Thanks to Facebook’s handy ‘On this day’ app, I was reminded today of my ex, from nearly 4 years ago. He’s now married and we haven’t kept in contact. We used to live together and we broke up not long after I went to Asia for the first time, on my first solo adventure beyond the Pacific. This was my last serious relationship.
Since then, I’ve had a long lasting loosely termed relationship, and outside of that I’ve been dating. While I’ve been at home in NZ, I’ve tried various dating apps and online dating sites. Most recently I’ve considered giving speed dating a go. But with the instantaneous abilities of technology, brings a series of instantaneous expectations. So far my dating experiences here at home have mostly been encounters with men who are just looking to hook up, which is not what I’m looking for.
While I’m travelling, I find myself meeting men easily and relatively consistently. I’ve met men in bars, at cafes, on public transport, whilst waiting for public transport… In situations that are totally normal and would have been quite common in a pre Tinder age. Yet when I’m at home I tend not to go to bars alone and often wear headphones on public transport to block out the conversations surrounding me. Even though it’s in these situations that I feel most comfortable when a man approaches me.
Keeping myself open to meeting new people whilst travelling is incredibly important, especially as a solo traveller because days can seem incredibly long some times. But dating while abroad can bring a whole new list of challenges and requires an additional filter on my instincts.
You see, at home if a man offers to pick me up and drive us somewhere, I think nothing of it and accept this as a kind gesture. However, getting in a car with a stranger who is from a different race/culture in a country that is foreign to both of us, to go to a place I’ve never been before, where people speak a language I don’t understand… it’s quite a different scenario.
At home, meeting a guy with his friends while out on the town is quite normal. Being invited to join him and his friends on a road trip the next day is also quite normal and harmless. However, meeting a guy and his friends in a club in Bangkok and being invited to join him and his friends to Pattaya the next day is a bit of a different story when the guys are all of a different race/culture to me and Pattaya is famous for it’s red light district and sex shows.
I’ve been in situations both home and away where I’ve told a man that I’m going to the bathroom and promptly left. I’ve also been in situations where I’ve trusted my instincts and had some of the most incredible nights, despite how dangerous they may seem on the surface. Somehow I’ve reached a point in my life where I know myself well enough to completely trust my instincts.As a result, I’ve been truly blessed by some of the people I’ve met and the sights that I’ve seen.
While I’m overseas, I feel so open and secure in who I am and the things I stand for. I meet new people easily, make friends quickly and truly feel free. It’s that sense of freedom that gives me a particular glow, and adorns my face with a smile that refuses to fade. I don’t doubt that this is an attractive sight to some.
When I’m home, I close myself off to these opportunities. I focus on my work, studies, chores, bills, life, deadlines… I opt for dating apps to meet people, over meeting people by chance. Yet, I can’t quite let go of this dream of romance and serendipity.
Dating is a funny thing, and it means something so different in every culture. There are days where I feel like I need a man about as much as a fish needs a bicycle. Then there are days where I wish a man would come and rescue me. Regardless of the day I’m having, one thing remains true… The more time I spend on my own, the more I enjoy my own company.
Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully there’s a love story in there waiting for me to take centre stage.