I’ve been a nomad for over two years now, traveling the world and dating, and this is what I’ve found…
- I meet more viable men while traveling abroad, compared to when I lived in one place or traveled full-time in the U.S.
- Even with the capability to screen/filter, I meet more men I’m actually interested in in-real-life, vs. on dating apps
- Even though I’m currently single, the fleeting connections I’ve experienced this year give me hope that I’ll find my future long-term partner out there in the world
But a thriving dating life means I’ve also met some busters (in the wise words of TLC). From the (relatively) benign to the bad, these are the three types of “busters” I keep encountering over and over again on the nomad life:
The flake/self-saboteur: The one who pursues me online or from afar, but when there’s a real-life opportunity to spend time together, he flakes out/disappears
This one’s annoying because these types of relationships don’t even get a shot to get off the ground. My hunch is it’s the fear of rejection — if they never meet me I can’t reject them, and to men like this, the fear of rejection is debilitating, even at the cost of another amazing opportunity. This has happened too many times to count, and it’s the main reason why I don’t over-invest in anything virtual.
Hey, I get it. Nobody likes to be rejected, and in my 20s, I took a much more reserved approach to dating, especially as a woman. But now, I am intentional about dating, and I will happily shoot my shot (even in the face of rejection — which has happened a few times). When I meet a guy I really like, he knows it.
And to be clear: by “he knows it,” I mean: I tell him. I use words, like a mature adult. When I meet someone I like, I refuse to let such an opportunity pass me by because it comes around so rarely, and I tell him how I feel. And this way, if I am rejected, then I can move on to the next easily — because there WILL be others — and I don’t need to waste another second being hung up on this person who’s not into me. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
The intimidated: The one who assumes early on it could never work between us because of my current lifestyle, and doesn’t try to get to know me or pursue me further
This one I think is rooted in sexism, double standards, insecurity, and/or an outdated sense of the world (and could be an extension of guy #1)… but in this scenario, we have a few dates, we really like each other, but then, he gets in his own head about our viability.
For centuries, a man outside the home has been accepted and normalized — sailors, soldiers, hunters, traveling salesmen, performers and artists, and other professions. But it seems to be both shocking, intimidating, and emasculating to some men for a single woman like me to be the one in the independent seat and on the move. (This inherent sexism is why male nomads could have an easier time dating than female nomads.)
Subconsciously, a love interest believes… “How could I possibly satisfy or make happy such a woman? How could I hold on to her and keep her ‘with’ me — if she has nothing grounding her to the relationship other than me alone? And what, as the attractive woman she is, could she be up to out there in the world… perhaps finding somebody better than me?!” Ohhh, the oppressive weight of insecurity and pre-conceived notions! And now is when, like guy #1, the self-sabotage sets in.
My take: geography does not make one’s relationship readiness or seriousness, and it’s silly to let a little thing as changeable as geography get all up in a guy’s head. Not only that, but before we start freaking out about geography, why not focus on getting to know each other, compatibility, and the important stuff like goals and values?!
While it’s not necessarily malicious, it does hurt, and it is getting old. If anything, it shows me that my future partner must possess a secure attachment style, confidence, maturity, and an evolved way-of-thinking.
The entitled: The one who has built up a false, one-sided sense of desire or intimacy towards me, and expects or demands that I meet him where he is (or refuses to take no for an answer)
You could blame the following experiences on me being an attractive single woman dating in the world while traveling solo while also in the public eye sharing her experiences on the internet and social media… but don’t. The experience of entitlement is a byproduct of just being a woman or femme who exists.
There was the Canadian in Mexico I had been seeing for two weeks who asked me for exclusivity. I replied that I wasn’t there yet (nor did the relationship progression warrant exclusivity), and he cautioned that if I accepted a date with someone else that would “be the end of us.”
There was the Brit in Croatia who walked me home after a night at the pub, and said, when I indicated (do I have to indicate?!) he was not spending the night: “What, so you’re gonna make me walk back now to basically where I just was?”
There was the Texan in Austin who I went out on a date with. When I told him sex wasn’t going to happen and to sleep off his drunkenness, he warned me: “If I spend the night, I am going to have sex with you.” At best, it was flattery, at worst, it was far more ominous… possibly criminal.
There were the countless times that, the guy was 1) either too ignorant or too emotionally unaware to notice my discomfort, disinterest, and lack of reciprocity, OR 2) too aggressive and fixated on getting what he wanted that he barreled right through in defiance of said discomfort, disinterest, and lack of reciprocity. Whether scenario #1 or scenario #2… there won’t be a do-over with those guys.
One more time, so it can sink in: for women and femmes, all it takes to be on the receiving end of male entitlement like this… is our existence. There’s always someone who expects something from us, in every country. This year, more than ever before, I am hyper-aware of anyone making undue demands on my attention, my time, and my physical self.
Despite it all, I’m hopeful
Despite the learnings, failures, and eye-opening encounters… I am optimistic that a long-term match will someday come my way, whatever my living situation looks like. In the meantime, I’m doing my thing, and I’m happy. Promise.