Ultimately, my military experiences, and those of the many veterans I have spoken with, parallel life’s other influential periods.They are simultaneously life changing, awesome, terrible and powerful.
These examples are taken directly from my dating experience in Boston this fall. Although I speak for myself and from my own privileged experiences as a white, Jewish, able-bodied, American-born cis man in the Boston dating scene, I hope this post proves useful for those who find themselves dating, befriending or otherwise encountering a veteran. I appreciate when a potential romantic interest asks about my military service, and I generally try to explain how it informed my journey through college, or how being a veteran relates to my other identities. (See the book “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” and the National Center for PTSD for more information.) Asking about killing is not a date-appropriate question (although many of Boston’s actively dating singles ask anyway).The conversation typically proceeds in one of three ways: Either the other person (1) changes the topic, (2) asks respectful and thought-provoking questions about my experiences, or (3) spends the next hour asking questions that relate only to 2007-2009. Killing should only be discussed if the veteran broaches the subject first (they probably won’t).I am instantly expected to be a masculine sexual aggressor. in child study and human development from Tufts University.
Radical, anti-oppressive and feminist political perspectives on sexuality are not exactly the words associated with “combat,” “soldier” or “army.” Disclaimer: The examples above represent my personal opinions on how to most respectfully approach a date with a veteran. Her research takes a skills-based approach to promoting adolescent sexuality development and sexual health, with specific attention to questions of gender justice and the experiences of queer and trans youth.
There is nothing wrong with fetishizing an identity, as long as it is consensual and respects the autonomy of all parties.
But when I’ve been on dates with people who find my military service attractive, they have constructed a persona as the object of their attraction that is radically different from the person I actually am.
There are currently 20 million veterans living in the United States, not counting veterans of foreign militaries, which means it is likely that any one of us will date, befriend or otherwise encounter a veteran. She applies this work to sex education and sexual violence prevention in contexts such as public schools, college campuses and youth development programs.
Veterans have vastly different experiences and may have opinions that directly contradict my own. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and Jewish Boston assumes no responsibility for them. She wrote The Debrief, Jewish Boston’s weekly column about sex, dating and relationships, from its inception in 2013 until moving to New York City in 2015.
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