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Friday, February 21, 2014

Civilian Vs. Military Friendships.. How long will it last?


I have been a Navy Spouse for almost 10 years now. I have met and said good-bye to many wonderful people and some not so wonderful people. Through every move I have the opportunity to meet new people and for us those moves have equaled 7. I have learned to become an extrovert. I have learned to go out to random get togethers and introduce myself to people I have never even seen before. I now start this the moment I arrive at a new duty station in order to form contacts or friends as soon as I can because I know that in only a few short years we will be on our way to a new place again, taking with us only the memory of those moments that we shared.

As a Military spouse we know full well that we will only have a short time in each others presence but with the wonders of the internet and facebook we can "friend" one another and keep in touch over the years and continue to build our friendships.. or so you would think. I have learned over and over that friendships with Military spouses are hard won. I have found that my military friends are much quicker to delete people from their lives as soon as they feel you don't talk to them often enough. A few weeks go by, a month, 6 months, your life goes on, gets in the way, and one day you find yourself thinking of someone you met at another duty station only to find that when you go to contact them you have been "deleted". Now I personally just send the message anyway and say hey, I was thinking about you .. how are you doing?. Most of the time I do not get a response back so I assume they do not want me contacting them anymore and I let it go.

Now we come to Civilian friends. I have had many civilian friends over then years and never had a single one delete me. Not one. You know what, we hardly ever contact each other either but they seem to understand that whether we are in constant contact or not the friendship doesn't change. We can pick up right where we left off. We know that we all have lives and do not always have a chance to contact each other.. sometimes even for years.

I am of the civilian persuasion. I do not delete people. I do not stop thinking about you or wondering how you are just because we moved, haven't spoken for awhile, or you don't contact me every three weeks. You would think the opposite of these two scenarios would be true and as a mil spouse we would cling tighter to our friendships, but it seems instead we have learned that it is easier to just let go than to bother with keeping people around. We blame others on our ease of release and say "Well they haven't contacted me in 3 weeks, 2 months, 6 months, a year, whatever the time line." Guess what .. it is more than likely that you haven't contacted them either.. but have you thought of them? I am willing to bet you have probably crossed their mind but if you haven't thought of them.. you cannot remember where you even met them.. then by all means press the delete button.. Who wants people around that they literally do not even know. Just remember when it is someone you have spent time with that it is not only their responsibility to contact you. (I know I am very guilty of thinking of people but never contacting them, that is one of the things I am working on.) The phone, internet, email, or fb works both ways, you can be just as active in building your friendship as the other person. Don't expect them to do all the leg work get upset when there is no contact between you.

Now I am fully aware that neither of these scenarios are 100%. There are of course several other Mil Spouses that aren't delete happy and several Civilians that are quick to delete. I am just relaying my own personal experiences with each.

In the end you never really know who is going to stick around and who won't but I have learned that a lot of it is based on how much energy you are willing to put into those relationships. Friendship like marriage requires work. You won't always like each other, you won't always agree, but you can still choose to love them and be their friend. No one is perfect, not everyone will mesh with us and that is ok. We just need to realize that caring for one another takes work and whether you are a mil spouse or civilian we all need those people in our lives that are going to stick around and be there no matter what. If you are my friend, know that I am here for you because I want to be, and I don't care how often you contact me, I will still be here. :)

Do you find this to be true? Which side do you fall on?

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