Military Lifestyle

Etiquette Rules for Being in a Military Relationship

Being in a military relationship can, at times, be difficult. There seem to be so many “rules”, expectations, and a lot of unknowns. Whether you’re dating someone who is about to go through basic training, or are in a relationship with a service member already in active duty, we’ve put together a list of 5 of the most essential “need to know” rules of being in a military relationship.

1. Save gym clothes for the gym.

Athleisure apparel is very on trend these days, and although we can’t deny that comfy casual can be cute, it is not considered appropriate for the military. If you live on or make frequent trips to a military base, avoid wearing your gym clothes, unless you’re actually en route to the gym. Many buildings on base have a dress code, and you can be asked to leave if you are not dressed appropriately. Whether visiting the Commissary, the Exchange, and even some convenient stores on base, you should make sure to avoid wearing these items of clothing:

  • Spandex leggings
  • Low cut shirts
  • Backless shirts
  • Crop tops
  • Short shorts or skirts
  • Tank tops
  • Sagging shorts

Regardless of whether or not you are physically with your significant other while on base, you can often encounter a lot of important people, such as high ranking officers and their wives. As a result, how you dress will reflect directly on your service member.

Each base is different and will have a different dress code than others, so when you arrive to a new base, make sure to check and see what is acceptable to wear on base so you can avoid the awkward and uncomfortable situation of being asked to leave.

2. Always show respect while the National Anthem is being played.

This seems like a no brainer, but we’ve seen many service members’ significant others talking, texting, chewing gum, or even smoking while the National Anthem is playing. Regardless of your political views, you should always display respect for the National Anthem while it is played. Again, if not for yourself, do it for your service member.

3. PDA should be kept minimal.

We get it. A person in uniform can be extremely attractive, and it’s tempting to want to share some affection with them while in uniform. However, doing so in public is not a good idea. While your service member is in uniform, he or she is expected to behave and present themself in a certain way.

What does this mean for you? You shouldn’t be hanging all over your significant other in public. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any physical contact. Hand holding is acceptable, but remember to walk on their left side so that they can salute when necessary. Keep your kisses conservative, and save the more intimate kisses for when you’re in private.

4. Stop for colors and raising/retiring of the flag.

You may find yourself walking and talking with your service member, when all of the sudden, you realize that they have stopped walking with you and are standing at attention facing the flag. You might ask them what they are doing, and they really won’t be able to respond, so here’s your insider tip. When on base and in uniform, all service members are required to stop what they are doing when they hear the playing of colors, turn to face the flag and stand at attention. Although you are not required to stand at attention or salute the flag, you should be respectful and stop talking and walking, and turn your attention to the flag.

Similarly, if you’re on base and are in the car, your uniformed service member may pull over, turn the music off and roll the windows down when colors is playing. This is normal too, and you will get used to it.

5. PT Gear should be worn only by the service member.

We all love wearing a significant other’s big comfy sweatshirt or sweatpants. In the military, service members will acquire a lot of physical training gear that will be very tempting for you to wear. Heed our advice: don’t. There are a ton of posts on social media showing significant others wearing their spouses’s gear or uniform, and you don’t want to be one of them! It is seen as highly disrespectful and frowned upon in the military.

If you really want to show off your service members last name on some cute clothing, look on sites like Etsy to find personalized clothing options and accessories. Your service member worked very hard to earn their right to wear the clothing. Respect them, their  service, and their efforts by keeping their military clothing on their side of the closet.

6. Avoid posting personal matters on social media.

When you move to a new base, you’re bound to find a Facebook group that is filled with other significant others on base as well. It’s great to have a good support system while in the military, because when your significant other is deployed or on long trainings, this group of people may just become your shoulder to lean on or saving grace.

With that being said, make sure you don’t post about any personal matters between you and your significant other on social media, or discuss them publicly. Not only does it reflect poorly on your service member, but what happens in your relationship should really stay between the two of you. Don’t get others involved; it will just get messy.

To conclude, the best part about being in a military relationship, aside from being with the person whom you love, is that there are a lot of other people in the community who are going through exactly what you’re going through. There will be a lot of “rules” you will learn and pick up as you spend more time in the military community. One day, you may even end up sharing things you’ve learned with new military couples.

Read our Top 5 things to keep in mind when pursuing a military relationship to find out what you can expect when dating someone in the military.


  1. This really helped a lot, I just started dating a west point cadet. I was nervous but that is to this I’m fine now 🙂

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