Being in a relationship with someone in the Army can be quite a challenge. The constant traveling and long-distance communication can put a strain on your relationship. You might put in a lot of effort to try and understand their world, but sometimes it only makes matters more complicated.
Is your partner in the Navy? Whether you have just started dating someone in the Navy or are going through a long distance phase in your relationship because he is away on a deployment, you will need to know how to deal with the separation. Learning how to be a “Navy girlfriend” not only helps give your partner some peace of mind in a stressful situation but also makes the relationship stronger.
How to Be a Navy Girlfriend
Learn how to communicate effectively
The first thing that you should ask him before he leaves is how you can stay in touch. There may be many ways for you to reach him or the options might be limited. Make sure that you understand how each of these communication methods works and which one to use in what situations. For example, your partner might have two email addresses – one as a civilian and one as a Navy man. You should probably write personal messages to the civilian email address, but when it is an emergency, you may be able to reach him more readily on his military one. Here are some things you should know about when communicating with a Navy man:
- Should there be a phone number that you can reach him at, you should only use it in an emergency situation. It is also very likely that he could call you on a phone, but you might not be able to call him on a phone number.
- Sometimes he might not be able to access his personal email. Furthermore, being on a ship means that the internet connection he has is unreliable. Try to be understanding if your partner does not respond to your emails quickly.
- If you send him a handwritten letter or a package, it could take a lot longer to reach him than you expect. So try not to send something that might expire soon.
People in the military have their own unique culture, jargons, and language style. You may notice that your partner uses certain phrases, words or abbreviations that you have never heard before. Do not get upset when he says something you do not understand. Instead, make an effort to learn his language. Not only will he appreciate you more, but being able to communicate with him in a language he is familiar with will improve the relationship. Here are some of the most common categories that you will find:
- Military terms and slang like “bird,” “base plan,” and “FUBAR”
- Naval military terms like “adrift,” “below,” and “fathom”
- Different types of vessels like “frigate,” “hovercraft,” and “destroyer”
In any relationship where you are far away from your partner, it is crucial to stay in touch. Or in this case, write as often as you can, even if he might not be able to respond immediately to your messages. You can send him emails, text messages, care packages, and even write letters to him to make it extra intimate. You do not need to have a lot of content in each of your messages but try to send them as frequently as possible. The longer the time without any contact, the more disconnected the both of you will start to feel. This is when many long distance couples begin to drift apart from each other emotionally.
Frequent communication is key to the success of a long distance relationship. It could help you get to know each other on a more profound level, sometimes even more than conventional close distance couples could achieve. Do not be discouraged if you do not hear from your partner as often as you would like. Continue to write him for he will love hearing from you and about what is going on in your life.
When you are in a relationship with someone from the military, there are rules to follow on how you conduct yourself publicly. Because you will be closely associated with him, there are certain things that you cannot talk about even on social media. You can ask your partner for guidance and also do some research yourself. For example, you can find out online what are the things you need to know about OPSEC (operation security) or go through the navy.mil website.
Whenever you talk to people or post on social media, make sure that you keep all sensitive information to yourself. There might be some information that seems harmless to you but could be a breach of security if it falls into the wrong hands. In general, do not post or talk about your partner’s location, his fellow sailors’ names, his flight dates, or his deployment status.
You will need to understand that a military job can be highly secretive, and your partner might not be at liberty to share everything with you, especially about his mission. It is imperative that you have complete trust in your partner. For example, if he is not telling you about where he is or where he will be going next, understand that he is not trying to hide something from you. He is just following protocols and doing his job, so you should respect that.
You should realize that your emails, letters, and packages may not be for his eyes only. It is very common that all communication items are processed before they arrive in the hands of a military man for security purposes. Therefore, keep this in mind when you want to send pictures or anything private to your partner. You should always ask your man these questions before sending anything to him:
- Are emails screened by someone?
- Will packages be opened before they reach you?
- Will my letters be read by someone else?
- Is there anything I should not send or write about?
Whenever a conflict or misunderstanding arises, try to resolve it as soon as possible. When there is a vast distance between you and your partner, the best way to finding a solution is by having open and sincere discussions. If you are unfamiliar with how this could work, there is a process that you can follow.
For example, you and your partner have agreed on a time to have a video call. After looking forward to it for days, your partner left you high and dry without providing an excuse. It is only natural that you get very upset. However, the next time you get in touch, try not to show any anger or blame. Instead, you can express how hurt you are feeling and ask him for an explanation of why he did not call you as he had promised. Now, you should listen to him with an open heart because he might have a really good reason. After that, you can try to salvage the damage by asking to call at a more convenient time for him.
If you feel that your partner might be upset about something, never ignore it and hope it will go away on its own. He might seem unusually quiet or may simply be silent. Try to have a conversation and ask him what is wrong in a calm and caring way. Then, go through the process of listening to him and then work out a solution together. Leaving him alone when he is upset could be destructive to the relationship.
Help your partner get through the tough times
Part of a Navy girlfriend’s responsibility is to provide motivation and encouragement to your partner, and vice versa, of course. He will be facing a lot of stress by being away from home and on duties that can be very fast-paced. If you are not there to show the support he needs, it’s likely that he will get overwhelmed and may even start to doubt the relationship. Having a girlfriend who can act as a pillar of support through the toughest times will help him refocus and continue with his duties while being able to reciprocate when you are feeling stressed out. Here are some of the things you can do to help him:
- Tell him that you are proud of him for his contributions to the country and that you are very happy to call yourself a Navy girlfriend.
- Point out his accomplishments so far like completing trainings and boot camps that were very demanding.
- Reassure him that you understand how tough it is to maintain a relationship long distance, but it will all be worth it in the end and you two will emerge as stronger people.
- If he is facing certain problems, you can help him devise an action plan to help overcome whatever difficulties he has.
You will need to help your partner focus on the future. Make him understand that what both of you are going through when he is away is just temporary. You should know that there will be days that are harder than normal, and this is the time when you need to be the most supportive. Let him know how much you appreciate what he is doing and get him to think about the next time you will see each other again. Have a few special things planned out so you can use them to motivate him to hang in there. You can even come up with a creative way of counting down the days until he returns home.
Being flexible and understanding is very important when you are in a relationship with someone in the military. Because he probably does not have much say in the nature and timing of his assignments or commands, his schedule might suddenly change with very short notice. You might have a vacation all planned out, but he may have to change plans at the last minute because of his duties. If this happens, you can show your disappointment but try not to be negative. It is not his fault, and he certainly did not want it to happen this way either. Instead, express how understanding and flexible you can be. Knowing that you understand what he is going through will provide tremendous help in managing the stress level of maintaining a long distance relationship. Learn to manage your own expectations:
- Comprehend that the length of time of his deployment will depend on many factors like where he will go, what type of mission he is being put on, and which type of vessel he will be on.
- Understand that certain missions will require him to only stay within a designated area and he is not allowed to go outside of that area.
- Know that his schedule and the time he has to be on duty might be irregular. He may be on duty for a few consecutive days and then have a few days off after that.
- The status of your relationship might play a role in how long and where both of you can see each other. For example, an official spouse will probably get to see him more than someone he has only started dating.
- Although he is in the Navy, his deployment might also take place on land.
It will help if you can learn to see things in his perspective sometimes. By being able to put yourself in his shoes, you will develop empathy, communicate better, and become less petty. It is already very difficult for you to be without him but imagine what his situation is like. He is not only away from you, but he is also away from his family and friends. Add in a stressful job situation with limited lines of communication; it is likely that he has it harder than you do.
Manage your life when he is away
The easiest way to cope with the loneliness when your partner is away is to rely on family members. Your family will be able to provide the support and love that you are missing. Also, do not forget that you can connect with your partner’s family members too. They are most likely struggling with the same feelings you have with the absence of their loved one. Not only will keeping in touch with them enable you to spend time with people who truly understand how you feel, but you will also have an extra channel to get information about your partner. It is especially useful if you are not married and you do not have access to certain types of information that his family has. However, this could be difficult if you have only just started dating and have not been introduced to your partner’s family yet.
Apart from family members, you can also find a community of people in a similar situation as you are and be part of it. This group of people will also understand what you are going through and will be able to provide adequate support. Moreover, they will likely have some great advice, and you will find them to be some of the most helpful people to guide you through the difficult times. If you do not know where to start looking, there are many ways you can get in touch with the right communities. The easiest way is to hop on social media and ask. You can also check out the Facebook page “US Navy’s Loved Ones” and reach out to them to see if they can recommend a local community near you. There are also nonprofit organizations that could help like Give an Hour. Alternatively, you can ask your man if his shipmates’ partners at home have some advice for you.
Keep yourself preoccupied and fill your time with as many activities as you can. While your partner will always be on your mind, you want to continue living your life. Do not wait around in case there is a chance that he might call or email. Take your mind off things by finding a hobby, exercising or throwing yourself into your work to build your own career. Here are some things that might help you get started:
- Pick up a new skill like a musical instrument or foreign language. The cherry on top is that you can surprise him with your new skill when he gets home.
- Get fit by running, rock climbing, or other activities. Not only will you be healthier physically, doing sports can do wonders for your mind’s wellness too.
- Be sociable and attend different events. You can spend time with your friends or go to the movies. Have a girls’ night out or join a book club. Being around people all the time will ease the anxiety of being without your partner.
Learn to exercise patience and be calm when it comes to getting things done with your partner. Understand that he is not the same as a civilian and certain things will require more time and procedure to achieve. For example, your care package or letter will probably take a much longer time to reach him than normal. Even after reaching his base, the items might have to go through an extensive process before it reaches your man. Do not show impatience and keep urging him to check if the package or letter has arrived yet. Another thing to keep in mind is that when your partner applies for leave, it could be a lengthy process before the leave is approved. If you are lucky enough to be planning a vacation with your partner, it could take longer than usual.
Always talk to your partner and tell him your feelings. It is expected that you will face some frustrations and feel down at times when he is away. Chances are, he might be feeling the same frustrations too. Instead of hiding it from him, you should communicate how you feel in an open and sincere manner. Establishing a good two-way communication to talk about the relationship opens doors to a deeper and more profound relationship. However, avoid expressing your negative feelings in a destructive way. Here are some ideas on how you can communicate these feelings to him:
- Do not blame him or sound like you are accusing him of being the one responsible for your feeling down. For example, rather than telling him how mad you are because he did not write back, you can tell him that you are frustrated with the situation and schedules both of you are in now. Then tell him that all you really wanted was to hear from him more.
- When telling him how you feel, use straightforward sentences that clearly convey what you mean to say. Do not go into a long-winded explanation and beat around the bush. You can just state that you feel you are drifting apart and ask if he feels the same too. Then both of you can work on a solution together.
- Sometimes, all you need is to express how you feel, and you do not have to seek a solution. You can tell him that it is very difficult for you to be without him, but you also understand that there is nothing he can do about it. Even just letting him know how you feel can help the situation.
One of the hardest things about being away from your partner is staying faithful, yet it is crucial that you do. When loneliness creeps up on you and you crave the intimacy that your partner cannot give you, you will start to see temptations all around you. However, you need to focus on your commitment to your partner. There is nothing more destructive to the relationship than cheating and breaking the hard-earned trust you have built with each other. Talk to your partner about both your commitments to the relationship regularly to avoid any temptation of being unfaithful.
These are some of the ways to endure the lonely times when your partner is away, but in the end you must find the best methods for you to cope with loneliness. It is an inevitable feeling and a natural reaction to the circumstances. You may feel lonely, but you do not have to be alone. Go out with your friends and spend time with your family. Plan fun things to try together and surround yourself with people you love who love you back.