I’ve noticed my old post “Dating A Pilot” keeps getting hits daily, and is on the first page of Google when you search “dating a pilot,” pretty exciting! That post was truthful, but also in jest of those ridiculous articles about the perks of dating an airline pilot.
There genuinely seems to be plenty of people out there wondering about dating a pilot. I can’t say I wasn’t the same when I first started dating Jake, I may have been one of those people that Googled “dating a pilot” because I just didn’t know what was in store.
Jake and I aren’t married. We’ve been together for a couple years now and living together for most of that (that’s a different story), so I’d like to think I know just a little bit about surviving/thriving in a relationship with an airline pilot. Here’s my more serious take on my last post on the subject.
1. You MUST be independent
This is a mandatory requirement because unless he’s (or she’s!) really senior and can hold just day trips, he’ll be gone for a maximum of 6 days at a time and longer if he is a cargo or corporate pilot. You can’t sit around those days just texting or calling, waiting for the minute he walks in the door. Have your own life, friends, career, etc. It makes time go by much quicker.
2. Take an interest in aviation
I’ve taken this one to an extreme, but that isn’t necessary. I do think it is important to know something about their career, because it is a career of passion, not just a career to make a living. Coming from a career of passion as well, it was really important to me that my significant other took part it in too because it is life consuming. I’ll believe in unicorns if you show me a pilot who doesn’t play with a simulator or goes flying in a single engine plane or watches/reads something aviation on his off days.
3. Don’t blame things on him “being a pilot”
This actually frustrates me the most when I see that excuse, because it’s just not true. Everyone is different and that goes for pilots too. I’ve seen wives blame their husbands for being messy and leaving their suitcase and uniform all over the place after coming home because he’s a pilot. Maybe I found the rare guy who has to obsessively put everything away before I even get a hug, but I don’t think it’s that rare. It’s just an excuse for bad habits or behavior. He’s a normal person too, being a pilot isn’t an excuse. It’s a job.
4. Do be willing to help
While I don’t believe in using being a pilot as an excuse, it can be a rough lifestyle, especially when trying to get normal things done. I try to help out when I can by cleaning or running errands to cut down his time preparing for work at home. I’ve also been asked to look up flights and gates for him, it’s the little things that help. I’ve taken it upon myself to get things fixed for him while he was gone on trips because he just isn’t home at times to do it himself.
5. Be understanding.
Things are going to change, constantly. It doesn’t matter if he’s on reserve (can be called in with 2 hours notice) or a line holder (he has a set schedule for the month). Flights are going to be delayed and cancelled, days will be rolled over (means he’s working on his day off), or they’ll just decide to change his schedule. You just have to roll with it. Your plans will change, or you’ll go to parties alone. Luckily, my friends have met Jake or otherwise they’d think he was imaginary with all the parties I’ve shown up to alone. If your pilot is like mine, he’ll also be picking up trips all the time to earn extra money. So he may just be gone longer than you originally thought. I spent Jake’s time on reserve hardly ever knowing where he was at night. My friends would ask and were surprised by my answer of “no clue.”
8. DO NOT pilot worship
Another thing that frustrates me similar to using being a pilot as an excuse. I’m sure your pilot would enjoy if you worship him, but don’t. I’ve seen it over and over again and it’s beyond annoying. It’s a job. Yes, it’s an unusual lifestyle which then provokes blog posts like this or special websites and Facebook groups for those who are sucked into it, but in the end, it’s his job. A pretty cool one? Yes. He’s your boyfriend or husband first, pilot second. You shouldn’t date someone because they are a pilot, you date them because you like them. Sadly, I’ve seen that get mixed up a lot.
7. BONUS Be ready to network.
This isn’t required, but I think it’s important. Jake and I are both ambitious people, we want to be the best. In the aviation industry, being the best isn’t what is necessarily going to get you to the top, it’s also who you know. He’s a grown man and can network himself, but I want to try to help where I can. I know Jake’s goal major airline and I try to get closer with other girlfriends/wives of pilots at that airline. I talk to other pilots, either by opportunities I’ve found myself or they just approach me (normally because I’m at the airport reading an ATP book), and try to maintain a relationship with them so when Jake needs that important crew member recommendation someone I know can help. Again, this isn’t a requirement, but I want to help him achieve his dream job anyway I can.