Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dismaying Story #119: Wanderlust

Dear Andrew,

I am a twenty three year old woman with a Master's Degree and a good job. I have a love of travel, some would say wanderlust. In between getting my degrees I worked in Latin America and traveled to many other parts of the world. Although it is hard to set up in new places I find it very exciting and I love meeting new people. As a result of my life style (and my personal tastes) I have never maintained a relationship much longer than a year ... until now. I have been dating a man for the past year and a half and we recently began living together. He waited for me while I went away for four months, he is supportive of all my decisions and he loves me very much. However, I have become antsy and I am beginning to dream of visiting the unknown. I want him to come with me, but he has commitments here and can only really leave a couple of weeks, maybe a month at a time. He and I would be fine if I went by myself, but these are the kind of experiences always thought I would share with my partner.

I am worried that if I don't do what I want I will resent him and myself, but that if I do go I will be living half in one country and half in another, in my head and heart anyways. I love this man and I want to make it work, but the more I realized how settled he wants to be, the more I feel strangled.

What should I do? Should I throw away the best thing that ever happened to me?

Signed, Wanting to Wander

Dear Wanting to Wander,

Have you thought of another option? Perhaps you and your man could plan for a time in the future when he could free up his commitments and travel with you for a more extended period. I suspect you have made if clear to him how important the travel is to you, and it sounds like you are important to him. He might make the choice to give that gift to you, even if it means sacrificing some part of his other commitments. Your part of the compromise would be waiting until he could make that work.

If that turns out not to be possible, then you have some choices to make. Is a more grounded existence bearable for you if that means you are with him? Is he that important to you? It sounds like you are finding out that is not true. You mentioned being antsy, becoming resentful, and feeling strangled. You didn't mention anything about how the thought of the travel makes you afraid of losing him, just how the thought of staying makes you afraid of giving up the travel. These are fairly clear indications that the status quo doesn't feel right for you, in spite of how much you like this guy.

Should you walk away from an otherwise good relationship to satisfy your wanderlust? Heck, how should I know. You are the only one who can balance what is important to you and make that choice. Yes, you might feel resentful of him if you stay. Yes, you might miss him like crazy and kick yourself for leaving if you go. Unfortunately life sometimes presents us with messy choices and conflicting desires. In this case you can't have your cake and eat it too. We are all forced to balance our needs as best we can -- and then we have to live with the consequences.

If it sounds like I'm ducking your question, that's because I am. You are the only one who can weigh all the factors and decide what is more important to you.

So bon voyage! ...or not. It's up to you.

All the best,


  1. I hope I'm wrong, but maybe the desire to travel so much is an excuse for wanting to leave the relationship? she said she never had anything last more than a year and now that this one is over a year and a half, maybe she's just doing what has come natural to her and that is to get out.

    I agree with you 100% doc. She is the only one that can decide if she wants to stay or not.

  2. Anonymous4:16 AM

    i think you already gave her an answer and i think i agree with it.

    if she only thinks of the disadvantages of staying and i can't see anywhere in her letter questions like 'what would he do home alone if i left?' i think she's already set on going. and if she's set on going he must not be that important to her after all. she might just be afraid that this is her chance for a committed life that she's throwing and she might be afraid that this chance might not come again. that has nothing to do with any kind of love for him.

    indeed, she has to make that choice. but she must make sure she makes it with her heart and not her insecurities.