I’m going to tell you a story.
I was once in a relationship with an awesome guy who I really loved. He was sweet, attentive, hardworking… but had absolutely no desire to travel. Though I knew it was going to be an issue, we stayed together for several years. At first, he was awesome about “letting me” travel.
But then the guilt trips began. Each time I started packing to travel, he would whine and complain about me leaving. He would call me constantly while I was gone. I prefer to take long trips and really immerse myself in other cultures. That was no longer possible.
In many ways, I felt trapped. I felt like I had to make a decision between having a very grown up, committed relationship with a man that I loved, or continuing to travel the world.
The more women I talk to about traveling, the more often this conversation comes up.
After several years, a super painful breakup, and many, many missed travel opportunities, I’ve come up with a few ways to look at life if you’re in the same situation:
Evaluate What’s Important to You
I mean really important. Deep down important. Close your eyes and try to picture your life in five years: are you in a remote, tropical destination? Or are you surrounded by your husband and kids, and quite happy with that? Either path in life is fine, and hopefully, your future relationships will combine the two.
Accept that He May Never Change
I always just assumed that it was a matter of being bitten by the travel bug. Since my boyfriend hadn’t ever really traveled, he never knew how awesome it was. But I started realizing that he simply just wasn’t interested in traveling. Even when we started traveling (which took a lot of convincing on my part) he just wasn’t that into it. And that’s okay, just not for me.
Don’t Be Afraid to Do You
It can be scary to think of yourself and what you want when you’re with someone. Women are conditioned to think we’re supposed to say “we, we, we” as part of a couple, and when you go against the grain and just do you, you may meet some resistance or feel guilty or be called “selfish”. But how can you stay in a relationship when you’re not actually yourself at all? If traveling is really important to you, but not at all important to your partner, you’re going to have to make some decisions.
Your choices will be as follows: continue to travel the way you want and hope your relationship works out, decide to put traveling on the back-burner for a while and hope your relationship works out, or try to combine the two and hope your partner is supportive in that (i.e. no guilt trips). It sucks all around, but logically, the less certain item here–the thing you can never be sure will or will not work out– is your relationship.
Since relationships are always a gamble, you should absolutely travel. Maybe it will still work out when you return. Maybe you’re in a different kind of relationship than I was, and your partner totally supports your need to see the world. I can tell you one thing for sure: If you really want to travel (or do anything, for that matter) and you’re not because of your partner, a little piece of you will feel suffocated, and resentful.