Romance in the military is no easy task. Looking for love amid deployments, exercises, and regular duty station moves across the world is daunting even for the most avid believers in love and all that other crap you see in Disney movies during which I pretend very hard not to cry.
Even so, the search for love and companionship is important to the mental well-being of everyone, regardless of the terrible life choices they’ve made. Working in a field that tends to take you all over the world introduces service members to a wide range of people to meet and date, and while some of them may be normal and well-adjusted people, chances are they’ll fit into one or more of the following categories.
(Editor’s note: This article was originally published on May 27, 2015.)
1. The Expert
If the first thing someone you’re on a date with asks you is “What’s your MOS?” chances are you’ve got one of these on your hands. He or she somehow reads all the pubs and manuals, talks the lingo, and loves debating you about the merits of gear and vehicles that you really didn’t even know or care about in the first place.
- Pros: Understands what you mean when you use an acronym. Will eat an MRE without being dared to.
- Cons: What would you rather talk about on a date for several hours: the new Avengers movie, or the complicated nuances and considerations of converting all the military’s M63467.82 flangle-whatsits to M63467.83 dingle-whatevers? Exactly.
2. The Fetishist
The first time the response to the question, “What do you want to do tonight?” ends with the phrase, “…with your boots still bloused,” you can be sure you’ve found a fetishist.
- Pros: Let’s just call it “eagerness.”
- Cons: Will only stay with you as long as you stay in the service, wool dress uniforms do not breathe well when, ahem, “exerting” oneself.
3. The Gotta Catch ‘Em All
“Oh, you’re a Marine, you say? Well let’s see, I’ve already had three soldiers, four airmen, and a Coast Guardsman. After I’m done with you, I’ll just get your Corpsman’s numbers and my collection will be complete.”
- Pros: Will inform you how your performance compares to that of personnel from other branches.
- Cons: Will inform you how your performance compares to that of personnel from other branches.
4. The Fellow Service Member
Absolutely, 100% your best option to enter a world of love and joy made of unicorns and candy puppies. And I’m not just saying that because I’m dating a fellow veteran who’s probably going to read this article. Hi honey!
- Pros: The same as when dating an expert, plus they hate all the stupid stuff about the military as much as you.
- Cons: None whatsoever in any way at all. It’s inescapably wonderful all the time, always.
5. The Remora
For those who don’t watch Shark Week, a remora is one of those sucker fish that attaches itself to the stomach of a shark or other large fish and feeds off its scraps. In military dating terms, these are the men and women who ask to accompany you to the PX by your third date and want to know the details on getting a dependent ID by the fifth. If you stay with one long enough that they start using phrases like “our battalion” and “when we get promoted,” run.
- Pros: That’s a typo. I actually meant to write “Pros?” because I can’t think of any.
- Cons: What are you still doing here? Run!
6. Mr./Ms. Insecurity
These are the people who cannot handle the fact that you, as a military member, are generally seen as tougher than the average person. Every part of your one-on-one relationship with one of these can be fine and dandy. But every time some third person asks about one of your fields ops or deployments, you won’t be able to respond over the deafening and endless bragging about Tough Mudders, kettle bells, and challenging you to push-up contests.
- Pros: Usually tend to be CrossFitters, so they’ll keep you in shape.
- Cons: Usually tend to be CrossFitters, so they’re terrible people.
7. The Imaginary Person
You tend to see people dating these a lot in the more inhospitable shitholes like Twentynine Palms. I did the whole time I was there, after all. She was a model. And a nuclear physicist. You don’t know her because she lived across town and had to fly her private jet on spy missions a lot. So shut up.
- Pros: As many as your imagination can conjure up!
- Cons: Crushing loneliness, weeping.
Yes, there are variations, but these are the main groupings of people you’ll wind up taking for dinner, drinks, and dancing (or push-up contests, depending) while you wear a uniform. You can even have combinations. Like, for instance, an Imaginary Insecure Fetishist. In that case, you are undoubtedly from my old duty station. Please see your battalion commanding officer to receive the “Loneliest Marine of the Quarter” award. Congrats.