So, recently I encountered a pair of articles, Date a Boy Who Travels and Don’t Date A Girl Who Travels, which gave me pause and a fair amount of confusion. Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels seems to have been written, at least partially, in response to or in knowledge of Date a Boy Who Travels, and provides a link to the blog. After reading both blogs, I had to send them on to a friend to double check and make sure that I wasn’t going crazy by my interpretation. If you didn’t catch by the juxtaposition, there’s a severe conflict being presented as to relational potential/value when a gender travels.
I get that the main purpose of the articles seems to have been aimed at saying, “Traveling makes you awesome and independent and is a wonderful thing that you should totally take time to do,” however, there was a second message in the article that twists that first bit and gets really distracting. Before I continue, I’d like to make it clear, neither men nor women are in anyway obligated to be in romantic relationships, nor do they require said relationships in order to be fulfilled, happy, or worthwhile. That being said, the message I got from Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels was that traveling makes women independent, self-sufficient, strong, deep, mature, capable, adventurous, creative, opinionated, and possessing of a strong sense of self, and that desiring women with those traits is a bad and fruitless endeavor. I call shenanigans. But I’m not finished, because Date a Boy Who Travels is almost as bad. Travel with your man, so that he can teach you independence (you didn’t learn it for yourself, he had to bring you into it), and he will be the one to provide and lead and initiate. Eventually you may go out on your own, but it’s because he inspired you to it. Don’t commit to your dreams (even if they don’t involve traveling), go and follow his desire to travel and make his dreams your own. No… hell no. Ladies and gentlemen, the 50’s are over and June Cleaver is dead. I will give the end of Boy Who Travels (from here on out, let’s refer to Boy Who Travels as BWT and Don’t Girl Who Travels as DGWT because we’re going to be talking about them a lot) its due and mention that they allow that should you not find a man who travels, you should go do it anyways, but only after waxing poetic about how it’s so wonderful to find joy together in traveling. So, let’s just call this what it is: sexist. It may not have been intentional, but still, come on!
I’ve met a lot of single women traveling on their own, enjoying their lives, setting and meeting goals, having adventures, and just generally being awesome. The vast majority of them aren’t in a dating relationship, and that’s ok, because they don’t need to be. That being said, the girl mentioned in DGWT is one of the most dateable women I’ve ever heard described, and all of that independent, self-sufficient, strong, deep, mature, capable, adventurous, creative, opinionated, and possessing of a strong sense of self stuff is super attractive. It may just be that I’m not some stuffed shirt with an overinflated sense of self-importance, but I’m quite glad that this woman looks for more than a fancy watch and a nice car, and would be willing to go rock climbing, hiking, and exploring. That sounds like a healthy woman with a good sense of what she wants in a partner and a good sense of how people have value. I find it really frustrating that these two articles, however unintentional, have created such an unrealistic and unhelpful dichotomy. Lots of the same qualities (for example a preference for substance rather than style in a partner) are mentioned in these two articles, but the expressions of those qualities and the desirability of those qualities seems to go the opposite direction, desirable in a man, but rendering a woman undateable. Why should independence, creativity, depth, and self-sufficiency make a woman unattractive or make her difficult to date? Do we live in a society where men are the only ones allowed to hold those qualities and also be able to find a partner, should they want one? Last I checked, women are human beings too, and equally worthwhile. The presence of intelligence and independence and self-sufficiency should not mitigate any of these things!
Also, while we’re on the topic, I think the author underestimates the flexibility and capability of someone who has learned to enjoy the simple things with the grand things, and who has made their life one filled with travel and adventure. These are dynamic people being talked about here, not a type that’s stuck on mountain tops with their heads in the clouds. Chances are, a woman who travels can hold a steady job and be far more responsible than most in that job. You kind of have to be responsible if you are going to do your best to eat, see all the things that you want to see on a one week pass through a part of southeast asia, avoid getting sick, injured, or robbed, and maybe sleep a little between airports. Also, a college degree is never wasted if it is learned well. They may not be in the field they went to school for, but chances are a woman so intelligent, independent, creative, and strong will have found ways to apply some of the lessons she learned in college to whatever she’s doing now, be it for money or for self-edification. There is also a huge difference between transience and uncertainty. She knows what she wants to do, she’s just flexible on the when, and she’s learned far more than surfing not being the most important thing; she’s a woman, not an idiot. Then wow, hot damn! She’s a woman who has her own opinion, isn’t afraid to voice it, knows how to take care of herself, and doesn’t have to impress other people to see value in herself? Duck and cover! The horsemen of the apocalypse ride! I’m just going to assume this article was written addressing the same self-interested douche-bag who thinks flawless skin is a reasonable ideal, thinks that expensive watches, new cars, and stories about his “manly” exploits are things that have or create value in a person, and would rather gripe about some stupid job rather than talk philosophy, politics, and the deep things of life. (As a guy, I’m kind of offended by that portrayal) The person who you shouldn’t date is the kind of person who’d have a problem with the woman who travels.
Now, to change tracks a bit: I may be a guy, but I’ve had people be bug-eyed and unhappy at me for all the traveling I have done, am doing, and will do. I’ve sat in a job dreaming of more because I knew I could do more, but I still did that job well, because one thing I’ve learned from traveling is that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, because you might not get a chance to do it again. When I read that article, I identified rather strongly with the woman who travels. I’d imagine women are equally capable of learning and understanding that things worth doing are worth doing well, but of course, I’m not a woman and vaginas could potentially be brain-eating monsters, so correct me if I’m wrong.
Women are perfectly capable of traveling on their own and doing a damned good job of it, and they don’t need a man to lead them into it (BWT, I’m looking at you), nor do they need a man to live life happily and well. Furthermore, it is good for women to be independent, holding their own opinions, self sufficient, deep, mature, and adventurous, whether they want to date or not. However, should they decide to date, good on them, they’re attractive and quite dateable for real human beings.
TL;DR – Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels was clearly written to a self-absorbed idiot with an overinflated sense of their own importance, because women who are able to take care of themselves, know what they want, and go after it are worthwhile human beings that are quite desirable and capable of dating, should they want to; Date a Boy Who Travels thinks traveling is great and instills a lot of positive qualities in people, but must have been written with strong influence from the 50’s because the woman being addressed sounds like she has very few plans or motivations of her own and is only encouraged to go find her own should she not find a man of her own. Protip – Women are people too, and it’s cool that they do their own stuff.