Dear Wayne and Wanda,
A lot of people say they “love travel” but I mean it. I try to visit a new country every year. I have long been willing to take unpaid leave to take trips and I am careful about spending money so I can afford to get away. A big reason I’ve remained happy living in Alaska is that I’ve gotten out so regularly.
During the pandemic, I met “Jeff.” The first thing I noticed about Jeff was a pic on his online dating profile in front of the Eiffel Tower. In our first conversations, he talked about how much he loved that Paris trip. I shared how central travel is to my happiness.
Now that life has gotten back to its new normal, and Jeff and I are still together, I’ve been planning a couple international trips and some Lower 48 travel into the next year. Jeff doesn’t want to come along. He said he can’t afford it, so I offered up using air miles — mine — and hotel rewards points — also mine. He said he’s actually just really not that interested in leaving the country and the idea of being in a foreign country is stressful. He said the Paris trip was fun, but it was a tour situation where he didn’t have to really do any work or planning.
He says he’d rather spend time in Hawaii with me on the beach and suggests I continue enjoying these foreign experiences solo. I’m not opposed to beach time but I need variety, and my long-term partner needs to want to see the world with me. I feel like he misled me when we first met with all his talk of Paris. Any advice on whether I can get him to be more open minded or should I consider moving on?
Some of us are energized by the thrill of navigating new places, conquering language barriers, stumbling across intriguing spaces and mapping out international flight plans. Others find this to be overwhelming work that takes away from the relaxation that a simpler vacation can provide. Clearly you and Jeff are misaligned on your ideal getaways.
It’s unfortunate that you feel Jeff was misleading in early conversations, possibly implying that his Paris trip was evidence of his mutual wanderlust. It’s also possible you heard what you wanted to. For example, wasn’t it notable he had only traveled out of the country once? And isn’t it possible that since it was COVID, and no one was going anywhere, he underestimated your travel fascination?
I doubt his contributions to the conversation were nefarious. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle: As usual in the early stages of a romantic connection, you likely both said and heard what you wanted and needed to in order to move the romance along. You assumed he loves travel because so do you! He shared details about Paris because it was a way to connect!
So it turns out you aren’t totally aligned. That’s OK. Your relationship is young, relatively, and you have all the time to build shared experiences and memories. Start small. After all, were you totally bold and unafraid during your earliest overseas trips? Doubt it. They can be intimidating and cause anxiety. So suggest a mutually interesting spot that has something for both of you — sun, a low-level language barrier, but enough ooh/ahh factor of foreign fasciation to whet his wandering whistle for future adventures.
Well, you said it yourself: “My long-term partner needs to want to see the world with me.” That’s a definitive line drawn in the tropical beach sand. And good for you for knowing the foundational requirements of your future mate. Based on that, we wouldn’t blame you if you packed his bags and sang, “Hit the road, Jeff.”
Yet you also said you’re willing to embrace some vacation variety. Not a bad plan if you want to see how this relationship responds to some passport stamping. If Jeff is willing, of course. So I’ll grab a buddy pass and ride with Wanda on her first-class suggestion of exploring your travel compatibility by finding a literal middle ground location that is exotic enough for you and innocuous enough for Jeff.
Costa Rica and most major cities of Mexico immediately come to mind in that you definitely are not in America anymore, but you also have the balance of warm hospitality and wild exploration you each desire. If he’s a Hawaii fan, maybe he’ll fly a little farther for Fiji? And while Australia is a long haul, the country is a lot like Alaska in that it’s populated with really cool people and packed with grand adventures. Oh, and Australians speak English, so Jeff has that going for him. No matter where you go, maybe dig a little deeper into those hotel points of yours for this first trip and upgrade to resorts where you can maximize his comfort level and sense of a home base.
I’m excited to see how this plays out for you. Even a long journey of traveling from Point A, Alaska, to Point B, beaches, can reveal a lot about a couple’s communication and potential. Those are demanding days — and nights — and it takes a true loving team to come out of them ready to hit the beach, bar or hotel with good vibes.