When Justin and I celebrated our one year dating anniversary I wrote a post called “12 Things I Learned in One Year as a West Point Girlfriend” and it has probably been one of my most favorite pieces I’ve ever written. Fast forward another year and we’ve now been together over two years, have gotten engaged, and are getting ready to head into his final year at West Point. Since the launch of my blog coincided with the newest girlfriends about to join the ranks I decided there was no better time to update the original list.
If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, Justin, my fiance, is going into his final year that the United States Military Academy at West Point. Upon graduation he will be commissioned into the Army as a Second Lieutenant. It’s a prestigious university known for its rigorous academics and unique student life. It's also known to be a pain in the you know what.
You may have seen or heard of West Point Girlfriends because of this viral video from a few years ago but if you’re a new girlfriend then welcome. You’re about to embark on an incredible journey (that will be filled with highs and lows) but you will meet some of the most intelligent, supportive, and caring individuals through your journey.
SAMI is not the name of a girl.
Before you ask, SAMI is an acronym (which we’ll talk about later) that basically stands for Saturday Morning Inspection. It’s one of the most rigorous inspections at West Point. Justin will literally clean the entire evening before hand (and their rooms have to be pretty clean in general). It also means they can’t leave until after the inspections are over, which leads me to my next lesson.
Make plans but don’t take them too seriously.
Anything can (and will) happen. I’m lucky enough that I live so close, so it’s not a big deal if Justin and I have to push our plans back for a few hours. That being said, we had to become flexible with our planning (and by we, I mean me). You really never know when your Cadet may get tasked for a parade or other random event so that can really put a damper on things.
There’s an acronym for literally everything.
This isn’t just a West Point thing. The Army has an acronym for literally everything. Think I’m kidding? Google it (seriously though, if there’s an acronym you don’t know just ask Google). The problem is, no one gives you a dictionary for these things (not the girlfriends anyways). I’m happy to say that I now speak fluent acronym. Go me.
Your boyfriend will clean better than you.
Did I mention the inspections? Yeah, if hospital corners and a wrinkle free bed don’t turn you on then you probably shouldn’t date a cadet. Making the bed with Justin has become kind of like a game because I’ll go around haphazardly while he follows me making it look as neat as possible. I have dogs, do you know how hard it is to keep a sheet in place? This lesson has definitely had an effect on me because I try a little harder now to tidy up my apartment (I mean, it still looks like a disaster most of the time but it’s the thought that counts, right?).
It doesn’t matter where your football loyalties lie, you now hate Navy more than anything.
Being a lifelong WVU fan, I thought I knew what a football rivalry was… I could not have been more mistaken. I no longer wear anchors or anything nautical out of respect for the Army/Navy rivalry. In fact, when Pitt was playing Navy in a bowl game this past season I was forced to route for Pitt (please don’t tell my parents). If you think I’m kidding, go to any (literally any, it doesn’t have to be football) Army/Navy event and see with your own eyes. PS: Eat Shit Pitt and Beat Navy.
There’s a right and wrong way to dress for military events.
Remember when I said there wasn’t really a guidebook for acronyms? Yeah, well surprise! There isn’t one for how to dress either. I mean, I try my best to always look like the pulled together (ha) southern belle that I am but honestly! Dressing for a military event, even if it’s a summer party, is so freaking stressful! There’s so much added pressure, in my opinion, when you’re dating someone who is in the military and going to an event as their date versus, say, going to prom or some other type formal. Is this the way all milsos feel? My biggest piece of advice is to always dress to the uniform. If he’s wearing a uniform that has “full dress” in the title, you should be in a formal gown.
Speaking of… Full Dress is swoon worthy.
I have tried to figure out what exactly it is about the ancient design of these uniforms is so damn attractive but the answer still escapes me. I mean, Justin looks good in anything, to me, but when I see him in Full Dress I (still) get a bit weak in the knees (and have a never ending desire to take a ton of pictures). Maybe it’s because the uniform is so iconically West Point or maybe it’s all those Disney movies we watched as kids...
The best places to steal some alone time on post.
I can’t reveal all of my secrets, but Flirtation “Flirtie” Walk is one of my favorite places on post, despite it’s reputation. (More about Flirtie here). But my absolute favorite place on post is Kosciuszko's Garden, just below the West Point Club. Justin and I spent most of the early days of our relationship when he was a Plebe just sitting here and talking. We even had a few of our engagement pictures taken there!
People still appreciate handwritten letters, even guys.
I’ve lost count of how many letters I’ve written (or drawn) Justin. But he loves them and keeps every single one. And apparently, makes his friends jealous every time he gets one during training. For his last training this June, we were unable to talk for two whole weeks! I wrote him a letter every single day that we couldn’t speak and gave them to him after. It’s a simple gesture with a big impact and, can we talk about romantic?
Army can actually beat Navy in football.
If you’re new around here then you may not know that December of 2016 is the first time Army has won the Army/Navy game in 14 years. Remember how I said how big of a deal the Army/Navy rivalry is? Yeah, no imagine storming the field with a bunch of other Army fans after that game. Lucky for you, I vlogged it!
Flying into and out of LaGuardia is cheap, but frustrating
I live near post so I’m fortunate that I don’t have to really travel to see Justin during his time at West Point but I have made the mistake of using LGA airport for travel and boy, was it an experience. I’ll keep the story short but just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be.
The time apart is worth it
Most people can’t imagine being away from their SO for long periods of time but for anyone who knows anything about the military, it’s a way of life for us. But the time spent apart only strengthens your relationship, if you’re willing to work for it. Plus, reuniting is so much sweeter when you’ve been apart more than a day, isn’t it?
You can’t compare your relationship to others
I cannot stress this enough despite knowing that it’s easier said than done. When you’re a West Point girlfriend, it can seem like there’s really only one course of action for your relationship. It can be hard to watch other girls get engaged and plan weddings for after graduation when you’re not sure when that’s coming, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s relationship is unique and different. We may have been brought together by circumstance, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do what everyone else is doing. Focus on doing what’s best for your relationship and for your partner, no matter how hard it can be.
Not everyone will make it
I don’t mean to be a downer but there’s a reason the 2% club situation is a thing at West Point. It’s normal for people to break up in college, but at West Point it’s kind of seen as taboo. People grow and they change and sometimes things don’t work out. It’s important to realize that with your own relationship as well as others.
It takes work
Every relationship takes work but dating someone at West Point or in any form of military is going to be difficult. It’s going to take work to nurture and grow your relationship. West Point is very rigorous, especially the first year, and stressful for everyone involved. Be prepared to put an effort into making your relationship flourish during these four years.
Graduation will make you cry
I’ve been to two West Point graduations and watched the live stream of 2017s and each year I have at least gotten teary eyed or full on cried during the ceremony. It is unlike any other graduation ceremony I have ever experienced and it is a privilege to be able to witness something so incredible. All of their hard work will eventually pay off.
You’re now part of the most amazing group of women I’ve ever met (or not met).
Five words: West Point Girlfriend’s Support Group. I first heard of this group after a tragedy that forever linked me to West Point. A graduate of my high school, who’s dream was to go to West Point, died suddenly during Cadet Basic Training, only a few short weeks after his high school graduation. I’m not sure how word got around about the group, but in our tiny town we all heard about how amazing they were for his girlfriend (and they still are). But it’s not just in times of tragedy that these girls are amazing. No matter what problem you’re facing, big or small, there’s always someone there to reach out to. And most importantly, someone who understands. I haven't met all of them because that's impossible, but the few that I have met have changed my life in an unimaginable way. Being a West Point girlfriend is unlike anything else so having a group of girls you know you can count on (because they’ve been there) is such a blessing.
It’s over before you know it
When I first started dating Justin, people told me all the time how quickly it goes by. He was a second semester Plebe (freshman) and now here we are about to start his final year and planning our wedding. Cherish the journey because once it’s over the real Army takes over and there’s no telling how life will go. Make as many friends and memories as you can through these four years (or however long your Cadet has left).
No matter what you may have heard about the West Point girlfriends, I can assure you that we could blow your mind on any given day. I never imagined this is the path I would end up on (let alone engaged to a Cadet from Alaska). But two years later, I here I am. Want to know a secret? I love being a West Point girlfriend. I love being there to support Justin when he needs it and to support the other girlfriends as well. There is so much that West Point has to offer each of you reading this who are in a relationship with a cadet and I hope the experience is as life changing for you as it has been for me.