Due to a suggestion from a friend, I wanted to discuss dating military on the island of Okinawa. At first, I was unsure how to handle this post due to the possibilities of being called unpatriotic, a military basher, and America hater. In the end, I realized, haters gonna hate and likers gonna like.
Many, many moons ago, I was in a serious/long distance relationship with a soldier and it didn’t work out. I have many friends in the military, and I in no way, shape or form dislike them or their service to the country I love so much. I realize they gave up their comfortable lives in their homes with their loved ones so I could be free. God bless America and God bless the men and women who sacrifice their lives so I can live the way I do.
First, allow me to address a few of the experiences I’ve had dating military by using PoF, OkCupid!, and Tinder. I met a deeply religious guy on PoF when I first moved to Okinawa. *Nate intrigued me because I thought he was smart and musically talented. Later, I found his drive to be intelligent was only to compete with me. As our friendship deepened and my feelings grew, he started going on about how lonely the military made him feel and if he wasn’t married by 25, he would be incredibly depressed.
He would often complain about the incompetency of his comrades, the rampant theme of alcoholism, promiscuity, and cheating he’d witnessed. Let’s just say he wasn’t giving me the best impression of military life. *Nate wasn’t honest with me, started dating a Japanese girl to better his skills and I stopped talking to him out of jealousy.
My next encounter was with a charming dark haired, blue eyed gentleman. I met *Tom through *Nate. The first time we met, he was wasted, playing a “Thank You” game, and asked me if my first language was English because I was a foreigner on Okinawa not in the military. Tom hid the way he felt about me for quite some time. Tom’s intelligence and ability to see the world made me realize I really enjoyed his company. It was until his tour of Okinawa was over I started reciprocating his feelings and was notified by Tom’s close friend how Tom felt. Two weeks later, I cried in my car realizing Tom would never come back and what could have been was a fleeting memory.
I then met a red head who I initially wasn’t attracted to because of his hair color. I decided to step outside my comfort zone and let him show me who he really was. Initially, as all young men are, when trying to win fair, young lady’s heart, they court you and treat you wonderfully so I fell for him. My redhead deployed and according to him, war changed his feelings for me. And I quote, “I don’t really feel anything for you anymore.” That’s not the first time I’ve heard that excuse to myself or someone I know.
I took a break for awhile until I heard about the Tinder application. I liked the idea of rating people as hot or not and being able to control who spoke to me. On Ok!Cupid, I had encountered too many thirsty boneheads or guys I simply had no chemistry with. Tinder is no different.
Having used this application for 5 months, I find it’s similar Ok!Cupid, PoF, or any dating site I’ve used in the past. With the guys I’ve met, they often complain how they can’t do anything on this island because of the Liberty Policies. Last I checked, this policy did not prohibit explorations of Okinawa such as seeing Shuri Castle, Kokusai Dori, hiking, snorkeling, or enjoying many of the beautiful parks Okinawa offers.
The guys I encounter seem to want someone to vent to, and an expat woman with no connection to the military is their way out while complaining about their “difficult” lives because of the Liberty Policy. I feel for some of these young men and women, I do. Two years ago, if it wasn’t for the two sailors from Guam who raped an innocent Okinawan girl, this policy would not be in effect. For those good souls who do respect the island, the culture, and Japan, I can see how unjust this is.
I’ve been on many dates and I just don’t feel any connection to many of the military men on the island. Some are looking for sex, some are looking to detach themselves from what they believe mundane military life is, some are looking for a partner simply because they are lonely. Most of the men I meet from the military fall into those categories. I feel suffocated and stifled by the men who want to escape their military life by latching onto someone who isn’t military.
I also know it’s not their fault, but many American military divide this island due to military base locations. It’s not Yomitan, it’s where Torii Station is. It’s not Chatan, it’s where Camp Foster is. I feel this designation separates me from the military men even more. Their idea of “Japan” is the local izakaya in American Village and Kami Sushi above the Sega Arcade. I can’t relate to them because my interests consist of things that aren’t military.
In addition, time on the island of Okinawa is brief. Everyone has an expiration date unless they marry in. Military must leave for other assignments and on the JET Program, I can choose not to recontract and leave as well. Time is limited so how does one really know the person they’re dating without making rash decisions of marriage just to stay together?
Many military choose to marry young as well. While this is an option for many people, it’s not an option for me. I don’t want to marry young. I know I’m still ignorant of many things in this world, and to cut myself off from the world I desperately want to be a part of would be death to my soul.
As I’ve mentioned before in “Expat Women Dating in Japan”, dating is hard for an expat woman in Asia. I don’t know how many expat women or women in other countries where American military are stationed have encountered the same experiences as myself, but I’d like to know. Leave your comments below and let me know your experiences and opinions.