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Do My Travel Habits Make Me Unlovable?

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I sat on the wall at Ao Nang beach, watching the sun sink below the hills across the bay. Thai longboats raced across the horizon towards shore and the sky turned fiery as the sun dipped out of sight. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t help but notice that I seemed to be the only single one around enjoying the view.

Down on the sand below I observed couples holding hands as they watched the light fade; some strolled through the waves, some leaned into each other, and others stole a kiss as the darkness took over. I watched from above with a small smile on my face and had a momentary pang of jealousy. I thought how nice it would be to have someone beside me right then. To hold my hand, wrap their arms around me, and kiss me when they thought no one was looking.

I let myself get caught in a daydream for a minute, and then snapped out of it. Who was I kidding? Here I was pitying myself when, really, what I had was great. In the past four years I had visited more than 30 countries and spent over 10 months travelling. From swimming in waterfalls to exploring archeological ruins, dancing at island clubs and grabbing lunch with locals. I was living my dream.

I stood up and brushed the sand off my pants. With thoughts of where I would go next on my mind, I wandered back to my hostel. Alone. Sure, I was single but I was also having (yet another) adventure of a lifetime and there was no way I was going to trade that just so I didn’t feel lonely watching a sunset.

So what is the deal with my (lack of) love life? It’s non-existent because I end up friend-zoning every good guy I meet. To be completely honest, the thought of having someone important like that in my life right now terrifies me. In a world that pushes marriage before thirty, high-flying careers, and children, I’m afraid that a serious relationship would put an end to my travel. That it would make me ‘grow up’ and start thinking about houses and mortgages when really all I want is to wake up at 4am to climb temples to watch the sun rise and spend my afternoons scuba diving or exploring fairytale villages.

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As it is right now, all my extra money goes towards travel. I don’t have a house fund, wedding savings, or a hope chest. I have a map on my wall full of possibilities and destinations that I’m dying to stick a coloured pin through. I worry that, by being in a relationship, I’ll have to give that up. That my three month travels will have to become a two week vacation, or even worse; just a rare weekend away. I’m afraid that by choosing love I’ll have to give up what makes me really happy, and I’m not ready to do that. Yes, future Hannah wants a family, but present-day Hannah is quite happy running around the world on her own and worries that a life without travel will make her miserable.

While my friends stress about finding ‘the one’ and getting their dream home, I cringe at the thought of being locked down. So when it comes to men at home, I rely on avoidance techniques; from avidly refusing to meet anyone’s ‘great, single, guy friend’ to creating made-up boyfriends so the over-friendly suit on the bus will back off. I actually spent a week changing the positioning of my Irish Claddagh ring when I went to work so it looked like I was in the relationship I claimed to be when he first asked about it. I didn’t have the heart to tell the poor guy that I just wasn’t interested. That his office job, lack of travel experience, and the new apartment that he was so excited about did absolutely nothing for me.

I’ve been told that I’m being too picky. I think that’s probably the nice way of putting it. I know what I want and what I don’t, and because of that I’m sure that sometimes I come across as self important, and maybe even cold-hearted. But the thing is, as much as these men aren’t right for me, plenty of guys have made it clear that I’m not right for them either.

I first realized this after returning from my time abroad in Ireland in 2011. I’d been home a couple weeks and was out with some friends at a downtown bar. I got talking to a cute military guy and it was going well until I told him I liked to travel. Alone. What started as a fun conversation fizzled out almost immediately when he questioned why I would do that. I did my best to answer him truthfully. I described how amazing it made me feel and how I loved being in control and being able to fend for myself. I could feel myself smiling as I talked about doing what I loved. But it completely backfired.

The more I talked the more he pulled away. He was clearly uncomfortable with my self-empowerment and no longer interested in talking, much less pursuing me. In a matter of minutes he excused himself, moving on to chat up some other girl. At first I was shocked, but those feelings were quickly replaced with anger and maybe even a little bit of hurt.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the last. Over the past four or so years I have become more and more aware that my travel lifestyle and habits; the ones that make me feel so empowered, strong, and just plain good about myself, also somehow make me threatening, unapproachable, and unattractive to the majority of men in my city. Even my male friends roll their eyes when I tell them of my plans, or send them a photo of a new destination that’s caught my eye. “There she goes again.”

I find it ironic considering there are countless articles that talk about how amazing travelling women are. How we are sexy and mysterious and, if given the chance, men should absolutely go for us. We are praised for our ability to embrace our natural beauty; scars, bug bites, and all, and for our sense of adventure. But my personal experience doesn’t reflect this. I might be the the cute girl with a pretty smile and the awesome stories, but my down-to-earth charm only lasts until a Kardashian or Barbie Doll walks into the room.

Of course things could be different when I travel. After all, most guys on the road have the same interests as I do, and God knows the world of backpackers is about as loose and easy as it gets. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to ward off loose hands and wanna-be Casanovas. And, while I admire my fellow travelling women who have no issues with falling into bed with every handsome, foreign stranger that they meet along the way, that’s not my style. I’m not looking for a quick hook-up. I’m not looking to add a notch to my belt, or have a raunchy one night stand story to share at the next girl’s night out. What I want is something long term. I want someone who can appreciate my values and ideally have the same ones. I want someone to share adventures with, someone that will be around in the years to come to reminisce with. I want forever.

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So here I am at 27, thinking of future Hannah who wants someone to spend her life with but currently avoiding relationships like the plague because I’m afraid it means settling down and losing what makes me happiest. The only problem is future Hannah is a whole lot closer at 27 than she was at 22. And future Hannah doesn’t want to be alone.

But I haven’t given up. Because despite the ‘threatening’ facade I’m actually a romantic at heart, and I’ve met enough amazing travel couples on the road with a similar mentality to believe that there might be a happy ending for me too. It might not happen tomorrow, or even this year but I’m keeping an eye out. It’s not like I’m looking for Prince Charming on a white stallion. Indiana Jones on a motor bike will do just fine.

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Pin me for later!       (original photo by Rachel Muscat from Flickr CC)

20 thoughts on “Do My Travel Habits Make Me Unlovable?

  1. Allison

    I relate to this a lot. I’m 26 and I recently left a long-term relationship because he never understood my love for travel and always put out negative vibes towards my travels. Despite him not being controlling, he never supported my wanderlust, and it ended up making me compromise and hold back. I’m happier now, but there is a part of me what wonders what could happen if I could live the life I want – and also have the kind of person I want in it.

  2. Erin Scherer

    Hi Hannah, what an honest article. I stayed single for four years, not wanting to commit to anyone or feel settled down. I too was scared I wasn’t lovable with my wild ideas and restless soul. Then I met someone who loved me for me, who wants me to go on adventures, and is interested in joining me on as many as he can too. I honestly believe there are all types of people out there–you just have to keep being yourself and staying true to who you are. There are billions of people in the world, I believe we can all make connections with someone. It might just take time, but try not to dwell on it too much and don’t change who you are. I wish you peace, love and adventure. xx Erin

  3. Meg

    Thank you for sharing this with us Hannah, this is exactly the sort of thing I love read about. I’m interested in how it feels to be a single, female traveller and it’s so encouraging to read things that connect me to other girls out there.

    I’ve been travelling (and single) for the past 5 years and for the most part I’ve been completely comfortable with that. When I go home I get the ‘when are you going to stop’ questions from friends and family, and I have to admit that when my newsfeed is full of engagements, weddings and babies I find it a bit tough sometimes out here alone in the world! BUT, would I change the past five years for a thing? No. I’ve seen and done so many wonderful things and am gratefully living a life I feel in control of and content with.

    Do I want to meet someone? Yes, definitely someday. And I think the longer I travel and the older I get I begin to feel like I’m open to this idea more. And I think when that happens, the chances of finding someone may widen because you open your eyes to the possibilities of finding someone.

    Good luck with your onward travels and I wish you all the happiness that comes with it. I will be following your blog from now on! 🙂

  4. Gabriella

    Omg – that story of the guy who was disinterested because you’re a strong independent woman… Wow. I meet so many great people abroad that I forget that there are people out there like him. Sorry you experienced that. I’ve definitely experienced sexism and people not liking me because I’m independent but luckily never about my travels (although people do pull away when they hear you’re traveling because they’re jealous or think you’re showing off).

    This was a great artcile! I’m now 22 so I have some time ahead of me before I start thinking about what it would be like to settle down (as in with someone, but never in one place!).

    Thanks for your honesty.
    G

  5. Anna

    Luckily I did not have to chose between a relationship and traveling, but I once did not start a relationship because I knew that he dot like traveling much, not even exploring the local area. Wanderlust might be something so strong that if we resign from it, it can make us miserable and we become different people, certainly not a person someone fell in love with in the first place. Don’t worry, there rae other restless souls looking for a travel companion and that might be you 🙂

  6. Linda Ditzler

    Your posts are my favorites out of all the other travel posts I read. I married at 35 and fortunately my husband does not mind me traveling alone. If the time comes to commit to a relationship, you will know. Otherwise, keep on traveling and loving your life. I am middle age and I think you would be surprised at the women my age who say how much they wish they could travel, but its usually money and husbands that keep them back. You are indeed very fortunate. You are doing something you love.

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      aww thank you Linda <3 your compliment means the world to me. I know I'm lucky, and I definitely get told that I'm right in doing it while I can, but like with everything else, just can't seem to have it all. One day!

  7. Susanna Kelly

    Woo, if I had a dollar for every time a man dumped me in the middle of my travels, or thought it was weird I traveled I would be riiiich. It’s good you’re being completely honest with yourself and others though. It doesn’t make you unloveable it makes you a challenge and most people don’t want that. I finally found a guy who encourages me to go on solo trips, girls trips and travels the world with me. We are living in Germany together in an apartment and have somewhat of a “normal life” but we have never once talked about a house, or kids, or a big car and that’s not because we’re avoiding the topic it’s because that is what neither of us want. We just live a simple life and love traveling. So, he’s out there and if he’s not that’s ok too! Just don’t ever sell yourself short.

  8. Sarah

    Love this post! I’m 32 and all my friends are getting themselves ‘tied down’ in married life and having kids and buying houses. In fact, I’ve had five friends get married just this year! Yet I’m still single and have absolutely no desire to ‘couple up’. People think it’s odd and weird and that maybe there’s something wrong with me. No. I just love my independence and I love being able to up and leave whenever the mood takes me. I couldn’t manage if I had to agree everything with someone else. What if I want to see Amsterdam and he wants Thailand? What if he fancies a posh hotel whilst I want to camp on the beach? No, I’m better off alone. Maybe that makes me selfish or just plain antisocial, but I don’t care. I will continue to travel and to live my life in my own way. I will not be ashamed of my single status because, to be honest, why should I ‘settle down’ just because society thinks I should?

  9. deahh

    I stayed single (mostly) through my 20s and at 29 met a man while teaching abroad in Haiti. He was a traveler too. Now we’ve spent the last 13 years living abroad together and traveling, sometimes on my own and sometimes as a couple. For me the key was meeting someone who was as into travel as I was!

  10. Nejma Bk

    Lucky me, I have never wanted to settle and have a family and kids. The more it goes, the less I want to be bothered by someone. I travel alone. Cannot stand having anyone in my feet. And I do not miss it a bit! I do like yourself fear to lose myself, get stuck and lose my freedom. But I am a loner and have always pictured myself aging alone in the middle of nowhere.

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