I graduate this year and want to spend the next year traveling, but my girlfriend doesn’t share my wanderlust. We have been together two and a half years. I feel if I don’t do this, I will be regretting it for the rest of my life. I get very ‘nomadic’ urges where I just want to explore and adventure. I have not been very happy with my life lately, and feel I need a change to bring passion back into my life. School has sort of drained me and I want to see the world before I get into the workforce I think I have the longterm travel bug, and I don’t think it bodes well for my longterm relationship. I love her, and am afraid of hurting her.
I too share your sense of adventure, so I am quite pleased to offer my advice! Its true that some people do not share our urge to see the far reaches of the world, and I am so sorry that your girlfriend is one of these people. Life after university can be quite challenging once you realize that your interests and dreams don’t exactly line up with those that you care about. First of all I would like to express that if you want to travel you should not let anything stop you. Traveling is a life changing experience that I encourage all of my readers to pursue, but I understand that its not for everyone. We all aspire after different things but your problem does not have to be a deal breaker though. It will not be easy to pursue such a demanding dream, but if life were easy it would not be nearly as enticing. Relationships are built on compromise, and I doubt that you have been with the same woman for two and a half years and don’t know how to negotiate.
Traveling around the world is something that can be undertaken by a couple just as easily as by yourself, with friends, or with a tour group. To follow your dreams its important to be flexible. You may have envisioned holding hands with the love of your life in the Glasgow museum or sharing a spiritual moment atop Machu Pichu, but that doesn’t mean the experience will be compromised without romance. Soul Searching through travel is an internal change triggered by new experiences, so you need to focus on realizing your dreams rather than who is right next to you as you do it. Its also important to remember that just because your girlfriend isn’t in the same physical space as you while you travel, does not mean your relationship has to end. If you are unhappy about your life and you think that travel can help you become more content or whole, it is important to pursue it. Your girlfriend is likely not a stranger to the discontent you feel on a regular basis and although saddened by your potential absence, wants you to be happy. Don’t forget about her happiness though, because watching you go will be difficult and a major concession on her part.
I encourage you to be flexible about the time span of your dream. Instead of a year long trip consider going on several smaller trips over the next few years? Take a month or two a year to focus on one area of the world and soak in some culture. For all you know, your girlfriend may be more intrigued by travel if it were for a shorter time span. Talk to her about how she feels about accompanying you on shorter trips or coming along for a portion of your longer trips. Its important to discuss what reasons she has for not wanting to travel, and to consider her perspective. She may be afraid that a long trip could compromise her career prospects or perhaps she is frightened to go to less secure areas of the world. She could be concerned about running out of funds on the other side of the world or that you’ll simply get sick of each other. Whatever the case may be, hear her out and think of a way that you can include her in whatever your future holds. You can also consider doing some local trips before international ones with her so you can have that couple travel experience without forcing her too far out of her comfort zone. Spend the weekend in Jasper or go on a road trip to the maritimes. The experience might show her that traveling with you isn’t so scary, and she may warm up to the idea of foreign adventure.
If after that conversation she decides that she wants to stay here in Canada, or it would work best for you two if she was present for only a part of your trip (or trips), don’t fret! With things like Skype, Snapchat, and Facetime, long distance relationships are easier to maintain than ever, especially with wifi hotspots on every corner. Talk to your girlfriend about how important this dream is to you. Its important that you emphasize that you want to continue being committed to her. Tell her that you will make an effort to contact her regularly during your adventures. The concept of a long distance relationship is centered around a couple being physically separated temporarily, but with every intention of maintaining the emotional aspect of their commitment to one another.
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