This article was originally published on Alyssa Writes and is republished here with permission.
WHEN I WAS PLANNING MY TRIP TO MOROCCO, I told people I would be going for at least a month. If they knew I had a boyfriend or I mentioned it these two ideas could not compute in their brains.
I ended up going for six weeks (apparently this is a long time?). It wasn’t a ‘trial break up’ or me running away. I had been dreaming of a long trip for some time and while I would have loved to be able to go with Tom, it wasn’t possible. I’m back in Morocco on the first leg of a 25-day, 4-country trip, and I was still getting similar comments.
Here are some of the stupid things people said to me:
“What does Tom think about it?”
“Yeah, I’m going to Morocco for a month. Since I’m freelancing I can work from anywhere and I’ve always wanted to go so I figured – why not?! I’ll get away from the English winter.”
“That’s cool. What does Tom think about it?”
HELLO! I just told you I’m going to AFRICA for a month and you want to know whether my boyfriend is cool with it? ONE WAY TICKET BACK TO THE 21st CENTURY PLEASE.
I’m glad you’re so concerned with his feelings while also being incredibly nosy about my private relationship. But hey, I write about it on the internet so how private could it be…
What do you think he thinks about it? I’m sure you can imagine he thought something along the lines of “That’s awesome, I’m a bit jealous, I’ll miss you, have a wonderful time!” because if he didn’t we wouldn’t be together anymore.
“Your boyfriend is okay with that?”
I was showing my flat to a potential subletter and she came with her boyfriend. I had mentioned Tom earlier when she asked what brought me to London and she put the ‘month in Morocco’ part of my ad and my relationship status together.
“Oh, your boyfriend is okay with it? I don’t think Sam would let me do that,” she laughed. “How long have you been together?”
“Well, maybe after three years he would. What do you think, Sam?” He just looked at her and didn’t really say anything.
Again, what kind of backwards ass thinking is this? I’m 26 years old and I don’t need his permission or approval. Of course I respect his opinion, but I’m not doing anything illegal or immoral so it’s a non-issue.
If you wanted to do something you have dreamed about and your partner said “Nope, sorry, you’re not allowed,” would you still want to be with that person? Maybe he says that he would rather you didn’t, but a person who loves you will support you doing something you truly want to.
And if he wasn’t okay with it? One month away would turn into forever — end of.
“Aren’t you worried about cheating?”
Whose cheating? Mine? His? Please. Not to be trite but a relationship is built on trust and I never even thought about him cheating on me. I’m not saying that he’s not capable or that it would never happen, I’m just saying that it didn’t cross my mind until you mentioned it. So thanks for that.
As far as me getting with someone else… Well, you seem awfully judgmental — it seems like you’re insinuating I can’t control myself. And on that note, do you think Tom can’t? I’m not a 17 year-old with raging hormones and an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex. I am fully aware that actions have consequences and the consequences of cheating are not something I am willing to put up with — from either party in this relationship.
My friend Katka wrote this article explaining that Yes, it is possible to be in a relationship, travel solo, and — gasp! — not cheat. I think she says most of what needs to be said, so I’ll leave it to her.
If you think that your partner will cheat because you’ve gone away for a month, get yourself a new partner or a new shrink.
“My boyfriend would never let me do that.”
This one often comes from strangers and I just want to say, what do you mean let you?!?! Maybe she was using ‘let me’ as shorthand for “My boyfriend would be sad,” or “My boyfriend would give me a hard time about it,” but he would never let you? He’s your boyfriend, not your parent and besides, you’re an adult.
Sure, I joke around with Tom and say that he’s never allowed to get a donorcycle motorcycle but when it comes down to it, he can do what he wants. Absolutely I would prefer that he never did but if he were to buy one… Well, it’s his money and his organs. To truly say “I’m not letting you do this” to someone who isn’t harming anyone is something you should never stand for in a relationship.
“I couldn’t do that without my partner!”
Outwardly, this seems like a compliment. But somewhere in there is a veiled insult: your relationship isn’t strong enough to withstand travelling together or you don’t care enough about him to wait for him to come with you.
I spent a lot of time NOT doing things because of a relationship. When we were in Martinique for the second time I wanted to see other islands and every time I said that I was planning a trip Tom would whine “Well, what about me?” I would get angry and think “Well, what about you?!” with the bitchiest attitude I could muster.
Eventually out of guilt, I always stopped planning and it’s one of the things I regret most about my time in Martinique. We were making the same amount of money, paying the same bills, and sharing the same expenses. If he wanted to come with me, he could have. After that year I said I would never not go somewhere because he couldn’t or didn’t want to — an attitude that will carry me through my life and relationships.
On all of the trips I’ve done over the last couple years, Tom was always welcome to join me if he could (though I would love to see him instigate a trip one day…). Be leery if someone asks you to wait to do something until they can too, especially if they don’t seem to be making any moves towards getting it done.
If Tom said to me “You can’t go” (actually, imagining him saying it makes me laugh which tells you how ridiculous an idea it is) my response would have been “Goodbye”. If he gave me an ultimatum, he would lose. I love Tom and I’m sure you love your partner, but it’s a serious red flag when someone tries to stop you from going for your dreams, following your heart, or doing something you love provided that it’s not hurting you or anyone else.
A good partner supports you, tells you how amazing it is, Skype’s you when possible, and makes a plan to come visit if they can. A partner who does that is a keeper.