It is easy to over-think your behavior when dating a military woman. The best advice is to be yourself and try not to act any differently. However, as the relationship gets more serious, there are definite aspects of civilian-military relationships that are unique. You need to learn to accept every aspect of your new relationship, especially the periods of distance. As gender roles are in a period of change, learning the basics of what you can expect from a relationship with a soldier is more important than ever.
Going On a First Date
1. Treat her like you would anyone else. Put yourself in her shoes. She has a high profile job that creates stereotypes about her personality. Obviously, she has her own personality just like anyone else. It’s not like she's going to show up for the date in fatigues, so don’t treat her like that.
2. Don’t ask ‘those’ questions. Active service members and veterans get a slew of strange and somewhat uncomfortable questions from civilians. If you’re trying to make a good impression, being just another person to ask one of these will not make you stand out. She probably doesn’t want to talk to you about the mental side effects of violence on a first date, or how it makes her feel.
Some inappropriate, or at least annoying questions may be: Did you kill anyone? Do you have PTSD? Did you see anybody die? Did you get shot at? Was it hot?
3. Don’t overthink gender roles. Male-female relations are in a period of transition. Adding the expectations and stereotypes of military women can make this more confusing. The best way to act around military women is simply not any different. Be yourself and be respectful.
If you’re the kind of person who opens doors for people, continue to do that. If you don’t generally do that, finding ways to ‘treat her like a woman’ is not necessary.
Men dating a military woman shouldn't feel the need to act more masculine around her.
4. Avoid talking about the politics of war. If you disapprove of any and all war, dating someone in the military is a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, don’t come off as a cheerleader for the military. Going out of your way to praise servicemen and women will sound like you are just trying to kiss up to her.
It’s natural, especially if there are big current events, to bring up politics in conversation. If you regularly discuss politics, don’t hide your interests from her because she's in the military. In this case, however, avoid making overt statements of approval or disapproval with the military.
5. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. The best way to behave naturally is to acknowledge something obvious to both of you, if needed. She is a female soldier. You are a civilian. This is a new and strange dynamic that has not been common in American culture thus far. If you would feel more at ease mentioning this up front, she will likely respect your honesty.
For example, you might say something like: “I’ve never gone on a date with someone in the military before. I’m trying to act like I would around anyone else, but I want you to know this is uncharted territory for me.
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