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10 Things to Know When Dating a Veteran

You just met the love of your life who seems a little different. That shouldn't be surprising though, because dating a veteran is different than dating a civilian in a number of ways.


So, you just met the person of your dreams and now you’re faced with the reality of dating a veteran of the US military. Don’t fret. It can be one of the most worthwhile experiences of your life.

Many of the military veterans are coming back from being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan with some issues that might be difficult to deal with at times. Combat changes a man, and that’s the reality you’ll be dealing with when you start a relationship with the men and women who served their country.

Just like all relationships, you’ll want to spend quality time with them, but what you might not know is that your experiences might be a little different than if you were to date a civilian who never wore a uniform.

Regardless of your life experience, your choice to begin a relationship with someone who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or the Air Force is sure to be a unique and exciting adventure.

Different is okay.

Image via Unsplash

Service members are just a different breed. Add to that their experiences while serving the country; some good, some bad; and you’re in for something like you have never experienced previously. Don’t worry. There is a lot of good dating a veteran, and you’ll have one of the greatest relationships possible, once you adjust to their certain approach to life. Just check out the memes that perfectly explain being a military spouse if you don't believe this.

You will meet loyalty like no other.

People with military service are some of the most loyal people on the planet. That loyalty will shine through in your relationship. They have spent years in close quarters, looking out for the wellbeing of their brothers and sisters in arms. Their loyalty and dedication to one another is probably what allowed them to come home alive. There’s no bond quite as strong than those formed in the heat of combat.

That loyalty will translate to your relationship. They will protect you from harm, just like the oath they took to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. This is something they will take very seriously, and will expect the same in return from you.

Their sense of humor is...off.

Image via Unsplash

There’s something about the sense of humor found in the military that is something of an acquired taste for many people. When you live in such tight quarters with one another, oftentimes under the real threat of death, your sense of humor changes.

That knife he just stuck into his friend’s boot who was bragging about how “protective” they were, might seem a little odd to you at first; but soon, that sense of humor will grow on you. Many vets aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves and others. After all, they have been laughing in the face of death for a long time now, so that uptight waiter at your fancy anniversary dinner might get a little more than he bargained for.

You may have to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Not every vet has PTSD, but many do. It’s one of those negative aspects that can come with military service. This is where your own patience and capacity for empathy will be tested. You need to learn to be patient with a veteran who is dealing with the effects of PTSD. Don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to. You don’t know what images are plaguing his or her mind, and it might be too painful to talk about them in the moment. Just be loving and supportive.

There will be a never-ending supply of stories.

Hopefully, you like stories. Especially, about people you might never meet but who have had such a profound impact on your new love’s life. These people that he or she served with were such an integral part of their life that you’ll hear stories about them over and over. Be prepared, if you decide to enter into a long term relationship, to hear these same stories many times over. This is a good sign, actually. This sharing of experiences is a sign of trust, something that every relationship needs to survive.

Don’t be afraid if they shut down.

Source: Unsplash

One of the hardest things about dating a veteran is that sometimes they just shut down for a bit. Often, it’s during these times that they are deep in thought or are remembering their past experiences. They might just need a little time and understanding while they find their way back to the reality that includes you. It’s nothing personal, so remember to not take it as an affront to you. Just remember, too, that if things start to get worse before they get better, there are simple ways veterans with PTSD can get help.

You will learn to open up more.

This connects to the information above. Any veteran that you choose to spend time with will take a while to really open up to you. It’s important to try to understand that they are transitioning from an environment where loss is just part of life. They are used to losing friends, relationships, and family through combat, and once they return home, they need time to learn how to open up to others again. 

They will push you to try new things.

Source: Unsplash

Life is a gift. Nobody realises this more than someone who spent time with theirs in jeopardy. They will want to experience new things and live their lives to the fullest, and this is especially true as one of the things you'll only understand dating an army officer. They will expect you to want to participate in these activities and experiences as well. Sure, maybe climbing that mountain was never on your bucket list, but it’s one of those life experiences that you will be glad you did. Enjoy the new adventures.

Every day is new.

Whatever happened yesterday needs to be left in the past. Many veterans have a hard enough time dealing with events from the past and just want to focus on their lives in the present. It’s how they were able to survive. Much like learning to be flexible, just try to live with them in the moment and enjoy. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to look forward to keystone life events in the future, but just make sure that you are taking the time to look at what is right in front of you.

Learn to be flexible.

Flexibility is key when you are dating a veteran. They are used to structure and routine, but they are also used to running headlong into the unknown. Your plans might change in an instant, and that’s ok. You need to learn to accept these changes as they come and adapt to something new.

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