My (20m) girlfriend (20f) is having panic attacks about me joining the army

Former Army NCO here. Neither of you realize how difficult this going to be on both of you. I'm sure you've done your homework and have an idea what you're getting into but the reality is a lot tougher. You've got BCT, jump school, and AIT. You're going to be apart for a long time. And even when you get to your duty station, what's next? Unless you're planning on marrying her you will still be apart.

And you will be changed. That's kind of the whole point, to break you down and then build you into back up into a soldier. That's has positive and negative effects. Either way, you won't be the same person you were before you joined. It would then be up to her if she likes the person you've become.

Another sad reality: military relationships are HARD. It takes constant upkeep. Yeah, relationships in general do as well, I get that. Long hours, after-hours duties, recalls, weeks in the field, deployments, and maybe being stationed overseas. These wear a relationship down.

I've seen couples who I thought were perfect for each other self-destruct. Strong marriages dissolved. And so many cases of adultery that it's mindblowing.

My time in the military almost destroyed my marriage, and we were married for five years before I even joined! It took years AFTER I got out to put all the pieces back together.

I not telling you all of this to discourage you, just to prepare you. Being apart, especially at your age, is going to be very difficult. You are going both going to get lonely and in my experience that never ends up well for either person. I'm sure by this point you've heard of Jody. Want to know why that name pops up so often, even in marching cadences? Because it's a fact of life in the Army.

So, here's my advice: go your separate ways. Start yourself a new chapter in life and allow her to do the same. Grow, get strong, focus on yourself and what you want to get out of your time in. I'm sure she has goals in her life as well, instead of waiting by the phone, so to speak. And who knows? Maybe after it's all said and done you two will reconnect, stronger and more experienced.

As a NCO, I spent a lot of time counseling young soldiers going through this situation (and worse). So, that's the best advice I can give. Wish each other well, leave on good terms, and go start the next phase of your life.

/r/relationship_advice Thread