You’ve met someone and you think they’re swell – but there’s one small problem. They don’t travel.
For self-proclaimed travelers, this can set off alarm bells. Why don’t they travel? Will they ever want to? Can you two ever really have a future together? Should you just end it now to avoid pain further down the line?
First, you need to ascertain which type of non-traveler this partner is: are they the type who doesn’t travel due to circumstance, or the type who doesn’t due to attitude?
The former may have many reasons why have never traveled or do not travel now, such as financial constraints, family commitments, or trying to establish a career. Maybe they’ve just never met anyone who travels much, and the thought has never really presented itself as a possibility.
The latter is the more dangerous type: the non-traveler that doesn’t travel and doesn’t want to. In my mind, this is the more dangerous breed; this post by Reannon Muth does a good job of summarizing the likely non-compatibility of two people with such different world views.
Either way, there is always hope. Remember – a non-traveler may be just a traveler who hasn’t discovered the joys of travel yet. Even our own Gemma Fottles only caught the travel bug when her boyfriend at the time dragged her off to Thailand!
Perhaps you can convince your partner to change their ways and travel with you. Perhaps not. If not, does this spell doom for the relationship?
Not necessarily. Kelsey Freeman wrote a very interesting piece over at Matador (and the comments beneath are a fascinating demonstration of how this is an issue that polarizes travelers) about the advantages of having a partner whose ties keep him anchored in one place – perhaps best summed up with: “I have gained a trustworthy caretaker for our cats,” (I AM SO JEALOUS). If you can work the long-distance thing, having a partner as a home base to return to can certainly have its advantages.
To make this arrangement work, however, requires a lot of understanding on your partner’s part. Traveling is a commitment that in many ways can override all others – a girl with itchy feet cannot be tied down, no matter how lovely her partner at home is. If your partner isn’t able or willing to travel with you then they must at least be happy to let you go. If your partner has never traveled and has never wanted to, is this something they’ll be able to do? The last thing you want is resentment – you at feeling pressured to limit your travel, them at your insistence on leaving – to build up and eat away at your relationship. That’s when things can get truly toxic.
The key is communication and to manage expectations. Be open with your partner about what you want and need – both from travel and a relationship – and encourage them to do the same. If your partner is a homebody looking to settle down and have kids soon whereas you want to spend the next two years backpacking around India, then that’s probably not meant to be. If, however, your partner has a business that they’ve set up that requires them to stay in one city for the moment, but they understand why you want to go to India and would be happy to visit you occasionally if money permits, then it may be worth giving it a go.
Balancing a relationship with travel is never easy. Try not to get too bogged down worrying about what might be; if you’ve got a relationship that you think might work then trust your instincts and see where it takes you. It may work and, if it doesn’t, you can still have a lot of fun and learn a lot. Plus, at least you’ll always have travel, which is pretty fun single after all.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on dating travelers versus non-travelers below.