to somewhere with a 10 hour time difference, for 9 months. He left yesterday, and as of right now we have a 3 hour time difference, and texting access which we are taking full advantage of.

    He is very scared. He's scared to have such strong emotions for someone and to leave them. His best friend told me that he truly cares about me and he just has a huge wall up. He suggests that as long as I stick around and be there for him and send him stuff, that he will come around and things will get better with us. I am very understanding. I am doing my best not to take the short texts personally, or long response times, because I know eventually I may not get response times.

    I guess I'm just wondering what it is to expect and what your opinion is. I have been feet first with this guy since the day I met him, and although he's scared right now, I like to think he is with me too. At least that's what all of our friends and family say. My fear is that he's going to lose interest or forget about me, the common "out of sight, out of mind" theory when I know that's probably exactly what's going through his mind about me.

    1. Hi Jessica,

      Thank you for commenting. What you are going through is very common. A lot of Military Members have their significant others cheat on them and leave them during a deployment. This type of breakup is far more brutal than a normal breakup because of all the emotion, will power, and psychological impact a deployment has on a person. Even when a breakup is pretty clean, it can feel like an abandonment, and when it’s messy, say when someone actually cheats, well the betrayal is multiplied. So he wants to be careful, and he’s guarded and afraid to commit. Very common. There are so many Navy Girlfriends who go into their first deployment this way.

      So what’s going to happen? Well, this kind of situation is so common that every kind of outcome has happened. A lot of people prove their commitment through the deployment and the Sailor becomes comfortable about commitment again. Some let their fear of betrayal drive them into betraying the other person first. However, these feelings are the feelings everyone has before a deployment, even when they aren’t in that situation. Husbands and wives who have been married for years are terrified the other person will leave them—its unavoidable because they are kind of leaving for a while and we don’t want that to be permanent.

      From my experiences and from what I’ve seen, everything you are going through is normal and okay. It’s okay to feel everything you are feeling and it is okay for him to feel the way he does too. None of these feelings equal some kind of certain outcome. During a deployment, one of the hardest things for me, was juts accepting all the feelings I had—doubts, fears, symptoms of insanity, etc. The best thing was learning that everyone feels those things, they are normal, healthy even!

      From the way you talk about it, it sounds like you are well prepared to handle the trials of a deployment and are very well mentally prepared for the long haul. That’s such a good thing. It’s very clear that you are a strong woman and you got this!

      If you would like to find some Navy Girlfriends who can you can share experiences with, I hope you will consider our FB group and maybe poke around in some others. Just avoid the ones that are troll-heavy as cattiness gets you nowhere when it comes to healthy emotional dealing. =)

      I think you will find a lot of your questions and concerns are discussed in the posts on this blog but if you can’t find an answer, comment or write in anytime! We are here for you Jessica!

      Stephanie Carroll

  9. Hi Mrs Stephanie,

    My name is Christopher and my girlfriend enlisted in the Navy last week, I just wanted to say I really appreciate you writing these guides and blogs I know they're aimed for women, but out of curiosity is their any advice you'd give to a Navy boyfriend? I try my hardest to support her and I'm even writing everyday. I really care about her, but it does get hard sometimes. Thanks for all the advice!

    1. Hi Christopher!

      Thank you for commenting. I'm so happy that you have found what you have read so far to be helpful! I think much of the advice on this blog will be useful to you even though it's aimed at women and the only reason it is specifically aimed at women is because I lack a male writer to provide that perspective. Nevertheless, I'm always on the hunt for one. Still, I think much of what you find here will be of use.

      Regardless, is there anything specific you have a question on or are curious about that I might be able to guide in you in the right direction?

      Stephanie Carroll

  10. My boyfriend is going to boot camp in April and we've been dating for 2 1/2 years. I was wondering even if we are not married can I still live by his base ?

  11. Hi Raven,

    Thank you for commenting. You can certainly live "by his base" but you cannot live with him on base unless you are married. He is allowed to live off of base. However, you may not want to make any plans to move until he is closer to finishing boot camp as I believe orders are not 100% until after ward.

    I hope this answers your question and if not, please feel free to ask more.

    Stephanie Carroll

  12. My boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over a half year. We started dating when he was in A-school in Groton and upon graduation he reported to his assigned boat, and was deployed within 4 days. Due to me being new to the navy community, and the short notice on deployment, I did not receive much information about how things work, and now my sailor is out of communication due to the fact he is on a submarine. I have been looking at many online communities and stumbled upon this one. You've mentioned the Ombudsmen and I have not previously heard of this. Is there a way I could contact his boat's Ombudsmen? He never mentioned or put me in touch with this before he left, so I am unsure of how this works since I am not his wife. Hopefully for the next deployment we will be more ready, but for now I'm out of the loop! Thanks for the help!

    1. Dear Shawna,

      Thank you for writing in. I understand your situation. I didn't know what an Ombudsmen was for a long time even through several deployments as a Navy Wife. First, start by asking your bf, he know who his Ombudsmen and Family Readiness Group people are. Let him know you want their info to ask questions and get on their email lists which send out updates.

      Here are two articles that will give you more information about what an Ombudsmen is and how to find them.

      This post is called Resources and Definitions for the New Navy Girlfriend or Wife:

      This post is called What to Do if Your Sailor Stops Writing You. It's not really your situation but if you scroll down there is a big section on finding your Ombudsmen.

      Also feel free to search the site for more good articles on this topic.

      I hope this helps and if not, write back! I am here for you!

      Stephanie Carroll

  13. Dear Stephanie,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful place with us. I've found this page a month ago and I was cheered so many times since then.

    Currently I'm going through the same as everyone here. My boyfriend and I are together for only 5 months. He was picked and went off for training. First 3 months we talked every day and happy as usual. However, we found out that his stay was extended unexpectedly. He was upset but I stayed cheerful and supportive. Since then he's acted distance and started not communication. He hasn't even read any of my texts. It's been 3 months now.

    I have no idea what's going on. maybe recent freedom of navigation is related..? I'm just a girlfriend. No way to know as you told us.

    I'm sure that he loves me from the bottom of his heart and so do I. I believe in our love and wait for him anyways :)

    If you could share your thoughts or advice with me, I'd be happy.

    Warm regards,

    1. Thank you for writing in Ai! I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing some communication problems but I can tell you that you are not the only one. When communication stops abruptly there could be a variety of reasons but we have a few articles on the blog about what you can do in this event so search for those using the search bar. Try the keywords "Email" or "Stops Writing." The posts themselves are What to do if Your Sailor Stops Writing and Why do Sailors Take so Long to Response to Email.

      I hope these are helpful and I hope you hear from him soon.

      It really says something amazing about your character that you are staying loyal and committed to him despite the silence. It says something about your strength as well. Be kind to yourself during this time. You will get through this.

      Stephanie Carroll
      Founder U&E
      Author of "A White Room"

  14. Hi, my boyfriend and I have been together for a year, and hes shipping out this year. we wanted to get married after he gets out, but now I'm wondering if that makes financial sense. If I go back to living with my parents while he's deployed, would we still qualify to get bah?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for writing in with your question. Just a disclaimer for others reading this comment, what makes financial sense will be different for everyone.

      Who qualifies for BAH can be complicated. I highly recommend that you do as much research as you can and speak with either the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which is a non-profit on base that offers budget classes and financial relief assistance during emergency situations. Or speak with the Fleet Family Resource Center, which also offers budget classes and other classes to help you familiarize yourself with the way it all works.

      When I was dating my Sailor we rented a room, but he still didn't qualify for BAH because there was room in the barracks for him. The fact that I lived with him didn't matter. Once we were married they had to provide BAH even if they had room in the barracks. They continued to provide BAH while he was deployed. Whether you live with someone else, like a relative, shouldn't effect that, but only if you are married.

      A lot of people get married for financial reasons, but be very careful about making that decision because many of those couples end up getting divorces because they rushed into a marriage for the wrong reason. There are plenty still who do just fine regardless of that decision. Just don't think you have to get married to survive financially. Many Navy/Military couples do just fine without getting married before they were ready, some do better.

      I hope this was helpful. Post more if you need further clarification and if you have more questions. A great place to ask these types of questions is our Facebook group where you can get multiple responses.

      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

  15. Since my Navy boyfriend left for bootcamp, I have been feeling very alone. I dont have a lot of friends and the ones I do have have been distant because I tend to be down and "boring". They dont understand what I'm going through, so I'm looking for people who do.

    1. You have come to the right place! I can tell you that feeling like your friends don't understand or like you can't keep bothering them with your frustrations or loneliness is a very normal feeling. We are here for you. Come join us on Facebook, the link is in the tabs at the top of this website.

      You're doing great! Don't let yourself think otherwise.

      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder


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

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