Friday, December 9, 2011

Trying to Date in the Military

In the military it can be difficult for a woman looking for a man.  She is most likely going to have a successful relationship with a peer in the military.  I cannot imagine for the life of me meeting a guy - a civilian - in a bar in Richmond and if things work out marrying him and bringing him with me to my next duty station and telling him to go ahead and take care of the apartment and the dog and if he can find a job, good for him but my paycheck has got us covered.  If I found a guy who told me he would follow me all while finding work where he could and raising our kids, I don't think under normal circumstances I would want to be with him.  And that might be my unwillingness to be more progressive in this particular topic, but there are so many men who do this in the military to their wives.  And that is perfectly fine, but it does make one feel a little bit, I guess, the right word would be jealous.  I am jealous it is more difficult for me to find a civilian either established enough or high enough in his job to follow me as I change from duty station to duty station, or patient enough to wait for me while I continue my military career.

I haven't had a relationship I saw going anywhere serious for a while.  I fell hard for a civilian a year ago and that ended up degenerating into me banging my head against a brick wall and being distraught that the brick wall won.  He was already tied up in other life goals, and he couldn't handle that I was in a job that potentially risked my life.  He would ask if I could get out of the military.  Even if I could, I didn't want to.

Other than him, I've generally dated other military personnel... and this has had it's ups and downs.  I can't help but feel a streak of competition which clashes with my desire to look to my beaus for help and support.

In all of these pursuits for romance the relationships have ended, or not been serious enough to warrant ending, and while I am okay and possibly the better for it, I am in constant pursuit of affirmation that I'm worth it.  Don't so many of us feel like this?  Those of us who haven't been welcomed into other families with open if cheesy arms.  Those of us who haven't had the warm touch of gold on our ring fingers, or that exciting moment when you officially bind your life with someone else's.  We're sort of perched on solitary relationship chairs trying to convince ourselves that we're special, that the someone out there for us is just a little difficult to find, and struggling with the haunting fear that we might be alone when it's not what we want.  It's okay to come to accept that being alone is either what we want, or what is best for us, but it is totally different if you find yourself happy with a partner in your life and can't seem to hold on to a relationship past a significant life change.

And I know that it will come when you least expect it, and la-di-da, but forgive me for expressing the inevitable feelings of single women, especially in the military.  And I know there's people on the other side of the fence who may feel worse for having had serious relationships that fell through at the worst moments, but from the occasionally bitter single side, at least you have the security that you could secure the facsimile of a relationship.  Here I've got the tatters of attempts that I threw away when they couldn't satisfy me.  Is it me destroying the chances, or is it me realizing the chance wasn't there?

I am fine at the moment, I'm neither piningly lonely nor am I in a screwed up relationship.  I've got plenty of time to fall in love with someone.  Whichever way the wind blows me, there's one thing for sure:  my military career is going to play a gargantuan role in my romantic life.  I can't keep the two from overlapping.  I don't even think I have the capability to leave the military and be someone's kept wife... I couldn't stand the boredom of listening to him regale me on military subjects that I know, a military life I would constantly feel resentment for because I left it for a man - and always wonder if I could have done it better than him.

Even further, I cannot be some particularly effeminate woman in the military who may understand her partner's lifestyle but chooses to do some sort of more historically acceptable job for women such as medical service or maybe adjutant general or finance.  I respect those jobs and positions, and more importantly the men and women who do those jobs, but one thing is certain:  that women are still barred from Ranger School and certain jobs based on gender alone still angers me.  It makes my heart race, and motivates me to think about and work towards a solution to this problem.  Which is why I still consider the law and legal work in my future, or some sort of international work because it seems gender is less an issue in some other countries.

There are other women in the military like this, who are neither classic sweethearts with cheerleader smiles and soft voices, nor overtly masculine business-only tomboys who never so much as donned a skirt before the Army Service Uniform.  Both of these types of people contribute, and that's great, but there's a growing percentage of women who are somewhere between these stereotypes.  It's part of society changing and unshackling gender roles for the better, those women were already there, but it will hopefully become more and more apparent.  I know who I am:  a tough, gritty, wrestling, combative woman with a wry sense of humor who doesn't really know where this gets her right now in life.  It's fine and great, but I don't even have the height and strength and solid technical knowledge to be a stoic badass.  And since I cannot be a stoic badass yet, I will have to accept and capitalize on when my antics and attempts to be a professional in the military are amusing to others.  After you are done chuckling, will you help me out?

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