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New Bf To Be Deployed: How To Bring Up Staying Together? How To Show Support? How To Cope? What To Expect?

(Sorry this is kinda long -- I just really need to share my story and get some advice from people who know what it feels like.)

Hi everyone,

     I am pretty much freaking out. My boyfriend and I have only been together for three months, and he deploys to Afghanistan in June, so we will have only been together five months when he leaves. We care very much about each other, but we haven't recently talked about what will happen when he leaves. We knew he would be deployed (and when) when we first met, in January, and at the time, we just decided that we like each other and we'd see where it goes, but we sort of had an unspoken understanding that our "fling" would end when he went to A-stan. Well, our relationship turned out to be wonderful, and we both developed feelings we weren't really expecting to have. Although I've read that men tend to become distant before deploying, my boyfriend hasn't been distant in any way -- in fact, he has seemed to get even closer, but whether that's a result of our relationship progressing or him getting nervous about leaving and needing support, I don't know. Is this distance--or the opposite--something any of you have experienced? How did you cope with the distance, and should I be worried that he wants to break up if he becomes distant, or is it just a natural part of preparing for deployment?

    What I am really worried about at the moment is that he will want to break up, maybe because he won't want the distraction (although, thankfully, he will be working in a secure bunker the whole time, not fighting), maybe because he thinks that our unspoken understanding from the beginning is still intact, or maybe because he knows it will be really hard on me to go nine months without him (I'm pretty emotional and definitely attached). I haven't yet brought up the fact that I want to stay together for two reasons: 1.) It's still a few months away, and I wonder if I should let the relationship run its course a little longer; and 2.) He just left this morning for a month of on-base training (but he's only an hour away). We're hoping he will have Sundays off so he can come home and see me, but we're not sure yet. If not, of course, I'll go visit him whenever his schedule permits. Have any of you had experience with on-base training? Do they typically have any days off?

I'm thinking this month will be a trial run, to see how we really feel about each other (whether we want to try to make it work while he's deployed), and to see if we can make it work long-distance (because even though we'll still see each other this month, our visits will be limited).

Please, I really need some advice! What do you think of my approach for handling the stay-together talk? How did you girls (the ones with newish boyfriends) do it? Do you have any advice for how to cope with him leaving -- how to deal right at the beginning (when I imagine it's the worst) and then later on, as well? And can someone who's been through it give me some idea of what the communication is like -- how often do you get to email, talk by phone, and use a computer to video chat? Also, what kinds of things did you ladies give your men before they left, and what do you send in care packages? I am so lost!

Thanks so much in advance! I want to be supportive of my boyfriend, but I need support, too, and I don't want to ask it of him -- he has enough on his mind without having to worry about how I'm coping with his deployment.
eryenne eryenne 26-30, F 11 Responses Apr 2, 2011

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For me, I am the one deployed and my boyfriend is still back home. At first it was very hard and it really does suck. I am out to sea for 8 months at a time and it's hard just to get an email in each day. But you get used to it, I promise. Your family back home and his family can show you the support that you need, because when I'm on the ship I have to rely on others around me that I don't even know... If you guys love each other and you both have to be committed and dedicated to each other for it to work. I promise you that it will work!!! Best of luck sweetie <3

I'm honestly in the same boat, my boyfriend leaves at the end of January for Afghan & when we leaves we will only have been together a month! We knew each other for a long while before that and dated a bit but officially together only a month.
He hasn't had a girlfriend in 4 years & I'm genuinely terrified he's just going to forget I even exist while he's out there.
But, like your boyfriend these last couple of weeks running up to his deployment he's become so close. Wanted to see me, telling me he misses me, hasn't popped the 'L' word yet but that's doesn't bother me.
I like him so much, more than I ever thought I would & I thought I'd be fine about him going away & I don't think I will be.
It'll be okay! I'm sure he'll still want to be with you etc. 7 months seems like a long time but it'll fly by! My boyfriend is only going for 4 months but he's fighting & I'm going to be worried sick!
His 21st is the day before he leaves and I don't know what to get him?!
Good luck, I'm sure it'll be fine!!

First , this is a hard thing to do but if you have commitment and are loyal, you can remember that he loves you and you have your whole life, to do what you love and if you're meant to be together, you will be, no matter how hard.. If you want to know how he feels about it, make sure to ask him. If you don't feel comfortable asking your own boyfriend about it then it's not a good idea to be with him while he's gone. If you see no problem to try to fix one. Leave your relationship how it is. Love and support him. While you're at home do you're own activities. Coping comes natural.. You're going to be just fine. You can talk to him on occasions, phones, letters, video chat. What you buy him is up to you though, get him something he likes. Bandages and such <3

I know what it's like from both a mothers point of view, as well as a friend and now girlfriend.. yes it's hard and emotional.. when my son was getting ready to deploy I was very quiet and dove into my work. then came time for the first of 2 going away ceremonies. the first one was a quiet one some media but was just his unit, which made it more family like. everyone cried we had a buffet. my son left for 3 weeks of training came home for a couple of weeks then it was off for 3 months of field training.. that wasn't so bad. but when it came down to the final going away ceremony for 4000 troops I wasn't that upset since I had already been through one. it wasn't until he was sent home 3 different times due to deployment being delayed. the first time I took him to be deployed I cried the whole time... but after the 3rd go of trying to get him shipped out I was numb to it all. but he left and made it home safely, I sent care packages and wrote often and the few letters he sent meant the world to me.<br />
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as far as friends who have been are and getting ready to be deployed that's a bit trickier. I know their girlfriends, wives, ect... they call anytime day or night and we support each other. <br />
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with my new boyfriend getting ready to deploy we find ourselves laughing... only because I have been through it, this is his first deployment. right now they have been training off and on since January. right now they are gone 4 days and home for 5 days then gone for 2 weeks. but he doesn't know half the stuff I know and I have to tell him what's gonna happen. how things will work. when he is home our schedules are totally different he works nights I am in school during the day. so while he sleeps I am studying. we live an hour apart. but whether he is at drill or training we text and talk all the time. I know this will change once he deploys but I save our texts and we send each other pictures over the cell phone. <br />
but like you I have the same feeling should I stay or walk. but like I told my boyfriend I know what I am getting into and know what to expect and am able to handle a deployment... when in reality it's like do I want to go through this again. all you can do is be supportive and show that you care. write letters. I know email, skype, and facebook are quicker ways to communicate but still when a soldier receives a letter or card during mail call they smile and hold it closer to them.. send their favorite foods just don't send chocolate it will melt...lol

Hi eryenne,<br />
<br />
I'm new to this site/group and I know your post was a couple months ago, but I'm in a similar situation and have many of the same questions. How are you guys doing? Everything working out OK? I assume he is gone already or leaving soon...so what did you wind up getting him for a gift? My boyfriend, who I've been dating for 6 months (just recently made it "official" about two months ago) is leaving in July. I was thinking to just get him a photo album with all of our pictures and different things we've done together (sporting events, family birthdays, etc.) and maybe a couple other little sentimental things. I'm also throwing a small party together this weekend for him that he doesn't know about, and having a romantic dinner at a really nice restaurant for just us before he leaves. This is first time I'm going through a deployment with a boyfriend. Since his is in July, you and I will kind of be going through it together, experiencing it together. I already have a cute idea of something for when he's away. I'm a very sentimental person, and like your bf, my bf is NOT at all really lol. But I'm still going to think of cute things to send, along with useful ones of course......Would you like to be friends on here?

Hi Lndsy,

Sure, go ahead and friend me. (I'm not really sure how to do it yet!!) I need all the friends I can get right now, and yes, it sounds like we'll be going through it together, so it'd be great to be able to lean on each other. If we can chat privately, I'll give you my personal email address. What branch is your boyfriend, and how long will he be gone?

SG and I have been doing wonderfully. Things have gotten a LOT more serious... His deployment date was pushed back, and he actually left this morning... If your man hasn't left yet, I have some advice I can tell you about privately. Anyway, since the date was pushed back, we've actually been together six months now, and we're kind of at the point where, if we make it through this nine months, we're pretty sure it's going to be forever. While that's an amazing thought, it made saying goodbye that much harder. :(

As for a deployment gift, I wanted something that we both could have a piece of, so I went to the Army surplus store, and I had a set of identical dog tags made that read: "Each day w/o you is a day closer to being w/ you" and the last line is: "-[his name] &amp; [my name]-" I gave him one of the tags to put with his others or keep in his pocket or whatever, and I keep the second around my neck with a copy of his Army tag (it's a little different, because theirs have their SSNs on them, so he omitted that and added a special messaged for me). I liked the idea of it being a set that we each had half of—that when we're back together, it will be whole again. And one hint I learned through this whole thing: SG may not be nearly as sentimental as I am in day-to-day life, but deployment is a big deal, and he really appreciated the gesture. Also don't be surprised to see some tears as it gets closer... I've never seen SG cry, but there were a few the night before and then again at the airport when we said goodbye (which, of course, meant so much to me). I also wrote him a little note and slipped it in his pocket before we let go, because I don't know when he'll have access to email.

Ha, actually, he JUST called! He called from a stateside airport as they're about to head overseas. Great to hear his voice. I can do this, and so can you. Whatever it takes. If your boyfriend hasn't left yet, please don't hesitate to write me when he does, because I've been a wreck all day, and it's been good to talk to people going through the same thing. Good luck.

rowergurl, I just saw your last comment (I wrote this story, but I changed my username to eryenne). It didn't email me. Thanks for everything. :) He was able to get home a few days ago for about 24 hours, and we had a good talk. I'll post a new story about it when I get a chance. But the gist is that we're going to try to make it work, and it's what we both want. :) Thanks, everyone, for all the support. :)

My bf's mom told me this and I think it is so true. She said that you know were are his parents and he calls us because he has to. He calls you because he can't wait to talk to you. You are his support and he is doing this for you. <br />
My man also told me that he knows this is hard but he couldn't do any of it without me standing behind him knowing that I'm thinking about him.<br />
Oh and my man is terrible at talking about feelings. The only time he has talked about them is now. The only good thing that has come out of this deployment. So for him to share things like that with me is very new to us and a new change. So just keep that in mind when telling your man how you feel. He doesn't wanna feel weak or show himself as weak. But once you build that connection he will open up to you.

@Feydid, thanks so much for your advice. I will definitely add you as a friend, because if I remember right, your relationship was pretty new, too, right? I think your advice just to tell him how I feel is great, but it's hard for me sometimes because my boyfriend's not very emotional/touchy-feely (although I am), and I don't want to freak him out or be too mushy. But it's really important to me that we at least try to make this work, and that he knows I'll be here for him. He isn't very close to his family, and I feel like I'm pretty much all he has in terms of emotional support because he doesn't let many people see his emotions/how he feels. I just want him to know that I want to be that support, and that it actually makes me feel good to be needed. Like you said, I want to be the girl who takes care of him and whom he thinks of while he's gone. Sometimes it's just hard to tell him something so sentimental because he's not a particularly sentimental guy.

You'll be fine. I was totally freaked out when I realized I was falling for J. I tried to back pedal and convince myself it wasn't happening and that this wouldn't work. And more and more I realized I couldn't fight it. I told him how I felt, that I wanted to be the woman he comes home to. The one who takes care of him and the one he thinks of while he's gone. And he was so ridiculously happy knowing I wanted to make that commitment to him. Just be honest with him. As far as deployment gifts go, give him something sentimental, but also make sure its not something you'll mind losing out there. Things get lost easily. Just a small token of your affection, a favorite wrist band, a ring, anything that will remind him of you. And for care packages, send loads of pics, snack foods, baby wipes (they don't get to shower much if they're out in the field) There are a ton of sites dedicated to care packages, recipes that keep well through shipment like birthday cake in a jar, and cute ideas like theme care packages. Do some research. Another great site is www.militarysos.com for significant others. Good luck in your 'trial run' and message me any time you want to talk.

Thanks so much, rowergirl! It's good to hear that communication seems to be open, from you and from the other stuff I've read. I'm really going to have to think about what to get him before he leaves. I think the relationship is too new for anything expensive -- I think it would be better to do something small and thoughtful. Now I just have to figure out what that would be....

OOPS, Just commented for you on another story (New relationship from @Feydid). Check it out!