Fraternization and dating within SLCG
As many of you know, SLCG’s relationships with our teammates are part of our regular everyday lives within SLCG. Close relationships defined by loyalty and shared values (often called “cohesion”) help teams communicate, stay motivated, and perform well.
But ‘relationships’ can become ‘too close’ and harm morale, professionalism, and overall performance of those involved and, at times, very problematic when that relationship comes to a romantic end. So, how close is too close? It’s a good question, and the answer might depend on you.
Fraternization is described in the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) under Article 134 of the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), “fraternization” is a relationship that either compromise the chain of command, results in favoritism or impartiality, or undermines order and morale. Typically, it applies to unprofessional relationships between officers and enlisted service members, and it can potentially extend beyond that.
We can define “Fraternization” as the context of romantic relationships across the officer-enlisted divide, but the policy includes much more than that. Fraternization can apply to close friendships, business relationships, or financial exchanges between group members of different ranks, regardless of gender.
Since the relationship context is essential, it sometimes can be challenging to know if fraternization is occurring. It’s crucial to remember fraternization isn’t about whether a personal relationship exists between two people or between an officer and enlisted. It’s ultimately about maintaining order and whether your relationship disrupts the standards for the groups functioning.
Even if you’re the same rank and not violating the Code of Conduct regulations, romantic relationships with fellow group members can be tricky. Working with someone you’re romantically involved with can distract you from your duties. You could end up spending less time developing your relationships with other teammates as you focus on your love life, which can impact team cohesion. Your relationship also can negatively affect the morale of those around you.
And there’s always a risk that your relationship can end on bad terms, which can impact your ability to work together afterward effectively.
A close bond with your unit members can build cohesion, make your team more vital, and optimize your performance. It’s also natural that group members working closely together might develop personal or even romantic connections. But when those connections (or their consequences) start to affect order and duty, they might need to be reevaluated.
Those in the SLCG who noticeably have found their partner and the arrangement has worked out favorably. My intention is not to prohibit dating or fraternization in the SLCG. Still, like Command, we must defend those that feel damaged from repeated offenses of fraternization and within SLCG relations.
I will only say this ‘SLCG is not anyone’s dating club.’ Let this be a fair warning to those that feel that it is. Your professionalism is at stake, not to mention your reputation in your peers and your Commanders’ eyes.
I am writing this as a fair warning as of now, but if fraternization becomes an ongoing problem with any SLCG member, we will have to address this for the group’s good. Remember that a person is behind that keyboard, a person with feelings, struggles, and values. Being a leader is your ability to understand, care, and inspire those who put their trust in you.
Admiral Allian Blackwell