Samara O'Shea, love columnist

Dear Samara,

My boyfriend is in the Navy and he just found out he is shipping out for a long tour. We have only been going out for six months so this is new to me, he’s never been away before. How do I keep the romance going and make sure he stays interested in me while he is gone? I know only a couple of his other Navy friends girlfriends, but they don’t know what to do either.
Advice?

Separated by an Ocean

 

Dear Separated,

Six months is significant. In today’s fast and furious dating world, many people find it difficult to reach that mark. I congratulate you. His being away for a while will be a challenge, but as long as you’re both committed I think it’s one that you’ll overcome. Before he leaves, I suggest that you affirm your commitment. Tell him that you plan to stay faithful during this time apart and that you’ll be eagerly awaiting the reunion on the other side—if you haven’t already done so. Ideally, he’ll say (or has already said) the same. If he doesn’t, then it’s better to know now than to have assumed you were on the same page.

I don’t know what the logistics of keeping in touch with someone on a Navy tour are. Hopefully email, text, and occasional phone calls are all on the menu. In addition to whatever electronic messages you send, I recommend sending letters and care packages, too. Send something he can hold/smell/look at that reminds him of home and of you. Check out this book for more creative ways to keep in touch, The Long-Distance Relationship Guide: Advice for the Geographically Challenged. While there are some items that won’t apply to your unique situation (such as planning visits), other topics will (i.e. writing juice love letters and phone sex).
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As far as making sure he stays interested: There are no guarantees. The most you can do is honor your half of the bargain and be in touch often as you can. I would venture a guess that he’s just as nervous about you staying interested in him, and that’s okay. It verifies how much you like each other. The bad news is there’s risk. The good news is, if you make it through this, you’ll have as firm a foundation as can be.

All my best,

Samara

 

Caroline Wales

Dear Caroline,

My son is an amazing young man who has everything going for him except he doesn’t want to leave home.

He attended the local community college, but did not put his all into it and dropped out. He has a part-time job, which doesn’t pay well, so he can’t afford to move out. He has been saying he would be joining the military for the last four years, but he has yet to do so.

I feel that if we make it more uncomfortable for him here, it might motivate him, but I really would rather not resort to that. We have spoken to him until we were blue in the face, on a daily basis for years, and yes, we have given him deadlines that have not been met! And no, we have not given him consequences for not meeting them.

I love him, I know I am enabling him by making life easy for him here, and I honestly will be heartbroken when he does go, but he has to go. My husband and I have done everything short of putting his possessions in his car and moving him out physically.

How do I kick him out of the house so he can go forward with his life?

Desperate Mom

 

Dear Desperate Momma,

It is clear to me that you love your son very much. So, I’ll begin with this: it’s very simple, it’s just not easy. You named it yourself, you must stick to your boundaries and you must follow through with consequences. No matter the age, children seek boundaries, and if you aren’t any good at providing them, they will push until they find some. This can result in some pretty tough learning curves, so be thankful that for your son, it sounds like things aren’t too bad. This situation is not as hopeless as it seems. He’s going to be fine. Better than fine.

So, while you are working on you, it is also important to consider two hard-working variables. First, what is the motivation for this young man to want to move out and get going? Second, what is it that’s holding him back? This is a big one. I can feel the tension from here, so let me just ease some of this burden by reminding you that you never have to engage childish behaviors or fear-based manipulations as your son works things out for himself. What you can do is get quiet and get still, when the emotions and the smoke screams calm, gently and straightforwardly acknowledge that you recognize the patterns that he uses to get his way, but that you are more interested in knowing what it is that causes his discomfort. There is so much room for honesty and intimacy to grow here. There is a way to both support your son and disengage from the “hands-on” parenting method. I know. It doesn’t feel good. You can do it. I promise.

I think it is a better move on your part to stick to your guns and bring up your needs daily, while also encouraging your son by reminding him of his capabilities and character, all while trying not to stumble into passive-aggressive dynamics, which would only further complicate things. Your son can handle a little tough love. Your level of concern has me convinced the he knows how much his parents care for him. That said, you aren’t doing him any favors by letting him walk all over you and get his way. If he isn’t pushed he will struggle outside of the home. It’s not easy to transition from a coddled environment to a less patient world outside. Do him a favor. Keep advocating for your needs AND his, set deadlines and when he doesn’t abide by them, do not let him call your bluff. Only you can decide what this looks like, but I’m telling you now, unless you change your behavior, your actions do not speak to your wants; it’s going to be Three’s Company for a while! Now, on behalf of every person who has or needs a parent so loving as you, thank you for caring so much, AND we’ve got this. Let us do it.

Caroline

 


 You can ask Samara and Caroline questions for the Love & Life Advice Column here at folks@thedailybasics.com.

* The ideas and advice presented here are not a substitute for professional advice. Talk to your psychologist, counselor, physician or health care professional for situations that warrant further analysis.

 

 

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