Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Navy Girlfriend Guide: The Pros & Cons of Remaining a Navy Girlfriend through Deployment

As some of you may have noticed, we have had a lot of new writers around here lately. Check out our new About Us page to learn more about who we are.  

Not long ago, I did a post on the Pros and Cons of Getting Married to Your Sailor Prior to a Deployment. However, after our newest guest poster Mindi Clark wrote about how she Decided to Stay a Navy Girlfriend for Deployment, I thought it might be of interest to do a pros and cons list for those who are considering holding off on the courthouse. So let’s dive right in.

The Pros & Cons of Remaining a Navy Girlfriend through Deployment
By Stephanie Carroll: The Veteran Navy Wife

Pro: If you haven’t moved in together, your independent lifestyle is still intact.

By via Flickr cc
As a Navy Girlfriend, you may not realize it, but you have something Navy Wives envy. That is the ability to keep on living your life pretty much the same even after your Sailor deploys. This is circumstantial to you NOT having moved in together. You have not yet combined your lives and become dependent on one another. When he leaves, the routines and stability of your home will be unchanged, your day to day life will not be as affected, and you will have the ability to get one with whatever it is you were doing much as you had before.

If you have moved in together, your daily life will be just as affected as a wife’s, but it may be a more difficult experience in comparison to what a wife goes through.

Con: If you have moved in with your boyfriend, you will be more alone than most.

When two people combine their possessions, finances, pets, and day to day lives by living with one another, they are taking on additional burdens but also relieving burdens by sharing the workload of a household. However, when he leaves, all of the burden will fall on you. It takes more effort to support a two-person household even if only one person is around. There will be certain things that he took care of that will fall on you, like home maintenance or lawn care.

Notice these are the kinds of things that are taken care of for you if you live in an apartment by yourself, which is the kind of place people usually live when single.

photo credit: .aditya. via photopin cc
You will also have become used to a feeling of security and safety when he’s around. When he leaves, you might feel like the security rug has been pulled out from beneath you. Suddenly, your safe and comfortable home feels foreign and vulnerable. At least that’s how it is for me.    

The worst thing, though, occurs if you have moved away from your home town to live with him near his duty station. Oftentimes, you will make friends with the people in his squadron and no one else. When he leaves, it will seem like everyone you know has packed up and gone with him. What about the wives, you ask. Well, wives oftentimes go into a sort of hibernation mode while their Sailors are on deployment. They stay close to home, which is generally on base, so it is difficult to get them to come out and play. They will usually stick to socializing with other wives who live on base. Navy Girlfriends are not allowed to live on base.

Further, as a Navy Girlfriend, you will have to be signed onto base at the front gates, and if you are like me, you might feel hesitant to call up a wife and ask her if you can come over, and if she can drive out to the front gates to sign you in. She will usually have children and such a request will be quite a hassle.

This was the common experience for me, but it is in no way the situation for everyone. Try to make friends with wives and, if you find them, girlfriends who live off base. For those who are on base, make plans and arrangements to hang out regularly and establish this prior to the deployment. Many Navy Wives survive deployments by sticking to routines, so if you are not a part of that routine, it can be hard to break in.

Pro: Your relationship will be tested on a level like no other.

As our newest contributor Mindi Clark pointed out last week, by remaining a Navy Girlfriend, you will test your relationship and dedication to one another on a level that is far more intense because you do not have the safety net that a marriage contract provides. Either one of you could walk away, which means you are putting a huge amount of trust into one another. If you make it through deployment, you can feel reassured that both of you can handle a Navy relationship, and you will have that much more trust in one another. If one of you cannot handle a relationship like this, then that is that, and you get to walk away without any legal hassle.

Con: It’s easier to walk away.

There will be times during any deployment when you feel very distant from one another, not only physically but also emotionally. It’s so easy to feel like the relationship has already ended simply because you only communicate once a day with two paragraphs via email. Communication is essential for any relationship, so the lack thereof can make it feel like it isn’t a relationship and it is so easy to just walk away. Further, many Sailors take the distancing approach as a way to survive separation. Again, this might make it feel like the relationship is already over, but you have to remind yourself that all the feelings and affection are still there, but it’s like they are in hibernation for survival purposes.

Unfortunately, by making it easier to walk away, it also means your suspicion and jealousy levels will be high. Cheating is not only common but easy to do and highly feared making such a betrayal much more charged. If you have maintained separate living spaces, it will be that much easier to stray as you will be living your life almost exactly the way you would if you were single. If you moved to a new place to live with him and find yourself terribly alone when he leaves, you might be desperate for the company.

Does that mean cheating is inevitable? No Way! And don’t mistake me, wives cheat too, but that doesn’t mean that all or even the majority of wives or girlfriends cheat. I’ve seen Navy couples, even Navy Seal couples, both married and unmarried, survive the tests of the deployment and of time.

Pro: You do not HAVE to accept responsibility for his affairs.

Navy Wives have to be prepared to pay bills, maintain a household, mow the lawn, do the taxes, and take care of any of their husband’s affairs during a deployment, so much so, that wives are expected to get a Power of Attorney to give them complete control over a Sailor’s affairs in a legal capacity. It might not sound like it’s that big of a deal, but sometimes taking care of that stuff can be a nightmare.
By geekygirlnyc via Flickr cc

During my time as a Navy Wife, there were multiple times I was driven to tears because of craziness my husband left for me to deal with. During my first deployment, I didn’t just handle my Sailor’s affairs, I also handled all the affairs of all our roommates—we lived with three other Sailors. One of those affairs consisted of piranhas, man eating. These things were huge, and they literally lept out of their tank and onto the floor in an effort to eat me. Their filter broke, and I had to clean a green moldy cage—that is after getting the piranhas out with the help of three other people. Thank heavens I had a courageous friend over when one jumped out and flew behind the dresser! I was terrorized by those fish, but I did everything in my power to keep them alive and I succeeded.

My roommate killed them a week after his return. =)

Con: Less pay, no medical coverage.

Obviously, being that you just read how my husband and I originally had to live with three other dudes and some piranhas, it should be obvious that a Sailor’s beginning pay is not enough to support two people. It’s probably about minimum wage. When they get married; however, military members receive an additional stipend to care for the spouse, and a guaranteed housing allowance (not guaranteed while single). Plus, the spouse receives medical, dental, and optometry coverage in addition to life insurance. You also have access to various programs to get an education, a job, or financial assistance upon an urgent situation. Further, the military now allows the GI Bill to be used toward a spouse’s education. Nice!

Of course you will have none of those luxuries as a Navy Girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean you have to have them to make it through a deployment.

Pro: You have a level of freedom to do things Navy Wives do not.

I’ve known Navy Girlfriends who have gotten their Masters Degrees and one who lived in India for six months while their boyfriends were deployed. As a girlfriend, you still have that level of freedom that allows you to go places and do things that can keep you occupied and not let the absence of your boyfriend be so unpleasant.

This is always more difficult for wives because of the level of connection they have to the military base, children, and the general requirement to keep their husband’s affairs in order. Plus, as a married couple, it usually makes more sense to agree to save the money earned during a deployment and spend it together with homecoming. Or, the husband is too concerned for the wife’s safety to be okay with her traveling while he is away. In most cases, a boyfriend does not have so much say over a girlfriend’s comings and goings.

Con: If something happens to him, you will not be the person of contact or the one to receive assistance.

photo credit: Beverly & Pack via photopin cc
There’s this picture of a military funeral where a dry-eyed someone is receiving the flag for the fallen while a young woman sits nearby with a pretty engagement ring crying her eyes out but is not saluted or handed anything. This is the plight of the military girlfriend or fiancĂ©. You do not exist as far as the military is concerned. If you are not bound by law, then you will not be notified if he is injured or missing or worse, and you will not receive any financial or other type of assistance if the worst was to happen. I highly recommend you find out who is the person of contact and be sure that you are in contact with him or her. This of course can become complicated if the person is say your Sailor’s mother and she doesn’t like you.

You will also not receive financial assistance if the worst were to happen. If you have maintained your independence, this might not matter, but for those Navy Girlfriends who have moved in and become dependent financially, it can be devastating.

These were some of the most frightening possibilities for me when I moved away from my family to live with my Sailor boyfriend. It might not sound like it, but it is one of the loneliness feelings to be in a new place, almost no friends, and no connection to the government body who knows of your loved one's whereabouts.

Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is for your boyfriend to take you to the deployment debriefing held for spouses. He might think you aren’t allowed because you are not a spouse, but you are allowed to go. Insist that you do. Also, insist that he get you in contact with your Family Readiness Group and the Ombudsmen. These are the people who you can contact if you don't hear from him or you get into a situation and need help, such as when your car breaks down or you get locked out of the house, or are just freaking out and need a shoulder. Trust me, something always happens. 

Married or Not
Although some of these cons might sound kind of scary, from a Navy Wife perspective, I can tell you that those pros are envious, and if you decide to hold off on marrying, definitely take advantage of what you got and just prepare for what you don't because whether you are married or not, when he finally steps off that ship, trust me, it will all have been worth the wait.

RobBixbyPhotography via Flickr cc
RobBixbyPhotography via Flickr cc

RobBixbyPhotography via Flickr cc

What are some more Pros and Cons? Tells us in the comments or on our Facebook Forum!

You've just read a part of the series Navy Girlfriend Guide. Find more posts by searching in this blog "Navy Girlfriend Guide."

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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. It's already tough being a girlfriend but if you are a navy girlfriend I can imagine that it would be even tougher. Best wishes to all the military girlfriends out there.

  2. Is it normal to get into constant stupid fights with my sailor? He just started ATT and we're both trying to get used to the separation. I admit that I'm extremely needy sometimes and make a big deal when he can't be there for our planned Skype dates or planned phone calls at the end of the day. I hate myself because of it sometimes because I know it's not his fault, he's a busy man with so much more to do now, yet I still get mad. I know I need to learn how to be more tolerant and more patient because this is what the military lifestyle is going to hit me in the face with. I love my sailor. Only God truly knows how much. I'm currently in college and we've already decided on marrying once I graduate. I'm so scared of losing him because of these nit picky fights that we keep having lately. I don't know if it's something that always happens with girlfriends new to the military life. I know he loves me just as much as I love him but I feel like I'm constantly getting on his nerves about Skype dates and constantly keeping me in the loop.

  3. 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:

    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

  4. I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost 3 Yrs, just seeing each other 4 days every weekend. He deployed for 9 months in October and has kept in touch via emails every other day, not many calls. He was promoted last year and his new role is full on. We recently had a fantastic 2 week break abroad, however I was surprised at how low his sex drive was, totally expected him to be tired for the first few days but by day 5 he still wasn't interested. Actually we probably had sex twice in two weeks. I did kick off on both times, out of frustration, and stupidly accused him of either not being sexually attracted to me, or of becoming emotionally involved with someone on board( He's not the type to physically cheat, however this is our first deployment together and his last girlfriend left him on his last tour, he was a bit vague about the reasons, I've heard it's not uncommon for sailors to have onboard relationships during a long deployment, and it's highly likely I would know), I even accused him of being gay. I know, I know, probably shouldn't have said that.We did spend the rest of the holiday having lots of fun, but I felt he made sure our days were full leaving no time for intimacy, we had a few hours in the room on the last morning, but we didn't have sex. Since he rejoined his ship, he has been distant, emails have virtually stopped, in fact when I asked if he was ok, he was extremely curt, if not rude in his reply, and even though I asked him to try and call he hasn't. Of course the negative thoughts are flooding in, is he in love with someone or is he using the silent treatment in a bid to get me to dump him like his ex did, thus freeing him up to pursue a sexual relationship guilt free?
    This last two weeks have been hell for me, overthinking what scenarios may have caused this distancing, unfriendly email, zero sex drive and so on.
    At first I just wanted to stop communicating, and accept it was over between us just to stop feeling this gut wrenching pain in my tummy. I wanted to get an email from him saying it was over, because I would be given the go ahead to move on without him in my life. I felt I had stepped in concrete and was unable to move.
    But I kept remembering how his ex packed up and left their house without even telling him it was over, he was devastated as he couldn't get hold of her, worried sick why she had disappeared without word
    After endless searching online I came across your site and read every single word that has been written on here.
    So, I decided to continue sending care boxes, and communicate only via snail mail (that way I won't be staring at the computer waiting for a reply).I've personalised a photo album and filled it with photographs of our holiday and sent him a box of goodies for his birthday(he forgot mine). My letters are short but frequent, filling him in on events at home and reassuring him that I miss and love him, making a note that it won't be long before he's home.
    I'm assuming this shift in his communication and his distancing me could be because he was aware that we had issues regarding intimacy which even he couldn't account for( in my opinion it may be he was still in military mode, worrying internally about problems on his ship and unable to detach himself from the stress, I guess 2 weeks isn't enough time to relax completely, always having the thought that you need to get back and crack on), I've convinced myself that he is in love, but not with another person but with his job and his relationship is not with me at the moment but with the navy.
    It hurts that he's alongside at the moment and not making a quick call, but finding the time to have a drink with his shipmates.
    What are your thoughts on events taking place and the things I have written?
    Are there any other navy girlfriends experiencing similar problems?
    All advice gratefully received

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      My heart goes out to you because I can imagine how difficult this is. There’s nothing worse than not know what’s going on in your Sailor’s head, especially when the communication dwindles or even disappears.

      I think your responses to everything have been normal and natural. It’s okay that a part of you just wishes he would end it because it’s just that difficult to try to go on without any information or encouragement. If it’s over you just want to know.

      When it comes to your concerns regarding the lack of intimacy, it’s difficult to say why, but I can say that it is normal for Sailors and or their spouses/partners to experience low sex drives before and after a deployment. The psychological processes for gearing up for deployment or transitioning after deployment are difficult and like a rollercoaster mentally and physically. In that two week period you were visiting, he underwent both transitions in a short period of time. You were also going through similar transitions, not to mention the transition of being in another country. You’re right in your understanding that when they are on the ship, they get into this mode, and it’s not easy for them to get into it or get out of it.

      I can’t guarantee that this is what was going on, but I can say that it is possible that it was and even more possible that he didn’t understand what was happening either, so the accusations and questions as to why may have frightened him. He may also be extra sensitive after he already had one girlfriend leave him during a deployment. That is a very difficult experience for a Sailor to go through.

      I think many people would have reacted the same way you did, but your reaction may have also caused damage. One of the things that can hurt a man the most is questioning his sexuality, whether that be his ability to perform or his orientation. That may have been very difficult for him and possibly hurt his feelings or made him feel vulnerable and rejected or just like a failure.

      If this is what happened, or something similar to this, it’s not the end. These things can be mended and perhaps you already did explain or apologize, but if you haven’t, I would start there and I would explain why you jumped to conclusions because you felt vulnerable and rejected by him. If he feels vulnerable then you revealing your vulnerabilities may give him the confidence to start communicating again. I’d also be straight forward and tell him what your current concerns are and that you deserve to know what is going on because if he wants to end the relationship it is not fair to keep you dangling like this, uncertain.

      I think it’s good that you didn’t just bail on him in spite of the communication drop but after you are straight with him, I wouldn’t continue to carry on as if everything is normal. It can be hard for them to deal with really difficult emotions while on the ship sometimes they just go silent. You’ve shown him that you aren’t scaring away so now he needs to either start talking about what’s wrong or let you know if he’s not in the relationship anymore.

      I wish you all the best of luck and I hope this response is helpful. You will both be in my prayers.
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

  5. Thanks Stephanie for your response.
    I did send him an email asking him to be completely honest with me as to wether he was having 2nd thoughts about our relationship, I added that I would support him 100% throughout his tour as I loved and cared for him. His response was written not in the manner of his previous emails, but almost robotic as if emailing a work colleague, I didn't really understand the military wording and formality of his message. He mentioned that there was a distinct possibility that despite assurances of his post deployment leave being at home he had heard the contrary and he didn't know what he wanted. He felt it better to have an amicable separation as his heart wasn't in it. He did write that he does care about me but feels with so much uncertainty the relationship is going nowhere. I haven't replied or contacted him as I don't want to say the wrong thing plus I'm so angry that I've been dismissed from "the headmasters office" in such a rude uncaring way, a phone call to explain the situation would have been more respectful considering the hours I've spent making his deployment comfortable. I've never resorted to silence and always replied to his emails within an hour. But I just can't deal with this person who is pretending to be my boyfriend. I was thinking of leaving it for a few weeks to give him space and to give myself time to calm down after which I thought I should send him a letter to tell him while I understand his decision I would still continue to support him through his deployment as a friend. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Well, that's weird. I've never heard of a Sailor writing a letter like that with the jargony military language. As much as an outsider can assume things, it makes me think that he is trying to avoid his own emotions. Shutting down their emotions is a part of the psychological process on their end but then sometimes people do that to deal with a relationship ending so maybe he's doing it double-time.

      If you haven't already googled the jargon, what it says is that he thought he was going one place after his deployment and now he has learned that he might be going somewhere else and this made him start questioning the relationship and he's wanting to end it "amicably" or "friendly/peacefully."

      I can understand your frustration and hurt feelings when it comes to how he went about doing this, the military robot mode he did it in, and the fact that he didn't call. You have every right to feel hurt and angry and you should feel those things, but you should also know that it is very difficult to make phone calls on the boat for practical reasons, but then it's also hard for military people when they are trying to stay cut off from their emotions which seems to be the case for him.

      While I think it's very kind-hearted to offer him your continuing friendship and support during deployment, I think it's also important that you follow your instincts to take some time and get some space. I'm not saying to prolong responding to him about this, but rather to respond and then make as clean a break as you can. Offer to be there if he really needs you but after this you should no longer be offering the level of support that you were as in regular contact, care packages, etc.

      It's unfortunate that this happened, and you deserve to mourn the relationship and feel hurt and angry, and you need that distance to do it.

      You should also feel a little proud that you were strong enough to be there for him even when he wasn't there for you. You were willing to go through the struggle and stick this thing out. Yes you put a lot of time and effort into it, but don't feel like that was a waste. Whether you know it or not, this will become an experience in your life that will teach you many things about yourself and how you approach relationships.

      Also be grateful for the time that you now have. You are not obligated to continue to endure the experience of waiting for him. You can let go and return to living now. It might take a little time to get over it and to realize you aren't waiting anymore because you were expecting to be waiting for some time and that's all okay.

      Just remember to be kind to yourself as you go through this and to remember that what you endured and how you responded to the situation shows how strong and big-hearted you really are. You are a good person and deserve to be treated well, with the same level of strength and support that you are willing to offer.

      Wishing you all the best.
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

    2. Again wise words from you and so helpful. I'm not really hurt, just disappointed. There's no point in replying to his email, he's said he wants out, it's his choice, so I'm done, he doesn't deserve a minute more of my time, and responding to his "Dear John" email would be exactly what he's expecting. He can be the one scratching his head, checking his emails and wondering why ive not reacted or begged for him to reconsider. Im convinced he will contact me eventually, especially when he comes home and reality kicks in, however too much damage has been done to my heart, and I don't think he has the emotional tools to fix a future reconciliation with me.
      In the meantime, I'm taking some time out from dating men and am utilising my time with a new project, I have booked a holiday with my daughters, got a personal trainer, banned alcohol for a few months( drunk emails are never a good thing) and I'm reconnecting with old friends. One good thing that has come of this is I've lost 15lbs in weight....ah god bless The Heartbreak diet!
      I am a bit disappointed that I won't be there to welcome the ship home and see him in his uniform, I do love the uniform!
      I'm feeling my first trip to America might happen very soon!
      I'll keep you updated if anything happens. X

    3. Ending a relationship is never easy but it sounds like you are taking the empowered approach and getting proactive and good for you! Also nice on the 15 lbs - that's a fun confidence boost to have as you get back out there.

      It's your choice to either respond or not respond to him and there is certainly nothing wrong with waiting until you have had some time, but my thinking is that if you refrain from responding long term and it's causing you to wonder if he's upset about that or worried about it or you still are looking for his email, then it might be the opposite of what you want, which is to get that distance and separation.

      It's okay to feel the way you do, hurt, angry, betrayed. It's good to feel those things after a relationship ends and especially one that required so much of you, so feel those things, get some distance and get empowered with your plan.

      You are such a strong person. You will get through this and be even stronger for it.

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

    4. Hi Stephanie
      I'm glad I stayed true to myself, I'm in a new relationship(non navy) and very happy. I don't think the breakdown of a relationship has anything to do with being deployed or not, it's about your own values and how much you are prepared to compromise on them. Gut feelings are there for a reason, they are deep rooted because of previous experiences, our inner voice telling us we have been or felt that way before... Red flags if you like. If a man wants to be with you he will move heaven and earth to reach out, if he gives you reason to believe he's just not that into you anymore then it's time to let go. What's that saying? " if you love them set them free, if they come back it was meant to be"
      9 months is a long time to be apart, gosh we can have children in that time. I think if we all are completely honest with ourselves and think seriously how well the relationship was going before deployment, what realistic promises were made, where the relationship was going long term etc then we might see there were already cracks appearing, doubts and feelings of insecurity were clear but we all like to listen to our hearts and not our heads. Love is blind it's so true. Instead of analysing why our man hasn't called, skyped while on a run ashore or emailed you regularly we shouldn't blame modern technology. Especially when you know they clearly have access to communication, social media etc. If they haven't contacted you it maybe because they have settled into a new life without you in it. Sitting at home over analysing everything is unhealthy. Looking back my relationship was full of flaws, it was doomed from the moment he left and by trying so hard to keep things going I sacrificed my own happiness. I know this now because the man I'm with now gives me everything I didn't have with my navy guy. You just know when a man is totally in love with you, he calls, he writes he does everything he can to show you he cares about how you are feeling. Having read the comments from women on here i feel for them really I do. Love has no distance, no number, it just makes you happy. If you have to play private detective on social media then you're clearly unhappy. If you can't trust the man you love or question his motives then that man is not right for you. I'm 54, happily divorced and finally with someone who ticks all of my boxes. It takes an incredibly strong relationship to survive deployments, even strong women fail to accept that a man is not stepping up to your expectations of a loving relationship.
      Ask yourselves what your needs are and are they being met. Like I said this is not limited to a military relationship, I'm talking about all relationships. There is someone out there for all of us if we stay true to ourselves
      Incidentally I discover my ex was in a non sexual relationship with a fellow female shipmate. Emotional bonding is so much stronger than physical ones. He is now quite open about his new relationship. We are still friends on Facebook, and no hard feelings. X

    5. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for commenting and sharing this perspective. It's a very important one. Not all Navy relationships work out. And even if that happens, it doesn't mean love and happiness isn't out there.

      I'm so glad that you found a person that treats you well and loves you as you should be loved.

      Many blessings to you both!

      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

  6. I am new to navy realtionship, new to underway, and new to long distance realtionship! My boyfriend went underway in August. I get emails from him usually weekly a couple times a week if I am lucky. He was on land in the country and I saw he was tagged on facebook and was hurt because I hadn't gotten a call or a text. I sent an angry email to which he replied the next morning stating he had turned his cell phone service off or he would've called me and it was a simple process just pulling into port and rolling off the boat. I get that..but again I am new to this. A week later, I see he was tagged again. The next morning I have a text from him, he had turned his cell on again!! He tried to call me before leaving port but we couldn't connect due to service I guess. A week later, I see he was tagged again. The next morning I had another text from him but then he just stopped responding so I assumed he was gone again. I now see they have arrived for their commission via the ship's fb page. And no communication from him yet. It is killing me because of past issues, I instantly think he is ghosting on me or ending our relationship. I know sailors are notorious for shutting down to deal with the deployment...could he be doing this? He's not the same flirty guy I had while he was on land. HELP!! We are at a weird place, because we haven't said I love you yet so that leaves a lot of things uncertain for me. I am trying...I know I can handle it...but I just need more to go on. Should I address how I feel or suck it up for another month and just see what happens when he is back?

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Don't worry we all go through this. Did you read our post on Ports, they drive us all crazy. Keep in mind that they really honestly have a hard time getting phone access while in port. I usually would only get one five minute call (this was before texting was a thing) and I felt jealous and worried and annoyed but later on when he really explained what it's like to just be dumped in another country when you've been isolated on a boat for so long and you just want to go out and get a decent meal or have some fresh air, hell a freaking beer! Yeah, they don't have alcohol on the ship. Phone service on cell phones is zilch and it's just really hard to get through to someone.

      Try not to take it personally, don't assume anything, and tell him straight up but also nicely what your fears are and that no matter what, you would appreciate if he is always straight with you so you don't have to ever wonder.

      Remember we all go through this, they always get weird and distant when they are out there, and communication is never easy. You're doing great. And like you said, you know you can handle this.

      Keep up the good work!
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

  7. Thank you so much for creating this blog it makes me feel like I'm not alone. I've been with my sailor for almost a year. I meet my sailor as friends but reconnected after boot camp. We started dating last march of 2016 and he told me in the beginning of the relationship that he would be leaving for months here and there starting early January and for 9 months in October of 2017. I knew he was going to leave eventually. I love him like no one else. but last Christmas I wanted to break things off because he situation with his family is another issue. His mom is a single mother and his sister recently broke off this with her husband and I understand he wants to spend as much time possible with his family but he has the little time he had I wanted it to myself. I felt like I was being selfish so I thought if I let him go it would be better. So I talked him about it and I told him I didn't want let go of him but I wanted something better for him because I felt like I wasn't a good girlfriend but I still wanted to be there until he left. He explained what if we get over this what's going to happen later on. I have very bad anxiety attacks due to being over whelmed with school and during the conversation he told me "we should break up now because he can't be friends with me". That statement triggered one of my anxiety attacks and he stopped to calm me down and we both reassured each other and we both love each other. But recently right before he left for his other deployment I felt like I was going scary because I was starting nitpicking at everything he does wrong and we fought for the littlest things. I cried when I was spending time with him and the time we did spend before he left I wasn't as expected. I sound mean for saying I hate him for leaving and it breaks my heart. and I understand its his job. I feel like he hasn't been the same like when the relationship first started I don't know if he is distancing himself like I've read u say or because i wanted to break things off. I recently sent him an email that was originally meant to be diary thing and decided to send it to him. The email consisted of how my day went and that during Christmas i sacrificed my time with other people to be with him and how spending that time opened up my eyes to the possibly of me wanting kids with him and seeing him as a husband and I feel like he is testing me if ill stick around but he replied in a way I wasn't expecting. He has said things to me before like he sees me as wife and wants kids with me one day. I never wanted to have kids or get married but the email said I don't want that in the future I just want us to be happy and make everything workout. At first I felt like I was going crazy and just arguing about everything and I was alone. I just don't know how to take this and its hurting me. This my first time experiencing being a navy girlfriend.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I'm sorry I wasn't able to get back to you sooner, but I want you to know that everything you are going through is very normal and to be expected. It's common for both of you to go through emotional up and downs right before a deployment and it's very normal to go back and forth about what you want from a relationship, especially when you have the added stress of separation looming.

      We all feel like we are going crazy at times and that too is normal and honestly healthy. We all feel like we should be doing better or be stronger but no one is that strong or capable of handling this level of stress and emotional strain better.

      You are doing good, even though it doesn't feel that way. If you want to be with him, you can make it work. So many of us do.

      Just be kind to yourself and give yourself breaks. Give yourself rewards for going through this and handling this. Give yourself treats when you have particularly hard day or are really missing him.

      Keep reading and doing research and reaching out to others who are going through the same thing as you. You might benefit from joinnig our Facebook group too. There are many girlfriends and wives there who have and are going through exactly what you are and they will give you love and support.

      I'm wishing you and your Sailor all the best.
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder & Author

  8. Thank you so much for this!!!

    I am in the process of deciding to move from a steady job in the Midwest to Southern CA (not the best job availability for my training) to bd near my boyfriend. He wants me to fully see what life is like for him pre-deployment and durring we can realistically look at our relationship and see if it is strong enough.

    Would you support moving...knowing I will be alone quite soon after I get there? Finances are my biggest concern...I am still paying off student loans and I am a Hospital Chaplain/ I don't make the most in my jobs.

    Also any good advice on ways to build communication before deployment? We have been long distance dating for 8 months, only seeing eachother every two months or so.

    Thank you again for writing this piece,

    The Rev.

    1. Hi Rev.,

      I'm so glad you found this helpful. I know a lot of women who moved in with their Sailors right before a deployment - myself included. It can work. Some girls move in temporarily and then return home during the deployment to make sure they have a support network. That's what's important is to make sure you have people to talk to and socialize with. Make it a priority to get out there and meet people whether it be through work or through a club or hobby classes. That's my biggest tip based on my own personal experience.

      Building communication before deployment - this is a good thing to focus on leading up to a deployment and I recomend doing what anyone would do when trying to build communication. Talk about it, about your wants and expectations, and do some research how to build strong communication. There's tons of articles online and some great books out there. Just keep in mind that both of you will go through some mental and emotional processes as you get closer to the deployment and sometimes these can mess with communication so just don't put too much pressure on the idea. Communication is something couples are always working on and it won't be perfected in just a couple of months, but it's still good to talk about what you want and will expect communication-wise during the deployment. That way you are both on the same page.

      Best of luck to you and your Sailor!
      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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