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Photo: moriza

This is how it goes.

You are a traveler. A travel writer. You spend very little time in one place, even if you have a home base. When you tell people what you do for a living, their response is usually, “You’re so lucky!” or, “You have the greatest life!” The former is false: You’re not lucky, you worked really fucking hard to be where you are. The latter is true: You’re happy and proud of how far you’ve come.

All this glamorous living is disrupted by one absence that is quickly (and uncomfortably) becoming the elephant in the room: dating. You don’t mind being single. You haven’t been on a date in three years. You’re not sure you even know how to do it. The last date was with a guy who was too young and too sweet and kept gripping your knee in the theatre. The goodnight kiss was as awkward as your first one ten years ago. But when it occurs to you that you haven’t even been remotely interested in someone for over a year…well, you reconsider.

You reconsider what it means to live a borderless life. You reconsider those epic landscape images with inspirational quotes meant to motivate people to leave their cubicle jobs and see the world. Like it’s the only thing in this world. Travel.

It’s not. Are you living, or trading one thing for another? Can you do both?

At one time, you considered these guys dateable. Now they’re unrelatable.

You’re envious of the couples who travel together. You don’t mind being alone; you’ve always been alone. You’re 26 years old and have no concept of what mutual affection is. Your first “relationship” was a guy you spent time with because you wanted to fit in with your friends. You didn’t even let him get to second base, and finally one night you ditched him for good so you could stay at home and play with your brand new computer.

The second “relationship” was with a guy you’re pretty sure is now gay. It took a couple of months for you to realize he was doing one of your best friends.

Does mutual affection exist? Can you miss something you’ve never had?

Nowadays, your guy friends occasionally text you to “get a real job” and “stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars.” At one time, you considered these guys dateable. Now they’re unrelatable.

When you finally meet any likely candidate, you find yourself grasping at conversation. You’re drowning. You talk about yoga in the Rockies, partying in New York City, floating down the Vltava River in Prague. You’re not even all that well travelled but compared to the average Joe you are, and he finds that intimidating. Or he finds you to be a braggart, arrogant. So you spend a lot more time watching popular TV shows because he’ll at least be a fan of Community or Dexter or The Wire. Talk about how The Wire is the greatest television show ever created. You’re in, for now.

You meet guys at bars who ask about your job. When you tell them you’re a writer, they’re bored. “Do you make much money at that?” “No.” It’s like a film over their eyes. Not that you were interested, anyway.

When you do meet those guys that are all sparks and winks and subtle touching, it’s usually when you’re travelling. They’re usually not interested in you at all, but being from somewhere else opens up the doors for conversation. When you know the option of dating is off the table because he lives on the other side of the continent and has no interest in settling down (traveller), you opt for the other route. It’s all flesh on flesh and meaningless promises, but it’s affirmation that you’re still attractive, still appealing, still desirable, still human. These experiences are few and far between, because despite the inactive date life, you cling to some thread of decency. Surely there is someone in the world that wants to see you naked.

Do you want Sunday dinners with porcelain china while you invite over the neighbors and the men smoke cigars in the parlor, like in Mad Men? You haven’t even been to Asia yet.

You remember one time after it was all over you stayed awake all night just because you wanted to remember what it was like to share a bed with someone other than your ugly cat. It doesn’t matter that it’s all make-believe; you have no illusions about what’s going on. You’ve learned to accept that there is a certain hurt that comes with dating the undateable, the one-night stands. After that near-fatal car accident back in October, your thinking shifted. You thought: It’s okay to feel pain and sadness and loneliness. You are human. You’re meant to cram every possible mistake and miracle into your life. You are quoting Community now. You probably need to get laid.

And even if it were all roses and lollipops and things somehow worked themselves out, and you find the love of your life, do you really want it? The inevitable seems to happen: You’ll ground. You’ll set down roots. You’ll pop out babies and buy a car and a house and put aside money for new furniture. And that’s totally okay, you want all those things. But do you want it now? Do you want Sunday dinners with porcelain china while you invite over the neighbors and the men smoke cigars in the parlor, like in Mad Men? You haven’t even been to Asia yet, nor the Greek Isles. But the pressure is real, and earnest. Your biological clock keeps you awake at night with its incessant ticking.

Hilariously — pathetically — the only men who find you endearing are the ones who only know you via your online life. You wonder if this is why you signed up for ICQ a decade ago. You avoid their private messages and offers for dates and run away from those people when you see them in public. They’re wonderful men, just not for you. You will kindly ask that they stop stalking you, because the privacy settings on Facebook are getting out of hand.

But then you pack your bags and get ready to go somewhere new, to do it all over again, to make even better mistakes.

Relationships

 

About The Author

Candice Walsh

Candice Walsh is a Professional Experience Collector and full-time writer, blogger, and inventor of job titles that don't make much sense. She's based out of St. John's, Newfoundland. Follow her website for more shenanigans.

  • Carlo Alcos

    I love this Candice. Brave.

  • Anonymous

    This is so wonderfully written, and totally relatable. I know exactly how you feel.

  • Turner Wright

    Definitely applies to both sexes. I guess the only reason we don’t see more travel-themed dating sites is because meeting up is just as unlikely.

  • Maddie Gressel

    Move abroad! Start a new, exciting life! Meet new men more well travelled and equally into community as you. It happens.

  • Sarah Shaw

    I pretty much love everything you write, Candice. We can all relate. :)

  • Julia Sarah Gould

    I love all your writing, but I think this one is your best yet. Really well-written, and so emotional – it made me tear up a little bit! No need to rush to find Mr Right, he will come to you when the time is right!

  • Katka Lapelosová

    You are married to the world, Candice :) Great piece.

  • Katherine Brown

    Love the honesty and the humour!

  • Heather Susan

    amazing article! I definitely hear you…single since ’09 but I refuse to settle down in just one place, not yet anyway. you should move to BC with me…or we could go to asia. :)

  • Melissa Hogan

    I think it might have more to do with the men in this city. I still believe it’s possible to live an unconventional life (traveling or otherwise) with a partner, if that’s what you want. Finding that partner though… not as easy, I’ve looked (it’s seeming lately that I may have found him after all).

  • David Paul Krug

    As a man whose traveled a lot. I can completely relate.

  • Karin Ronde

    This is really well written, I do think travel writers (unlike myself) who get to travel full time are lucky, but I would never give up what I have with Kieran to do it, or give up my job. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing though, its all about finding the balance and finding time for all the things you love – call me when you’ve figured out how though!

  • Devour the World

    Oh my gosh – loved this article! So true!

  • Coady Long

    Your cats not ugly! great article candice.

  • Amanda Williams

    THIS: “You remember one time after it was all over you stayed awake all night just because you wanted to remember what it was like to share a bed with someone other than your ugly cat.” Yes.

    SUCH a good piece of writing. I’ve read it like 3 times now, and love it more each time.

  • Yulia Sofonova

    You’re so lucky!” or, “You have the greatest life!” The former is false: You’re not lucky, you worked really fucking hard to be where you are

  • This European Life

    I read this article twice, and I must say: for a 26-year-old, you sound awfully bitter and jaded. Kid, please. There are TONS of people along the way who you are bound to bond with, who are even willing to share some affection, understanding and fun with you along your life route.

    I have found an intelligent, sensitive and loving woman in my PanAmerican expedition; she is also an avid traveler but cannot commit to spending every single day together. And that is okay with me, because it is the reality of the life we have chosen. We wouldn’t want to live any other way, but we still feel like committing to a new encounter somewhere else in the world.

    You want it all, but sooner or later the realization will come that life is about making compromises. As far as I am concerned, I would also love a full-time companion, a 1955 Mercedes Gullwing to travel all over with, lodging in the best hotels in every country, and diplomatic immunity with corrupt cops. I cannot have all of that, but I am not bitter for it. I manage with what I have, and I am happy with the surprises that life plants on my path when I am not too busy setting unrealistic expectations.

    Look at what is right in front of you, and abandon that toxic sense of frustration. If you worked hard enough to be where you are as a full-time traveler, there’s nothing that you cannot achieve based on your confidence and strength to get it. Nobody said life was easy!

    • Candice Walsh

      Definitely not bitter and jaded. But I appreciate you bestowing your “wisdom” on this “kid.”

    • Brandy Bell

      Hey Candice, this is a great article on representing both sides of the wonderful lifestyle that freelancers are able to live. Everything has a price to it :) however, the universe has a way of letting things work out, and I am certain you’ll find someone to cuddle up with on overnight buses!

      Hey Miguel– (@[350984588251275:274:This European Life]) knocking down other people’s hard work is not cool and there’s no room for comments like this in the industry! (especially among fellow travel writers, yo!)

      According to your site your #1 rule is “When life give you lemons, make lemonade, and when life gives you shit, just air it on television”.
      Candice is airing her shit- so step off!

      Respectfully, Brandy Bell

    • Nik Weinstein

      Candice Walsh You protest too much!

    • Nik Weinstein

      Candice Walsh Be happy you’re a kid. It’s a state of mind, kid. You definitely sound like a kid for thinking you can’t travel and have kids. Comparing your situation to some dreadful stereotype of a middle class person is a false alternative.

  • SUP for all

    I am fast becoming a fan of your writing. I am happily married now for 11 years with a daughter who is everything to me. This story refreshed vague dormant emotions from those years I gypsied about the world. The locations, the people, the smells are all a very fine substitute for the more mundane in life! The real challenge will be if you do put away the travel kit at some point, to find a lifestyle which will replace the lack of travel, for me it came with SUP.

  • SUP for all

    I am fast becoming a fan of your writing. I am happily married now for 11 years with a daughter who is everything to me. This story refreshed vague dormant emotions from those years I gypsied about the world. The locations, the people, the smells are all a very fine substitute for the more mundane in life! The real challenge will be if you do put away the travel kit at some point, to find a lifestyle which will replace the lack of travel, for me it came with SUP.

  • Joel De Gan

    LOL at 26 you feel this way, at 30 you will look back and laugh how your were so naive, but I guess it does not change the feeling you have right now. Good luck.

    • Ashly Salmon

      I find it hard to date or meet people the older u get

    • Candice Walsh

      You’re like, four years older than me, brah. Why the agism?

    • Joel De Gan

      Actually I am 39, don’t be so touchy it was not meant to be negative, it means you will be writing a much different article at 30 and look back at this with very different eyes.

  • Mary Fox

    Thank you for writing this. I find it a pain to relate to guys who have never traveled, for me that is non negotiable. As much as I love dating on the road, it begins to drag as your or his return date draws closer. I guess one of those things we work out on our own.

  • Dani Blanchette

    Love this! I was starting to feel this way. Oh hey, a cute guy! But you have no desire to travel or are unintentional about about actually getting a passport. You think what I do is “Awesome” but in reality think it’s time for me to stop playing and just stay with you, in your boring home, having a boring life.

    I lucked out. My bf now (im 33 it took this long to find one I don’t want to punch in the face most days) loves what I do, and not only supports it, he helps. And he doesn’t find me braggy, and I don’t find him boring.

    And its so much better than those “Oh I’m here for a week, let’s totally hook up” which suddenly changes into “Oh, yea, well, I didn’t actually think I was going to in your city so long. But I really like your city, and had no intention of ever dating you, so lets just be friends after we shagged on your friends bed at that party that night.”

    I don’t think traveling makes us not want to date, I think it just makes us not want to deal with people’s stupid shit anymore. We prefer to be alone then waste our time in a relationship where we already know how it ends.

  • Patu Zybińska

    wow, it’s all about me..there’s one difference: I’m 22.

  • Candi Bain

    I don’t relate to very much of what you say at all but we all experience life through our own prism, travellers or not. I do relate to the ‘You’re so lucky’ attitude of people: yes, I am lucky because I am healthy and able to travel. But it didn’t fall in my lap to have the life I have, I’ve made choices and sacrifices, I don’t have the 2 kids, the lovely house, the cars etc (and neither do I want to). I think when they say I’m lucky: You chose that, I chose my life. We’re both lucky to have what we want.

    I’m not a full time traveller or travel writer. But with 50 countries under my belt and 6+ trips abroad per year for the last few years, I do pretty well. I’ve never had to sacrifice relationships for it and in that way I *am* lucky. I’ve almost always had a home base so that has helped. On my longest trips my partners have given up their jobs and we’ve gone together. On shorter trips either we go together or they join me for part of it. None had travelled widely before meeting me but all were/are willing to do so with me, and we had some great times – mostly great times.

    There are lots of people, men and women, in the same situation as you, They too would like comfort and company, shared pleasures and mutual love and affection. Most of them don’t travel at all and are still looking for it. Many might be in jobs they can’t stand, at least you are doing what you love.

    I do believe we get back what we put out, I’m naturally an easy going, positive person who is quick to love. I think that’s why I’ve always had loving relationships and so many of my friends are always looking. They put obstacles in their way before they’ve even started. It’s a habit some people fall into. I hope you find somebody who excites you, stimulates you, challenges you, makes you laugh and loves you so you can do the same right back to them :)

  • Mike C

    I find doing endless ski seasons is very similar. You spend a season getting close to someone only for them, or you, to leave and go on with your life or next adventure.

  • Leah Eades

    Focus on the positive: at least you have a cat!

  • Todd Richman

    You pretty much nailed it. Story of my life.

  • http://GreenGlobalTravel.com/ Green Global Travel

    My clock isn’t ticking yet and I’m 34… But I think what you write is very important. I feel like so many settle for the life we’re raised to believe is the way to go.

  • Steph

    Had a date with a guy who’s grandparents are Italian and he has dual citizenship, but has never left the USA. I asked him repeatedly “why are you here?”. Couldn’t get a satisfactory answer out of him…Dealbreaker.

  • Laura D

    Interesting article, I think I know what youre saying, and agree with parts of it (although in my experience travel has made me more open to dating different types of people, who if I were still living a very settled life in one city I might otherwise dismiss for trivial reasons- too short, too old, too much a part of a specific social circle etc; I think travelling encourages you to see past normal social pressures )

    But I think you need to be a little bit careful about not coming across too judgemental- ‘you cling to some thread of decency’. If you feel like casual sex is not something you want to have regularly, that’s great, for you. But passing judgement on travellers who do have frequent casual encounters (and whats more may actively seek them out and enjoy them without feeling ‘hurt’) is unnecessary. There is nothing indecent about casual encounters, especially when living a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. As my gran would say, “horses for courses”. I understand you wish for something longer term or with a deeper emotional connection, but that may not be the same for all travellers. Likewise, you may have been really unlucky and hooked up with people who have (wittingly or unwittingly) hurt you, but this is not true for everyone.

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