Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Better Off

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.


Old NFO said...

That is always a truly hard decision, but as you and I both know, being involved with a guy/girl in the military that deploys is NOT conducive to a relationship unless there is significant commitment on both sides...

Anonymous said...

The soldier will get over her since it's just been a few months. What I don't like is her method of breaking the news. That, to me, is beyond selfish. Waiting until the last minute so she won't have to face the after-affects of her news. On the other hand, like I said, the soldier will get over her when all his buddies in his plattoon remind him that better he find out what type of selfish bitch she is now rather than later. Now, he can enjoy any "sexual misadventures" he might encounter during his deployment without any feelings of guilt. Stand tall and be strong soldier. Women are like buses. Another one comes along every 15 minutes.

eiaftinfo said...

I think the thing that strikes me about the article most is how truly shallow the young woman is. Life has a way of teaching us the lessons we need to learn - and loving unconditionally is a bitch to learn. This young lady is in for some truly difficult and painful lessons.

That said, we've all seen even long-term marriages get ripped about by life in the military. It's a hazzard of the career and it takes an incredibly strong spouse to hang in there. I wish the soldier all the luck in the world in finding someone that truly loves him. And, for all us crusty old bastards who were lucky enough to marry well above our pay grade, let her know how much you truly appreciate and love her - life is way too short to not say the "three little words" each and every day!

Sean D Sorrentino said...

I think he's lucky. Given the number of Army spouses and girlfriends who were whoring their way around Fayetteville during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he's saved that problem.

One of the medics in my company walked in on his wife when he came home 9 months later. You can't tell me she didn't set that up. The return schedule was sent out to all the wives in the family support group.

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