There's no denying the appeal of a man or woman in uniform--regardless of the nation the uniform represents. To add to the cachet, most are young, fit and attractive and many serve in exotic destinations. Mix in the unmistakable coursing of hormones through the bodies of young men and women of military age and you can see why dating someone in the military has its own set of problems and pitfalls. Like their counterparts around the globe, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has experienced its share of growing pains in the area of socialization, but research shows a military culture that has suffered fewer problems than those found in other communities of armed forces, and the Aussies hope to keep it that way.
Dating and Fraternization in the ADF
Because there have been no remarkable incidents arising from dating relationships, the Australian Army didn't adopt a written regulation or prohibition against fraternization, according to U.S. Major David S. Jonas, whose fraternization study was published by the Department of Army's Law Review. With the exception of a prohibition on dating between recruits and instructors at basic training facilities, officer/enlisted pairings are not prohibited and dating and marriage between the ranks is commonplace. Accordingly, there are no prohibitions against military members dating civilians. The ADF has a uniform code of conduct that outlines expectations of its members, but this is meant to serve only as a behavioral guide for off duty service personnel.
Dating Pitfalls for Members of the ADF
Substantial numbers of Australian Defence Force personnel are posted around the world. As long as these young men and women obey curfews and honor leave parameters, they are free to conduct themselves as they would at home. Occasional problems have arisen when young, vulnerable men dated women who, in an attempt to leave poverty or other problems behind, sought to marry members of the ADF. For that reason, men and women are warned to steer clear of potentially perilous relationships and encouraged to use protection should they become sexually active. In terms of the behavior of females on leave during overseas deployment, such incidents have been virtually non-existent. Another dating hazard for young men serving overseas are accusations of "date rape" brought by women seeking financial gain or revenge when an ADF serviceman ends the relationship. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis.
What to Expect If You Date a Member of the ADF
According to the group ADFWives, an Internet site launched to support the girlfriends and wives of men serving in the military, dating a soldier or sailor can be dicey business. When asked what single factor has been the most distressing about dating and marrying into the Australian military, women posting to the site habitually name re-posting as the dynamic that put the biggest strain on dating relationships and marriages. It isn't unusual for an ADF service member to be reassigned and relocated every 2 years or less. Even ranking officers are not spared. Women cite the long hours their high-ranking boyfriends or spouses must adhere to in addition to frequent transfer issues.
Get Insights and Tips From Women in the Know
Women who have dated--and in some cases married--men serving with the ADF agree that their sweethearts possess admirable qualities, including bravery and loyalty, but those who have seen combat may be emotionally scarred. At worst, they may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. There are also reports that AFD men can be domineering. Should you have questions about a man you are dating, ADFWives encourages you to contact them (see Resources). The site is spam-free and will put you in touch with women in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and other cities. Given the small number of women currently serving in the ADF, data on their dating foibles is unavailable at present.
Homosexual relationships in the military have been a hot button around the world. Australia is no exception. The ADF has been cited by other nations as a model of successful adoption of a reasonable code that addresses sexual discrimination. Sensitive to the European Court of Human Rights edict drafted in 1999, Australia was named by code drafters as a model worthy of emulating. The ADF had adhered to this non-discrimination code since 1992. Not only does the ADF eschew "don't ask, don't tell" thinking, it offers same-sex couples the same housing perks, educational opportunities, medical and death compensation benefits as those given to heterosexuals serving in Australia's military.
Find Dates on the Internet
Dating a member of the Australian military offers exactly the same roadblocks as those found in armed forces relationships around the globe. Like their non-military contemporaries, Internet dating is very popular with ADF members. In particular, Aussie Matchmaker, one of Australia's most recognized, trusted Internet dating sites, boasts hundreds of thousands of members--many of whom are members of the ADF. If you're looking for the perfect mate, Mate, check out this site (see Resources).