[Cover photo courtesy of Stephen Stockhausen, PT, DPT. Stephen and his wife Ellen are #relationshipgoals. They travel the country as a travel PT pair and blog their adventures at PT Adventures ]
“You will never meet any one if you travel” “You will never settle down and start a family”. “Aren’t you afraid of getting old alone?” These are the words that single travelers hate to hear and they are constantly spewed at us. Holidays tend to be the worse, but even random strangers and patients have told me similar things when they found out what I did for work.
Recently a topic came up in a forum regarding dating on assignment. The responses to the query varied as dating while being a traveling healthcare professional can be an interesting subject. In 2017 what does dating mean anyway? Regardless, dating as a traveler and maintaining relationships is definitely different than being stable in one place, but not impossible.
Dating as a traveler starts with figuring out what you want from a relationship and partner and being able to effectively communicate those needs and wants. Do you want something casual, a short term relationship, a long distance relationship, somebody to travel with? Being a traveler it is not as simple as meeting somebody and saying “let’s be together”. There are more complicated factors to consider.
I am a gypsy soul. I know I will never be satisfied working and living at the same place day in and day out for years and years. I need to be with somebody who appreciates that and does not try to change me. Through years of traveling I have found that many men I meet want me to stay in one place if I chose to be with them. I also found that many people refuse to date travelers because they want to start a relationship with somebody who is stable in one location. I understand and respect that. That is why I am always upfront in telling potential partners about myself and my job and I do not try to hide anything.
The more I traveled, the more I realized what I wanted in a relationship and what were my deal breakers. I now know that I want to be in a committed relationship with somebody who will support my travels, whether we were together or apart. Ultimately, through traveling and dating I learned not to settle.
Here is a more in depth view at the types of relationships you may find yourself in a traveler and considerations to take:
The Long Distance Relationship
The long distance relationship occurs when one person is actively traveling and the other is not. Long distance relationships are hard and take communication, planning, honesty, trust and support from both sides.
WHY are you long distance? What is the ultimate plan? Are you traveling for a shorter amount of time to try and save extra money for a big purchase or to satisfy a wanderlust? Does your partner support that? Maybe you travel for an assignment and then spend time at home.
For the long distance relationship to be successful, both parties need to agree and come to a compromise on traveling and communication. Figure out how and when you are going to communication (texts, calls, skype) and when you are going to visit each other while on assignment.
Traveling with Your Partner
I think the ultimate travelers dream is to find a partner that can travel along side of you. Whether your partner is a healthcare traveler, freelancer who can work from anywhere or is able to travel while you support the household financially.
In this type of relationship you learn a lot about yourself and your partner very quickly. When you travel with somebody you see their good, bad and ugly pretty quickly. Traveling is hard, things happen and you see how your partner responds to stressful situations. If you and your partner travel well together, this is an ideal situation. If you do not, it could be extremely stressful on your relationship.
The 3-Month Relationship
What do you do if you are a single traveler who likes monogamy but does not want a long term relationship? You get into the cycle of having 3 month relationships.
The 3 month relationships happens when you go to an assignment and meet somebody that is nice enough but for whatever reason (and as travelers we have many) you do not see yourself with them for the long term. They are a good companion for the time, so you become exclusive and date them while you are on assignment. You probably told them upfront that you are only here for 3 months and they agreed to date you for that period of time. You may even go as far as to say they are your boyfriend/girlfriend, but probably you refer to them as somebody that you are “dating” .
The up side to this kind of relationship is that you get to connect and be with somebody while on assignment. You have a partner in crime, somebody to watch Netflix with and somebody to go to restaurants and movies alongside.
The bad part is that is never is as easy as it seems. For starters, fundamentally there is likely a reason why you do not want to commit to this person, so why are you with them? Chances are that one person may develop feelings and things could get more complicated than initially imagined.
The Swipes to the Right
This is referring to casual dates on Tinder, Bumble and all of the other online dating sites. Online dating has made meeting people and dating extremely easy. Thanks to Tinder, you can have multiple dates in a week, heck even in a day.
If you want to travel and have no commitment you surely can. For some, dating while traveling means dating many people and not being exclusive at all.
The One That You Stop Traveling For
This is the fairy tale situation. You leave home to travel and end up meeting your Prince Charming 2000 miles away. You make a home, find a perm job and then what…..
On the bright side:
You have a positive long term relationship/marriage. You are both happy where you are. Because of traveling, you found your soul mate and could not be happier.
On the not so bright side:
You stop traveling and then one of the following happens:
- You realize after dating for a longer period of time that this person is not “the one” for you and the relationship ends. That is okay, it happens. Maybe you go back to traveling, maybe you do not.
- Your gypsy side kicks in. So for the true gypsy souls, it is hard to stay in one place for too long, no matter how much you love that person. In this case, you stopped traveling and now it has been a year, 2 years, 3 years and you are ready to go again, what do you do? Long distance relationship? Have your partner travel with you? This type of outcome is very real and I hear about it a lot from friends. They thought that they met the perfect person who they wanted to stop traveling for, yet in a couple of years they want to hit the road again and are stuck. They still want to be with the person but they also need to satisfy their need to travel. I think this is why it is important to be with somebody who understands and respects the need to travel and does not try to change that about you. Just because you stopped traveling for the time does not mean that you will never travel again. Is your partner going to be okay with that? Can that person travel with you or support a long distance relationship? These are things that you should talk about up front and determine.
The Relationship with Yourself
You can travel and be 100% single. One of the benefits of traveling is that I found a lot of time to analyze and work on myself while being completely single. I have no problems going a restaurant, the movies or just about anything by myself. Traveling solo and single has made me not only a better all-around person, but a better partner.
In conclusion, being a traveler is not synonymous with being single. You can maintain relationships while traveling, whether they are long distance, short term or having your partner travel with you. You can also chose to date casually or stay solo and work on the relationship with yourself No matter what happens if there is one thing that traveling teaches us about relationships let that be not to settle. DO. NOT.SETTLE.