Rules for romance: single female travelers becoming pairs?

There’s a lot of you-go-grrl-empowerment articles on the web and in travel magazines about women traveling on their own, toting their own backpacks and having exciting adventures.  The general themes of these articles usually has to do with being brave and feeling safe walking the streets at night, making friends with locals, avoiding singles supplements or suspicious glances when you try to book a tour or go on a cruise.  Very few of them deal with how you take the first steps into new-couplehood while you’re traveling, particularly with someone who’s not of your culture.

It’s pretty easy to find hook-up partners at hostels and budget hotels: any backpacker worth their salt can find another backpacker to share a hammock with, and some people seem to hit the road with that purpose in mind–here, I’m thinking of the British guy in the film Love Actually who goes to America because he knows his accent will make him more appealing to US women.  But what about when you find that the hooking up has gone further than just a one-night stand, and you might actually have a long-term relationship on your hands?  What are the next steps for long-term traveling girls?

  • I know this sounds incredibly obvious, but the first thing you should do when you realize your relationship is becoming serious is sit down and talk to your partner about whether or not they want to travel with you or whether or not you want to stay put with them — it’s a fairly important question, one that could put an abrupt end to your relationship when you want to go to Puerto Rico as you’ve been planning for the past year, and he’s just got a promotion at his job in Australia and there isn’t really room for negotiation.
  • If they decide they want to come with you, probably the next thing to discuss is: for how long?  Do you want to maintain a long-distance relationship spattered with months of traveling together, or does your partner want to sell up and join you on your nomadic journeying?
  • If you decide you want to stay with them, the most important thing to investigate is probably going to be visa options.  In Australia, you can get a residency visa if you’re in a de facto relationship (you don’t have to get married)…but you need to have physical proof that you’ve been together at least a year and it costs about $2000.
  • If your partner is from a different culture, be aware that you’re not just figuring out new relationship boundaries, but you’re doing it with cultural assumptions about what relationships are that most people never talk about.  For example, when you say “I love you” it might mean something completely different to what your neighbor means…you might mean “I plan to commit to you and have lots of children” and your neighbor might mean “I think you’re much better than anyone else I can find.”  Small but subtle differences.
  • As with any relationship, your safety and security are important.  When you’re traveling, you might tend to loosen up your restrictions or put more faith in humanity as a whole, both admirable habits.  However, it’s important to ensure that your partner treats you respectfully and values you as a person: nobody should ever hit you, call you malicious names, undermine you, isolate you from your friends, or threaten you, even if they are from a different culture.  If any of those things start to happen, they’re not cultural differences: they’re proof that you could be in danger, and it’s important for you to leave it.

Hopefully these tips are a good place to start for someone just starting a relationship as a longterm voyager…and might help people remember that there can be more to someone cute that you meet than a night in the sack.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | February 22, 2011
Category: Expat Life, Female Travelers, Languages and Culture, Sex and Travel, Solo Travel, Vagabonding Advice

3 Responses to “Rules for romance: single female travelers becoming pairs?”

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  2. GypsyGirl Says:

    Yeah, cross cultural relationships are challenging, but wonderful. I fell head-over-heels for a guy I met while traveling. We flirted, visited and talked for five years…then got engaged. It didn’t end up working in the end (I still wanted to continue to travel, he didn’t) however the experience was well worth it.

  3. Anika Khan Says:

    I have been in my current relationship for the past 17 years and i can so relate to the liberating feeling of getting to know the new culture and surrounding with/without your partner. It always freshens up our dull old phase of life that existed before our travel escapades.

    The idea of travelling or discovering the new destination is like soul searching…..getting to know the unknown you.