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October 6, 2012 / Jess

Dating a Soldier Has Made Me a Liar

Dear Army,

I gave some relationship advice to a fellow Army girlfriend who was struggling the other day. My advice?

Lie.

When Jonathan and I started dating, one of the things he found most attractive about me (other than my big brown eyes) was my honesty. And I felt the same way about him. In fact, his honesty and vulnerability in his first New York Times article, published a few months after we met and less than a week after we had a dinner date that went so well that we both knew we were in trouble, is what kept me from running away. A man that honest and vulnerable and wise was worth getting to know even though, at that time, I didn’t think any relationship that developed would be able to survive a deployment.

And now that I’m his girlfriend, I lie all the time.

I hate that.

I lied this summer, when things between us were particularly brutal and he asked me if I needed to take a break. (I typed “no, of course not” while yelling “YES” at my computer.) I lied when he asked me to tell him I wasn’t a complete mess. (I typed “I’m hurting, but I’m okay” as I shook with sobs in my desk chair.) And I’ve lied a thousand other times, by omission, when I had to deal with something alone because he was not around – mentioning it later, but filtering it to hide just how bad it was.

Now, these are lies of protection. I’ve never lied about what I was doing or who I was with. And he knows about every lie I’ve told, once I felt like he was strong enough for me to be weak. I feel like my job is to gauge his emotional status, and adjust accordingly. There is only so much I’m allowed to need, and how much I’m allowed to need ebbs and flows depending on whatever is going on with him at that time. Sometimes, things are so bad on his end that he can’t handle it if I need anything at all. A common question on my part, on my worst days in the beginning was: “Are you doing well enough that it’s okay if I fall apart at you for a few minutes?”

Six months into the deployment, I can gauge this more effectively now. I don’t actually really have to lie at all anymore, because we both know the other isn’t going to leave. But it was messy at first.

And sometimes I worry about the long-lasting implications of it.

Sometimes I think back to when he came home on leave between his state-side mobilization training and before he left for Kuwait. We were inseparable. The night before he left, we had dinner with his parents – and then he came back to my place. He said, with a smile on his face, that he had to hang out with me for a while longer and that “I won’t take no for an answer.”

If he hadn’t said that, I would have said no. I barely made it through that dinner as it was; I was not up for more quality time. I wanted to be alone on my terms. The next unknown (and still unknown) period of time would find me alone with no control. In that moment, I wanted to choose to be alone.

You see, Army, I had spent the two months he was away processing as much as I could about the things that upset me on my own. I didn’t know how to talk through my concerns with him – I felt like I wasn’t supposed to anymore. I had become used to hiding my emotions, as best I could (and I’m not particularly good at it). But he was there that night, and I freaked out. I was hysterical, and it was awkward – he saw the depth of it all. I still feel guilty that I tainted his last night in his adopted hometown with my intense grief.

What will it be like when he gets back and I’m upset about something? Will I be wise enough to talk through it with him in the moment? To admit when I’m upset with him? Or will I withdraw and process it on my own, like this deployment has forced me to do on a daily basis?

If I return to my honesty, will he be disappointed that I’m not as strong as he believed?

I hate lying.

I hate you, Army.

And that’s the truth.

(Not) love,
Jess

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3 Comments

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  1. S.B. / Mar 5 2013 1:00 pm

    Thank you for your honesty about lying. I sit at my work desk holding back tears, desperately trying to find some sort of resources for “just girlfriends” of soldiers, trying to prepare myself in someway for a deployment that is fast approaching… I finally stumbled across your blog. And I don’t even need to read any further to know that I am not alone. I am new to all of this. And although my guy has been deployed twice already, I am new to everything Army. I am scared and overwhelmed. And I am overwhelmed about hiding how scared I really am. Thank you for sharing this – it makes my constant lying and hiding seem less dramatic/psychotic/unbearable.

  2. lovemonniibee / May 7 2013 2:42 am

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!

    While I come from a long line of service men I’m a first timer when it comes to dating an army guy. I’m completely head over heels for him but the timing just couldn’t be more ill fated. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been able to see him… What’s worst the times he’ll be back are the times when I have to travel far away. 😦

    So I completely get the little white lies. Telling him and everyone else for that matter you’re golden because you don’t want to be a distraction 😦

    But I wouldn’t give him up for the world and I’m so proud that he deemed me strong enough to be his support.

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