Are traveling and having fulfilling, loving relationships mutually exclusive? That's what I was wondering after I saw this popular article making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter recently. Written by Adi Zarsadias, "Don't Date a Girl Who Travels" offers up tidbits such as, "Don't date a girl who travels, because she'll bug you to book a flight every time there's an airline seat sale," and "She makes money from designing, writing, photography or something that requires creativity and imagination. Don't waste her time complaining about your boring job," or "Don't date a girl who travels as she tends to speak her mind. She will never try to impress your parents or friends. She knows respect, but isn't afraid to hold a debate about global issues or social responsibility."
I firmly believe that traveling is one of the best ways to step outside your comfort zone, make new friends, gain new skills, and really learn something about yourself and others. And yet...something about her article rubbed me and my fellow editors slightly the wrong way. To me, the main problem with her piece is that it seems to be predicated on a couple of assumptions that she got wrong. First: That women who don't travel can't be independent, and second, that the desire to be independent and travel is mutually exclusive with being in a fulfilling, loving relationship.
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Adi writes that girls who travel are busy living in the present; they talk to strangers; they speak their minds; they don't wear watches (okay, I agree with her there—but that's only because we live in the era of the iPhone, duh); they don't work like robots in cubicles all day; they go out and take what life has to offer. And that all may be true but ignores a fundamental reality: Adi's experiences are not everyone's experiences. Just because some female travelers fit that description doesn't mean everyone who doesn't travel automatically doesn't fit that description. Anyone who's ever taken a new job, moved states, moved into a first apartment, broken up with a boyfriend, lost a loved one, learned a new language, gotten a master's degree, or [insert any other life experience here] can tell you those things challenge you, shape your views, force you to examine life in a different way, or give you something to say—and plenty of people looking for relationships find that interesting. As it turns out, women (and men) who travel don't have the market cornered on insightfulness or independence.
Plus, some people don't have the means to travel. I'm sure plenty of people would probably love the opportunity to travel but simply can't afford it. Is that to say that all those people are stuck in meaningless, loveless relationships or that they have nothing to contribute or that they can't be independent? I doubt it.
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Ultimately, I think it comes down to compatibility, compromise, and communication (and apparently, alliteration). Some people who love to travel probably do so with their partners. Others may travel solo. Other couples might travel together and separately. Still other couples don't travel at all but enjoy other hobbies together. Life isn't one-size-fits all, and your wants and needs will probably change as you grow and get older. The key, I think, is finding someone who's on the same page as you—who wants to grow and change with you, even if that doesn't include traveling the world.
What do you think? Am I missing the point of the piece completely? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us @Shape_Magazine!