4.0 Managing Relationship Problems

Watch out for warning signs of someone in your life that exhibits problem behaviors.

You may face insensitive questions from people or feel that people do not want to listen to your experiences.  There are many helpful responses you can use to manage relationships with your family, friends, and community.


4.1 Frustrating Questions

  • When you come back home someone may ask you, “Did you kill anyone?”, “What did you do over there?“ or “Are you screwed up now?”
  • Because some questions may upset you, you should think of your response ahead of time.  Planning ahead will keep you from doing or saying anything you may regret.
  • Let’s look at some responses to awkward questions:
  • “No offense, but I don’t like to talk about my deployment
  • “I’m not comfortable answering those questions right now, but I appreciate your interest.”
  • “Oh, let’s not go there.  Let’s talk about something else.”
  • “Let’s talk about this another time.”
  • “I have a lot of strong opinions on that subject.  Do you have time to listen?”
  • “That’s not a cool thing to say (or ask)”


4.2 Unhelpful Responses

Sometimes you may get a sense from people that you shouldn’t talk about your deployment.  You may think they want you to just forget about your experiences or keep your feelings to yourself.  You might think they don’t care about your thoughts or feelings. Remember, it is possible that they are struggling with their own thoughts and feelings about what you’re saying. 

Unhelpful responses from your listener:

  • Seems too bus to talk
  • Acts uncomforable wen you talk to them about your experiences
  • Doesn't understand what you mean
  • Complains about their own problems instead of listening to you
  • Tries to fix the problem instead of listening
  • Responds by saying "Forget it, it's in the past." or "Just ge over it."
  • Reacts with shock or judes your behavior
  • Criicizes your feelings or the ways tha you havbe coping
  • Criticizes you for what you di while deployed

Some Ways to Respond to Unhelpful Responses:

  • When others don’t respond in a helpful way, take steps to let them know what you need.
  • Remember they care but may have trouble showing it.
  • Tell them what they can do to help.
  • Let them know how you feel when they don’t listen.
  • Tell them specifically what they’re doing that makes it hard to talk to them.
  • Remember that most people don’t know much about war and the military.
  • Walk away.


4.3 Dealing with Problem Behaviors From Others

Unfortunately, some people in your social network back home may be negative, critical, or more unhelpful than supportive.  These people exhibit “problem behavior” such as:

  • Blaming you or telling you it’s your fault
  • Criticizing you for what happened
  • Making fun of your reactions
  • Refusing to listen to feedback about how their behavior affects you


Warning signs you may be with someone with problem behaviors that could be a problem for you:

  • You feel irritable after spending time with this person
  • You feel pressured by this person to use illegal substances or drink excessively
  • You notice the person keeps changing the subject or ignoring what’s important


Learn how to handle people who antagonize you by:

  • Reducing the time you spend socializing with them
  • Bring a supportive person with you when you spend time around them
  • Avoid discussions that involve upsetting or other private issues
  • Remember that taking care of yourself is your top priority
  • Set limits: ask them to stop if they are being rude, prying, or critical