Over the past 15 months I have been on the road a lot. It’s one of the things that keep life going, isn’t it? New experiences, new things, new people, new places. Life ends when your curiosity ends. I feel like traveling is a lot like dating. It’s not always on. But when it is, it’s certainly exciting. And if you’re lucky, you fall in love at the right place at the right time.
So how is traveling a lot like dating?
1. It feels unfamiliar at first, then it gets better.
With dating, the feeling of unfamiliarity can be exciting and scary. It’s discovering the unknown, going after what you want, trying to impress, and learning whether you two are compatible. Trust is not instantly given. You need to get familiar before you can trust.
When you travel, you don’t know the place that well when you first arrive. You feel excited, sometimes scared - this depends on the first impression you get of the city. There are so many things to discover. It feels unfamiliar. You don’t know the city that well. You don’t know the streets, the places, the culture, the people and their attitude - basically you have to start anew. And that’s the beauty in it - in discovering, in trying to understand, in trying to blend in, and in trying to learn as much as you can.
No matter where you go to, its beauty only comes out strongest when you experience it from the eyes of a local who knows the best of the city. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes it does. And when that happens, you start to fall in love.
2. You fall in love.
How many times have you fallen in love over the course of your life? Probably not a lot. How many dates have you gone on since you started dating? You probably lost count a long time ago. You go on so many dates, only to once in a while find what you’ve been looking for. Things just work out. You fall in love. The world feels beautiful once again. Everything becomes pleasant and you realize how much better it feels to experience everything - to grow and to live - with another compatible soul by your side.
The same goes for travel. If you’re a traveler at heart who has lived and traveled overseas, you’d find that no matter how many places you go to, only one in ten would capture your heart and make you want to get to know it a little more. When this happens, you find ways to move to that city. The more you get to know that city, the more you fall in love. The next thing you know you can’t get yourself out of it, you’ve fallen in love - it has become your new home.
And if you’re lucky, you fall in love one more time. This time, not with a city, but with a person from the city you’re in love with.
3. There are always challenges.
Life is not a bed of roses. Some paths are paved with thorns. And that’s the beauty of life. Nothing ever comes as perfect and smooth sailing. There are always things that you don’t like - about anything and everything you come across.
There are always things you don’t like about the person you’re dating - whether it’s big or small. What matters is whether you choose to accept the flaws and focus on the good, or linger on what bothers you. Relationships can never be smooth sailing because no one is perfect and no one’s life is ever without road bumps. There will always be obstacles that come up to challenge you and test your strength and your love. Sometimes you surrender to that test and move on to hopefully find something that’s better and more suitable for you. However, sometimes the challenges come to teach you to appreciate and cherish what you have because you ain’t going to get anything better or more suited to you.
When you move to a new city, even though you have fallen in love with that city in the first place, you will still face challenges that will make you feel like giving up from time to time. Whether it be the difficult job situation, the new friends you’re trying to make, the horrible weather you’re trying to get used to - these challenges oftentimes make you want to move back to where you came from and feel more familiar with. However, sometimes, you realize that the things you don’t like about the city is not that bad if you think about the good things you love about that city - and then, you stick it through and accept it for what it is because a beautiful rose can never be without its thorns and there ain’t going to be a rainbow without the rain and sunshine.
4. You feel loved and warm.
Isn’t it a magical feeling to feel that your new home finally feels like home? Once you have met your kind of people and your kind of places, life in a new city feels much more fun. You start to feel loved and warm. You feel comfy and cozy. There ain’t no place like home! You no longer spend Christmas alone in your home eating 7-11 sandwiches feeling like you’re living in a ghost town where everything is shut. You start looking forward to festivals and holidays because they bring your loved ones together.
After having dated someone for a while, the “like” starts to develop into “love”. The excitement, nervousness, and butterflies start to be replaced by the real love and warm feeling. You’d rather sit at home on the couch watching tv drinking a glass of red at home with your loved one than to go out clubbing and making out at the bar (although that’s still fun to do once in a while). You start to care and feel cared for - on a deeper level. You start to feel deeply connected and understood, not just sexually desired for. You try to understand, rather than impress. You feel loved and no matter where you go, it feels like home with that person by your side.
5. It gets better and then you get bored.
Have you ever been in a city for a long time that after a while you get bored? You start to feel stagnant and complacent. The city doesn’t excite you anymore and living in it you feel like your soul is slowly dying. You crave more out of life. You want to explore. You want to get out and see what’s out there. You realize that you need to pack your bag and move once again - to find a new place you can call home, or, to realize months after that there’s no place quite like home.
It’s the same with relationships. Sometimes after dating someone for a while you realize there’s nothing left to hold onto. You two have drifted apart. You don’t want the same things in life anymore. Comfort feels more like boredom. You realize that there is no other way out but to say goodbye.
6. It needs a break in between.
You can’t continuously travel for the rest of your life. Neither can you forever go on dates. Every once in a while, you need to take a break and stay put.
Although it is fun to travel, however, it also feels great to come home and be able to unpack your suitcase, catch up with friends and family, and be surrounded by the familiar places and surroundings for a while.
Dating is the same. Sometimes it’s fun to go on dates and meet different people. However, after a while you just get tired. Whether it’s dating as a single looking for the one you want to settle down with or jumping from one relationship to another, you need a break in between. You need some time to breath, to feel comfortable in your own solitude, and to get in touch with your true self once again.
7. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the one that forever captures your heart.
Our search in life never ends. It starts from the search for our true selves, our true passions, hopes and dreams, to the search for a compatible dream job and the search for the one we want to spend the rest of our lives with.
Over and over we go on this search. Repeatedly. Life is a wave - always in motion creating a cycle of ups and downs which is giving in life. The ones who succeed continue this cycle and don’t get washed up on shore.
We, as travelers, are forever on search for the next city to go to. Every once in a while we come across a place that forever captures our heart. Home is where our heart is and that place instantly and forever will feel like home. I have written a post on how we travelers fall in love with cities and sometimes we wonder how we’d know where home is when we can make anywhere home. But it shouldn’t feel like hard work to feel like home where we belong, should it? It should feel easy and comfortable. We should feel loved, excited, and inspired.
I guess the same feeling happens when you have met the one - someone who truly captures your heart and you want to forever come home to, someone you want to wake up next to every morning, someone you want to hold hands through thick and thin, someone you want to wholeheartedly trust because you know they will take care of it as preciously as how you’d take care of theirs.
Dating is a lot like traveling. It is exciting, yet, challenging at times. You will keep on searching, until you find the one that truly captures your heart. You know it’s rare - but the search is the journey of life - a life that is worth living for.