Travel Culture Has Ruined Dating

If you're not "travel the world" material, thanks for playing, but you're gonna die alone.
Publish date:
May 5, 2016
travel, online dating, traveling, expectations

I'm in my late twenties and I'm single. Logging onto Facebook — seeing people I grew up with get engaged, married, and become parents — is a daily reminder that I'm slightly behind the curve. One of my good friends from high school is about to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary this summer. Yeah, that's what I said, her 10th wedding anniversary.

As someone who lives and works outside of The City (aka Atlanta), I don't really come across many eligible bachelors when I'm running errands or going to the gym. Most of my friends are either single or don't know of any decent guys worth introducing me to. And even though I would love to meet someone organically, being an introvert that sucks horribly at flirting and also lives in the suburbs makes that kind of hard. So, like 22% of single millennials, I put myself out there on a few dating apps. You know the kind: swipe right if you're interested, swipe left if you aren't. As I began to go through the micro-profiles of each guy, I noticed a trend.

Nearly every guy is a traveler.

Yes, it seems like 95% of males on any dating platform are passport-holding nomads that are looking for a companion to accompany them on their frequent excursions. Their bios boast their love for a getaway and their profile photos confirm it. Give me a freakin' break. Don't get me wrong — I enjoy a great vacation as much as the next person. I make an attempt to take at least one good trip a year. But traveling doesn't define me. It's not what I think of when I'm telling someone about myself. My Instagram isn't laced with photos of me globetrotting the world.

It's quite the opposite, actually. Truthfully, I'm a bit of a homebody. My weekends are usually spent catching up on the shows I missed the week before or running errands. To make myself a bit more sociable and less like a hermit, I'll find a new restaurant to try.

I'm not a world traveler by any means. I've been to two countries (three if you count Puerto Rico). I've been to 14 states out of 50 and the majority of those are on the East Coast. Compared to some of my friends and acquaintances from high school and college, I'm quite the neophyte and to be honest, I lost my passport somewhere in my house. This is fine with me because I've recently dedicated myself to exploring domestic destinations that don't get enough shine. For an example, during MLK weekend, I made an overnight road trip to Greenville, SC where I basked in the quaintness of its downtown area and local eateries. It allowed me to keep my PTO but also exposed me to a place I'd never been to before.

It doesn't matter though. Traveling is the one topic that always comes up in these preliminary conversations.

Recently on SoulSwipe, a guy asked me if I liked to travel and where I'd been. Another started a conversation by humble bragging that he was currently en route to Las Vegas. One guy from Tinder mentioned that he was heading to the bank because he was preparing for a 10-day birthday trip on the West Coast. I didn't get the chance to meet one dude due to his busy jetsetting schedule. Someone I met in a cafe told me that he was heading out of town the following day and I never heard from him again.

I believe the presence of black travel societies such as Travel Noire and Nomadness Travel Tribe have contributed to this craze. I'm all for black globetrotters getting recognized. I understand that representation matters. It truly is encouraging. Seeing black millennials like myself traipsing across the world is inspiring.

On the other hand, it can also add an air of pretentiousness to the whole dating scene. The founder of Travel Noire once said that "people will spend their entire vacation" just trying to get their photo reposted on the Travel Noire Instagram account. Though I'm sure some of these men are traveling to become more well-rounded, most are going to stunt. I don't want to be in a relationship with a guy who's online followers act like his mistresses. I've dated someone where I constantly had to vie for his time and attention. Ain't doin' that again. Nah.

Last fall, I read an article about being "travel the world" material. The basic idea was that someone that you travel the world with is someone you can trust, someone that you can truly commit to. I agree with that sentiment. As someone's significant other, I'd want to be his partner and confidant. I just don't believe that those types appear overnight or that it has that much to do with traveling.

I think the real reason why these worldly gallivanting types concern me is because it seems that they don't mind escalating a relationship's progress instead of letting it grow naturally. He might want to skip a few crucial steps just to get to the fun part, like taking a long weekend to go to a beachfront resort with his boo. And I'm sorry; I just refuse to waste my good, yet limited vacation time to trek with an anon. I'm not that carefree.

And how do I know that this need to roam the country isn't just a cover for someone who doesn't deal well with commitment? If he can't enjoy the surrounding area, how would he be able to appreciate me, someone who prefers the more simplistic things in life? But I digress.

I believe that you can learn a lot from a person by traveling together and I look forward to experiencing that with my next beau, but I'm also interested in so much more than the stamps in his passport. I hope my future guy will be a cultured, well-balanced individual offline as well. Until then, I'll continue to wait on someone that, like me, prefers the road less traveled.