Can You Live with Your Girlfriend in the Military? Here’s What You Need to Know

by | Military Finance | 1 comment

Exploring relationships in the military can be challenging, especially when it comes to living arrangements. If you’re wondering whether you can live with your girlfriend while serving, you’re not alone. Many service members grapple with the complexities of military regulations and personal life.

Understanding the rules and options available to you is crucial. Whether you’re stationed stateside or overseas, the military has specific guidelines about cohabitation. In this text, we’ll break down these regulations and provide you with actionable insights to help you make informed decisions.

Overview of Cohabitation Policies in the Military

Military life can throw a wrench in many plans, especially when it comes to living arrangements with a significant other. While cohabitation rules can be a maze, knowing them helps you make informed decisions.

Understanding the Family Care Plan

If you serve in the military and have dependents, understanding the Family Care Plan is crucial. It’s a documented plan outlining how your dependent(s) will be cared for if you’re deployed or otherwise unable to provide care. While the plan primarily targets single parents and dual-military couples, it still impacts cohabitation if you’re living with your girlfriend and she is part of your dependent care arrangements.

  • Eligibility: Single parents, dual-military couples with children, and those with adult dependents.
  • Requirements: Detailed care instructions, including medical, educational, and daily living needs, plus backup care providers.
  • Submission: Typically submitted within a certain timeframe upon enlistment or significant life change.

For example, if your girlfriend helps care for your child, the Family Care Plan may recognize her role, though this varies by branch and chain of command.

Importance of Marital Status

Marital status weighs heavily on cohabitation policies. Married service members often find it easier to secure housing with their spouses. Unmarried couples face more scrutiny and limited options.

  • Housing Priorities: Married service members usually get priority for family housing. Unmarried couples might need off-base accommodations, which may not be financially covered by military allowances.
  • Legal Recognition: Marriage offers legal recognition and benefits not available to unmarried partners, like healthcare or moving allowances during PCS (Permanent Change of Station).
  • Dependents: Only legally recognized spouses qualify as dependents for purposes like housing and healthcare benefits.

For instance, marrying your girlfriend simplifies many logistical hurdles about where and with whom you can live on or off base. Otherwise, you’re often on your own financially and logistically.

Knowing these policies refines your approach to living arrangements within military constraints. Understanding the Family Care Plan and significance of marital status minimizes surprises and maximizes preparedness.

Common Challenges Faced by Unmarried Couples

Living with your girlfriend in the military isn’t straightforward; various hurdles exist for unmarried couples.

Deployment and Assignments

Frequent deployments and unpredictable assignments cause significant stress for unmarried couples. The military often relocates service members without much notice, making long-term planning difficult. For example, if you’re assigned overseas, your girlfriend may face visa challenges, disrupting your cohabitation plans. Also, service members must focus on their duties, often leaving limited time for maintaining relationships.

Legal and Benefit Limitations

Unmarried couples don’t receive the same benefits as married ones. Military housing policies typically prioritize married service members, pushing unmarried couples to find off-base housing, which can be costly. You won’t receive certain benefits like healthcare coverage, base access, or dependent allowances since they’re reserved for legal spouses. This disparity often creates financial and logistical hardships for unmarried service members and their partners.

Alternatives to Cohabitation in the Military

Living with your girlfriend in the military poses unique challenges due to stringent regulations. But don’t worry, there are several alternatives that can help maintain your relationship even though the constraints.

On-Base vs. Off-Base Living Options

On-base housing prioritizes married couples, making it difficult for unmarried partners to live together. Even so, several strategies exist to remain close to your significant other.

  1. On-Base Dormitory Assignments: For single service members, on-base dormitories often provide individual rooms with shared common areas. While you can’t live together, being close by offers convenience for visits.
  2. Off-Base Housing: Renting off-base provides more flexibility. You and your girlfriend can find a rental property nearby, subject to military rules and your chain of command’s approval.

Staying off-base is often recommended for those looking to live near their partner, though it comes with additional costs and the need for reliable transportation.

Utilizing Civilian Housing

Civilian housing might be the best bet if you’re facing hurdles with on-base arrangements. Before diving in, consider the following:

  1. Cost Analysis: Off-base rent typically surpasses on-base expenses. Ensure you have a solid budget that accommodates rent, utilities, and other living expenses.
  2. Lease Agreements: Look for flexible lease terms or military clauses. Deployments or relocations could affect your ability to maintain a lease — these clauses help mitigate financial burdens in such cases.
  3. Proximity: Choose housing within a reasonable distance from the base. Long commutes can strain your time and energy, impacting your ability to balance work and personal life.

Exploring civilian housing provides greater freedom for maintaining a close relationship while accommodating military duties.

Tips for Maintaining Strong Relationships

Maintaining a strong relationship when one or both partners are in the military can be challenging. You’re dealing with long deployments, irregular schedules, and strict rules. But, with effective strategies, your relationship can thrive.

Communication Strategies

Strong relationships rely on effective communication. Start by using technology to your advantage. Video calls, text messages, and social media keep you connected even though physical distance. Make time for regular check-ins, even if they’re brief. Discuss your day, share your thoughts, and express your feelings.

Next, develop active listening skills. Pay attention to your partner’s words and respond thoughtfully. Avoid interrupting and try to understand their emotions and perspectives. Active listening builds trust and strengthens your bond.

Stay open and honest. Share both the good and the bad parts of your experiences. Hiding feelings leads to misunderstandings and resentment. By being transparent, you create a supportive environment.

Managing Expectations and Planning

Set realistic expectations. Military life is unpredictable, so prepare for sudden changes. Discuss your priorities and agree on how to handle unexpected situations. Flexibility and patience are essential.

Plan visits and quality time together. When possible, schedule vacations or short trips during leave periods. These moments rekindle intimacy and provide relief from daily stresses.

Establish long-term goals. Whether it’s saving for a house or planning for a family, having shared objectives strengthens your connection. Reevaluate and adjust goals as circumstances evolve.

Finally, rely on your support network. Friends and family members provide emotional support when you’re apart. Encourage each other to build and maintain these connections.

By following these tips, you can maintain a strong, resilient relationship even though the demands and challenges of military life.


Living with your girlfriend in the military comes with its unique set of challenges and opportunities. While exploring housing options and financial disparities can be tricky, strategic planning and open communication are key. By setting clear goals and managing expectations, you can strengthen your relationship even though the demands of military life. Lean on your support networks and make the most of your time together to build a resilient partnership. With the right approach, you can create a fulfilling and supportive environment for both of you.


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