On Nomadic Dating: What travel taught me about casual relationships

So, funny story: turns out dating isn’t especially easy when you’re planning to leave—not just the city but the country—in a few months.

Women typically—and understandably—assume you’re looking for simple hookups, which makes them—again, understandably—leery. Thing is, I’m actually not looking for a string of meaningless hookups—nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone’s being honest and upfront about it, but it’s just not my thing.

Okay, so, what in the hell could I possibly be looking for, right? I mean, I can’t be looking for something long term and serious, given that I’ve already got a metaphorical foot out the door. And, no, I’m not looking to build a committed, lasting relationship.

I guess it’s a question every nomad will, at some point, have to address, for him or herself but also for those around him or her, whether they be skeptical friends, confused family or apprehensive dates.

Awright, well, firstly—and this won’t come as much of a shock to many—I see a sort of middle ground between simply getting laid and building a lasting coupledom. For me, conveniently enough, my views on that middle ground are best expressed through a travel metaphor.

Think of it this way: If you were faced with the option to visit an intriguing, fascinating, exciting new city, but knew that it would be for a short time only, with no possibility of living there, would you still go?

Of course you would.

Now, though you’d only be there a brief time, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to know all about the place. You’d still tour its museums to learn about its history, visit its restaurants and quirky neighborhoods to best immerse yourself in its culture, and take frequent moments to simply experience the vibe of the place, the sights and sounds and smells and energy of it.

Though there for only a short time, though visiting with no specific goal in mind, you would still want to create a meaningful connection with the place, you’d want to create lasting memories built on experiences unique to that time and that place.

Sure, your visit could be described as casual, but this wouldn’t mean that you’d be any less engaged, any less present and open to everything the place had to offer. You wouldn’t be lazy about your exploration.

You’d explore its every street and alley and courtyard, hike its hills and swim its waters, engage with it on as many levels and as deeply as possible.

If anything, the knowledge that your time there was limited would lead to greater focus and engagement, to an enthusiasm and passion for discovery and exploration that you wouldn’t apply to your own neighborhood or backyard.

You would still be respectful of the place, its people and its culture. You wouldn’t be there to simply have a good time, get wasted, break laws, or take advantage of the place’s weaker dollar. In fact, you’d want to give as much as you receive, to experience the place as only you can, and to hopefully leave a lasting and positive mark.

But, no, while there, you wouldn’t enquire about property taxes, or think about whether or not it would be a good place to raise children, or look into the job market or quality of healthcare. You’d form no such complex and long-term expectations for the place or yourself.

I loved Cadaques, and will remember it always, but I know that, for many reasons, I could not live there. But I will look it up once in a while. I still care about what goes on there. I tell anyone who will listen about it, about its beauty and charm. And, maybe, hopefully, I’ll go back someday.

I don’t think any experience or connection should be discounted simply due to its temporary nature. That goes for trips, of course, but I firmly believe it also applies to relationships.

You meet someone who seems intriguing, fascinating and exciting, but they’re only around for a few days, weeks or months. Do you take the opportunity to build on connections and create new experiences and memories for that brief time, or do you take the all-or-nothing approach?

There’s no right answer. It entirely depends on your wants and needs and situation. But, for me, someone who will soon be moving on and plans on doing so again and again in the future, well, it’s what works for me, it’s what I want and need.

And—who knows—maybe, someday, I’ll meet a fellow nomad, someone who will follow me around and whom I can follow, someone who makes every place the kinda place I could call home.