Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man links to a New York Times essay by a young woman who plans to break up with her boyfriend on the day that he deploys. Now, she's been totally honest with the young man in that she has no desire to be a long-distance girlfriend and be there for him when he gets back. She seems to care about him, as evidenced by the nightmares she reports about his well-being while deployed. And they seem to only have been dating for a few months, so it's not like there is the obligation that a long relationship would give both of them.
But she is going to walk away from a man who loves her because she can't handle the loneliness of having someone she loves far from home. She's honest enough to say that she doesn't think she can deal with the worry and anxiety of him being in harms way for so long.
So for her honesty, both with herself and with the soldier, I give her a lot of credit. A lot of young people will get caught up in the rush of deployment and try to make something that hasn't fully mature permanent. It's a romantic fantasy of the dashing young soldier marrying his sweetheart just before shipping off to some godforsaken battlefield, and there is no more overused female stereotype as the virtuous wife and girlfriend who sits by the fire, bravely pining away for Johnny to come marching home.
So I think they'll both be better off not being involved as he deploys. She gets to clear her psyche so there won't be any guilt if she finds that anxiety and those nightmares fading over the coming months. He gets the security of knowing that no-one is cheating on him while he's away, and he comes home to a clean slate for his post-deployment reacclimatization. What man doesn't want to come home to an empty apartment and a schedule totally free of romantic entanglements?
Who knows, maybe she'll realize that she truly cares enough for him to try to keep their relationship working in some form while she's away, or maybe she'll discover some other toy to fascinate her for a while so that her self-doubt can work itself out. Either way, she'll be able to say that she was strong for herself rather than for someone else. She'll remember that this is the time when she was loyal to herself, instead of the man who loved her and would have gained strength from knowing that someone back home was there for him. He can say that he knows that she was there only for the good times, not to be there as a friend, if not a lover.
So I wish them both luck. I hope that in one way or another, she discovers she's made the right decision. I also hope that if she follows through with her plan to let him go, he finds something or someone else to give him a reason to look forward to going home.