Milk and Honey Magazine explains how to live in a long distance relationship with a soldier abroad!

Dating a Soldier Abroad

Kodi Borzynski

I've heard the saying "distance makes the heart grow fonder," and I agree; there's something special about being in love with someone who lives thousands of miles away.  Feelings of missing out on breakfast in bed, staying up late binge watching Netflix while eating bags of gummy worms and chips, or even having meaningless arguments because you're spending every waking moment with the person. When you're always together, you have no time to miss each other. I learned quickly how to miss someone while a new, budding relationship of mine came to a halt... when my boyfriend left to serve for a year in Afghanistan.

We met what we would describe as strange fate: typical locking eyes across a crowded bar, small talk with butterflies and nervous giggles. It was Halloween night, and I opted out of dressing up due to my fear of standing out. He was dressed as Jax Teller from his favorite series "Sons of Anarchy", equipped with an authentic leather vest. He told me he had only a few months until he deployed and wasn't looking for a new relationship, and I understood. We parted ways at the end of the night, but not before he politely asked of he could kiss me before I became just a pretty girl he met in a bar one time. As I walked out into the cold, Noveomber 1st night, I remember thinking to myself that he never even told me his name.

A week later, a girlfriend and I got together to watch a noon Packer football game at another local bar. She invited her on-again off-again fling along with a friend of his. We spent the day cheering and eating nachos and burgers. Right as the game was ending, the invited friend told us he asked another one of his high school buddies to join them for the rest of the night named "Chet." In my head, I couldn't help but chuckle at how awful I thought the name Chet was. Throughout the past week and during this particular day, I couldn't help but think about this mysterious guy I had met the week before.

I was told, "Chet has arrived," and they began to flag him to our table. I turn with a smile to greet Chet, and to my surprise, my heart completely stopped: there he was. Walking to our table, he sees me and has the most beautiful, perfect smile. It was him... my mystery guy was Chet. And his name was actually Dan.

Milk and Honey Magazine explains how to live in a long distance relationship with a soldier abroad!

We spent a lot of time together the following few weeks. He told me how attached he was becoming and how much it scared him to commit to someone he hardly knew right before leaving. I tried to walk away a few times, but he continued to not be able to control his feelings. Almost a month exactly to the date of our first meeting was my birthday. This is when he asked me to officially give in and be his girlfriend. I reluctantly said yes, that I would give it a try.

February came around, and it was the time for him to leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, where he would be prepped and shipped out. He spent a few months there. We texted and talked on the phone, but he didn't like to Facetime because he was rarely ever alone. (He isn't one for PDA in front of his military friends) I did get to visit him his last week in Texas. He rented a mustang and we road throughout the mountains, went to the El Paso zoo, Cattleman's ranch, and countless restaurants. I couldn't have asked for a better last few days together. And that was so intense for me, because I had no idea if it was really the last few days we would have together.

Leaving to get on that airplane to go home was one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching feelings I had ever experienced in my life. I sat waiting with my head in his chest, soaking his shirt with tears of fear and sadness. But I had no choice, I had to get on this plane. I cried the whole way home! (I can't imagine how annoyed the women next to me probably felt) The flight attendant was constantly bringing me tissues.

And he did it. He left.

Milk and Honey Magazine explains how to live in a long distance relationship with a soldier abroad!

They had to have their phone service shut off, so for two weeks there was no contact. I tried everything to keep busy. I buried myself in work; fifteen hour days, six to seven days a week. That is, until I was on my way to dinner with a girlfriend and a strange number appeared on my phone and I missed it. I listened to the voicemail and I couldn't believe. He made it safely! The feeling of missing him was so terrible for so long, I didn't know if I was going to be able to handle this.

Every single day at around 5:00am our time, he called me. He would miss a few days here and there, but he always told me when those days were coming and not to worry. We had the same conversation for almost eight months. "How was your day?" "Good, yours?" and constant "I love you's" and "I miss you." He couldn't talk to me about anything he was doing or how he was feeling because everything was monitored. Sometimes, if there were too many people around him,  he would be too embarrassed to say "I love you too," so he would just say "yup, you too." Our men overseas have to stay strong and keep their mind on the mission and not get wrapped up in emotions from home. He didn't have much there, so every month I spent time designing and decorating care packages for him. Each month, a different theme, jam packed with oreos, popsicles, candy, and of course pictures and letters. This kept me so busy and, gratefully, so occupied.

Due to where his mind had to be, there wasn't a lot of room for him and I to still get to know each other, and I was lonely. Knowing I had someone but they weren't there to make me feel loved or that I was even in a relationship, it was hard. A part of me gets why some women cheat on their soldiers. It's not the soldier's fault, but the desperation for some kind of attention and to fill the hole that is so empty. But you have to know what you're doing before you agree to be in a relationship with someone who is putting their life on the line. If you can't be alone, then you can't be with a soldier. The only thing you can rely on from them is that they will do everything to make it back home to you. You are their motivation and what keeps them going. If you fail them, the possibility of them failing their men, their mission, and their country becomes distressed because they're thinking about what you could be doing to them. They love us! They don't have the same temptations we do here. Imagine being deserted in a desert, trapped, and the only thing you have to hold onto is the hope of having a normal life afterwards. Their mind races, they become jealous and crazy and desperate. They're scared! They are more afraid of you hurting them than any damage they will face there. I understood this. I don't know how, but I did.

While he was gone, I made a Flat Dan, a cardboard cut-out with a picture of him and a build a bear army uniform. I carried him everywhere: Summerfest, state fair, the Dells, restaurants, and I even ran a 5k with him. Boy, did I get looks. But I didn't care. I took pictures everywhere I went. Made a Shutterfly hard copy with a long first page intro. I didn't want to do these things without him. I wanted him to know he was always there and that I never stopped thinking about him.

Milk and Honey Magazine explains how to live in a long distance relationship with a soldier abroad!

The day of my birthday, I was desperately waiting for a call. All I wanted was to hear his voice on my birthday. I wanted him to be the first to say happy birthday to me. I hadn't heard from him in a few days and was starting to worry, but I knew he would find a way to say happy birthday. I was getting discouraged and sad and was starting to not like my birthday. I came home from a 10 hour shift and crawled into bed, literally in tears. I couldn't be mad at him. He had no control. I started to fall asleep when my phone began to ring. It wasn't the number he'd been calling me from in Afghanistan, it was his cell phone number! I didn't know what to do. What does it mean? In fear of missing the call but still being shocked, I stumbled to answer. My shaky voice just screams "BABY!" I received the best news I could have ever gotten. he was back in Texas and would be home in a week!

"You have got to be kidding me!" I screamed! I cleaned the house. I lost almost 40 pounds in the year he'd been gone because I wanted him to have the best version of me when he came home. I made his final care package. Towels, toothbrush, undies and socks, a case of beer, and of course my flat dan album.

The day arrived, and I met his parents at their house. We drove together to the airport, walked to the terminal, and there were news crews and a marching band waiting to greet them. The first few guys got off the plane, and everyone was cheering and crying. Wives and girlfriends, moms and children, all jumping into the arms of their men, who were brought to their knees from pure happiness. It had been so long, and I couldn't wait to see him. Within seconds, I see him walking down the terminal. I put my hands to my face and I fall to the ground and am uncontrollably sobbing. A friend is in my ear telling me to get up and kiss my man.. I opened my eyes and I couldn't find him. I kept saying "where is he?" He was 3 inches from my face, and I didn't recognize him. When it finally clicked, I threw myself into his arms and couldn't stop kissing him. I didn't care about the cameras or the fact that his mom was a foot away. I was kissing my hero, someone who made this experience so easy. Communication made us work for a year after dating for only three months while on opposite ends of the world.

  ....And this year on my birthday, we're going on our 4 year anniversary and can't wait to marry each other and start our little family. ❤

Thank you to all of our heroes.