“Don’t go traveling with your other half,” warns pretty much every blog, travel article and seasoned traveller out there, “Unless you’re sure you’re going to marry them.” And if you’re not entirely sure you want to marry them, but you still want to experience the beauty of traveling with the person you love? Prepare to have that uncertainty absolutely defined for you in either a catastrophic parting of ways or a harmonious fusion of big, fat L-O-V-E.
When I embarked upon my latest stint around the world, I threw this grave caution to the wind. “I live with my boyfriend,” I foolishly thought. “We’re so in love with each other that all the cracks in our relationship will be merely ironed out. All will be well once more, and we’ll be skipping around South America hand in hand.” Oh, the naivety. All traveling together with my, sadly now, ex-boyfriend has done is magnify the not-so-insignificant cracks and burst them wide open in a ferocious flurry of frustration, jealousy, irritation and sadness. The result? Six weeks of seemingly one sided unhappiness and a trip of a lifetime tainted with the ugly smear of a badly broken relationship.
Sitting by myself, consumed with heartache, is certainly not how I envisioned my travels… But, really, I should have seen it coming. Traveling with somebody – boyfriend or not – requires a certain amount of patience, consideration and, above all, love and respect. Whether this manifests itself in the form of helping them out when they’re sick as a dog from eating some decidedly dodgy street food, compromising on your inevitably differing desires and expectations, or just plainly wanting to hang out with them because you enjoy their company on the very basest of levels… You know, it’s kind of necessary for an enjoyable trip together. Obviously.
Now, if patience, consideration, love and respect didn’t exist on one persons behalf in the first place, then it was extremely ignorant of me to believe that they would miraculously appear just because we were on a different continent and out of our comfort zones. In fact, all traveling has done is emphasise the lack of all four of those all important requirements, and that maybe only one half of this couple was as “so in love” with the other as I blindly went into the summer believing.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, that’s for sure, and when I started writing this post – full of rage from the most recent bout of unjustified inconsideration and nastiness (of which I’m sure everybody who knows my happy-go-lucky, lovable ex will be dubious of) I was so ready to vent my anger, hurt and frustration at everything this crappy situation is. But what’s the point? It is what it is, and a lesson or two (or three or four) has certainly been learned.
Travel reveals the rawest, most unattractive parts of anybody’s personality, and though this is definitely not what I wanted or expected from my trip, the only thing to do is embrace it for what it is, be thankful of the lessons learned, enjoy the memories of the awesome times that we have had together, and throw myself into the next six weeks. Of course this is incredibly hard when the person you thought was the love of your life is still in your peripherals, seemingly as happy as they’ve ever been and not giving a seconds thought to what has been lost, but what else is there to do? Life, lemons, lemonade. From here on in, I guess I’ll be trying to drink down that cliched lemonade – even if it is the bitterest drink I’ve ever had to swallow. Cest la vie. To the single traveller once again…