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My boyfriend is a soldier in the United States Army. Though I m no stranger to military men (my grandfather, father and brother were all enlisted), this is the first time I have dated a soldier. Curious as to what I was in for, and wanting some solid guidance, I went looking for advice on how to be a good Army girlfriend. From the web. Not sure how wise that was. I ve seen a lot of websites that list ten things an Army girlfriend should remember and do, and some of them made great points. However, in my own time as an Army girlfriend, I ve come upon a few revelations of my own. What follows is some humble advice on how to cope with being the significant other of soldier.

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6. Dating a soldier is a commitment, and not one to be taken lightly. Do some research. Read those web pages and top ten lists. Above all, talk to people who ve lived it and ask them to be honest. Then do some soul-searching. If you re not ready for to be an Army girlfriend and all that it entails, break it off. You ll be doing a favor to the both of you. As soon as my guy used the g-word, I hit the keyboard and called my sister-in-law (retired Army wife extraordinaire). Both gave me a wealth of knowledge I otherwise would not have had. 7. Get used to being alone. Soldiers work long hours that they have absolutely no control over. They work weekends with little or no notice. Bases are often several towns or states away. If you re one of those girls who always needs a guy on her arm, get used to disappointment. The time he has for you will be dictated by someone else entirely. It s not a bad thing. You ll have time for your friends, family, hobbies and work. Concentrate on these, and appreciate the time he s allowed to have with you. My boyfriend is stationed an hour away, and we only see each other on weekends. So I spend my weekdays going out with my pals, catching up with my mom, and working on that promotion. 8. Don t ask for the details. Soldiers have stories. A lot of them are funny and interesting. A lot of them are dull. And a lot of them are neither.

Understand that these guys have to deal with things that the average person couldn t imagine. Many of these are difficult and sometimes disturbing. And odds are, one of the reasons his time with you means so much to him is because it s one of the few times he can get away from that life. So my advice? Don t bring it up. If he wants to talk about his life in the Army, be it the crazy times with the guys in his unit, the tedium of the everyday, or even the tougher times, let him be the one to broach the subject. My boyfriend and I have plenty to talk about, from video games to the funny cashier at the grocery store, and I never bring up the Army to any extent greater than asking him how his day went. And when he does let me in on the other things, I try to listen and not pry. 9. Be cool with his friends. If your man is ready to introduce you to the guys in his unit and/or regiment, it s a big step. Men who are stationed together are often closer than brothers. So if you get the big invite to meet them, treat it as though you were meeting his family. Dress to impress. Be polite and respectful. Don t cling to your man like a backpack, and don t emasculate him in front of his guys. Don t drink to much, don t discuss politics or religion. And most of all, be friendly. Your man s showing you off to some of the most important people in his life do him proud. This served me well. Making friends with the guys who serve with my boyfriend made Army gatherings twice the fun. Bonus: Meeting their girlfriends and wives provided me with a whole new support group. 5. Don t be afraid to take the lead. Yes, we all know that a man who takes charge is appealing. But a military man spends most of his time having other people telling him where to go, when to be there, and how to be dressed. Truth be told, it s hard for them to turn this off.

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That coupled with the stress and exhaustion that comes with Army life can make it hard for him to spend lots of time planning things for the two of you to do together. Now, this does NOT mean you should boss him around. But he ll probably appreciate it if you do a share of the date-planning. Choose the restaurant, make the reservations, pre-order the tickets. If you make the effort once in a while, then he can sit back, relax, and enjoy the evening you planned. Don t cheat on him. This should be a no-brainer. Needless to say, soldiers place a LOT of value on loyalty. Far too many of my soldier friends have had Jodi get their girl (you may want to look that up), and it s especially hurtful to them. They live their lives by the ideals of responsibility and faithfulness. For someone they care about to dump on those ideals is like a kick in the gut with a steel-toed boot. So if you can t remain true, forget the whole thing and move on with your lives. Censor your life. This one s complicated. You may not think it now, but while you re dating an Army man, weird things can get to you. I used to love the miniseries Band of Brothers, and would occasionally turn it on in the background if I I was working. Then, after falling in love with a medic, this changed, and it really caught me off gaurd. I was watching an episode, and suddenly, it hit me harder than it ever had before. I went to sleep with the screams of MEDIC! Still in my ears. And I could never watch it again. This will probably be true for you, and even your guy, as well. Certain movies, television shows and video games were suddenly off limits in my house, because they disturbed him or gave me nightmares. Get ready to make concessions in this department, for his comfort and for your own mental well-being. So there you have it. Sharing your man with the Army can be a challenge. Strike that: it will be a challenge.

As my soldier recently put it, some the toughest jobs in the Army belong to the women who date, or marry into, it. Soldiers act. We wait. So prepare yourself, you re about to embark on what can often be a trying adventure. Is it worth it? Every minute, in every way. Each second I spent apart from my boyfriend makes each moment together twice as sweet. Each time I can make his life easier, his simple gratitude fills my heart. Love the man, and you ll love the soldier. And truth be told, that s all you need to know. He has only been gone for 9 weeks and its already starting to tear me apart. I haven t received any letters. And I ve only spoken to him once, for 7 minutes. I finally got his address from his parents the week before and I ve written him 5 letters. And still nothing. I know that its not his fault. Maybe the mail screwed it up, or the Army hasn t sent them out yet. I m unsure and that s the hardest part. Not knowing is the hardest part. I love my soldier. But I feel like the Army doesn t care about the girlfriends, only the wives and children of the soldiers. It is my understanding that if something were to happen to me (heaven forbid), he wouldn t even know about it until someone wrote to him. He won t get to come home or at least call. I m nothing to him concerning the Military. It hurts. But I m in this for the long haul. I want to eventually marry my soldier and he is my world. I will not see him again until January when his Basic and his AIT is finished.

But I will wait. My car is now decked out in Army logos and I ve written on my car windows that I m a proud Army Girlfriend. I m proud of my soldier and I tell him that in every letter. I joined this site because no one I know understands how hard this is. I m thankful for the support! ~Make the most of what you have. . Make the best out of what you can have with him when he s not with you come up with ways of how you two can be close without being able to actually be with each other. What we came up with is movie night like it may sound a bit retarded to you but it s great really. We ll rent the movie and watch it together and stay on the phone the entire time during it we ve just kinda recently started this and we really enjoy it because it gives us the feeling of really being together I recommend this idea to anyone with a loved one that is far away. ~ Keep yourself busy. If you keep yourself busy you re not going to think about it so much. Start a hobby like start working out so when he comes back you ll have a bangin body! Lol That s what I m doing lol work on a project at the house or for your career do something positive for yourself that will benefit you so your focus is elsewhere and you can gain from it and it will also show him that you are ok be by yourself and he doesn t have to worry that much about leaving you alone because he will know that you have your own thing and you can handle yourself too. ~ The most important is LOVE! Love conquers everything! Love can endure anything whatever the situation may be. If you truly love one another and want to be with each other there is no doubt that ya ll will be able to make it through this. Love is patient, love is kind, love not jealous, love is  understanding, love forgives, love is him and to him you are love. As you can tell my soldier just left for OSUT so my story is more about staying sane when he leaves and your only dating him. Deciding to join the army can be a difficult decision (especially if he has a significant other). He wants to hear that you support him. He knows how hard its going to be when your away from each other, so I tried to stay off of that subject until it got to within a week of him leaving. Challenges in dating a soldier: Obviously not always being together. People seem to always bring that up and no, its not fun but that s part of the army! Before he leaves he s probably going to be really anxious, mine was, but just remind him that it will go by fast once he s gone. He will call at random unexpected times.

And trust me, its awful when you miss a phone call.

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