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Girlfriend struggling with me going to sea

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  • Girlfriend struggling with me going to sea

    Hi folks,

    I've been to sea before but I was single at the time and didn't have to worry about leaving anyone behind - other than family but they understand the situation and are happy for me to go.

    I'm due to leave in a week or so for my next sea phase and my girlfriend is really struggling with it. Does anyone have any tips as to what can help to make this a little easier for her? She sees it as I'm just abandoning her, when of course that isn't the case. It doesn't help that I'll miss Christmas, New Year and Valentines Day but I suppose it would have happened sooner or later anyway.

    I'm struggling to be as emotional about it, because although I'll miss her - and I will - I've been waiting a long time to go following surgery and can't wait to get stuck in again and get on with becoming qualified.

    Any ideas anyone?

  • #2
    Leaving the other half really isnt easy, but as you have found out its harder for the person being left as the time apart doesnt have the same benifit to them as it does to you.

    Personally i enjoy the time away and what im doing where i know the bf misses out on things because im not there and thats harder. Although i certainly dont think we would cope well with a ship with no internet, but between whatsapp for random messages and the internet for emails we keep in touch ok. (i dont bother with the sat phone, but while in europe have a decent vodaphone package which lets me make decent calls so i tend to use that).

    Try to highlight the reasons why your doing it, secure job decent salary etc, and also that the cadetship will be the worst part of it, as your apart both whilst at sea, and at college. obviously if she has only known you whilst you have been recovering and she has never considered this aspect of it, then it needs to be something you explain to her, being away for the holidays means you sort the online shopping and send her some gifts as a surprise. Hope it does work out for you.
    you can take it with a pinch of salt, but i prefer it with a nip of whisky


    • #3
      I won't have the internet on board but will have emails, which I'll be using quite a lot to keep in touch with her. She knows this from experience as we emailed daily when I was on my last ship - we were just friends back then. I also have a Kindle 3G now with the intention of messages etc on Facebook when I have coverage.

      I've explained the reasons to her and she seemed OK with them when going away felt like it would be a long way off, but now those reasons don't seem to help. I've sorted her Christmas already and we're having Christmas on my birthday, which happens to be a few days before I leave. On top of this I'll be leaving a few little things as a surprise that I know she'll appreciate when I go but for now she just thinks I'm being emotionless and a bit heartless and I think it's hurting her.

      I guess she's finding it difficult that I'm not sad to be joining a ship whereas she is.


      • #4
        This is probably the worst part of working at sea! i'm lucky enough to have a partner who doesn't mind me working at sea and is very understanding, i couldn't be luckier! unfortunately i know a lot of seafarers who find it very hard to keep a relationship going and those who aren't already in a relationship when they are cadets find it very hard to find anyone, not to scare you like and make you think your going to live a lonely life!

        just like you i was friends with my Girlfriend for a long time before we got together and it was when i was actually at sea that we became closer! a few nights before i left for my final sea phase i met up with her for a drink and agreed to go out again when i got back and for everyday of that 4 month trip she emailed me everyday (bar days she had hangovers!). we didnt have internet on that ship but just like you we had an email system. also in some seaman clubs and missions ashore they had internet. As ET said, try and explain to her that your cadetship is the hardest part and once you are an officer you could be doing 5 weeks on/off in the offshore industry or 2 weeks on/off on certain ferries, it may not always be 4 months on 2 off. you could even try and play the card that if you get a job on a cruise vessel, partners can travel with, although as im sure you know this varies greatly on company and circumstances plus i'm sure she has responsibilitles back home so she can't just meander off too sea with you

        Christmas is always hard! it is a proper killer, i dont think there is a sailor in the world who, on xmas day doesn't hate their job! Another thing that i hear helps, is making plans for when you return, to give her something to look forward too, like planning a holiday or maybe even to the extent of booking a holiday. also as ET said send her things and suprise her, one officer i sailed with used to bring the phone number of his local florist with him and call them on the sat phone and get flowers delivered to his wifes work place, i think even the woman in the flower shop was falling for him with stunts like that, jesus, i was starting to fall for him!!

        lastly, maybe tell her that it could be worse! (dodgy ground this one) there's men and women in the army who do 6 month tours and they have families, kids and happy lives and to be honest mate if she can't see the light at the end of the tunnel then. . . . . you know! anyway i feel like a relationship advisor here and not a manly sailor man! so i hope i have helped, good luck and i hope you both end up very happy. . . together! =]


        • #5
          I just sent my better half a telegram cuz I'm an old fashioned romantic bastard like

          You can arrange to have gifts delivered to her on set dates, you could arrange it all now and it will all work automatically whilst away, but she doesn't necessarily need to know that. You can do the same with flowers, chocolates Ecards etc

          And dude.... Act sad... It will mean more to her than you think that you showed some emotion over it, i don't mean cry but at least try and look a little sad to be leaving her!

          If you would like to ask any questions please comment on my blog or you can email
          [email protected] and I will be happy to help if I can.


          • #6
            I think the-mariner's point about acting sad is a reasonable one, but depending on how long youve got to go it can be hard to do, I would be surprised if you plan a couple of days as christmas/birthday just before you leave that then you will feel it a bit mostly because it hammers home all the tings that you will miss while your away. I tend to be fine/keen till its a few days left then really dont want to go but once im moving its fine.
            you can take it with a pinch of salt, but i prefer it with a nip of whisky


            • #7
              I have to say I view this perhaps a little bit harder than some and I will explain why.... bear with me.

              If you are in a relationship and then decide you are going to join the MN out of the blue then I think that any partner needs to be considered. When I say considered I do not mean make decisions based on what they say. What if any of you made a decision not to go to sea or not to do something else because you were influenced by a partner? Some time later said relationship breaks down and then you are left feeling bitter because you made a decision to suit someone else and they are no longer a factor in your life and you can no longer follow your dream? That would make you really cross and leave you asking "what if?".

              If you get a girlfriend / boyfriend once you are a cadet then there has to be an expectation that you will sit down and explain what it means in terms of time away. They may not have the maturity to deal with that and it could all fall apart during your first trip. Whilst it is sad, again you CANNOT make decisions based on a relationship to suit other people, you will regret it later. Sometimes the relationships can last years, mine did, but they still all ended.

              Things only really start to change once you get into the realms of getting married and having a family. That puts a huge strain on the relationships. There your partner is, coping with everything from a burglary in the shed, to a flooded kitchen from the washing machine, to the wardrobe in the kids bedroom collapsing. Whilst you are on the other side of the world she/he has to cope. You then "swan in" with 3 months leave, having worked 7 days a week for 5 months, and after 2 weeks your partner resents you sitting on your arse, despite the fact 2 weeks is only 7 weeks of weekends you have made up. (My mother ALWAYS had a problem with that - "Well you've had 2 weeks off now - time to do some work. You are not going to sit about on yer arse for the next 2 months!"). Also you now want to take over and do things and she resents that as well. "I coped whilst you were away" - yes you did but let me help!

              As someone else has said it is tough for us - my first trip to sea involved being in Singapore and Indonesia for Christmas and New Year. My 21st Birthday was in Port Chalmers (look it up!) - the back and beyond. But there is the other side, trusting your partner whilst you are away and them trusting you. In my day it was easier for us to cheat - we were in ports right next to cities for 4 or 5 days at a time and I cannot remember a port that we did not get a run ashore - and have a real hooley whilst we were at it. But then there are the thoughts of "who does my partner turn to if they are not happy?"

              There is an old saying "If you love them, let them go. If they come back they are yours. If they don't they never were." Nothing either of you can do will stop a relationship breakdown if you are not both 100% committed to one another. The one which goes "You cannot make someone love you - the best you can do is stalk them and hope they give in" just does not work.

              Also the other one that springs to mind is "It takes many years to build trust into a relationship and only suspicion, not proof, to destroy it." I spent years working abroad and spending less than 50% of my time in the UK when my kids were small. My wife and I had to trust one another implicitly to get through it all but I also had to cope with the problems of coming home and finding that one of the kids has been in hospital for a week being really ill etc.

              But you also need to accept that there are differences between the sexes that have an impact. I had a job to do, did more airmiles than Santa every year, was busy as hell, working 70 hours a week and home every other week. Whilst I missed the family I was busy doing something I loved traveling all over the world. My wife could not bare to be parted from the kids for a day so kept home and nurtured all of us. Neither of us could really do what the other did but we accepted it was what we needed to do to prosper as a family.


              Together for 24 years, married for 20, happy for 1! And 2 well balanced kids who we are proud of. It was just a tough journey along the road sometimes. (And if you snitch on me again Guinnessman I will never talk to you again!)

              Relationships are tough but remember you have to sometimes be a little selfish and think of your long term goals and needs and then some relationships just do not fit together well and may wither and die.

              Harsh? Maybe, but I also think realistic and honest. If I had listened to a girlfriend 25 years ago I would never have started my first business and be here talking to you now, with a son who has just followed in his old man's footsteps. Who knows, but I am glad I ignored her and split up with her 3 months later. (I have to say that in case the wife is reading this!)

              Oh - and as the Mariner says - look sad!

              "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
              "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

              "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.


              • #8
                My god Ian you are good at giving advice! I felt like my dad was talking to me at some points there! Great post, well done!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by noworries182 View Post
                  My god Ian you are good at giving advice! I felt like my dad was talking to me at some points there! Great post, well done!
                  Thank you. It is probably because I am old enough to be your father! Sheeesh!

                  *stumbles off to muttering to find his glasses, pipe and slippers*
                  "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                  "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                  "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.


                  • #10
                    I think Iain nipped it in the bud here. I have only recently started thinking and deciding on a career in the MN (It was always a romantic thought) as I just got out of a really long relationship (6 years 0.o). During the relationship however, we spent years apart while I was studying in the states and then she went travelling around the world and then we were going to different universities in the UK. The whole deal with long distance relationships is trust and understanding.

                    In many ways I think my relationship fell through mainly due to the large amounts of time with long distance, not to mention that we were very young (I mean, I am only 23 now so..). Because of the experiences I have had I am pretty much set on the single mans life for the forseeable future. The thing you have to remember is that in the end you have to be your own person, and there is NO WAY you can force something like a long distance relationship. It has to be organic and based on the fact that you both love eachother and want to be together whatever comes in your way. If that is the feeling, you have a strong foundation for the relationship to flourish upon. If it is forced, or one party feels they are being abandoned, then it will never work I'm afraid, and it shouldnt work because it will only end up crashing. If you stop doing what you want to do for them, you end up feeling resentful, and if you leave they end up feeling resentful.

                    I am hoping to start my education as a deck officer in september and I know I will not be entering into a new serious relationship unless I know that we both know what we want, who we are, how we feel and that we are both prepared to live the lifestyle. If this is not the case, then it will simply not happen.

                    4 months on, 2 months off or 2 weeks on 2 weeks off. Both situations need to be tackled.

                    Hmm... weird post, not sure how helpful it is :P Be honest with her, explain how you feel and what you believe. This is really everything you can do. Only when you both have ALL the facts can you make an informed decision.


                    • #11
                      Thanks everyone for the replies. I've been spending time with my gf so haven't had the time to see them 'til now.

                      The-mariner thanks for the telegram idea, I think that's something she would appreciate so that will definitely be getting used at some point.

                      Also as you said I've been acting sad, mainly because I am sad to leave her. I just think she feels if I'm not crying my eyes out then I'm not sad enough.

                      It tends not to hit me until I'm on my way to the airport that I'm leaving. We've got a few things booked for over the weekend to spend time together doing things we've been talking about doing so hopefully that will help a little.

                      Hatchorder I think you and I have the same sort of mindset and I really appreciate your post. I've chosen this career and we both knew what it would mean and still we went ahead with the relationship. I'd never stop her doing anything in her career even if it meant things wouldn't work out for us because I wouldn't want her thinking "What if?" in the future and resenting me, and I wouldn't let her talk me out of doing something that I need to do for my career for the same reasons.

                      RobinBjerke I completely agree that it can't be forced and I believe there are strong foundations here

                      I'm really hoping that things will work out. We've been friends for almost 8 years now and I'd hate to lose that as well as our relationship.

                      I'll be arranging a few surprises for her while I'm away and hopefully that will go some way to allay any fears she has.


                      • #12
                        Both Robin and Ian's posts were spot on, I left my fianc? to go to sea because I'd resent her if I didn't, best choice I ever made and am now starting out a new with someone incredible who makes my life at sea easier not harder.

                        I just wanted to say good luck on your next sea phase and I hope it all works out well... And if all else fails tell her it could be worse you could be in the Army!!

                        If you would like to ask any questions please comment on my blog or you can email
                        [email protected] and I will be happy to help if I can.


                        • #13
                          I got together with my man after i'd started my cadetship, and as he was already pretty much my best mate he knew what he was letting himself in for! (known him for 10 years, been together now for 2 1/2). It's hard being away from someone you love, but on the other hand if you can get through the hard times, then the good times are great. Where I work now staying in touch is really difficult, so any contact is like gold dust. I'm lucky I reckon, I'd never date a sailor because I know what they're like (been burnt) but as a lady (snigger) sailor I've never been tempted by the thrill of a quick shag when I know I have a lover worth waiting for at home. Plus I know he'd never cheat on me. I guess total trust is the key to making a relationship last. That and a lot of hot sex when you get home

                          My Chief Mate has a girlfriend who gives him things to open at various times when he's away and he's a cynical grumpy sod, which makes it all the more cuter, so I don't think it should JUST be the guy/person away who does all the caring/nice things, any relationship is a two way street, if your girl is serious about the relationship she's going to have to make some effort too. The idea is you support each other, if it's not even, it won't work I'm afraid.


                          Blog tWitterings Flickr Tumblr Faceache


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by size4riggerboots View Post
                            (known him for 10 years, been together now for 2 1/2)
                            Bloody hell, you get less for murder!

                            Anywho, not really much I can add to this as S4, Ian and the rest have already covered it pretty well, but something I would suggest is take a look at your SMS whilst you're on board and see what it says about having wives on board (I know it's your girlfriend) and then wait a few weeks and speak to your Captain and see what he says.
                            I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

                            All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by size4riggerboots View Post
                              ........ but as a lady (snigger) .........
                              You only sniggered? I spat tea all over my laptop and laughed so hard I nearly passed a kidney stone. I could hear Guinnessman's guffaws from his cupboard under the stairs and he is 100 miles from me!

                              *looks up Guinnessman's address* "shift over a bit mate, need to hide in there with you, S4R is on the warpath again, and have you seen her walk when she is angry? - reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg in Jumping Jack Flash, or is that just from spending 2 days with the boyfriend 'catching up'?"
                              "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                              "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                              "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.