Boot Camp Blues
Q: My fiance and I have been together for almost seven years now. We had a successful long distance relationship for four and a half of them, and I then moved to the state he was living in. Things have, as a whole, been good, but we seem to be having trouble communicating. He's enlisted in the military, and will be leaving in a few months for boot camp. I have questions and concerns about this that he doesn't seem to want to answer. And lately, he's been so withdrawn and distant that I'm worried we're on the verge of the end. He says something's bothering him, but he doesn't know what it is, and I'm terrified (from past experience, with other boyfriends) that this means he's going to decide I'm not worth it. We've been together for a long time, and have been relatively happy for most of it (every one has bumps). He's said he isn't going anywhere, and that it doesn't have to do with me, but I'm scared (I admit, I have a bit of a fatalistic attitude sometimes), and I don't know what to do. -- Georgia, 27
Dr. Susan: Before your boyfriend enlisted, did you discuss what that might mean for the two of you? I suspect he isn't being more forthcoming about what's bothering him because he isn't sure what to say. His entire life is going to change very soon. Boot camp is a huge challenge, and then he may have to go abroad and engage in a war. It's not about you specifically, but about whether he can succeed at what he's embarking on, and whether, in the end, he will come home safe. Also, he could be worrying about whether he's made the right decision.
You could be correct in thinking your relationship is entering its end game. He knows that the two of you are about to go back to the long-distance thing you endured earlier, again for a period of years. I don't suppose it was much fun for either of you the first time, and perhaps he's unsure about whether he wants to go through that again. There isn't a whole lot you can do right now besides be supportive. If he has a good friend besides you, it might help him to talk things through with him. Perhaps in time he will be able to be more clear with himself and with you about what is at the root of his distress.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.