Sunday, March 7, 2010

Travel Partners

If you want to test the alchemy and strength of a relationship, friendship, or even just get to know the real version of someone (and yourself, for that matter), put down the Cosmo quiz and pick up a travel brochure. Then, take a vacation...anywhere. Explore the unknown, test the waters without the conventional routine of home and its safety, or running to your respective bases when things don't pan out perfectly; get away from the allotted time that being on a date permits… But do so with caution. When traveling with a partner, obstacles surface, assertiveness is tested, communication skills are tried, and personal space is invaded even more so than the French beaches of Normandy in WW2. The rawness of your character becomes evident. Whether you’ve been dating for two solid years, or two passionate months, makes no difference; in my case, it was a vague nine months.

Back in May, I met someone very unexpectedly (to put that into perspective, I met him while at the store buying Greek yogurt with my two cousins), and it blossomed into the parallels of a relationship. “They” say that that’s how it happens: when you’re not looking. We played the dating game and had a lot of fun doing so. He was different: he was the guy that brought me flowers on every single date (all fifty-something of them), that adored me, that all of my family said “Don’t let this one go.” But knowing that living abroad was on my immediate To-do list, and long-term relationships are not my hobby, I kept my guard up and commitment off the table; I was even told that I took on the "guy thinking role." I became even more obstinate in keeping my distance after identifying with the movie, 500 Days of Summer, where she quotes: "I like being on my own. I think relationships are messy and people’s feelings get hurt. Who needs it? We’re young, we live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; might as well have fun while we can, and save the serious stuff for later.”

Fast-forward to present day and it’s evident that his persistence paid off (although he may debate this), despite my still unwillingness to commit, he is still very much in the picture. It’s a feat when I don’t completely write something (or someone) off. He was the first of my circle back home, to jump on a plane when he found out I had two weeks of winter vacation. The first week, we explored Lyon; the second week, we threw our plans to the wind to explore Corsica; the third week, we explored the benefits of some time a part.

There was a guidebook and map for all the places we went but I’ve yet to find a guidebook that teaches how to remain on the pedestal to someone whose image of you matters, while becoming bereft of all patience, and secretly hoping they’ll step in dog merde (abundantly spread throughout the sidewalks of France). As much difficulty as I had adjusting to living here, I don’t think I was properly prepared for living here with someone, and even more, traveling with them. I had learned to adapt to the solitary life style here, but when Trevor came to visit, he brought reminiscents of home with him. Strangely enough, I felt homesick all over again.

I know for a fact that I’m no piece of cake, myself; far from it at times! I’m stubborn. I like things my way, all while trying to appease the other person. I am an extrovert who needs alone time. I'm not one for PDA. I want the other person to be honest and open even though I sometimes refuse. I expect them to read my mind so I don’t have to admit that I have needs. I take some time to bounce back from an argument, time to process. I can be moody even when I’m not hungry, tired, or sick. I seem like my own hypocrisy, but aside from that, I’m practically perfect.

As T put it, the past three weeks were a series of highs and lows: When things were good, they were this-feels-like-how-it's-supposed-to-be-and-so-much-fun-type of good; but when they weren't so good, well, let's just say we both thought about throwing in the towel. I would love to say that I figured out an organized set of rules of how to make it work when traveling with someone and bypass the previous mistakes, but I didn’t. Like everything though, there were some key points that I took:
  • Deep breaths.
  • Timeouts. Then, coming back later when things aren't so heated.
  • Trying to win an argument will result in the loss of respect.
  • Chameleons should be left in the jungle and outside of relationships. When they're in a bad mood, it doesn't have to affect yours. Recognize it and release it … eventually they will, too... hopefully
  • Ipods. To be specific, separate Ipods.
  • I-statements. Take the blame out of communication. It sounds so cliché-therapy-like but it’s true.
  • Listen. Truly listen. It's easy to become so defensive and concerned with what you'll counter with next, that everything they've said has gone completely unheard.

…And really, all it boils down to is communication skills. I’m pretty sure Oprah or Psychology Today magazine have some sort of guide to this on their website, making the self-help shelf of any bookstore, avoidable.

I am now under the firm belief that honeymoons should come before the wedding, because frankly, if you can successfully and happily make it through that trip together, the marriage will be a breeze. In any event, traveling with someone can be tough and that pedestal will come crashing out from underneath you (as Trevor even told me), but it’s a chance to see the real versions of each other, then hope that you’ll swim instead of sink.

C’est la vie.

Daily Gratitude:

  • The 3 weeks ended on a good note
  • With recent travel, replying to friends' emails and updates, hasn't been constant. They're still there, despite this. I'm lucky and I have great friends.
  • McDonalds kids ice cream cone: cheap, perfect size, and a good Sunday afternoon treat.
  • The hot shower that awaits me.


  1. Awww - I'm sorry about the bad times!
    But I'm glad you found a way to live through it and enjoy it, while Trevor was with you.
    Thanks for the amazing tips - very useful ;)
    Have an amazing week, girl!
    Brazilian XOXO's,

  2. Seriously, traveling really does reveal so much about a relationship. You're right -- the honeymoon SHOULD come before the wedding. I feel like you're pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by showing Trevor all sides of yourself. Not always easy, I know!
    I hope we get to talk soon!

  3. I remember going on holiday with my last boy, it really is a test of a relationship. It sounds like you guys made it through relatively unscathed, so yay! I agree with your tips, space and time are so important. Um, in relationships as well as in the universe :P

  4. i think you are awesome for having the relationship on your own terms! it's so true, if you want to see someone's true colors (and your own towards them) then all you need to do is take a trip together! ahh! what a cool thing to do, and i still loe the story of how you guys met :)

    ps you are too beautiful for your own good!

  5. your best blog yet...self introspection can be painfully productive, but you're doing it. very proud of your writing abilities and balancing both the issues as well as personality strengths & limitations for each of you. hang in there! love you, mom

  6. That's it! This blog post has convinced me that my honeymoon is coming before my wedding. Now to find the lucky guy...

  7. this is a beautiful post.. i love it! i am a firm believer of never marry a guy unless you've gotten a flat tire with him.. my fiance and i have had a few of them.. and thankfully we are always able to weather the storms.. it sounds like he is a GREAT guy- family might be right. a keeper ; )

  8. omigod elle!!! i can't believe i didn't notice that you had a new blog. so i'm sure you miss us! haha. i've got to start at the beginning. sorry if i comment on everything. i'm super excited and happy you're doing well! xo Quisha