travelling abroad without boyfriend, travelling abroad without girlfriend, Couple kissing under eiffel tower
Couples in Paris, so romantical….

I don’t think I’ve ever cursed in the title of a blog post but this one has really gotten on my tits. When I was planning my trip to Morocco I told people I would be going for at least a month. If they knew I had a boyfriend or I mentioned it these two ideas could not compute in their brains.

I ended up going for six weeks (apparently this is a long time?). It wasn’t a ‘trial break up’ or me running away. I had been dreaming of a long trip for some time and while I would have loved to be able to go with him, it wasn’t possible. I’m back in Morocco on the first leg of a 25-day, 4-country trip, and I was still getting similar comments.

Here are some of the stupid things people said to me:

“What does he think about it?”

“Yeah, I’m going to Morocco for a month. Since I’m freelancing I can work from anywhere and I’ve always wanted to go so I figured – why not?! I’ll get away from the English winter.”

“That’s cool. What does he think about it?”

HELLO! I just told you I’m going to AFRICA for a month and you want to know whether my boyfriend is cool with it? ONE WAY TICKET BACK TO THE 21st CENTURY PLEASE.

I’m glad you’re so concerned with his feelings while also being incredibly nosy about my private relationship. But hey, I write about it on the internet so how private could it be…

What do you think he thinks about it? I’m sure you can imagine he thought something along the lines of “That’s awesome, I’m a bit jealous, I’ll miss you, have a wonderful time!” because if he didn’t we wouldn’t be together anymore.

“Your boyfriend is okay with that?”

I was showing my flat to a potential subletter and she came with her boyfriend. I had mentioned my partner earlier when she asked what brought me to London and she put the ‘month in Morocco’ part of my ad and my relationship status together.

“Oh, your boyfriend is okay with it? I don’t think Sam would let me do that,” she laughed. “How long have you been together?”

“Three years.”

“Well, maybe after three years he would. What do you think, Sam?” He just looked at her and didn’t really say anything.

Again, what kind of backwards ass thinking is this? I’m 26 years old and I don’t need his permission or approval. Of course I respect his opinion, but I’m not doing anything illegal or immoral so it’s a non-issue.

If you wanted to do something you have dreamed about and your partner said “Nope, sorry, you’re not allowed,” would you still want to be with that person? Maybe he says that he would rather you didn’t, but a person who loves you will support you doing something you truly want to.

And if he wasn’t okay with it? One month away would turn into forever – end of.

“Aren’t you worried about cheating?”

Whose cheating? Mine? His? Please. Not to be trite but a relationship is built on trust and I never even thought about him cheating on me. I’m not saying that he’s not capable or that it would never happen, I’m just saying that it didn’t cross my mind until you mentioned it. So thanks for that.

As far as me getting with someone else… Well, you seem awfully judgmental – it seems like you’re insinuating I can’t control myself. And on that note, do you think he can’t? I’m not a 17 year-old with raging hormones and an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex. I am fully aware that actions have consequences and the consequences of cheating are not something I am willing to put up with – from either party in this relationship.

My friend Katka wrote this article explaining that Yes, it is possible to be in a relationship, travel solo, and – gasp! – not cheat. I think she says most of what needs to be said, so I’ll leave it to her.

If you think that your partner will cheat because you’ve gone away for a month, get yourself a new partner or a new shrink.

“My boyfriend would never let me do that.”

This one often comes from strangers and I just want to say, what do you mean let you?!?! Maybe she was using ‘let me’ as shorthand for “My boyfriend would be sad,” or “My boyfriend would give me a hard time about it,” but he would never let you? He’s your boyfriend, not your parent and besides, you’re an adult.

Sure, I joke around with him and say that he’s never allowed to get a donorcycle motorcycle but when it comes down to it, he can do what he wants. Absolutely I would prefer that he never did but if he were to buy one… Well, it’s his money and his organs. To truly say “I’m not letting you do this” to someone who isn’t harming anyone is something you should never stand for in a relationship.

“I couldn’t do that without my partner!”

Outwardly, this seems like a compliment. But somewhere in there is a veiled insult: your relationship isn’t strong enough to withstand travelling together or you don’t care enough about him to wait for him to come with you.

I spent a lot of time NOT doing things because of a relationship. When we were in Martinique for the second time I wanted to see other islands and every time I said that I was planning a trip he would whine “Well, what about me?” I would get angry and think “Well, what about you?!” with the bitchiest attitude I could muster.

Eventually out of guilt, I always stopped planning and it’s one of the things I regret most about my time in Martinique. We were making the same amount of money, paying the same bills, and sharing the same expenses. If he wanted to come with me, he could have. After that year I said I would never not go somewhere because he couldn’t or didn’t want to – an attitude that will carry me through my life and relationships.

On all of the trips I’ve done over the last couple years, he was always welcome to join me if he could (though I would love to see him instigate a trip one day…). Be leery if someone asks you to wait to do something until they can too, especially if they don’t seem to be making any moves towards getting it done.

In Closing…

If my partner said to me “You can’t go” (actually, imagining him saying it makes me laugh which tells you how ridiculous an idea it is) my response would have been “Goodbye”. If he gave me an ultimatum, he would lose. I love him and I’m sure you love your partner, but it’s a serious red flag when someone tries to stop you from going for your dreams, following your heart, or doing something you love provided that it’s not hurting you or anyone else.

A good partner supports you, tells you how amazing it is, Skype’s you when possible, and makes a plan to come visit if they can. A partner who does that is a keeper 😉

24 thoughts on “The Annoying Shit People Say When I Travel Without My Boyfriend”

  1. Hi Alyssa,
    I’m totally with you on that one.I’m of free spirt and would not tolerate my significant other telling me what to do. I think when women say “he’d never allow me” they’re actually the needy ones.

    1. Exactly! Personally, I always wonder whether people would ask him the same questions if he was going travelling…

  2. YES!! I could not agree more (to the point that I actually already had a blog post in the works in this exact vein).

    I am currently on a 4-month trip around Europe without my boyfriend. I know it’s a long time, but seriously everyone I told about my trip before I left first asked how he felt about it. He’s sad that we’re apart for so long, but at the same time very excited that I’m chasing my dreams. Like you said, we wouldn’t still be together if I told him about getting the chance to do my dream job and he said, “I don’t want you to do that.”

    1. Ha, I’ve had this in drafts since February, no idea why I didn’t publish it. I’d love to read your take on it too! Now that I’ve written all of this, I’m thinking that maybe it’s not a misogynistic thing… just for some people they wouldn’t know how to handle it. It’s awesome that you and your boyfriend do, though!

  3. Absolutely agreed! I have just been three weeks in Guatemala and will be away soon again in Costa Rica and maybe Panama for more than six weeks. The three weeks in Guatemala were tough as I was seeing him 24/7 before but it’s nothing I don’t do because I have a boyfriend. Traveling is my passion, he knows that and supports me even though he becomes jealous sometimes. Nowadays we have skype to communicate and even though it’s diffcult to not have him close to me and I miss him a lot, I want to travel, I want to see the world and if someone who loves you do not support your dreams and plans, then you have a problem!

    1. That’s a great attitude, and Skype and Whatsapp certainly make being apart easier. Maybe I’m just a bit different because we mostly only see each other on weekends, so it’s almost like nothing has changed except my exotic locale!

  4. Get over it, 4 -6 weeks is a fairly long time to leave your partner at home while you go travelling. What do you expect people to say, “oh your boyfriend must be so happy for you”, “You’re leaving your boyfriend for a month, you’re the best girlfriend ever!”? While it’s very nice of him to be cool with it, why be so surprised that people want to ask about what he thinks of it, it’s pretty understandable and rational behavior to enquire as it’s not exactly the norm.

    In closing… I feel sorry for Tom.

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for taking the time to comment. But what am I to get over? People butting into my business? Strangers trying to impose THEIR ideas of what’s “normal” in a relationship onto one that is mine? I expect people to say, that’s awesome, have a great time… Not make it about my boyfriend.

      What if we were having a rough time? What makes anyone think that I would want to discuss it with them anyway? We have a serious lack of tact these days – Everyone thinks that because they share their “lives” with people they barely know, i.e. on social media, that they can ask anyone about anything at anytime regardless of how well they know them. I would argue that it ISN’T rational – it’s an emotional response. A rational person would realize that it isn’t they’re business or an appropriate question or even that the answer is obvious, no?

      For the record, we have a strong relationship and spent much of it separated by an ocean.

      The bottom line is that 6 weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of the lifetime we hope to spend together.

  5. I absolutely loved reading this post! Couldn’t agree with it more. I am not currently dating anyone, but I have been in relationships in the past where they tried to guilt-trip me into staying and trying to pass it off as love. “Don’t go. I’ll miss you too much. How can you be away from me for so long?” Needless to say, those relationships didn’t last long…

    1. Thanks Kait, I’m glad you enjoyed it! People have all kinds of relationships – some partners are never apart, some spend six months away from each other at a time for work… If someone is going to try to stop you from doing something small like travelling for a few weeks, what will happen when it’s something big like studying or working?

  6. Hey Alyssa, I just got back from a trip without my husband and had to face similar questions… The best one was: “Wouldn’t it be… boring?!?” Well, no, I had a great time and although I missed him, I’d do it again 😉 Maybe for a shorter time, though.
    We’ve been to Morroco, btw, and loved it. Would be interesting to read what your experience as a solo-traveller was.
    All the best!

    1. Haha, that is a good one! I haven’t heard that exactly, but I suspect that’s part of what people mean when they say they couldn’t do that without their partner. I just got back from the desert and while I had a good time, I was thinking about how I wish I could share this experience with him because I think he would really enjoy it. But then I thought, maybe we go to a different desert next time!

      I’ve written a few articles about Morocco, but I’m trying harder this time to write about my personal experience 🙂

  7. So happy you wrote this post. I really can’t process this idea of what does your boyfriend think I got this a lot when I was pregnant and traveled solo twice, which I learn for many folks was a big no no for them (taboo, I suppose). Now, I’m planning my travels for myself and my one year daughter without her dad (my fiance) and folks I have shared my travels with for this fall seem to have a lot to say. Like, “oh how does he feel about it?” as well as being nosy by asking, “why isn’t he going?” My reply he is working and how he feels is simply go and explore and have fun with our baby. They gasp. And this, oh my boyfriend or fiance/husband would never let me do that. My thoughts are…my goodness, that is on you for subjecting yourself and your life to someone else. I’m not in such a relationship, but one where we support each other’s endeavors as well as encourage each other to grow. I just can’t with this antiquated mindset. Happy and safe travels!!

    1. Tabitha – that’s so cool and it sounds like you’ve got a great relationship! What you said about growth is so important: continuing to grow as an individual keeps relationships fresh and exciting. It’s when couples over-rely on each other that each person starts to feel pressure and things get challenging. A boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife can’t be everything to you and it’s great when one of them is “travel partner” but it’s not always possible. Best of luck with your travels and thanks for commenting!

  8. My boyfriend of over year is travelling with two other girls, who are his friends. He’s gone for two months in India with them, but I’ll be seeing him in 5 weeks! People have been giving me so much shit, and put bad thoughts in my head.

    i would have gone, but I love my job and couldn’t risk loosing it. He planned the trip 3 months into us dating, and I was asked to come but I couldn’t/

    It’s been so hard, and everyone comments on the fact he’s with two girls, and he could cheat. Yeah he could. but he won’t. If anyone knew him, they would see he would never do that to me. To him, a girl is a girl. I’d trust him in a room just of girls, as his heart remains with me.

    I’ll miss him, god, I just said goodbye to him and I’m not in a flood of tears but I if anything it will make our relationship stronger.

    1. It sounds like you have an amazing relationship, I truly commend you! There’s this quote I love from Thich Nhat Hanh: “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” You’ve got the right attitude, Lara 🙂

  9. Alyssa:

    Preach, girl! I’ve been with my boyfriend for 6 years now (I’m 23). We’ve spent months apart through traveling and I’m preparing to go to London for 2+ years (he’ll join me after about a year as he still has business in Canada). We’ll probably see each other (at the very most) for 3 weeks in that 1 year. I don’t think it’s a big deal, he doesn’t think it’s a big deal, but almost everyone else does…

    Glad to see someone else shares my views! Cheers.

  10. I think that how it’s brought up and handled is as important as whether or not one goes on trips without their significant other. When you live with another person, what you say and do has an impact on them. It’s natural to ask how they would feel about it, and really take their answer into consideration. If I love someone, and leaving them alone for a long time for something which is just entertainment would actually make them sad, then I’m not going to put my whims above my partner’s happiness.

    I know that in your particular case, both of you are cool with it. What I take issue with is the tone, as if it’s an absurd notion to not just do whatever you feel like just because you share your life with someone. I understand it’s annoying when people are intrusive in your particular case, and I would never ask someone that question or really worry about someone else’s relationship. If it works for them, that’s their business. But it’s not just silly or antiquated to take other people’s feelings in general, and a romantic partner especially, into consideration and be willing to not just do whatever we feel even at the expense of the entire relationship. As you said, if he wasn’t happy with you taking trips, you would leave him.

    It’s not about freedom, it’s about caring how what you do impacts the person you love. But then again, you did say relationships in the plural, implying you assume there are more to come,so it would seem that many people in this generation make less sacrifice for love because they tend to be less invested in the idea of a relationship lasting. All of this musical partners and assuming it’s all temporary has impaired a lot people’s ability to truly bond or prioritize their relationship above things like hobbies.

    1. Hi Drew, thanks for your comment!

      I wouldn’t call my trip a whim–sure, I may have booked it on a whim but I had wanted to do a longer, backpacking type trip for a long time. My issue is also with tone–other people’s! For example, “My boyfriend would never let me…” It would be one thing for a partner to say, “Listen, this is going to make me unhappy” or “This isn’t the best thing for our relationship/family/future” right now. Of course, take that into consideration and discuss how it’s going to help with your personal development and how disappointed it would make you to not go. Maybe come to a compromise. But it would be incredibly immature for a person to say “You will not do that” in regards to something that is neither dangerous nor harming anyone.

      It is about freedom. Freedom is the ability to choose–having the choice to follow your dreams or follow your heart, or choosing to be with someone who lets you do both. I chose the latter.

  11. Hi,
    My boyfriend has gone on a trip to Thailand for 10 day’s, what I find most annoying when I tell people and also what kind of makes me feel abit bad even tho I’m cool with him going is people asking me “..and what about you” or “why aren’t you going”. Firstly I was not invited, secondly his brother planned the trip and it is for family.

    I am a bit bummed that I was not asked to join (been dating for over two year’s) would have gladly paid my own way through. But I just hate people asking me those questions as if we’re stuck to each others hips.

  12. Hey Alyssa, I’m currently facing this sort of situation except my wife is the one leaving me to go on a girl’s trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s day. I am confused about how I feel about certain things and am looking for some advice on how to communicate what I’m feeling and hopefully come to some sort of mutual understanding. For the record, I am completely welcoming of her trip and I know that she and her best friend have been talking about for a couple of months.

    Before I go into the issue, I feel like I need to explain some things. My wife and I travel a lot and have made it our goal to visit as many places as possible. Our next trip abroad would hopefully take place within a year and we would be tackling France, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. France and Belgium in particular have been places that we have dreamt of going to for a while. For big trips abroad, we try to make it a point to visit places neither of us have been so that we can both bask in those glorious first impressions together and ensure that the one person isn’t just going through the motions again so that the other can experience something. In your blog post you mentioned your experience visiting Martinique for the second time with your boyfriend — I want to try to avoid situations like that.

    I started to have issue with the trip when they just decided that they also wanted to go to Brussels for a couple days because they would have some time to kill after St. Patrick’s day. She knows how badly I would like to go to Brussels but don’t want to intrude upon her girls trip. Inviting me to join them doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense and is more a polite gesture than anything else.

    I know that what I’m feeling is selfish jealousy, but I feel a little betrayed especially since she knows we plan on going there soon. What’s funny is that if the situation were reversed then I’m sure she would feel the same. I can’t shake the feeling that this is going to happen more often because she has quite a bit more holiday time than I do by nature of her job (she’s a teacher) — I need to find a resolution for this rather than bottling it up and having to go through it again later. I don’t really want to make a point of purposefully visiting places without her that I know she would want to go to because that feels extremely petty.

    Am I being a selfish asshole? Thanks for any response.

    1. Hi Jason! Sounds like you both have a sense of adventure that you indulge in each other – that’s wonderful. I wouldn’t say you’re being a selfish asshole and your feelings are understandable. But it’s one place. I would suggest changing the way you think about travelling: there is a lot to be gained by visiting a place with someone who already knows it. There’s also great pleasure in returning to places you’ve visited before, feeling a bit more familiar and less pressured to see “everything”. Additionally, there’s more to Belgium than Brussels. Why not spend a day in Brussels, visit the major sights (which your wife can easily direct you to), and then head to Antwerp or Bruges after? I think a little shift in your mindset will do a lot to help feel happy for your wife going on her girl’s trip, without feeling like she’s sharing something that is uniquely for the two of you. I hope that helps! Happy travels 🙂

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