DTR: The Conversation of the Century

I would like to take a moment and talk about one of the scariest conversations you can ever have.

Defining the relationship.

I am by no means a relationship expert. Honestly, you don’t even want to know all my previous relationships and where they went wrong. But there is one thing I do know: you have to define the relationship eventually.

Pretty common sense, right?

Wrong. People just expect the person they’re seeing to magically read their mind and know what they’re thinking and how they feel. That’s just totally unfair and that’s how you potentially ruin something that could be wonderful.

Relationships are a lot of “what-if’s” and there’s no point in making it even harder on you. That’s why you have the DTR, the defining the relationship.

Adam and I matched on Tinder like so many of our 21st century, Millennial, counterparts. We matched on February 27– four days after my 21st birthday– and we set our first date for the following weekend on March 4 (I only remember these dates because I wrote them down for Adam in a little anniversary book). He wound up staying the night because we got back late and slept on my couch. We woke up, ate breakfast together and he left to go back to Bragg. I kind of thought that would be the last time I would ever see him and went on about my day. Well, an hour and a half later I got a text from him asking to see me again soon. That Wednesday, I drove down to Fayetteville and we met up for dinner. I got back to Raleigh, texted him, and he asked if we could go out again this weekend.

I know, it all seems like it went so fast but stay with me here. While, yes, we had our first three dates over the course of a week, it didn’t go this fast for long.

For the entire month of March, we went back and forth between Raleigh and Fayetteville seeing each other. He would come on a Friday and leave on Saturday and I would come down on a Wednesday and meet up with him for dinner. Eventually, he told me that he was going to be doing a training exercise in the month of April and we might not be able to see each other as much while he was doing this. Right after he said that, he told me that wanted to be an exclusive couple and wanted to keep seeing just me. I didn’t even need to ask, he told me to just think about it.

Did I mention he also dropped the bomb that he was deploying in August that night, too? No? Yeah. He did. He gave me all the information I needed to make an informed decision.

We kept seeing each other after that and he never asked me for an answer. He was never pushing me to say yes and he never even brought it up. Around the end of April I texted him and said, “When you come over tonight I have some good news.” Sometimes I wonder if he knew what I was going to tell him but, to his credit, he didn’t push me to tell him right then and there. When he came over, we had the talk about what we were, what we expected from each other and that’s when we became an exclusive couple.

It has seriously been a wild ride with him. There’s been so many ups and downs and differences, I can’t count them all. The moral of this story is: don’t let anyone push you into doing anything you’re not ready to do. If you’re not ready to be in a relationship, tell them. Don’t make them read your mind because they can’t. I don’t know if anyone told you but people can’t read minds. Sorry. You need to speak up at every step of the process and let them know your thoughts, feelings, concerns and expectations.

In other words, don’t be Ross and Rachel.

 90s friends break ross geller break up GIF

19 Things You Should Never Say to a Military Girlfriend

Originally published here.

As Adam and I are coming up on our one-year anniversary, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our relationship — particularly the things people have tried to “tell” me about dating someone in the military.

I don’t let my identity revolve around making myself a military girlfriend and the military isn’t my life — it’s just his job. But it’s a job that helped bring us together and, for that, I’m forever grateful. However, I like to identify myself through my own actions, accomplishments and challenges.

But some people just don’t get that.

This is an actual compilation of things people have said to me over the course of this year.

1. “So you’ll be getting married soon? That’s what everyone in the military does, anyways.”

While I can’t refute the statistics, it’s really none of your business what I do or do not do.

2. “How do you feel about resigning yourself to a life of being underpaid and underemployed?”

http://giphy.com/search/eye-roll

Holy none of your business, Batman.

3. “People don’t want to hire someone they’ll only have for a few years — max.”

I cringe at this one.

4. “But you never see them.”

http://giphy.com/search/designing-women

Well, yeah, while he’s in another country. But the rest of the time he has a normal job so I do kinda see him on a normal schedule. That’s how jobs work.

5. “Long distance relationships never last and you’re no exception.”

This one in particular hurts and I probably will never forget this person saying it to me.

6. “Wow. It must be hard being apart.”

It’s not exactly walking in a winter wonderland and a barrel full of monkeys.

7. “I just don’t think you’ll be together very long.”

This one also still hurts.

8. “So… like, that show ‘Army Wives’, right?”

claudia

I wish. Have you seen Claudia Joy’s sense of fashion? Amazing. She’s also a lawyer. Beauty, meet brains. But that’s a TV show.

9. “Don’t worry about him cheating on you, there’re no pretty women in the service.”

Thanks for the concern.

10. “Have you cheated on him?”

Thanks for at least being blunt about asking.

11. “Aren’t you afraid he’ll be killed?”

I don’t even respond to this anymore.

12. “It stinks he’s missing Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years/Graduation/insert holiday here.”

He’s not missing it, he’s just not here. Life is all about how you look at it.

13. “I just don’t know how you do it.”

I get up, I walk out the door and I live the life God intended me to live — man or no man.

14. “What do you do to keep yourself busy while he’s gone?”

It’s different if you’re asking because you’re trying to figure out how to occupy your time. It’s another story when you’re just trying to be nosy.

15. “Well, in my opinion…”

Halt. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I didn’t ask for your opinion.

16. “I would never let my boyfriend be in the military.”

Lemme break this down for you. A) this was his choice before I came into the picture. B) this is a choice that he has decided on for himself. And, C) would you let your boyfriend be an accountant? A reporter? A professional video game player? Do you not realize how bratty you sound?

17. “Are you just going to live off him and his income?”

Hi, yes, I work. I have a great job. Two, in case you were wondering. Two that I love very much. Ask me about them because I’d love to tell you what I do for a living.

18. “You will be OK” or “are you sure you’re OK?”

The mileage on this one varies but don’t ask people you don’t know if they’re OK because some, like me, will hate you for it. I’m not OK when I look you dead in the eyes and say that I’m not.

19. “It’s just all so romantic.”

He’s romantic. Not his job. Romance is in the person, not the career.

When You’re Running On Rumors

I’ll admit it– I’m a drama addict.

love to read all the Internet drama and shenanigans that go on around the Internet (hello, Cracker Barrel and Brad’s wife was the funniest thing to happen in March) and I love to see the carefully curated screenshots that go along with the drama. However, I don’t like to participate in it and I hate when things are based off of rumors. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t run on facts like a little robot girl– I have feelings and pathos appeals to me just like any normal human– but I hate when all you have to go by is rumors.

But guess what, friends. Rumors are what makes the military float. Every day it’s been something new; “we’re coming home in month A”, “just kidding, they’ve decided to push it back to month B”, or (my personal favorite), “they said they’re going to keep us past our orders and have us come home four months later in month C”.

I know, I know, never plan around the military; that’s a lesson I’ve learned all too well these past 8 months. I’ve had a crash-course in planning to plan again. At this point, I could teach a master class on preparing for one thing just to have another happen. I have no idea when Adam will be home and I’ve resigned myself to that fact. Like I keep telling him, it is what it is at this point and I have to be okay with it because there’s no other choice. I mean, where does getting upset get me? Hint: the answer is nowhere.

 fail run military army mortar GIF

There is one thing I’ve noticed– the actual lack of information. I know that they’re given orders and (most of the time?) those orders have a date when they’re coming home. But, as I’ve just so recently found out, those orders can be extended. How often are orders extended? Is this something that’s common and you can always look forward to or is it rare? I’ve tried googling the answer to this question but, alas, to no avail (but if you know the answer, please tell me. It’s not so much that I need the information but more-so I’m just curious).

But wait, my friends, there’s more. Adam and company do not have new orders in hand about extensions. That’s right, there’s rumors heavily circulating around that they won’t be coming home when they were supposed to but yet there’s no official word that they aren’t. Wouldn’t you think they would get on that soon? I mean, there’s not exactly a whole lot of time left until they should be preparing to come home. Only one person has officially been given orders but he’s the last one to leave for continuity sake when the next group comes over.

I understand the logistics of moving thousands of people at once can be difficult, I really do. But wouldn’t you think someone somewhere would want to make a concrete decision about something somewhere? I guess the answer is no.

How I imagine the Army looks right now

Adam and I are trying to plan our whole lives around this deployment and when he comes home. I’m currently looking to relocate closer to where he’s stationed when he’s not deployed because, more than likely, when he leaves the military to transition into the civilian world with all us plebs, he will be working out of the same city his current base is. In the long run, it makes more sense for me to be there as well so we don’t have to spend so much money on car upkeep and gas for long commutes (oh, did I mention that my city and his city are an hour and a half apart and the only housing options in the middle is farmland?).

However, I don’t want to move to an army-run city by myself where I have no friends and no support system. I mean, I’m currently living the dream. I live with my parents, I pay no rent and no grocery bills, all I pay for is my car upkeep and insurance and when I go out or shopping. If I move, I have to take on more responsibility– more responsibility than I’ve ever had. And, I could be doing it all alone for an indeterminate amount of time.

I don’t want to live in a high-crime city all alone with few friends and my family an hour away. It sounds terrible. Of course, one of my best friends lives in the same city since he’s stationed at the same base as Adam but he has his own career, own trainings to attend and his own friends to hang out with. I’m sure if I asked he’d come over all the time; but, do I really want to ask and take him away from his friends?

Nah.

Of course, there are apps like BumbleBFF but I don’t really want to take the chance of the wrong person seeing my profile and thinking I’m on it for dating purposes. Or, I might get catfished and killed– there is no in-between in my mind.

The point of this is that I’m running on rumors right now and rumors get you nowhere. Remember when people thought Y2K was going to happen and they pulled all their money out, bought freeze-dried food to last a lifetime and built bomb shelters in their backyards? Obviously you can’t believe every rumor that circulates because then you wind up looking like a serial killer with a ton of freeze-dried food, no money and your family shoved in a tiny lockable space.

I’m trying to make huge life changes based on rumors. Will he come home in three months? If he does, then living alone won’t be so bad. Will he come home in five months? Maybe, but I can’t count on that either. Could I afford to keep up an apartment by myself for that long? I don’t know. I also don’t know how well I would do living alone for five months. Maybe he’ll come home in seven months. I for sure cannot live seven months alone with no friends and no family. It will literally be me going to work and coming home and that would be a miserable experience. But, if I move now, everything will be settled and ready for when he comes home.

But no one knows when that is.

 

 

Date Night

I’ve always said that right now Adam and I are in this strange nebulous world of dating. Before he left, we were in a traditional monogamous relationship where we saw each other weekly, went on actual dates (some of our dates will be a future blog post, Raleigh has such fun things for couples to do) and we spent time together doing couple-y things. Now, we’re still monogamous but we can’t really do anything at all other than talk on the phone. Sometimes I like to joke that I’m in a relationship without all the benefits (a partner to comfort me when I need it, someone to talk to and spend time with, someone who will come rushing to my side with Chinese food and movies when I’m sick) and I’m single without all the benefits (free dinner, um… that’s about it, actually, dating sucks). As much as a joke, I’m committed to Adam 100 percent– even if I’m constantly waiting on him.

The best analogy I ever heard (okay, I made it up) was that being long distance like this is like trying to swim across the ocean. When you’re together, you’re a team. Helping each other across the ocean, cheering each other on, making sure no one is left behind. You can physically help the other person. But, when you’re long distance, you’re no longer swimming, you’re treading water. You’re trying to keep your head above the waves and playing a game of Marco Polo in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s not impossible but it’s just very difficult.

One of the things Adam and I liked to do when he was here was to watch movies together. Our favorite thing was to make dinner together and curl up on the couch with some Netflix and watch different movies– usually a scary movie– and eat our dinner. It’s obviously hard to watch movies when you’re in two different countries with at least a seven hour time difference between you.

That’s where rabb.it comes in.

I know this will sound super infomercial like and I apologize in advance but if you’re long distance, rabb.it is great. You can video chat and watch Netflix/Hulu/Youtube or even surf the Internet together. We’ve found that if the person with the better internet (me) streams the content and hosts the video chat room, then the person with the weaker internet has fewer interruptions. Their browser seems to read both the video chat and the streaming as one.

So, what we did Sunday was watch Black Mirror together. It’s a TV series with hour long episodes that don’t have an overall story throughout each episode you need to keep up with. The episodes are independent of each other. But, we could watch this together, talk about the episode, see each other’s faces and actually have a real-life reaction to what we were watching.

There’s separate audio channels so you have the ability to turn up the volume on whatever you’re watching and turn down the audio on whoever you’re video chatting with– if you so desire. I do desire because it can be really jarring to hear laughter in the middle of the episode. There’s even a neat feature where you mouse over the bubble your partner appears in and it puts them up big on your screen.

Other things I think we might use rabb.it for in the future:

  • Looking at apartments together– a lot of the websites are banned where he’s at
  • Updating our (his) resumes for future job hunting
  • Picking out products for our future apartment– I’m on the hunt for a plain gray bedspread and it’s the hardest thing I’ve done in weeks

There’s so much we can do with rabb.it to “spend time together” that we couldn’t. Ironically, even though we love Black Mirror, I’m grateful for the technology we have because it gives us the ability to be as normal of a couple as we possibly can.

So, thank you world for WiFi, the Internet, rabb.it, and Netflix.

Oh, did you also know rabb.it has an iPhone app? Me neither since I don’t have an iPhone.