Liz Does Relationships (and the world-traveling modern female)

Alright you all, I’m about to go down on the dirty.  No, I’m not going to give explicit details from my own personal life (uh, yeah right), but I am going to try to collect and present my observations on love (and lust) for the world traveler in some sort of coherent and meaningful way (if I fail, which is probable, let’s call it well-intentioned ramblings from the Road).

Doesn't it kind of look like she wants to get away?

As far as personal stories go, I will admit to this, that I ended up sacrificing a five year relationship with a great guy to satisfy my own wanderlust.  And I also can say that I believe I made the right decision.  Follow your dreams, or you’ll live to regret it, right?  That’s the adage, and if current pop culture has anything to say (and they’re always saying something), then eventually you’ll end up with both the dream career with the dream partner.   Boy as hopeful as I would like to be, the cynic in me says “not always the case.”

Let’s take the world traveling female, for example (sorry, boys, I’m not going to attempt to write your experiences, and sorry, ladies, because I will attempt to write–perhaps generalize–yours).  At this juncture in my life (I love the word ‘juncture’), I do not foresee “settling down” anywhere in the near future.  And YET! I hold on to the assumption that I will find a partner and be able to have a family–One Day.  But, biologically speaking, I should probably be at least considering that “one day” might come too late and I may find myself ready for the whole family-caboodle, but sterile and ALONE.  After all, as this article from ABC News states,

By the time a woman hits 30, nearly all of her ovarian eggs are gone for good, according to a new study that says women who put off childbearing for too long could have difficulty ever conceiving.

The study published by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University in Scotland found that women have lost 90 percent of their eggs by the time they are 30 years old, and only have about 3 percent remaining by the time they are 40.

And as I am about to turn 26, and wasn’t even planning on beginning to think about having a baby until I was well into my 30s, it looks like I just may be fucked (or maybe I should be getting fucked that is).  I recently had a conversation with a friend, a fellow world traveler but male, who expressed many of my own beliefs about this whole “settling down and having a family” thing.  He said that, basically, he doesn’t feel that marriage is necessary if two people love and are committed to each other, and he’s all for traveling and living the “ex-pat” life.  Men, however, can have children so long as they’re cranking the stuff out (which can be well into their seventies and beyond), do not have to physically carry the baby to term (or breast feed, or feel bloated and fat), and for some reason women tend to go for the older man (even I have been known to have a few hopeless crushes on the balding, bespectacled 40+-somethings), meaning they have it easier if they want to “have it all.”

Even if we are to put the whole fertility issue aside (because seriously what better way to get into a guy’s pants than to harp on and on about your biological clock?) there’s the whole logistics of it all.  My current short-term plans (let’s say five years) involve me moving around A LOT, and we’re talking a series of trans-continental moves.  What are the odds of finding someone who would be willing to drop everything and come along for the ride?  Even a fellow wanderer, who lives for travel, may have a different location in mind.  And, from personal experience, long-distance relationships are straining, and sometimes unsatisfying (if the distance and time apart are significant).  One of the reasons why my long-distance relationship ended was simply that neither of us were getting enough of the benefits of being in a relationship to stay in it (and both of us too poor for visits to be an option).  There is only so much intimacy one can transmit through the satellite projections of two cellular phones (that is how they work, right?) and the unfeeling Times New Roman, black letters on a white screen, achievable through email.   We physically need touch.  So, that leaves us with only one answer…

PROMISCUITY!  (Just kidding, take a breath, Mom.)  But seriously, let’s consider this for a moment.  Now, I consider myself a modern feminist.  I would like to fancy myself capable of throwing out the old, tired, traditional image of “Boy meets Girl; Boy dates Girl; Boy marries Girl; and Boy and Girl live happily ever after with 2.1 kids, white picket fence, and a mortgage,” for a newer, hipper image!  An image that screams, “I don’t need anybody!”  Picture it, a young woman moving around, independent but not alone, lovers all over the world, not ONE BIG LOVE, but many, passionate love affairs.  This lady is cool, in every sense of the word.  If she decides she wants to be a parent, she makes it happen (hello sperm bank/willing participant)–no strings attached!  She can do it all, and all on her own.  The elusive, ‘uncatchable’ female.  Do I want to be this woman?  HELL, yes!  I would LOVE to be that independent and strong, but if I’m to be brutally honest with myself (and you poor readers who made the mistake of clicking on this link), it’s not what I really want.

I’d like to “One Day” find a guy willing to be my partner, one who wants the same things in life, and willing to shoulder some of the burden.  I believe a healthy relationship is when two people join together and commit to be honest with each other, have fun together, support each other, whose mere presence inspires each to be their best possible self, and who are moving in the same direction.  I also believe, that if the time comes that they must go separate ways, they should be able to say “I love the person that you are, and I will cherish our memories together forever; however, it’s not working out anymore, and I wish you the best.”  There doesn’t have to be drama or jealousy because love isn’t about ownership; two people can be together while maintaining their identity and freedom.

Okay, so I’ve talked myself into a mess.  I have no more answers than when I started this post, and in fact, feel a bit more confused.  I do know because of a recent experience, that as much as I love being independent and on my own (and the pride of knowing that I can thrive by myself), I actually miss having someone to hold me, talk to me, and that fun that comes from slowly opening yourself up to someone and they to you.  As my girl Tracy Chapman says, “I don’t want no one to squeeze me; they might take away my life; I just want someone to hold me and rock me through the night.”  For now, anyway, and maybe One Day just might come…

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11 thoughts on “Liz Does Relationships (and the world-traveling modern female)

  1. Wow, that’s a lot to think about!
    I’m thinking of going away for a few months overseas and I’m worried about everything. How long were you apart from your boyfriend before things started to get tough? Sorry if it’s too personal, I won’t be offended if you don’t want to talk about it.

    • Hey there!
      No problem (I obviously am pretty comfortable at sharing personal info 😉 We were together about a year before things fell apart. Maybe if he could have visited me (or I him) things would have lasted, but then again, maybe not. Personally, I feel that I gained all that I could from that relationship and that’s why I cherish it so much, as a learning experience. We ended things very amicably, and it all started by me writing him a very honest email about how I felt. Turns out, he felt the same way. It just isn’t fair to ask someone to give up on their dreams or to wait around for you. It’s important to maintain honest communication and trust. I’m sure you two will be fine. Where are you going?

      • I’m thinking of going to the UK for maybe 3 months? It’s not that long. We’ve been away from each other for two months before, but in the same country (and I did go out for a 2 week visit.)

        When we’re at home, we’re only 20 minutes away (but we basically live together for most the week.)

        Maintaining honest communication is a must, I agree. There’s nothing worse than finding out the other person has been thinking about ending the relationship…for the last 3 months. Lol.

        How long were you away? Judging from what I’ve skimmed over in your blog, it seems like you’re a designated world traveler 😛

      • He and I were together for five years: the first year, I did an internship in Chicago for a semester while he was in Iowa, then I studied in Paris while he was in London. Even back home, we lived about two hours away from each other. It wasn’t perfect, we had some drama and fights and even split for a couple months. When I joined Peace Corps we were together for a year before we broke up. I’m sure 3 months, you guys will be fine so long as you both trust each other. After two years in the PC, I feel like three months is a blink of an eye! Good luck!

  2. I would definitely be cautious of a long-long distance relationship. I was in long distance relationship for about 1.5 years from Cedar Falls, IA to Washington D.C. and then I went to Russia for a semester, and things got really difficult from there. It was very hard to find times to talk when both weren’t busy… Me with classes and her with trying to graduate from Georgetown University. So long story short we both got honest with each other/ourselves and agreed that it wasnt working, and wasnt looking like it was going to in the near future so we broke it off. While painful at the time it was most definitely for the best, as we remain pretty close friends.

  3. “Hey, I want to settle down. And as soon as I find the right small group of girls, the seven or eight women who are right for me, my wandering days are over, buddy.” — Cat

    I think it’s normal, maybe even natural, to be confused about love and romance and all the associated things. Maybe you can figure it out for yourself but it’s impossible to figure it out for everyone. I think it’s natural to want fairy tales and I think it’s natural to worry that you’re not gonna get any younger and that you’ll miss the boat because you’re waiting for a fairy tale. For instance, Claude told me that if I chased my ideal forever, I’d never find her, but instead I’d notice all my friends had settled down and had kids and how I regretted not just sticking with one who I already felt in my heart, “Hey, that’s my person”, without complication.

    I’d love to be independent and strong, like your “elusive, ‘uncatchable’ female” — not even to raise kids on my own — but even just to be able to love freely without needing to worry about tomorrow. But I’m not, and I know in my heart of hearts that I won’t be any time soon, and the more I try to be the more confused and lost I become. I always admired my friend for being something like that, but she’s married now, but to be honest with myself, I have to admit that I’m romantic at heart, and I don’t foresee that changing without some kind of terrible trauma. If that means abstaining from the astonishingly small Peace Corps Cameroon dating scene until I leave, well, that’s just the price I’ll have to pay!

    Good luck with your fairy tale. I’m rooting for you.

    Ethan

  4. Good article! Looks like I only have 8 months before my eggs deteriorate into nothing 😦

    It’s ok! Not in a rush!

    On another note, I also let go of a relationship of 2 years to pursue my travel dreams. And you know what? Well worth it.

    We weren’t on the same page anyway otherwise he would’ve been traveling with me and not let me wander off too far.

    Good news is that I met a wonderful guy on my travels and now we live together and will continue to travel together.

    Happily ever after? Well atleast for now 🙂

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