Ms. Vicki's Best Tips for Relationships With Service Members

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am feeling disgusted as we enter 2017. The last five years of my life have been a bust, a sham and a big lie. I gave my boyfriend everything. Believe it or not, I feel so stupid calling him my boyfriend when we have been in this relationship for so long.

I accepted and tolerated too much. I quit my job and moved twice to hold onto a relationship with my boyfriend, who was a captain in the Army when we first started dating. He's about to be a major soon, and he says he doesn't want to talk about marriage and that he feels like we are going too fast.

Too fast? I am more than 30 years old! What woman over 30 wants to be introduced as a girlfriend? I left my great job at Google; I have a graduate degree in engineering. I gave up everything to be with this man! I left my career, my family and my friends to follow him.

There were times my father was ill in Seattle, and I didn't go to visit him because I wanted my boyfriend to know that he has my loyalty. Now that he is about to be a major, he is saying that he wants to go slower.

He works all of the time like a workaholic. There are days when I know he can come home but, instead, he's at the shop working. I feel like I should be done with this relationship, but I really love him.

Please tell me what I should do. Should I be a girlfriend in 2017?

-- Still a Girlfriend in 2017

Dear 2017,

You should not enter the New Year as a girlfriend. However, the writing is on the wall. Your soon to be major boyfriend is moving on. He's putting the pieces of his puzzle together, and I don't think you fit into it.

The majority of the letters I get are from women, but men who are in bad relationships also come to me for therapy and advice. I try to get my readers to realize that "people often show you, better than they tell you."

In other words, how can someone mean it when they say "I love you," if their actions say otherwise?

You shouldn't give a person everything. Why would you leave your career, family and friends to follow a man who doesn't think enough of you to marry you?

Furthermore, what kind of daughter knows her father is ill and won't go be by his side? Instead, you say you wanted to show your loyalty toward your boyfriend? Girl, bye!

I have three good relationship tips for both men and women who think they're giving too much in relationships with service members:

1. Never give a person everything. No sane person expects for someone to give them everything they have. A relationship can't function like that. The person who gives everything will feel overwhelmed, unhappy and like they are being used and abused.

2. Ask the service member to examine their priorities. Being a workaholic is a problem. People shouldn't work 24/7. Service members are truly America's finest. However, we don't expect for one person to do everything alone. They have help. In other words, it's OK to ask him or her to set good boundaries within their unit and to come home to you, their family and their loved ones. For a service member, setting good boundaries in their unit is paramount.

3. Do maintenance check-ups for your relationships. Seek the help of a therapist or a counselor to help you with tough situations before they ruin your entire relationship. Couples retreats are also very helpful to attend. Think about it: You would never keep driving your car with the "Check Engine" light flashing. You would take it to a mechanic as soon as possible to find out what's wrong. We should think of our relationships the same way.

-- Ms. Vicki

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Family and Spouse