Changed after Basic Training

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

So Im 25 years old and I completed basic training in March. Thankfully enough I started my training really close to home so I was able to see my boyfriend/fiance on the weekends.
Prior to me leaving for basic training, i remember loving nothing more than spending time with my bodyfriend. We worked together but in seperate departments, he stayed with me almost everynight, we were able to communicate our needs pretty well for a young relationship.
I asked him to marry me before i left, informally but it felt like a very right question to ask. so in basic he wrote me almost everyday, he really made my life so much better in basic.

when i got out of basic is really when I feel like… maybe the honeymoon was over?

He has not been great with his money management in the past, and I have seemingly made smarter decisions. and that has effected us, because in my want to see him, i have paid for 95% of everything and that is a big issue for me due to my past.

he cant really understand my training, or what i might be doing in the very near future. he cant handle when im sad and tells me something stupid like dont let it get to you when its really important to me and usually it relates to something that he hasnt gone through yet. like being seperated from his loved ones and soemtimes feeling forgotten.

I told him i couldnt marry him until he moves out of his families house and really lives on his own. his family is no longer happy to see me, apparently ive changed, become distant. i feel like im just teaching him how to grow up, and why should i have to do that?

A: Basic is a profound experience that grows a person up real fast. It’s not at all unusual for people your age to find that they have grown apart from friends and lovers they left behind. I’m sure you’ve changed. How could you not? You’ve met many challenges that tested your strength of character as well as your abilities. You are looking at a future that may well include life-threatening events. It makes sense that you are questioning things about your relationship that maybe didn’t bother you so much before.

If you know people who have come back from deployment, they can probably give you far better advice than I can. They’ve either been in the situation you’re in now or know people who have been. What I can suggest is that until your boyfriend grows up, he’s not a good bet for you — whether or not you are in the service. He is living off his parents and can’t even afford a date??? That sends up lots of red flags for me. He can’t relate to your feelings? Come on. It doesn’t take a lot of empathy to understand what it must feel like to be far from home.

Based on what you shared in your letter, my advice would be to pull back from the engagement and give yourself the chance to meet people on your level. Yes, I know it may feel like having someone at home who loves you is better than not. But I think it sets up expectations for both of you that will be difficult for you to honor. I also think you may find that there are men in your unit who are more on your wavelength. One more thing: Whatever you do, don’t give this guy access to your paychecks when you’re deployed. Set up a savings account for yourself so you’ll have a nest egg when you return.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Changed after Basic Training. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/07/10/changed-after-basic-training/