Everyone loves to ask me if I have ever fallen in love travelling.
It’s asked by my aunts at family dinners who worry I’ll die a spinster. It’s asked by colleagues and friends who have a hard time fathoming how I keep uprooting myself when everyone seems to be starting to settle down. It’s asked by my parents who would love it if I met someone local.
The answer? I have loved and yet I don’t seem to have a serious committal bone in my body.
Seeing all my friends find such wonderful people and hearing about their experiences gives me a case of cold sweats but with a small side of envy. Am I getting left behind? I’ve been dancing on tables with 18-year-olds while my friends have moved out, settled down and had real life thoughts about marriage. I wonder if my own love life would look like that if I didn’t decide to drop everyone and everything so often.
From there, the questions continue. Does love have to be long-lived and lasting? Or can it be fleeting? Quick to come, quick to go, as a hummingbird flits from flower to flower.
Humans are shaped by the people they’ve met in the places they’ve been. That’s one very true stereotype from travelling: the bonds you form are instant and intense. This is because you’re being more extroverted than you’ve ever been.
You’re living in this perfect moment where you’re always happy, always outgoing and constantly stimulated. Everyone surrounding you shares the same values, same outlook and same priorities. Your connections – friendship or otherwise – reflect that.
The relationships you form travelling are what happens when life and other bullshit don’t get in the way. You don’t care about their history or your future. You’re wholly situated in the present. And if that present involves a heartbreakingly pretty boy you travelled with in Asia or a tattooed bad boy that caught your eye at the bar one night, then that’s reality. Run with it.
Travel relationships are almost perfect in a way that there’s no drama or messy breakups. You go in knowing there’s an end date and little to no possibility of a future. Instead of daydreaming and fantasizing about what could be, you enjoy them as much as you can for as long as you can. If you’ve only got three days, three weeks or three months together, why not make the most of it?
Knowing that it’s not going to last makes it that much more lasting.
If I like you travelling, I really like you. That person will have a part of me for as long as we are together and for a while after we separate. I love hard and fast, and then I pack up, get over it and move on.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. But after a while, it forgets.
Often times I’m still good friends with the guys I’ve fallen for on the road. I think back on where we were and it’s not a burning long-lost regret, it’s warm and it’s fond. I’ll never forget them, but I’ll also never need to uproot my life for them. Is that love?
Home is full of responsibilities and real things and aunts who ask you when you’re going to start thinking about marriage. Love when you’re travelling doesn’t always translate back the same. The thought of dating someone without an end time is such a foreign concept that I don’t know if I could do it just yet.
Whether it’s a sober head-over-heels type of feeling or a booze-induced chemistry unrivalled to anything else, I’ve been tangled in travel romances and will probably fall in fleeting love countless times over again. The way I see it, I love to love, but I’m not quite ready to stay there, and that’s okay with me.
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Originally published in Loose Lips