Let’s face it. Unless you’ve embarked on a world tour with the love of your life, the existence of a nomad or long-term traveler can get a little lonely. It’s not that it’s hard to meet someone to chat with over drinks, or with whom to have a one-night careless fling when the mood strikes. Part of the fun of moving in backpacker circles is that you meet plenty of candidates for both of those activities all the time.
It gets a little trickier when it comes down to meeting someone for something a little more substantial. Not necessarily for forever but…at least for a little while.
One of the biggest and most obvious issues is time. When both of you are just passing through a city, chances are, you’ve got limited days – or nights – to spend getting to know one another. There’s nothing wrong with having a fling and just hanging out for a few days. Except when you really dig the person, or when you’ve had your fill of flings and have found someone you like. If your travel plans are flexible, you can always make some adjustments in order to spend more time together, but more often than not, you’re already planning the inevitable goodbye.
Even when you have a little more time – a few months, say – issues arise. Sure, there’s more time to get to know one another and create positive memories but there’s also the issue of trying to not get too attached when you know the end is looming over you. There’s always the tension of trying to not invest too much emotionally while feeling increasingly close to and interested in someone. And you’re trying to be realistic. Even if you keep in touch, chances are one or both of you will meet someone and seeing each other again, ever, is a rather vague possibility. So you have to be practical and appreciate what you have without illusions of a future together.
And when you’ve chosen to live overseas semi-permanently, there can be the issue of how to meet someone with whom you can build something meaningful or long-term. It sometimes feel as though none of the old relationship rules or standards apply. But one thing that being in such a situation provides you is freedom from old constraints and insecurities. It also gives you the chance to figure out if you want a serious relationship and what you’re willing to do or change in order to have one.
The best thing you can do, whatever the circumstances may be when you do find yourself in a romantic entanglement abroad, is to be honest, with yourself and the other person. Ask for what you want, put your heart on the line. Whatever the outcome, you will learn something rich and valuable about yourself and what you want for your life.