Solo travel gave me a lot of clarity (and food poisoning), which helped me come to terms with my relationship issues. I realized I’d been selling myself short in relationships, but I also uncovered the ways I was keeping myself from finding a healthy, committed one—and they weren’t all bad.
- I’m selfish. And I refuse to apologize for it. Growing up in a strict religious school, I was always told to put others before myself. This martyrdom complex was disastrous in my relationships, often keeping me stuck in situations that weren’t working because I thought my partner needed me. In the end, I don’t think it benefited either of us. Traveling solo gave me a lot of freedom, so now I have no patience when I’m expected to sacrifice what I want and need for my partner. I don’t want sacrifice to be the foundation of my relationships. Instead, I’m willing to wait for someone who maximizes my happiness and vice versa.
- I don’t want to settle. In the past, I jumped from relationship to relationship A LOT. Sometimes I dated someone simply because I didn’t want to be alone; other times, I’d run for the hills because I didn’t want to settle. Traveling helped me gain the confidence that I’d been lacking plus the clarity to know what I really deserve. Now, I’m totally comfortable holding my standards high while I continue traveling.
- I crave constant change. I’ve had plenty of relationships I was only half committed to and ended up bailing on. Sure, a lot these relationships were total garbage from the get-go, but sometimes I just got bored. Regularly exploring different cultures has shown me how much I hate monotony. Rather than jumping from partner to partner and never understanding why, I’ve realized I need someone adventurous to keep me stimulated.
- I like smart guys. OK, this one seems like a no-brainer, but for me it wasn’t. For a long time, I was notorious for dating dumb guys. As long as they were good looking, I was totally there. Unsurprisingly, this is a horrible way to find a partner. In the rare cases where these flings turned long-term, I always felt like something was missing. Inevitably, I’d get bored or begin emotional affairs. I’ve now realized that sexual stimulation isn’t enough—I need a guy who can also excite me intellectually.
- I need alone time. Spending so much time alone while traveling taught me that I really value my own company. I’m one of those weird extroverted introverts, so it always throws people off when I actually need tons of space. I used to randomly disappear on my partners because I suddenly felt emotionally drained. Obviously, this was really confusing behavior for my former S.O.s. Now, I know if I take time to recharge more frequently, I won’t need to be alone for as long.
- I still need attention. I do like to have lots of alone time, but I still need plenty of attention. While traveling, I had many long distance relationships or relationships with other frequent flyers. They always left me feeling anxious and unsatisfied, leading to a lot of on again, off again situations. Getting caught up in that kind of dynamic is definitely not the way to find a committed partner.
- I have low tolerance for stress in love. Being able to travel leisurely has made me realize that stress is literally the worst. I’ve spent hundreds of hours agonizing over the men in my life. Seriously, in all that time, I’ve learned at least one language and earned a PhD. Recently, I’ve found that clear and direct communication is the best way to avoid stress in relationships. Shocking, right? I’m very clear with all of the guys I date about what I’m looking for and what I expect. If they don’t respect that, I just break up with them. Brutal, I know, but the stress just isn’t worth it.
- My career is my priority. So maybe it doesn’t seem like I take my career that seriously when my work day consists of writing about my love life from the comfort of my bathtub, but making it as a freelancer actually takes a lot of work! Not having a direct supervisor also means the door is open for a lot of distractions. Eventually, I started to realize how much energy my emotional rollercoaster of a love life was taking away from my work. Since I don’t technically make a set salary, the time I spend stressing about a guy is money I am not earning and trips I’m not taking. At this point in my life, I literally can’t afford to let a guy distract me from my career goals.
- I’m on a journey. I’ve spent way too much of my life concerned about what kind of guy I wanted to be with and not enough time considering who I wanted to become, what I wanted deep down, or what kind of partner I was willing to be. I ended up in a lot of dead-end relationships while confusing every guy I’ve ever dated. Traveling alone gave me plenty of time for introspection and presented challenges that helped me learn more about myself. Right now, figuring out myself is a lot more important to me than being in a relationship and honestly, I’m OK with that.