22 May 2006

Dating and being in the military

I have spent this past weekend attending a couple social functions with friends. The first was this past Friday, when I went with a buddy to his wedding. It was a nice day for for the wedding and the reception afterwards was great as well. I spent some of my time talking to one of the bridesmaids, who happened to catch my eye, we had a pretty easy going conversation. That was up until she mentioned how she felt sorry for the new bride. I asked her why and this bridesmaid gave me a look. One that just seemed to say, "As if I really need to tell you." She then went on to say how the bridesmaid knows for a fact how many Sailors (and army troopers, Marines, and USAF airman) all have girls at other posts or duty stations. Even those that claim to remain faithful aren't. I then got into a pretty long discussion with her about my own experiences both as a child growing up in a military town and then as a member myself. I told her that what every BS she may have experienced by a couple of jokers just shouldn't jade her to all the possibilities out there. I also went on to tell her that the sword cuts both ways, for as many guys leave girls there are girls out there that leave us guys alone while we are on deployment. Or they are only looking to marry us to get out of their little dinky hometowns in some places, ala "Officer and a Gentleman". For that little speech all that I got was a pat on the head an a comment to the effect that I keep living in my little dream world. At which I shot gunned the glass of red wine I had and said my good luck to the new married coupled and called it day.

I came home and thought about this discussion long and hard. I came to a realization that it is very hard to date and become married to someone while your in the military. I believe it is worst when you are an enlisted member then as an officer. There are a few things that I have noticed while trying to find the right person for me. Maybe I am completely off base about these observations, but this is what I see and have decided on how things seem to work.

First off, it seems that the dating pool grows exponentially smaller the closer you are to military installations. I spent 5 years in Norfolk and so far have spent about 2 years in a smaller town outside a US Navy base on the US west coast. Anytime I go to a church social, various club meetings, or even just strike up conversations with people in the park. The first thing out of their mouths were "Are you military?" I think to myself how that matters. It was explained to me by a girlfriend that I had while going through some schooling as NAS Pensacola. In a few towns and cities, and especially those that have multiple military bases in the geographic area. So those people that a service member meets in their age range are covered by the following. Either their husband, wife, father, brother, sister, mother, uncle, aunt are (or were) in the military so they know all about the separation, the joy of coming home, the constant moving, the low pay, etc. Some of them don't want to live in that life so they really want to move on and away from that. What is worst though are those that you run across that live in the smaller towns and want to leave so they end up marrying just to escape that small town. That just seems to start all sorts of pain.

Second most common thing that I see when trying to date is living down the stereotype that all a person in uniform is looking for is a quick date. Someone to help them try and pass the loneliness of being away from home. I don't know how true that this one is. I do know that a couple of times in a few places that I have been station, all I have looked for in love is someone to hang out with and talk about things other then work. Someone to talk to about things such as the weather, what to do for dinner, whether beer is to be better tasting or less filling; just basic life type of topics. However, there have been a few times that I wanted more to a relationship then just intimacy. So how hard is that idea to impress on to the various women that I talk to. It seems to be incredibly hard to.

This just some of the things that I have noticed while trying to date and be in the military. I am not expecting to hailed as a conquering hero or a rock star with thousands of women throwing themselves on me, to the point that I have to beat them off with a stick. Yet, I would like to be able to talk to a woman and not be dismissed just out right because I am in the military.
Oh well as they say in a song; Que Serra, Serra, whatever will be, will be.
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