Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why Would My Boyfriend Break Up With Me Before or During a Deployment?

Breakup by Adam Kusmierz via Flickr cc.
This past week there has been a surprising amount of our readers posting that they have just experienced a breakup. Some are experiencing this right before a deployment and others in the middle of one or right after an extension, and they all are asking the same thing - why? So I asked my husband, a former US Navy Chief, what’s the deal with deployment breakups. Then I have some resources to help you comfort yourself, deal with the split, and move on.

But first I just want to say that whatever you are feeling right now, you need to give yourself a huge internal hug because you are awesome! You sacrificed for this relationship and you were willing to go the distance for him, so it really does suck that it’s ending like this. You have every right to feel the full range of emotions from sad to pissed. Regardless, be assured that you didn’t do anything wrong or do anything to deserve this. You were the one who was tough, you were willing to to stick it out. In fact you’re a bad ass! Okay, I just had to get that out there. 

Why is it common for Sailors to end a relationship right before a deployment?
  • Overwhelmed: Keeping a relationship alive during a deployment is extremely difficult. There’s the struggle to communicate and maintain intimacy, not to mention the mutual fear of infidelity. A lot of Sailors are terrified of getting the "Dear John Letter" while at sea and for some it might just seem easier and safer to end it now.   
  • Self-Sacrificing: Sometimes these guys are afraid to put you through all of this and are worried about doing it and then things not working out. Many think they are rescuing you by letting you go.
  • Stress: These guys are going through a tremendous amount of stress leading up to the deployment. It can make minor relationship struggles amplified and difficult to deal with, so it might feel like the relationship isn’t working out. Then they start to question if they should keep the relationship going if it's heading toward an end anyway.
  • Freedom: It’s true that some people just don’t want to be tied down during a deployment, but it’s not as common as you might think. It’s not like they are going on a booze cruise. They are going to be working insane hours like twelve to sixteen hours a day, seven days a week for six to ten months.
  • It Just Wasn’t Working Out: It’s also possible that the feelings they had were fizzling for some other reason, and there’s no sense in keeping a relationship your heart isn’t in during a deployment. 

Why do Sailors end a relationship after months into a deployment?
  • Mistakes Happen: Sailors are not doomed to cheat, but it does happen, and a lot of times it’s easier to just end the relationship rather than deal with the fallout.
  • Feelings Dissipate with Distance: With the distance of deployment, it’s not uncommon for feelings to dissipate.
  • It's Too Much: If a Sailor is struggling to deal with the life of deployment, he might just end the relationship because it's too much stress and struggle for him to handle.
  • Extensions: Extensions often lead to a breakup because it's either too much for the Sailor to handle or he fears for your well being and wants to let you off the hook.
  • The Boat Mindset: Sometimes the boat mindset makes a Sailor feel like a relationship is unnecessary or isn’t what he or she wants. While on the boat, everything is about work, and the only people you have in your world are the people you work with. Their focus might be so shifted that they struggle to give any priority to the relationship.  

What is going on in his head?
  • Really Stressed: The tempo at work is through the roof. Preparing for a deployment is like preparing for a major event – like a elegant formal ball or something. Everything for months has been leading to it and everyone is in a mad dash to be ready for it, but the key difference is this ball is all day every day for over six-thousand people, and it’s going to last for six months or more. So yeah, they’re freaking out! Everyone who works for them and who they work for is also gearing up and freaking out, so you have this entire group of people putting pressure on each other and a huge amount of that ends up of the newest Sailors especially. For those who have never done this before it’s even more stressful. They have no idea what to expect. Also this is their entire lives we are talking about.
  • Shifted Focus: Because of everything that is going on at work, their focus shifts. Stuff outside of work starts to lose importance as they get closer to the date. Everything that's not critical for the mission gets cut out. My husband explained this is why Sailors preparing to leave might stop doing things like taking out the trash, etc.
  • Deployment Psychology: Subconsciously they are preparing to leave and distance themselves from everything that will be left behind. Subconsciously, they distance themselves from the ones they love too – unfortunately this can go too far and end a relationship. 

How to Comfort Yourself
You are going through a really crappy thing. You are hurting and the way I see it, you deserve some comfort right now. You deserve to treat yourself to things like turning the AC up so you can cuddle up in a blanket with your puppy or kitty or a stuffed animal! You deserve to eat brownies and peanut butter cups while watching comedies. You deserve a beach day and a night out with the girls. You deserve a spa treatment and full body, hour long massage. Take a long bath, get a pedicure, do something fun and self-indulgent. Here are some more ideas:

How to Deal with a Breakup

How to Move On after the Breakup

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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 and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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