Dating a Firefighter: What It’s Really Like

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Is there any profession as romantic as firefighting? Well, I don’t think so, but I may be biased. All kidding aside, there is something about the uniform and the act of protecting people that inspires feelings of passion in some folks. But what’s behind the scenes? Is it easy to date a firefighter? Is it worth it?

Dating a firefighter is mostly the same as dating anyone else. However, the work schedule, high stress, and potential for injuries and exposures can add some different types of challenges to a relationship.

So, to be happy dating a firefighter means understanding those constraints and accepting them. Let’s take a closer look at these differences and how best to handle them in a relationship.

Also read: What Schedule Do Firefighters Work? Shift Schedules Compared

What’s It Like Dating A Firefighter?

dating a firefighter

It’s important to realize that the vast majority of what it will be like to date a firefighter will depend on you and the individual themselves.

Being a firefighter won’t change your taste in literature or your need for soft furnishings (or not) at home, etc. 

If you’re not compatible as people, then it’s going to be an unpleasant experience and if you are compatible, it will feel great.

But there are things that you should know about dating a firefighter that are unique to the profession. 

Here is a more humorous take on dating a firefighter:

What YOU need to know before dating a firefighter

Is It Hard To Date A Firefighter?

There are real challenges when dating a firefighter. 

These challenges are not insurmountable. 

Many firefighters, of course, have families and long-term successful relationships.

However, it’s important to know that it’s not all plain sailing and to adjust your expectations accordingly, if you want your relationship to survive.

The biggest issues are:

Sometimes the firefighter’s “other family” comes first. That “other family” is not another partner but rather the crew that they work with and are a part of. Firefighters spend a lot of time with the same folks, often at least as much as they spend with their partners, and this leads to bonding with the crew like a family.

This is a good thing. Developing trust and emotional and physical dependence (to some extent) is a healthy way to ensure that the team always has their back and vice-versa. But sometimes, it also means your firefighter is going to seek their support rather than yours when dealing with certain issues.

This is natural and viewed positively – it means you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting in your relationship. 

Your partner is going to be risking their life. Fighting fires is a uniquely stressful job and it puts a real load on the firefighter. Not only is there a chance that they might die on a callout, but there is also a much higher chance of them getting cancer or heart disease or suffering from PTSD.

If you want the relationship to work out, you’re going to have to come to terms with this. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do – you can help encourage your partner to stay healthy both while they are working and when they are at home. 

Your partner is going to work long shifts. The longest firefighting shifts can run to 48 hours and then, if they’re in the middle of fighting a fire, there may be compulsory overtime on top. This makes it hard to live like a “normal family”.

Your firefighter may not be available on weekends, after that awful day you just had at work or when your kids need them. They may also be called into work in an emergency without any notice at all.

This is a challenge, but it also has its rewards. Shift work can mean more time together than most couples get in a consecutive burst and more daytime hours for a firefighter to spend with their children. 

You can expect some emotional distance. Firefighting is hard and draining work and sometimes, when a firefighter gets off work, they need time to process and deal with what just happened.

This doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t appreciate you or doesn’t want to be close, it just means that they’re worn out and need a little time to recharge.

However, if you find that the emotional distance just keeps growing – you might need to have a serious heart-to-heart with your partner as this is a warning sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is also worth noting that while there are issues (and some positives relating to them) there is also one big positive for those dating firefighters: you are not alone. 

Most fire stations will have a fire fighter’s spousal support group, and this allows you to connect with other people in your situation and seek support from those people. 

They will understand all the frustrations and benefits of dating a firefighter and can really help you work through your issues. 

Some firefighting disciplines (such as those in remote rural regions) may not have an in-person support group but will have online communities that fulfill this role instead. 

If you need help during your relationship with a firefighter, it’s always a good idea to seek that help from the service.

You should also know that the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Center of Excellence can offer support to your spouse if they are suffering from PTSD or drug/alcohol-related problems brought on by the stress of the job. 

Why Is The Divorce Rate So High?

This might surprise you but, in general, the divorce rate for male firefighters is only fractionally higher than that of the general population.

However, the divorce rate of female firefighters is three times higher than that of the population at large!

The most common reasons given for divorce in firefighter relationships are:

  • The disruptive schedule – we’ve touched on this before but if you need a partner that you can rely on to be there like clockwork, it’s possible that a firefighter is not your ideal partner
  • The trauma off the work – firefighters are human and witnessing death and destruction on a regular basis can take a real toll. In extreme cases they develop PTSD and this can be very damaging to a relationship. 
  • Injury at work – this can lead to general stress as the uninjured partner is called on to put more work into the relationship but it can also lead to financial stress which has killed many a non-firefighting relationship too. 

There is a bright side here too, while it may be slightly more likely for a firefighter’s relationship to end in a divorce – the vast majority do not. 

In fact, more than two-thirds of female firefighters and nearly 80% of male firefighters have successful marriages. 

Here are 10 tips for having a great relationship with a firefighter from an actual wife of a firefighter:

10 Tips for Fire Wives

If you’re realistic about your expectations for a relationship with a firefighter, there’s no reason your relationship shouldn’t stand the tests of time. 

Where Do You Meet A Firefighter? 

Well, the majority of relationships tend to start with everyday encounters, from a chance meeting in a coffee shop, to a conversation in the supermarket but in 2021, if you don’t want to leave things to chance there are also dating apps that you can try. 

These include: 

  • Uniform dating – catering to folks on both sides of the Atlantic, this dating site specializes in helping folks with a preference for those who serve, find their uniformed hero or heroine. Of course, there are other uniformed individuals on the site including military, police, and EMTs. 
  • Dating firefighters – of course, if it has to be a firefighter then “dating firefighters” is the best specialist option out there. 

Of course, it’s worth noting that these sites may allow you to “set up a profile for free” but they are also going to charge you a monthly fee for their use. 

So, if you’re broke, you might want to try wandering into a coffee shop near a fire station, instead of signing up for the service. 

Please don’t, however, go and start hanging around the fire station itself, firefighters on the job need to focus on their work and not on their love lives. 

Sources

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