January 28, 2013
Why I Won’t Dump My Boyfriend To Travel
I think anyone who comes here regularly will know the following two facts about me: I’m starting a round the world trip in March, and I have a partner, Gil Dong. In fact, Gil Dong and I celebrated our two-year anniversary at the weekend with a trip to an absolutely stunning part of Korea (more on that later) and some all-you-can eat sushi in Daegu. Yeap, I’m definitely keeping the resolution that I made to myself about making the most of my time in Korea.
I’ve been preparing a lot for this trip, checking out cheap flights, figuring out how to get from A to B in countries like Mozambique and Romania, and scouting out compatible CouchSurfing hosts in the cities and towns I’ll be travelling to. However, all this planning always comes with a pang of guilt.
You see, Gil Dong isn’t coming with me on my trip. He is and he isn’t. After I finish my work contract here in Daejeon and he finishes his internship at an electrical company, we’ll be flying back to my hometown of Harrogate together and spending about a month in the UK, before flying to the United States together. We’ve been looking up flights to New York together (before deciding that Boston would be the most sensible place to fly into), researching things to do that involve the word ‘free’, and drooling as we’ve found tales of things such as chicken and waffles and coca-cola cake.
Alas, that is where our joint round the world trip has to end. After a few days in San Francisco, Gil Dong will be boarding a flight back to Korea, and I’ll be going onward to Colombia. Gil Dong will be working and preparing for either an internship in Germany or, if that falls through (*touch wood* that it doesn’t!) a working holiday in Canada. As a student, he hasn’t had the luxury of working full-time like me and being able to save up money to finance a round the world trip and, as much as I’d love to be able to, I just can’t afford to sustain the both of us on the amount that I’ve saved from my job here for an extended amount of time.
I read a post recently over on Adventurous Kate, and also the comments that this post received when she put it on her Facebook page. The post was a response to a question from a woman who wanted to travel, but her boyfriend wasn’t up for it, and asked for advice from Kate. I agree with everything that Kate wrote in the post, but the reactions of a lot of people to the post kind of shocked me. Calls of “dump him” and talk of not having the same dream were bandied around, and it got me scratching my head a little bit. Most of all, it bothered me, but I didn’t know quite why at first.
Then I realised – people have said the same thing to me, or at very least implied it, when I’ve told them that Gil Dong and I will be apart for six months. People have been automatically assuming that our six month period apart means that we’ll break up at that point, and I’ll be travelling as a single man ready to spread the fruit of his loins and open his groin on my trip.
Why am I writing this post, then? I guess, maybe to counter the many comments that were filled with negativity in response to the post that Kate wrote. If you want to travel but your boyfriend doesn’t, do you have to break up? Absolutely not. Many of the travellers responding were alluding to the idea of a boyfriend that was trying to crush dreams, and I don’t think that that’s entirely fair.
In my experience, relationships are about compromise. Sure, the partner of a traveller has to compromise. Maybe his partner will regularly be gone for periods of a few weeks or more. Maybe his partner won’t have a stable job and be able to contribute steadily in a financial way. But, does the traveller ever think about the flip-side? Why should you expect your partner always pander to your wanderlust? Of course your partner should be supportive, but what about the reverse?
Gil Dong’s dream isn’t to travel the world. He enjoys travelling, but he also needs stability. A stable job, a stable home, and he wants to raise a Golden Retriever. He has been nothing but one hundred percent supportive of me wanting to travel the world. Why shouldn’t I support his dreams, too? The traveller is often portrayed as the victim when it comes to relationships, but come on, I hardly think that that’s fair. Partners should support each other – dreams have equal importance.
So for those of you who have been asking, yes I shall be travelling solo for a huge portion of my trip. No, Gil Dong and I have no plans to split up or end our relationship once we bid each other farewell in San Francisco. Do you have to dump your partner because you want to travel? Absolutely not. In fact, I think Kate best sums it up in her post, writing about one partner travelling long-term without the other:
“I would only recommend doing so if you have an exceptionally strong relationship, have phenomenal communication skills, and are planning a future together.”
I think that pretty much describes Gil Dong and I. So please, I ask you, before casting judgement on travellers who are going it alone, but doing so while in a relationship, don’t assume that you know everything about a relationship and proclaim that it couldn’t possibly work, or that you’re bound to split up, or try and tell people that it’s a bad idea. Don’t tell people to dump the person that they love. Let them make their own decisions and at the end of the day, if it’s meant to be, it will be.
So there you have it, folks! Now, I want to hear from you! Have you ever made a relationship work when you’ve been apart for a few months or more? Do you have any tips for keeping things alive while on the road? Or, do you completely disagree with what I’ve written here? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out on Facebook or Twitter!