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How to Be a Good Military Girlfriend

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am so nervous because my boyfriend is in the Army and he just went to basic training.

I'm a freshman in college, but I want to transfer to a school near where he will be stationed. Right now, he doesn't have any answers yet about where he will be stationed.

I can't believe the Army won't keep everyone informed instead of having everyone guessing about their future. If I knew where he was going to be stationed, I could go ahead and move there so I could get everything set up for us.

Can you tell me what to do right now and how I can show that I support him?

Sincerely,
Wants to Know Now

Dear Wants to Know,

It's official: Plenty of Americans love the swagger of a man (or woman) in uniform, especially a military uniform. There is a mystique about dating them and we who love them can't wait to marry them.

But figuring out who they are and what makes them tick is part of dating a service member. How to be a good military girlfriend or boyfriend is of the utmost importance. Here are a few of my tips to be a better girlfriend or boyfriend:

Be flexible with your time. Serving your country is not a 9-5 job. A service member is on duty 24/7. Don't overthink this, just try to be available when they are and make your plans flexible. Things may change at the drop of a dime.

Don't be too demanding about their future plans.  Military men can't stand demanding girlfriends (or boyfriends) because they can't make any promises about their future plans, especially in the first two years of their careers. Your relationship may also be too new. Give the relationship at least a year before making plans for your future.

Don't rush to the altar. Don't rush and start making wedding plans. Be willing to prove your worth. If your service member likes you, he will never lose your contact information.

Gain a little knowledge. Your service member's unit and job are a great source of pride. It's important that you are knowledgeable about both of them. Your anxiety and fears about his job will decrease as your knowledge increases because you will understand a lot of what is expected of him.  

Cultivate independence and self-determination. If your relationship moves to marriage, you will need to be independent and have much self-determination. You may feel like you are leaving your family and close friends behind.

However, you are embarking on a great journey of self-discovery where you will learn about strength you did not know you had. You should try to see the good in every situation. Take time to cultivate your own dreams and passion. If you don't, your life could be filled with resentment and regret.

Meet the pros. You definitely want to meet other military spouses, partners, fiancées and Milsos. These sisters and brothers have been making it work for years.

You are free to be who you are. You can also gain a lot from the advice and experience of others.

They will keep you out of trouble and stop you from wasting a lot of time. It was a military wife who gave me important tips about packing for my first move to Fort Benning.

Find those people on SpouseBuzz.com and Military.com and on the SpouseBuzz Facebook page.

As your soldier moves from basic training to his first assignment, your relationship will grow and change. Don't rush it.  Take your time to know whether this is the life that is right for both of you.

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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