What if I never find someone who’s going to love me the way that he does?
I turned this question over and over in my mind, agonizing over it, waking up in the middle of the night because of it, and singing melancholy songs in the shower because I just didn’t know how to deal with the emotions that went along with such a monumental decision.
I was trying to decide whether to stay with my boyfriend of four years or break up with him to travel the world alone.
Unfortunately the options were mutually exclusive. I knew that if I went to Southeast Asia, it would be on an open ended ticket. I was not going to make promises of coming back after a month or try to hold onto something over distances that vast. It was all or it was nothing.
This is a tough position that a lot of those of us who travel find ourselves in: Do we keep the relationship that we are in at home or do we break up to travel? It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made.
If you’re considering the same, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions:
Why can’t your partner come with you?
Is there a reason why your partner cannot join you on this trip of a lifetime? Doesn’t it seem beautiful to plan and save up together, for a common united goal and dream?
If your partner is fully supportive of your dream and you feel down to your core that it’s all good, and that you don’t need to worry about your connection while you’re gone, then give it a try. However I’m guessing you didn’t end up on this post because you feel that way.
What is the honest, real, and true reason why you and your partner are not planning this trip together? Consider the next question:
Is there a fundamental incompatibility?
Again, why isn’t your partner coming? Is she or he not invited? Is it because he or she is not interested in such things?
There will always be other, easy excuses like, money, school, or obligations. You probably had similar obstacles to overcome as well. We both know those are things you can overcome. But if traveling is not a priority to your partner, but it is such a huge priority for you that you are considering going off to the other side of the world without him or her, is this a fundamental incompatibility? Do you have different life priorities?
Your choices are not limited to, stay home with your current partner or leave and be alone forever and ever. Is there perhaps someone else out there who might share this desire to wander and therefore be more compatible with you?
Why are you considering taking off in the first place?
My traveling dreams really didn’t involve anyone else. I wanted to go for the freedom. Why did I crave this freedom so badly? I had to look at the conditions at home that were causing it.
This is not to lay blame or accusations on my former partner, it’s just to say that if I didn’t fully honor my desire to seek freedom, I might still be wondering what it feels like. The relationship would have probably come to an end anyway, but there would’ve been no beaches in Thailand, and no Thousand New Beginnings for me, then.
Is the decision based on fear or love?
So many motivations go back to the human desire for connection and to be accepted. However fearing that we will not have love again is in the end, acting out of a place of fear rather than out of a place of love.
Fear-based actions are usually selfish. is the decision to stay or go based on a selfish need to feel secure? It’s pretty hard to see it this way, I know, but be brutally honest with yourself here. If you stayed, who would you be doing it for, really? Do either of you benefit if you deny your strongest desires?
You are wonderful enough on your own
This is more of a statement than a question, but I hope that you know you’re wonderful without anyone having to tell you so. (But I’m telling you so, anyhow).
I didn’t know this at first. I wrote early on that I really didn’t like spending time with myself.
To be honest, this feeling persisted years into my travels. I was sad that I didn’t have a partner, mostly because I didn’t feel whole on my own.
I had no idea who I actually was – that’s why. I was just a mirror of the people who I was with, drawing my sense of self from their impressions of me. I had to be adored by those around me or I would feel shattered.
It was through traveling alone that I let that go, and I finally discovered who I actually am. My definition changes constantly, by the way.
I’m happy to report that I’m at peace in a way I haven’t felt before. I am deliriously happy to be on the other end of those feelings five years later, with a business and a new life that sprung from all of that. I feel so much gratitude to my former self for choosing the path she chose.
I don’t know if I would’ve arrived here without being single and empowered by my solo adventures for a good stretch of time.
I’m not saying that I chose the right path and that everyone should do things the way that I did. How can I know, right? The other path is lost to me now and all I can do is imagine how it would have looked. Sometimes I do, with rose-colored glasses, and other times I feel unbelievably relieved that I walked away. What I do know is that I am no longer looking for someone to complete me. Settling down is not my end goal. It never was.
And I have had great loves in the years since – ones that were better suited to me than the one I walked away from, crying and terrified.
My best advice is to be gentle and honest with yourself. Because for one of the toughest life decisions, or at least I’m sure it feels like that right now, it’s worth looking at the root of the feelings that come up and being fearless and truthful with your answers.
And though I don’t know you, I feel confident telling you that you will feel love again.
There will be dark moments when you doubt if this can be true. There will be times when you pine over your former love. It’s human nature. It’s what we do. But you will feel love again.
And don’t forget that the person who deserves the most love in your life is you, and it’s going to be okay.