Breaking Up: When Living The Dream Hurts

Colombia was one of my favorite trips of 2014. I got to travel with some of my best friends, went paragliding in Medellin, saw inspiring street art in Bogota, hiked to the top of El Peรฑol, practiced my Spanish, hammock camped in the beautiful Tayrona National Park, and discovered my love for Bandeja Paisa, a traditional dish of rice, beans, beef, egg, plantain, chorizo, pork cracklings, arepa and hogao.

It was also when Chris — my boyfriend of the last 15 months — decided he couldn’t marry someone who was already married to the world.

My regular readers may remember Chris from my Guatemala and Southern California stories, as well as my happy-at-the-time post on the joys of dating a non-traveler. Now, sadly, I’m dealing with another perspective: Love on the road…is it a fairytale?

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Chris and I wine tasting in Temecula, California

Living The Dream

So often I have people tell me I’m living the dream. I work for myself, and created a life that allows me to live and work from anywhere in the world. What they don’t realize is that when you choose one dream, you often give up another. For 15 months Chris was okay with what I did. Actually, the fact I’m independent and work for myself was the first thing that attracted him to me. While I’m used to guys getting sick of the travel thing 3-4 months in, after a full year of being with Chris I thought we were in the clear.

Until Colombia.

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Climbing El Peรฑol in Colombia with friends. Thanks to Seattle’s Travels for taking this fun shot!

Breaking Up

The trigger to this whole ordeal was a WIFI-less camping weekend. The Colombia trip was already a bit longer than Chris liked to not see me — two weeks — and, as he explains it, the two days I was without email while camping in Tayrona National Park were very difficult for him. In fact, they made him realize that I wasn’t going to be around all of the time. That sometimes I wouldn’t just be a phone call away.

Despite the cheerful phone conversations and “I love yous” and “I miss yous” we had over Skype, Chris was noticeably uncomfortable upon my return to New York. And when he said those dreadful words — “Jessie, we have to talk” — I knew what was coming. After breaking up for a brief time we tried making it work for a few more weeks — spending the holidays and New Years together — but ultimately questions like “If we have kids will you just take them traveling and leave me behind?” or “If we get married will I have to take care of everything at home all the time while you’re gone?” made it clear where his head was at.

Did I Make The Right Choice?

Sometimes I feel confused about my choices in life. For a moment, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I stopped traveling so much and allowed myself to get enveloped in the American fairytale of a white house with a picket fence in the suburbs, a hard-working but loving husband, two children and a dog. I can’t think about it too long, however, as I start to get sweaty palms at the realization that that house in the suburbs would soon become like a prison cell to me, with only two weeks per year allowance to leave its premises.

It’s not that I couldn’t find any delight in this life, it’s just that it wouldn’t be mine. I would be living someone else’s dream, instead of the one I made come true for myself with my blog.

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Chris and I hiking near Palm Springs, California.

That’s not to say I don’t want marriage or potentially kids; however, I don’t want “marriage” to mean “settled.” I don’t want a ring on my finger to mean, “Okay, Jessie, fun is over. It’s time to pick a home and stay put.” While I would love to marry someone else who travels — or at least values travel — as much as I do, I would also be happy finding someone who loved me so much they could accept and even nurture my lifestyle.

Is that so much to ask?

Maybe it is.

For now, Chris and I are giving each other some space. I don’t doubt we’ll be an important part of each others’ lives in the future once our emotions have calmed. He was the first person in my non-teen years that I said “I love you” to, and he will always be special to me. But for now I must go where my heart calls, the open road. The place where I not only find pure happiness, but where I can seek comfort from my problems. Where I can learn lessons that help me grow. Where I can find a clearer sense of purpose. And maybe, where I can find someone who truly understands me.

What are your thoughts/experiences with breaking up due to traveling and love on the road? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Also Check Out:

Notes On Dating A Non-Traveler (And How I See Love On The Road Differently Now)

How I Found Romance In An Unexpected Place

New Love: Tips For Planning Your First Romantic Weekend Getaway

15 Comments

  1. I agree – I have been asked many (MANY) times when I am going to settle down and stop traveling. I don’t feel like I should give up one to have the other. I believe that when the right person comes along, I will be able to enjoy both – the harmony of someone who either loves traveling (or doesn’t mind my lifestyle) and being able to travel as much as I want to ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Dating a traveler is hard….(I know because I live to travel). For the non traveler a normal life is just enough but for us that seek that mental and physical stimulation traveling brings the non-traveler will feel second fiddle to our lifestyle. I have ended relationships because my exes weren’t too keen on my way of travel and I’m okay with that, sometimes going at it solo is one’s best option…..there’s always new people to meet that share the same views as thoughts that we have and great relationships can come out of those. It’s okay to want something greater than just a house in the suburbs with a picket fence.

    1. @Frankie: Thank you for the kind words. This whole situation has made me feel very very confused. But I do know that travel is what makes me happiest, and I could never give that up.

  3. I moved to Russia 3 years into married life – because I felt like I was in prison living here in the US. My happiest times in married life were the times we were traveling together. I had always wanted to live abroad and my husband was willing to allow me that time (maybe because we had married before discussing all these things and he knew our marriage would end if he didn’t let me have my freedom). The year I lived abroad was very rough on us and I didn’t think we would make it, but it actually helped us to realize how much we loved each other – the old saying absence makes the heart grow fonder was true in that sense, but it took a toll on our marriage for sure. My year abroad kind of pulled him out of his shell and got him into the adventure mode with me and now we’ve decided to go abroad at least one month per year together, with a goal of being abroad longer in the future. We’ve also never really wanted kids (and I can’t seem to have them anyway), so that was an easy decision for us – personally, I’m willing to give up children or that family life for my love of going places for the time being. I’m lucky to have an understanding husband, but I think part of it is that we’ve both decided to make sacrifices. I would choose to live/work abroad permanently, but he doesn’t want that (at least not until all debts are paid off). So, we are trying to find a balance.

    I’m sure you will find someone who understands you one day – the balance can be found, but it’s not easy. Perhaps your future spouse will find it cool to invest in your business with you, so you can both travel together most of the time? I’m sorry to hear about you and Chris – I thought you two were a cute couple. I hope things will work out in time!! xoxo

    1. @Lindsay: Very inspiring story. That is exactly what I want. Either someone who can travel with me or who at least can support me, and find his own passions in life that I would also support. I’m definitely willing to compromise, just not willing to give up travel. I’ve built my whole life around it, and it’s what truly makes me happy.

      PS: Russian food soon?

      PPS: We need to travel together sometime soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I am a traveler, a freelance journalist, and I am married and own a house. For me, like you said, I never got married if it meant settling down. That would feel like prison to me. I am very fortunate to work from home or on the road and pay my half of what me and my husband own and do. Since my blog is all about citybreaks I find that this can be combined very well with my other work and doesn’t bother my husband too much. The longest I’m gone is about 6-7 days at a time and he’s very much okay with that, since he has a very demanding job too during the week.
    He knew who I was when we married and although my traveling has increased a lot over the last 2 years, I make sure I pay lots of real attention to him when I’m home. Spend lots of quality time cooking together, watching movies, taking walks etc.
    So yes, being a traveler, blogger and wife… it is possible! I guess it’s just about finding a certain balance.

    1. @Esther: Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds like you’ve found that balance perfectly. It’s definitely tricky but hearing stories like this gives me hope that I can find this, as well ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy travels!

  5. Really sorry to hear about your break up Jessie. I’m also going through some emotional period in my relationship and I can imagine how you feel. I’m getting married in April and I feel like I may have to give up travel to “settle down” . It has got me thinking I should break the relationship considering the fact that travel is something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m quite new to it so giving it up will be devastating. But somewhere deep in my mind, I keep telling my self I can do both and it’s not impossible to be married, have kids and be a traveler at the same time (I currently know someone who does). So just keep doing what you love and hopefully I get to see you when I come to New York. In the end, things will turn out just fine

    1. @Fola: I definitely don’t think it’s impossible. You just need to find the right person that can give you the balance you want in life. I’d start looking up some “mommy travel blogs”…maybe it will inspire you and give you some interesting trip ideas with kids. I also think everything happens for a reason and works out the way it should ๐Ÿ™‚

      PS: When will you be in New York? Would love to meetup!

  6. It is rough, so sorry Jessie! I’ve had my share of different emotions and new fights/conversations surrounding my traveling more often. Even choosing a weekend (3 days) away as opposed to the time I could have spent with my bf seemed to cause tension, as if I was choosing travel over him. It’s definitely harder when they can’t go with you everywhere. I find that I get myself thinking that the bloggers that are couples and work together are lucky, but I like to do my own thing too. Whoever is meant to love you and accept your lifestyle is out there. Because we should not have to settle down or hold ourselves back. If other people can do it, so can we. We can’t be made to choose one or the other because then we lose either way in being happy.

  7. I’m sorry about your break up. If you are so passionate about the travel lifestyle, you deserve to meet someone who is too. Who will travel with you and share your passion. I have found that companion who also respects my need to travel solo and has no problem with me being offline for a few days and vice versa. I think it’s important to be trusting enough in a relationship that you can let the other person do ‘his/her thing’ as well. I hope one day, you’ll find that companion with whom your dream life is possible and brings happiness to both of you.

    1. @Sarah: Thank you for the kind words. It’s always nice to hear from others you have that same passion for travel that I do. Living that “unconventional” life ๐Ÿ™‚

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