Breaking Up to Travel the World

I’ve been wanting to write this post for months. But to be honest, I’ve been afraid to get this personal. Sure I’ve talked about my struggles and loneliness living in China, my embarrassment when a student called me fat, and how I sometimes judge people for not being as “adventurous” as me. I even went on a giant feminist rant a few months back.

So why have I steered clear of my personal life? By “personal life”, I think we all mean my dating life. Well, in case any of you were wondering, I’m super single and I have been for a while. It’s pretty hard to have a relationship with someone when you’re not sure what country you’re going to live in next year!

But a few years ago I did have a boyfriend. I actually had a very serious boyfriend.

So…. what happened?

I chose travel over my boyfriend, and it is the best decision I have ever made. 

break up to travel

Back before smart phone selfies were a “thing”, I failed.

Let’s start from the beginning

My freshman year of college, I decided that I would lean Chinese with the plan of studying abroad in China. I was an International Affairs major, and we had to learn three years of a language.

I started studying Chinese in my sophomore year, and let me tell you, it was hard. Chinese is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, and I was one of two people in my entire class that came in with no prior knowledge. I had quizzes multiple times a week, I spent hours on my homework, and I cried to my mom more than once.

By the time I reached Chinese three, I had a quiz every single day, and my professor told us we shouldn’t date because “Chinese is your lover now“. She also told us she was going to beat us to death almost every class period. So, you know, pretty much your average Chinese class.

So how is any of this relevant?

In order for this story to make sense, you have to know how much time and effort I put into learning Chinese. I worked my A** OFF and I hated every minute of it. I’ve never been particularly skilled at learning languages, so I basically just spent hours every night studying, and I still failed all my daily dictations. One time I got a B and I literally had a celebration.

Feeding a kangaroo in Australia!

Feeding a kangaroo in Australia!

So then I met this boy…

The first weekend of my sophomore year of college, I met a boy. Not just any boy, an Australian boy. Unlike all of the immature American guys at my school, this Australian boy actually asked me out on a date. It was a big deal.

What I thought would be a fun Australian fling, turned into a serious relationship very quickly. The only problem? He was studying abroad in America on exchange for a semester. The semester flew by, and before I knew it, he was spending Christmas with me and my family in Seattle.

We continued dating through the next semester and into the summer, when I flew to Australia and lived with him and his family for a month. Yeah, like I said, it was serious. I basically blew all of my savings that summer, but it was worth it.

The distance was hard, but the hardest part was not knowing when we would ever be able to live together in the same country. It was easy to stay together when we knew we’d see each other in June, but not knowing when the distance would end was really difficult for us. I still had two years left of school! The worst part was that our summer vacations didn’t even match up because Australia has a completely different school calendar than America!

breaking up to travel

Watching an Australian football game

The Study Abroad Dilemma

The easiest way for us to be together was for me to study abroad in Australia. I could go on exchange at his university, and we would see each other every day. For many people, it would be a no-brainer solution, right?

But let’s think back a little bit. What about all of those nights I stayed up until 3am trying to memorize lists of Chinese vocabulary words? What about all of the hours I sat on my bed with earphones, quietly mouthing Chinese to myself so that I would be prepared for the class dialogues? What about all of the days I arrived to class 20 minutes early, and sat in the hallway, writing characters over and over from memory, only to get a C on my dictation?

I could study Chinese in Australia, but the reason I was learning Chinese was so that I could go to China. Obviously. 

breaking up to travel

I would probably be too distracted by the koalas

But what if I made a compromise? I could study abroad in Australia during the spring, and go to China over the summer!

Everyone thought it was a great idea. Best of both worlds! I could study abroad in Australia with my boyfriend, and then explore China on my own. Perfect plan right??!

I’ve always been very firm on the fact that I would never change my plans for a guy. Your twenties are a time for exploration, chasing your dreams, and general selfishness. But I kept thinking “What if he’s the one.” Is it right to change your dreams then?

No. No it’s not. Especially when you’re only twenty years old.

Pi Beta Phi

I love her… most of the time

My Wake-up Call

I had everyone convinced. I even had myself convinced that studying abroad in Australia was a good idea.

That was, until I told my sorority “big sister”.

My big sister, or “big” as we say in the sorority world, is a very blunt person. She’s the type of person who will tell you what you need to hear, even if you don’t want to hear it. I love her for it, but I also hate her sometimes.

When I revealed to her my amazing plan to study abroad in both Australia and China, her reaction was a little less than supportive. Instead of trying to convince me not to go to Australia, she straight-up told me I should break up with my boyfriend. Yeah, definitely not what I was hoping to hear.

She told me that if he really loved me, he would know that China was where my heart was. If he really loved me, he’d encourage me to go. If he really loved me, he’d refuse to let me come to Australia.

I didn’t want to hear it.

Then she told me a story about her study abroad experience. She had been dating her boyfriend for years, but was planning to study abroad in Prague. In the months before her trip, she grew nervous and thought about staying home. It would be hard to be away from her boyfriend for so long. Besides, she had so many things to do back in America!

When she told her boyfriend about her plan to stay home, he threatened to break up with her if she didn’t go. He didn’t want to be responsible for ruining her dreams, and he didn’t want her to resent him later on.

That got me thinking: What happens if I go to Australia and we break up? What happens if I don’t enjoy my experience and end up resenting him later? What happens if I can’t get into the right Chinese class, fall behind, and can’t graduate on time?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t going to work.

breaking up to travel

The school I would have studied abroad at in another life

The Tough News

My boyfriend really thought I was going to change my mind. He really thought I’d give up a semester in China to be with him. Never mind the fact that I told him I was going to study abroad in China the day we met.

He didn’t understand. He thought study abroad was study abroad. It didn’t matter where I went. He thought I’d have an amazing time in Australia on a really great study abroad program.

I’m sure it is a really great study abroad program. Australia is an amazing country and I’d love to live there someday. I really enjoyed my month in Australia. BUT Australia was not the experience that I had been dreaming about.

I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to experience culture shock. I wanted to push myself to think and communicate in another language. I wanted to try new and strange foods. I wanted to meet people who were completely different from me culturally. I wanted to show up in a country knowing no one, and be forced to make new friends. I wanted to see who I was without my boyfriend.

I wanted to study abroad in China.

breaking up to travel

Who needs boys? (Photo by Hannah Lee)

The Breakup

After talking and thinking things through, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to spend any significant amount of time together for the next two years. We decided that there was no point staying together, when we had no idea how or when we would ever be able to live in the same country again. I was devastated. He was my best friend.

To be honest, I think he blamed me. He couldn’t understand why China was so important to me. How could he? He chose to study abroad in America from Australia. It was hard for him to understand why I wanted something different.

We decided to try to stay best friends, but (of course) it didn’t go very well. In my mind, I imagined that we had no problems, and were only breaking up because of circumstances. I thought that someday we might get back together.

I think he felt betrayed, like he loved me more than I loved him. I think at one point he told me I “chose China over him“.

To be honest, I did.

I chose China over my boyfriend and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life.

breaking up to travel

My China study abroad group

Heading to China

Heading to China, things were pretty toxic, and I honestly couldn’t handle it anymore.

While I was sitting in the Seoul airport waiting for my flight to China, I sent him a Facebook message telling him I didn’t want to hear from him anymore. I told him that maybe someday we could be friends, but I didn’t want him to contact me for the seven months I was in China. I needed to move on.

It’s amazing how easy it is to forget your past and your pain when you’re living in a new country surrounded by new friends, having incredible experiences. It was almost too easy to move on. While I didn’t date anyone for over a year after my boyfriend and I broke up, I had a great time being single in China.

No, I didn’t have a whirlwind romance with a local, or drink myself sick in bars (except for my twenty-first birthday, but we don’t talk about that). When I say I had a great time being single, I mean I had a great time on my own. I learned to love myself. I became confident, independent and strong. I pushed myself to become conversationally fluent in Chinese. I planned a trip through rural Sichuan with a friend. I became a better person.

breaking up to travel

Loving myself on my own… in Xinjiang, China

I Realized He Wasn’t for Me

My time in China helped me realize that he wasn’t the right person for me. It’s not that he’s a jerk, far from it, we’re actually friends now and chat every once in a while. He’s just not the right person for me. 

He would never backpack Southeast Asia with me, or go bungee jumping, zip lining or skydiving. He would never sleep in cheap hostels, trek through Tibet or try fried scorpions or stinky tofu. And you know what? That’s fine.

But, I know that I do need a person who will stay in crappy hostels and backpack through Southeast Asia. I want someone who will go skydiving or bungee jumping with me. I need someone who pushes me to be more adventurous. I want someone who encourages me to take risks, travel the world, and pushes me to be a stronger person.

breaking up to travel

Looking Back

Looking back on the last few years, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I went to Australia. I probably wouldn’t be getting my master’s in China right now! It’s crazy how one small decision can change the course of your entire life. I’m a completely different person now than I was back then. I’ve changed so much in the last three years, mainly due to my amazing study abroad experience.

For those of you considering leaving behind a significant other to travel the world, please keep my story in mind. I was twenty years old when I was thinking about putting my passions aside for a boy. TWENTY! No twenty-year-old should ever put a relationship ahead of goals and dreams. You change so much in your twenties, who knows if you’ll still love that person a few years from now.

Your twenties are a time to be young, have fun, explore the world and find yourself. I know it may seem like all of your friends are getting engaged (it’s happening to me!!), but there’s no need to find the love of your life at twenty-three.

If your boyfriend (or girlfriend) really loves you, they’ll encourage you to go. If you’re really meant for each other, you’ll have a whole lifetime to be together. If not, at least you’ll know sooner rather than later!

breaking up to travel

Traveling Hanoi with girlfriends instead of boyfriends

So yes, I chose travel over love, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But to be honest, I don’t want to have to choose. I’ll just wait until I find that special someone who wants to come with me.

Have you ever lost a relationship because of travel? Tell me I’m not alone! Share your story below. 

Weekend Wanderlust

Comments

comments

About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

145 comments on “Breaking Up to Travel the World

  1. I am 23 and chose teaching in Korea over my bf. At first I thought it would only be for a year but now I am signing on for another. It took a long time to convince myself to stay here and let go of someone who meant so much to me. I know in my heart that I’m not ready to go home.

    • I think you definitely made the right decision. You’d regret it for the rest of your life if you settled down without fully letting yourself be young and explore the world.

      • People like you remain single forever.

        You’ll be 52 one day and still blogging about some “amazing locals you met on some awesome backstreet alley way in some remote village”

        Little do you know that they are just living their lives. They laugh at your sense of wonder at people going about their day to day business whilst you do nothing but capture selfies of yourself with them

        • That’s a really horrible thing to say to someone. It takes a lot of strength and courage to follow your gut instead of what society tells you you should be doing. It also takes strength and courage to not only choose to be alone, but learn to love it and appreciate yourself. In saying that, it also takes strength to choose a relationship over a passion. But regardless, we all have to do what is best for ourselves and grow in our own individual way. It does not mean that they’ll be single forever.

          • Thanks so much Kaitlyn! I eventually blocked him because I was getting sick and tired of him trolling this post and attacking other commenters. I appreciate it when people disagree with me, and I usually have a good sense of humor about trolls, but then he started attacking my boyfriend’s site as well and it was time for him to go! I really appreciate your comment and I completely agree with you. Life is about choices, and at 20 years old I shouldn’t have had to give up my goals and dreams for someone who didn’t want the same things as me. Now I’m dating another travel blogger who also lives in China! It’s funny how things work out. I only had to wait 5 years… hahaha

  2. I remember having similar issues when deciding to study abroad at 20. I wasn’t in a relationship but one was sort on the verge of starting and I was afraid that going to Europe for a semester would ruin that. It did, he was dating another girl when I got back, but I definitely do not regret going to Europe. Its so hard sometimes to choose what really matters most but I think travel should be a priority for any 20year old

  3. Thanks for sharing. That’s a really brave decision to make at 20, I wouldn’t have been able to.

    When I moved to China for a post-graduation teaching programme I was 22 and it was really hard to let go of my boyfriend of 9 months, even though he was moving back to his home country anyway. I told myself we’d be together again when we got back but of course it fizzled out. Now I’m older, I found my guy and we’re sticking together, bringing me back to China a little more permanently :-O

    I’m so glad you’re making your dreams happen!

  4. No, you are not alone. I had been dating a guy in Spain for 4 years when I came to China for the first time. We were on a LDR for a couple of years but when it was obvious that I wanted to stay longer and he wouldn’t leave Spain for anything, it was over. Looking back, I regret not having ended it before, as things became quite sour. We broke up in a friendly manner but after he started dating a new girl he decided he didn’t want to keep in touch with me anymore. This was a unilateral decision I wasn’t aware of until after a few months without news from him I sent him a happy new year email and received a reply full of hatred and insults.

    I think you took the right decision. You’ll find someone to share your adventures with! You are still very young.

    • Wow thanks so much for sharing your story. It must’ve been hard to be long distance for that long. I’m definitely glad my ex and I broke up before I went to China, otherwise it might have soured my whole experience. At least you’re giving yourself time to be single and explore Spain now!

  5. Wow, this honestly brought tears to my eyes. You basically wrote what I am thinking the whole time – or rather experiencing just now. Me and my boyfriend (we have been dating for almost 3 years) broke up 4 weeks ago and it’s because I did my master’s in London, England, and am actively trying to find a job abroad. He cannto understand my desire to head out and see the world and to be honest, I’ve had moments throughout the past month when I just wanted to go back to him as my whole future is still literally unknown. But I do know that I don’t want do live in Germany – not now. It’s hard but I hope it was the right decision and I hope we get to talk in a few months on a “neutral” basis (because he seems to hate me right now). Thanks so much for sharing this story.

    • Wow Julia, thank you so much for sharing. I definitely understand, and it’s so hard to think that you could be throwing away an amazing relationship because you want to be “selfish” and travel. It was probably one of the hardest moments of my life, but once I put on that backpack and left, it was so much easier.

      You’ll be in a new country, surrounded by new people. You’ll have amazing experiences, and you’ll be so busy you won’t even have time to miss him.

      Just keep this in mind: if he doesn’t understand your need to travel and live abroad, he’s probably not the right guy for you. If you want to spend your life traveling and exploring the world, you can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want those things too. I’m sure you’ll find an amazing guy in the future who encourages you to follow your dreams, but until then, have fun being single and focusing on your own passions!

  6. I broke up with a boyfriend once because he wouldn’t even go on vacation with me to Panama. That wasn’t the only reason, obviously, but the final straw for me! On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, I started dating my current BF only a few months before leaving for a backpacking trip through Central America. He knew I was going when we started dating and I was very clear that I would not be changing my plans for him. Well, rather than sit around and wait for me, he also quit his job to backpack with me and now we are living in Korea! I got a travel partner and realized he was the real deal!

    • That’s such a great story! It’s so awesome you found someone with similar travel ambitions. Not many people are willing to quit their jobs to travel. That’s part of the reason I get wary of dating people who seem to have strong career ambitions in fields that aren’t mobile. I want someone to travel with me!

  7. What an excellent story! I think you’ve put it so perfectly when you said you realised you need someone who pushes you to be more adventurous. Anyone who said studying Chinese in Australia is the same as studying it in China is kidding themselves. I’m so happy for you that you were able to see through the rose coloured glasses that can plague relationship problems and realise what was right for you. I’m a firm believer in never compromising yourself for someone else. Thank you for this story.

    • Thanks so much Martina! Yeah, I think my Chinese definitely would have suffered in Australia. You are right about the rose colored glasses though, being in a relationship can make you think about doing things you never would normally.

  8. I was lucky to be able to incorporate travel and my relationship together but it wasn’t easy especially since he wasn’t allowed to go to the US. Being long distance for two years was one, if not the hardest thing I ever had to do and I actually changed my life plans to be with him. Funnily I had my goal set on studying abroad in France but I wasn’t as committed as you were with China. Sometimes you just have to follow your dream and your heart even if it means ending things with somebody else but it is your dream, your desires and your wants that go first before anything else. And you don’t want to do anything you’d regret later on. Good for you for standing by what you truly want and in the end you realized that he wasn’t for you. Travel teaches you SO much about yourself. I feel like a completely different person before I moved and I can’t imagine having just stayed in Seattle (I am from there too!) my whole life. Hey at least you got to go to Australia!

    • Exactly! I wouldn’t trade that relationship for the world. It taught me a lot about myself and what I want in a relationship (and I got to go to Australia). I definitely think that there are times when it’s good to change your plans, and this sounds like one of them. Long distance is definitely hard, but at least you’re together now and your relationship is probably stronger because of it.

      Also- so cool to meet another Seattle blogger! I feel like there’s actually a lot of us. Maybe we can meet up in our travels sometime!

  9. I totally feel you – when I was 20 I had decided to go study abroad to the US, and right after I met a guy. Not even for one moment I thought about not going…if he wanted to stay with mehe had to accept that that was my dream. He did accept, and I left…unfortunately things didn’t work out after a few months apart, and immediately I did thought ” maybe I shouldn’t have gone!”. But you know what? Now it’s been a few years, and I so don’t regret it! It just means he wasn’t the one, period. Never give up ypur dreams!

      • Yeah because destiny, stars, serendipity, the alchemist, the universe conspires to give you what you deserve, yada yada yada……

        Who needs to see the therapist? Me, or the one who still believes in tooth fairies?

        • Sweet Lord, sunshine; who hurt you? Did somebody choose travel over your whinging, persistently negative, not at all boring brand of cloying love?

          Sincerely, Richelle’s boyfriend.

          • Boyfriend??

            Boyfriend????

            Lol, I actually laughed out loud. Boyfriend??? Hahaha don’t flatter yourself mate.

            Though ignorance is bless I presume, so ok, let’s call you her boyfriend.

            Be happy mate. Lol

          • This post is from 2014 discussing a breakup that happened in 2011… I am now in a relationship with someone who loves China and travel as much as I do. Please get off my page or I will have your IP blocked.

          • Nice dodging of the question there, mate.

            Did somebody tell you they were choosing travel over you?

            It was nice of them to let you labour under that delusion, but your obsession with commenting on a years old post is making me think maybe it wasn’t her – it was you.

    • Thanks Elaine! I think the important thing to remember is that there’s always time in the future to do it over. I moved back to China after graduation and now I’m getting my master’s here! It’s like studying abroad all over again.

  10. This is such an honest post that comes straight from the heart, I love it! I’m happy that you’ve made the right decisions for you as I think that’s the most important thing. You’re very strong to have done this!

  11. I have done it again and again. It was alway the right decision. Just make sure you do it for the right reasons, I had a phase when I said good bye to some good ones just out of habits. I don’t regret anything and I like life on my own – but I also have to realise that while I gain a lot there are other things I do miss. But life has no reruns, we have one chance on it, and it is travelling that drives me, that challenges me, that makes it worth wile to get up in the morning. Travelling is my life; It is my marriage. Only if I am with a person who accepts how I travel and lets me do my thing can I continue to be. Travelling is my big love – and it will always be. I don’t go on holiday. I live on the road.

    • Wow that’s so inspiring! People have different passions and for you, it’s traveling. Honestly though, you shouldn’t have to choose. Maybe someday you’ll meet someone that you wan’t to take with you on all of your adventures!

      • Oh, no, I hope not! I don’t want someone with me. Yes, on some adventures, sure, but I love travelling on my own. I have done both, also with people that really enjoy travelling and are good at it – but I need and want my own time, you never meet as many fascinating people and hear as many fascinating stories as when you travel alone. And story collecting is what I do.
        That’s not to say that it is nice to have someone who meets up with me or joins me for part of the trip but having someone constantly there – no, it would mean me missing out on so many other things; I like travelling alone but I am never lonely.
        And I have a huge network of family and friends spread over the world so whereever I am I am close to some and far away from others, I always have my support circle near, should I need them.

        • That’s such a great perspective. I’ve traveled alone, and I definitely enjoy it, although I’m not as passionate about it as you! I think I’d prefer traveling with a perfect travel parter (one other person), but I’d much rather travel on my own than with someone who doesn’t have the same travel style as me.

  12. Sometimes we all face difficult decisions in our lives and actually I faced a similar dilemma 15 years ago. When I moved to Taiwan, I had a boyfriend but I eventually ended it. Living in Taiwan made me realize that he was not the one for me. I wanted more out of life where he was quite content with status quo. I am happy I realized it and chose to be happy because gave me time to be free and I ended up meeting the real love of my life here who shares the same dreams as I do!

    • Wow that’s such a great story. I agree, sometimes it takes leaving to really find yourself and realize what’s for you. I’m jealous you’re living in Taiwan though. Taiwan is my favorite country I’ve ever visited and I would love to move there eventually!

  13. We have beliefs and ideals of the person we want to be with and its important to share common interests, not all, but the ones that are most important to us. I have a boyfriend, we’ve been long distance for more than two years, I travel around 4 times a year for a month at a time. We have never traveled together but we are still together because there are a lot of other things that we have in common that are important to us. Although to me travel is as essential as breathing, I love doing it by myself, thats my own thing that I treasure, and I am blessed to have a boyfriend that respects that and enjoys vicariously through me. Hopefully you can find that person that shares your wanderlust!

    • That’s definitely a great point! My main issue was that my boyfriend didn’t understand my need to study abroad in China… and the fact that we would’t be able to spend time together for almost two years! It sounds like you and your boyfriend have an amazing thing going, and I definitely think it’s great you love solo travel!

  14. Hey Richelle, you are such a wonderful writer! and have true potentiality for travel & writing! it was a very engaging post I must say, specially when you said, yes if your bf had loved you unconditionally he must have understood and respect your passion, and also about how your “the right one” should be! Happened to be I am also a blogger (www.anima-choudhury.blogspot.com) and recently want to write a post on travelling and relationships, how it affects n people, and their opinions. I would be really grateful if you permit me to quote some words from your post (obviously blog and author’s name would be mentioned strictly, no copy-catting haha!)
    So would you mind if I include some of your thoughts in my blog as an example?
    TIA !
    take care dear!

  15. I think this was a really brave decision. I’m on my year abroad now and just broke up with my boyfriend- these things can be tough but to be honest your sorority sister was completely right. Sometimes in these situations it can happen that your boyfriend will try to make you go to wherever it is that he is (or back to where you both lived) but it isn’t fair on you or your year abroad. You need to experience things by yourself and as much as possible, and upholding a relationship or changing your plans and arrangements on account of someone else isn’t always a good decision! So I think what you’ve done is great!

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad to hear you feel good about your decision to end your relationship. I think for young women it’s so important to challenge yourself and do things on your own. Maybe someday there will come a time that I need to compromise for another person, but not at 20 years old!

  16. It’s your Sliding Doors moment! Things would have been SO different! I think you made the right choice – so many amazing experiences since, for you and what YOU have wanted. Good for you!

    Love that you come to Australia and went to a footy match though! Ha!

    These choices are so tough…..but you have to follow your dreams. Well done to being true to yours!

    • I agree! I loved Australia and I think footy is an awesome sport (why is it not popular anywhere else??), but it’s not what I wanted for my year abroad. Maybe someday I’ll settle down in Australia. I really liked Melbourne a lot!

    • [Wordpress pooped on me while I was trying to reply to your reply. Decided to post it separately here]

      Right? I understand too if one partner likes to travel and the other doesn’t, but the problem actually doesn’t arise there per se. It’s when one partner starts feeling neglected, jealous, bored, bitter or any combination of sentiments that their partner is having a blast while they sit at home with their boring life :)

      My S.O. is very happy that I’m doing this trip. There’s some jealousy, but not like ‘don’t LEAVE me babyyy’. More like ‘I want to see Japan so much but I have to stay home for work’. Living vicariously through me will soften the blow though ;)

  17. Hi Richelle,

    You totally need to do what works for you. It looks like you were aligned with traveling the world because you are happy with your choice. Sacrifice is releasing something of a lower nature to make room for something of a higher nature and for you, traveling was that thing of a higher nature. Your happiness, your joy and your clarity today are evidence that you made the right choice for you. Some may feel better staying home to keep connected but many others go abroad, and made the right choice to end a relationship to travel the world.

    My fiancee Kelli and I have been circling the globe for 43 months straight. Writing these words from Bali. 43 months ago, I took my first flight and international trip from NYC to Bali. Kelli was worried; she was a traveler, I never traveled. What would happen if I didn’t like traveling? Well, I am a special guy I reckon – j/k wink wink – so she may have stayed home with me, but we needed not to worry because on Day 1 in Sanur, I was hooked. 43 months later we’re in Ubud, and loving it, but we’re both aligned with travel, so we could be together on this journey. Be true to you, and you’ll never go wrong with this life bit ;)

    Thanks Richelle! Tweeting from Bali.

    Ryan

    • This is such a great story Ryan, thanks so much for sharing! I think it’s really important to travel in a relationship. It tests the strength of your relationship in ways that wouldn’t ordinarily possible. I’m so glad that Kelly helped you find joy in travel. She’s probably relived too, because she knows you’ll be able to travel together for the rest of your lives. I hope you both have an amazing trip! I’m so jealous you’re in Bali!!

  18. As difficult as that may have been at the time it was absolutely the right decision. Good for you. If the Australian guy was that into extending the relationship he could just of easily have flown to China as he could have to the US. I did a similar thing when I first left NZ. Broke up with a girl to go traveling and it was the best decision, well one of them, that I ever made.

    • I agree! Plus a trip to China is much more interesting (although I’m not sure he would agree). That’s great to hear you feel that way about your past relationship. Us travelers are all in the same boat!

  19. Great article!

    I did the same thing when I moved to China in 2012. My boyfriend at that time would have moved to China a few months after I did (we had been together for about 6 years, which is a long time), but it just didn’t feel like the right decision. He did want to move to China for me, but I felt that for him, it wouldn’t have been for the long run (China), while for me it was. I felt pulled down. But the move to China wasn’t even the main issue, the main issue was that we had completely different plans for our life (although we didn’t talk about it at that time) and just weren’t as compatible as it seemed to many from the outside. I have since met the person that gives me the freedom I need and makes communication a priority in our relationship (lack of communication was a problem in the other relationship).

    • That’s such a good point Ruth. Even if my boyfriend and I had stayed together, I now know that we are not compatible. I definitely wouldn’t be going on my second year living in China after graduation! There would have been major lifestyle problems down the road.

  20. I really enjoyed reading your story, but I’m afraid I disagree with a lot of what you’ve said, here.

    My fiance and I have really never been anywhere. We both come from families that didn’t have the time or resources to travel. That being said, we both have wanderlust! We want to go places, experience things, see sights, gain exciting stories to tell! We strive to be worldly. Although we have not been able to travel yet (we’re waiting until we graduate.), we plan to do all of these things, but most importantly, we plan to do them together. I think it is interesting that you did not think that you could possibly travel with your boyfriend. That you did not see him as a human being, worth six months of your life. Especially, when you have the entire rest of your life to travel at your heart’s content.

    But, people are different. We all make different choices. I choose love.

    • Hi Lindsey, I appreciate what you’re saying here but I think my situation was a bit different. Studying abroad is a big decision because not only do you have to go somewhere that suits you, it can impact your career and whether or not you graduate on time.

      Had I studied abroad in Australia, I may not have been able to graduate on time and it wouldn’t have helped my career in the same way studying in China would have. Also, missing out on study abroad is something you can never make up. I really thought he would wait for me, but once I made the decision to go to China he didn’t se e how our relationship could work anymore. It was the fact that he didn’t understand why living in Chin was so important to me that really helped me realize he wasn’t the right guy for me.

      I think it’s amazing that you’ve found someone you love and can travel with. That’s great! For me though, I know he would never want to travel and live abroad the way I do. But I’m definitely not “normal”. I’m going against the grain by living abroad in China for so long, so I need someone that can understand my life choices and feels that way too.

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  23. Hi..my story is similar to you..my boyfriend was not willing to accept me working abroad..i tried all possible things.. so that he is convinced..finally i called it off..i was so tired convincing him..dont know i have taken the right decision or not..im single now..I am njoying my travelling though..

    • I think you definitely made the right decision. You want to be with someone who supports you and your dreams and passions, not someone who brings you down. I wish you all the best of luck!

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  26. Just found your blog via Kiki’s — I had a similar story involving travel and China, except I was the one dumped! I was only 19 at the time, he was a fellow English teacher in Dalian, and I naively didn’t understand why we ‘couldn’t just make long distance work’. But seeing him go off to travel made me want to explore more too, and led to me becoming a serial expat and traveler for the past five years! So it all worked out in the end (and we managed to stay friends)!

    • Wow Edna that’s an awesome story! It’s always great when a failed relationship teaches you something or makes you grow as a person. Without him you’d never be where you are today. Also, I’m so glad you found me off Kiki’s blog! I absolutely love her writing so I was really excited when she let me do a little feature post.

  27. Hi, I am kind of in a similar situation as You.
    My boyfriend is leaving for America and to travel the world and doesn’t know when he’ll be back. He just wants to go..do his thing And come back when he’s ready.
    He used to beg me to go with him…but i kind of had a feeling he always wanted to go by himself and that the only reason I’d be going was to stay with him. I love him so much..we been through so much already. I’ve known him since we where 16 and we’re 22 now.
    But he wants to go by himself…he loves me so much and this was a hard decision for him to make but he wants to go by himself and discover himself. So we have to break up…And he has absolutely broken my heart. He is My best friend. He told me If he had met me after all of his traveling I would be the girl he’d marry.
    So we’ll have to go our separate ways and if things are meant to be we’ll come bavk to each other. But should I be disheartened that he wants to to by himself…it didn’t have to be a plane ticket or Me. He’s always wanted to travel..There’s no doubt about that..And I don’t wanna hold him Back. I love him. But does this mean he loves travelling more than me. I mean the thoughts of him.with someone else or meeting someone else on his travels petrifies me. Or that I’ll still be in love with him when he’s back and he’s moved on. And when I asked him that question he said the thought of him not going by himself scares him more than the thought of me meeting someone while he’s gone. What does that mean. I know Kevin so well…he’s so honest and would never lie to me so I know when he says he loves me he means it. But i think he loves travel more than me. Or maybe he just thinks he loves me. I’m crushed. I dunno what to do.

    • Hi Niamh,

      Thanks for reaching out. As someone who kind of did something similar to your boyfriend, I understand where he’s coming from and maybe I can shed some light. Him wanting to travel has nothing to do with his feelings for you. I’m sure he’s also devastated about the breakup and cares about you deeply. I know I was so upset when my ex and I ended things!

      I think what he means is that he’s worried he’ll settle down with you, get married, get a job, have kids, buy a house, and then before he knows it, he’s 60 years old and has no idea where his life went. Your boyfriend wants to challenge himself. He wants to prove to himself that he can travel the world on his own. He wants to see things and do things while he’s young and has the energy and drive. What scares him is losing this opportunity to do something he’s always wanted to do and he’s afraid he’ll spend the rest of his life regretting not going.

      This can obviously go one of two ways. He might come back a changed man, having moved on, or he may come back and want to be with you again. To be honest, he’ll probably meet lots of girls on his travels. Staying in hostels, it’s easy to meet and bond with people. Although none of these flings are ever really serious because travelers are always onto the next place. You can read my article about how travel is ruining my love life (https://www.adventuresaroundasia.com/travel-is-ruining-my-love-life/).

      The whole point of his trip is to learn and grow as a person. He may be a completely different person when he returns. While I know you’re hurt and upset, just remember you’re only 22! I would take this time to really focus on yourself. Develop a skill or passion, and make yourself the best you can be. If traveling isn’t your thing, find something else that is! Get into dancing, or yoga, or photography, or maybe start a volunteer project. Just do something you can be proud of. That way, when he returns, he won’t be the only person who has grown and changed. If god forbid he has moved on, you’ll have learned to really love and admire yourself during that time, and you won’t even need him!

  28. Hi Richelle,
    Reading your story has really helped me out and also seeing that Niamh is in a similar situation to me.

    My boyfriend of 10 months has just broken up with me as he wants to go travelling for a few months and then end up in Australia and try to get a job for a year. He is planning to go end of this year November/December time. He wants to go with his 2 best friends who are both single and he knows he wont get another opportunity like this again. We are both only 22.
    I do want him to go and don’t want to stop him because I know that he will resent me in the long run. Initially he was only talking about a 3 month trip and I was more than willing to wait for him and hope that we would become stronger from the distance. He then mentioned the idea of going for longer than that and we decided to enjoy the time together before he went. Last week I went away on holiday for a week and he said that whilst I was away he missed me quite a bit and decided that he was kidding himself that he could be in a relationship with me up until he travels or even when he travels and thinks in the long run it is best for both of us if we break up. I was obviously heartbroken because I do love him so much and have been fully supportive of his travels.
    The thing that upsets me the most is that nothing is even booked yet and he hasn’t even started saving unlike his friends. I do believe he will go but whether he is able to stay for as long as he wants I guess only time will tell.
    I am his first serious girlfriend and I know he loves me which is why I am finding this hard. I almost think he might be using the travelling thing as part of an excuse as he is a little bit scared about us and how close we have become over the last few months.
    I have never had the desire to travel like he has and I know a few years back he saved up to go but it all fell through at the last minute. I know if this is something he needs to do then he must do it now why he can but it is just so hard to let him go. Like Niamh I am petrified of him meeting someone else and the thought of this makes me so upset. Ultimately I guess if it is meant ti be it will work out. I would appreciate your thoughts!
    Thanks Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,

      That’s a pretty rough situation. It sounds like he is a bit young, immature and scared of your relationship. I think you have a good head on your shoulders, and you’re definitely doing the right thing by encouraging him to travel.

      After my boyfriend and I broke up (it was his idea!) he wasn’t very nice to me. It was hard for me to understand why he was being so cruel, until one of my guy friends explained it to me. I was his first real girlfriend and we were very serious. While I thought I was being pathetic by missing him, in reality I was handling the breakup much better than him. He was upset and angry with me for moving to China, and he acted out and pushed me away because of it. Pushing me away and making up reasons to be angry with me made it easier for him to move on and forget me.

      I think your boyfriend is doing something similar. I think he really cares about you, but is worried that if he keeps spending time with you, he won’t have it in him to leave when the time comes. By pushing you away, he’s making it easier to leave. It’s definitely not fair to you at all, but it’s understandable, especially from a 22 year old boy.

      In terms of him meeting someone else, I’m going to be honest: he’ll probably meet lots of girls while traveling, but I would be surprised if anything serious comes of it. Living as an expat in Australia, a relationship is a possibility, but he’ll have to leave after a year anyway.

      My advice is to make it so that you don’t get notifications from him on Facebook so you won’t overthink every single photo you see of him with a girl. Unfollow him if you have to!

      It really sounds like you’re mature and handling this really well. Let him get this all out of his system. He could come home in a few months time begging to get back with you. Who knows! My advice in situations like this is to always focus on yourself during this time. Start up a hobby, or take online classes or something, so that when he comes home you’ve grown and changed as well. Just keep yourself really busy so that you don’t even have time to miss him.

      Hope this helps!
      Richelle

      • Hi Richelle,
        Thank you for your reply. I do totally agree with you about him not wanting to leave when the time comes and think this is the main reason for him breaking up with me.
        I do miss him terribly though and it hasn’t even been a week yet but I know these things get easier.
        I have not spoken much to him since it happened but he wants to stay on speaking terms and has text me a fair bit. I feel like he is almost wanting to have his cake and eat it !
        Ultimately I do want this but I need to have my space if I am going to move on.
        Would you continue to speak to him ?
        I am trying to be mature about the whole thing and imagine myself in his shoes and what I would do if I was him !
        I have already unfollowed him on Facebook for the time being and maybe will follow him again when I am ready but you are right I must not overthink things.
        Everyone who knows him has said to me they think he has made a huge mistake, not about pursuing his travelling but about ending it with me so prematurely and with no real plans set in stone.
        I really wish it could be different and that he will change his mind and re consider but I know only he can make this decision.
        I certainly won’t be waiting around for him as much as I want to right now he made this decision and will have to deal with the consequences. No one knows what the future holds but for now I will focus on me.
        I actually want to go back to university to study so I will focus on that !
        Thanks again!

        • Hi Rebecca,

          To be honest I think you should pull back a little bit. He’s hurting you by being immature and wishy washy. I definitely think he should travel, but he shouldn’t drag you through the mud behind him while he gets his life together. Your distance may force him to make up his mind: does he want to be with you until he leaves or not? Also, that’s great you want to go back to school! It’s good you have something to focus on.

  29. HI Richelle,
    Sorry I haven’t had internet!
    I am going to cut contact maybe not forever but at least now while I try and move on.
    Thanks again for all your advice :)

  30. Again, great story. We have so much in common. It’s like reading my own story with a few small differences but still. I’m so happy you chose your own path in life and I’m happy my love suddenly left me so I wouldn’t have to chose, I would only have to get my ass on that plane and leave. It’s so true how a new country can make you feel so much better if you’re around awesome people experiencing awesome things.
    Keep writing girl, your stories are addicting :p

    Lena

    • Thanks so much Lena! I was actually how surprised how common variations of this story are. But it is really funny how easy it is to move on while you’re traveling, especially if you change yourself.

  31. I dated someone for 4 years who ‘loved travel more than they loved me’. I was not jealous in the way you’d expect after hearing me say that. I wasn’t jealous of the the countries that took my love far away from me. I was jealous of the great places I was never going to see. I was never invited. Oh, it’s a family thing. Oh, it’ll be boring, you don’t like hiking. Oh, it’s too hot for you there. There are a lot of insects, you’d have an allergic fit. etc ad nauseum.

    I never ‘lost’ my mate to travel. I never really ‘had’ this person to start with. Their first love was travel from the beginning. However, they failed to see how much *I* wanted to travel, and purposely kept excluding me. By the time there was any agreement to see places together, we were already falling apart as a couple. Our first overnight trip together was in fact our self-appointed ‘couples therapy’.

    Years down the road, I am now organizing my OWN travel plans and to hell with whatever relationship I may or may not be in. That’s not to say I’m being obnoxious, like my yes, current significant other doesn’t count. They count. They count. We travel together when possible, which is great! We share a love for travel and adventure which is also great. Unfortunately we don’t share a schedule that could allow us BOTH to enjoy longer trips further from home TOGETHER. And that’s actually okay! I’m planning my first trip to Asia, ALONE. I know there will be moments of extreme isolation and loneliness. But the pay-off is so much more than that, so I have to do it.

    My current almost 4-year relationship isn’t suffering for my desire to travel. There IS some worry, and a lot of advance loneliness starting to build as my plans get more and more concrete. ON THEIR SIDE. Does that make me a terrible girlfriend? No, it means I’ll probably feel it later lol. But for right now, it means I’m way too busy making this trip a reality to feel bogged down by anything negative. The trip will not rip us apart permanently, unless we weren’t truly a good fit to start with. When I get back to Canada, I will (I hope?) be a better, more cultured, more traveled person. I will come home with stories and photos, and souvenirs for those who couldn’t be on the trek with me. And if my relationship fails then, it’s because the *other* person couldn’t handle something that may not even be so closely related to my trip. It could be a more fundamental ‘coupley’ issue that we overlooked before. I personally, don’t expect this to happen, though. We’re both pretty confident about our relationship, and I don’t think 2-3 months apart would cause me to never return.

    Wah, sorry for the novel I just wrote lol. Anyway, you did the right thing. Especially because you’re in your 20’s, there is plenty of time to ‘settle’.

    • It sounds like your relationship is much healthier this time around! For me, I think I made the right choice at the time. Now, I’m pretty mobile so I can go anywhere if something were to work out. However, I’d definitely have to be with someone who wants to travel, otherwise it’s just not going to work!

      • Right? I understand too if one partner likes to travel and the other doesn’t, but the problem actually doesn’t arise there per se. It’s when one partner starts feeling neglected, jealous, bored, bitter or any combination of sentiments that their partner is having a blast while they sit at home with their boring life :)

        My S.O. is very happy that I’m doing this trip. There’s some jealousy, but not like ‘don’t LEAVE me babyyy’. More like ‘I want to see Japan so much but I have to stay home for work’. Living vicariously through me will soften the blow though ;)

        [Sorry for the duplicate post above – WP is really being a bugger today, what’s going on? I did not hit reply to another commenter’s post, yet that’s where WP decided to stick it]

  32. Hey Richelle,

    I think I might be going through something similar and I really want to get advice from someone who has been in that kind of situation. Your article really inspired me, but my circumstances are somewhat different.

    I have been with my current boyfriend for almost 2 years. I originally wanted to travel the world with him and he wanted to travel the world with me. After thinking about it for a while, it doesn’t seem possible because he has a kid here in the united states and doesn’t have any savings. Then the idea of studying abroad came to me and it seemed perfect for what I want to do in my life. So I have been somewhat planning to go to Barcelona in 2016 and study art. I just started talking to him about this plan and he feels really betrayed because I want to go alone. But I want to do this for myself and to see how I deal with living abroad alone. He isn’t being supportive at all and he is saying that I don’t love him because I don’t want him to come with me.

    I know that I want to study abroad alone. You put it really beautifully in your article that you wanted to have culture shock, to make new friends in a new country, and to see who you were without your boyfriend. Thats exactly where I am now. I really love this guy, but I don’t think I would be able to live with myself if I didn’t go explore on my own.

    I don’t know how to explain this to him, and might just send him a link to this article!

    Anyway, any thoughts are much appreciated. This article is really inspiring me and making me feel like it will all be ok in the end.

    • Hi Alex!

      I think the important thing to stress is that you don’t ALWAYS want to travel on your own, just this once. If you’re meant to be together, you have your whole lives to travel together (and you can bring the kid!). Just tell him that as a woman you want to try and challenge yourself, and you know that if he comes you’ll rely too much on him and won’t grow as a person. Besides, how long is it going to be before he has the money and ability to come with you? You shouldn’t have to wait around for him to save up. Tell him he can focus on saving money while you’re in Barcelona, and then when he’s got the funds, you two can travel together.

      I hope it works out for you!
      Richelle

  33. Hey Richelle!

    I’ve been in a relationship for two years, my now exboyfriend and I had plans of getting married, but he decided two weeks ago he wants to see the world. I understand his thirst of travel I would also love to travel the world, he’s 26 years old and he has never had the chance of traveling because of family and money issues, but now he’s stable and he feels he has the chance to do it now. He decided to break up, because he says he thinks we won’t be ok in a long distance relationship and he doesn’t know for how long he will be traveling. That all he can offer me is trying to be together when he returns. I’m heartbroken, I just wanted to get married and go to the US, then make enough money for the both of us so we could travel together, because right now I don’t have the money to do it, but he wants to do this alone, I guess it’s because he feels he would need to help me with money and he wants to do it now, the first thing I told him was that I wasn’t going to wait, I was very sad and angry, but now I regret it, I feel like I need to wait, and it’s too late because we broke up a week ago, and he doesn’t want to get back together and make this more painful for the both of us.

    What do you recommend to me?

    • Hi Ale,

      That sounds like a tough situation. Honestly, I do think there is value in traveling alone. You need to learn to rely on yourself: making new friends, finding your own way and being more outgoing. I would suggest just focusing on yourself during this time. If he doesn’t want to get back together with you that’s his loss. You never know, he could come home a few months from now begging for you back, or you could turn into completely different people. In my mind, if you’re meant to be you’re meant to be. I would much rather have someone leave me NOW before I’m married with kids, than have him run away with some other girl in a mid-life crisis when you already have a few kids together. Let him get it out of his system, and if you guys are meant to be together it will happen. For now, just focus on making money and fulfilling your dream of going to America with or without him.

      I hope that helps a little :)

      Richelle

  34. Wow, props to you for making that tough decision! From the start, my boyfriend knew that I would study abroad, and it wasn’t until a month or two before I was going to leave for Taiwan that he very nervously mumbled to me, “So I’m up for it if you wanna stay together…” LOL. But that is a hard decision to make, to go to China, and I applaud you for being brave enough to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I think that’s one thing holding me back from considering long-term travel abroad. Like your ex, I don’t think my boyfriend understands the depth of my relationship with Chinese culture, and I think it’d be hard for him to cope with me being away again. Plus, he’s the type of guy who would start to settle down in a small town in New Jersey at age 23, so I don’t think he would be into following me into China. But like you said, we’re young! And if there’s one thing your blog is doing, it’s convincing me to go to China LOL.

    • Yeah this kind of stuff can be really difficult. I know now that there’s no way I would be able to settle down in a suburban neighborhood with an office job anytime soon. It’s really tough, but you have to figure out if you two are really actually meant for each other, or if you’re trying to change yourself to fit what he wants. Good luck!

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  36. Bravo! I’m 39 and my girlfriend is 37 years of age. We had a long, long, long discussion about traveling before we both agreed to give up our NYC life, move out of my TriBeCa apartment, stop working, and go travel for a year when most of the people in our age group are busy having kids, getting married, and focusing solely on their careers. After seeing too many friends and acquaintances die in their 30s, 40s, and 50s in the last few years, we realized that there are no guarantees and that the older we get, the more we won’t be able to do things (plus we already have chronic pain issues from various sports injuries, so just imagine how fun it’ll be when we’re in our 50s or 60s).

    Anyway, thank you for sharing. Do your thing. The worst thing I can think of is regretting not doing things in life. It’s too easy to put things off and the next thing you know, you’re too old or have too many things keeping you from doing things you could have done. It’s also harder and harder to pick up and do things like this the older you get (sometimes I’m worry about my employability when I get back even though my freelance clients all loved working with me; memories are sometimes short in my profession). Life is short and the time only goes by faster and faster – my 30s flew by in a blink and I’m on the brink of 40 but behave like a 25-year-old. And the way things seem to be going with climate issues and animal extinctions, might as well see the beauty in the world while it lasts!

    • Deborah that’s such a great philosophy! I agree, you should focus on yourself and your own happiness, especially while you’re young and it’s still easy. Money is great, but I’d rather have a fulfilling life. I say keep doing what you’re doing! It sounds like you’re really happy and finding fulfillment, and it’s awesome that you found someone who wants to go on that adventure with you :)

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  39. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m on the opposite end of the story. My boyfriend of five months has dreamed of living in China so he is pursuing a job in TEFL that could last a year or more. When we first met, he thought he could put that dream on hold for me. I have a good job, two kids, and no freedom to leave the country for that amount of time….although I would love to when my kids are grown. But, I see his unhappiness here in Illinois. I’m encouraging him to go but I think I have to break up with him. He wants to try a long distance relationship but honestly I don’t think I can do it. Any advice on how to both encourage him to go and break up with him? I’m so in love with him but I can’t go through that kind of separation.

    • Wow that sounds rough. If you wanted to teach abroad in China you could definitely bring your kids, but it sounds like that isn’t really your dream. I think you’re doing the right thing encouraging him to go, because no one should have to put their dreams on hold for the person they’re in love with. It sounds like he’s pretty miserable in Illinois and heading to China is the right thing for him at that point in time. As someone who did the long distance thing for a while, it’s actually not that bad if you have an end date. If he’s for sure coming home in a year you can definitely try to do long distance, but it sounds like you’ve already made your mind up. I think the most important thing that I wish my boyfriend did is to not make it an ultimatum. It felt like I was forced to choose between him and my dreams when I didn’t understand why I couldn’t have both. I think the best way is to sit down and have a long conversation with him in person where you encourage him to go and then tell him how you’re feeling about the long distance relationship.

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  41. I just came across your blog and I am facing a similar story. I have been dating a man for almost 4 yrs and just got an opportunity to teach in China. My boyfriend and I are taking a break because he wants to find himself and not hold me back and I’m not sure how I should feel about this. Your posts both give me hope and apprehension as I feel like I could spend my life with him. I guess only time will tell

    • I agree. My thoughts are if it’s meant to be, you’ll find your way back to each other, and if not you know sooner rather than later. Can you imagine if he decided to “find himself” after you were married with two kids? I think now is the perfect time to learn, grow, and challenge yourself without him and hopefully you’ll both change for the better. Then if you’re still in love and appreciate those changes you can get back together. If you’ve grown apart then you can eventually find someone who really appreciates how much you’ve grown. I know it’s really tough but I sincerely hope this helps! You’re not alone :)

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  43. Reading this has really helped! I have returned home for a year and a half trip around the world with my boyfriend in April, and now I’ve had the chance to be at home and work etc, i hate it, I can’t stay here and feel like theres still so much for me to see. I’m 21 and me and my boyfriend have been together nearly 3 years, and i like with him (big deal!!) He is settled now and doesn’t want to go, and tells me to go travelling as he doesn’t want me to miss out, especially if I’ve going to be miserable at home. But I’m afraid, what if i go, I don’t like travelling on my own or realise he was ‘the one’ or i regret everything and can’t go back to where I am now, but then, if i don’t go and settle down and regret it in a few years, I’ll be in even less of a position to go travelling. I genuinely don’t know what to do because he is my best friend and everything, I don’t know whether i feel like i couldn’t live without him, because for the past years, i haven’t, we have been together 24/7… what do you think? xx

    • Hi Amy- thanks for getting in touch! I think obviously you have to go. You’ll regret it forever if you don’t. The last thing you want to do is buy a house, get married, have kids and realize one day you never followed your dreams. I wouldn’t worry too much about how you’ll feel without him. If you really hate it that much you can always come home after a few weeks! I would just give yourself a challenge deadline: for example, no matter what, you have to last at least two months, or however long. For that time you’ll give it a full chance. If you still hate it after that period, then you can go home. If you’ve been together for 3 years, chances are he’ll wait for you for a bit. If not, maybe it wasn’t meant to be anyway? I hope this helps!

  44. Im 26years old and I have a big decision to make. A couple of my friends live In Hangzhou and ningbo and I’ve just been offered a job in Hangzhou, the company has offered to pay my daughters tuition at an international kindergarten.
    I have a 6 year old daughter and she is very confidant so I will not worry about her making friends etc. She hasn’t seen her father for years, he is no longer in the picture.

    I am so confused right now! I recently moved out of my boyfriends (been together for 2years) because we were arguing so much and I was fed up with the mundane routine of ours. I love travelling abroad and i love to meet new people. We both recently came back from visiting my friend in Hangzhou and I loved it, him not so much. I still love him and even though I have moved out we still see each other at the weekends and we get on fine. I want to go but I’m scared it’s such a big decision and especially with my daughter. I worry a lot and for weeks now it’s been torture as I’m in 2 minds! I love him but I’m not sure if it’s real love. Whether I am scared to be alone in a new country. I don’t know what to do. He says he will not wait around for me. They want me to come in January so I have all this time to think which is frustrating. Everyone I have spoke to has told me to go, but there is still that love I have for him that is stopping me. It’s hard for me to walk away knowing it will be forever and wondering if I will ever find love again if I make a home in China. I love him but I love adventure, travel and scuba diving and just anything that’s a fun, new experience. What do you think everyone? I feel like my brain is going to explode. I can’t concentrate on anything lately. Your words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated! :)

    • Hi Pamela- thanks so much for this really honest message. While I don’t have a child of my own, I know that things can get much more complicated the older you are, especially when kids are in the picture. Judging from your message, I think I have to agree with your friends too. Just from reading what you wrote, it seems like you already know what you need to do. If things were so toxic that you had to move out of your boyfriend’s place AND he won’t come with you or wait around for you, what are you doing with that guy anyway? Trust me, I know how it feels to love (or at least have very strong feelings for) a guy that’s not right for you, and it can be hard. But once you leave and get to Hangzhou it will be soooo much easier to move on. You won’t have to see him all the time, you’ll meet new incredible people and you’ll be so busy with your friends in China, meeting new people and having incredible adventures that you probably won’t even miss him that much. You want adventure and it seems like this is the perfect opportunity to get rid of a guy that doesn’t fully appreciate you. Go for it!

      • Thanks Richelle,
        I think it is hard to leave the norm and get yourself out of your comfort zone by pushing yourself to do something for you. My daughter will have a great experience and she is doing fantastic in school so I know she could pick up things rather easily while we are there. I decided to accept the position and I have received my invitation letter! I’m scared and excited, everyday I over analyse and wonder if I am making the right decision. I am an indecisive person as it is; takes me 10 minutes to figure out what chocolate I want every time I take a trip to the local shop. I think it’s the waiting that’s torturous and having the time to contemplate my decision. If I was going tomorrow it would be easier. I have so much to sort out I feel like I am in over my head sometimes. I am moving in with a friend to save my pennies for the trip so I think that should make things easier. I have my car to sell etc so I think that’s why I feel quite overwhelmed right now. How did you get on with getting a visa? The company want me to get a business visa and it seems rather costly. Do you have wechat? Thank you for speaking with me. I think I speak on behalf of everyone here when I say how wonderful it is to get a real perspective from someone who has already been through something similar.

        • Hi Pamela, that sounds great and I’m so glad you decided to go! Visas in China are pretty pricey, they’re $130 USD for Americans no matter which visa you get. You’re not technically supposed to work on a business visa, so you should probably ask them if they’re planning on switching you to a work visa. Lots of people work on business visas (including me at one point) but theoretically it’s not actually legal. Just check in with them and see why they can’t get you on a work visa. You should definitely download Wechat before you come to China too. It’s our life here!

  45. Hello Richelle
    Good on you for making the decision to travel to China and good to hear you are happy with your decision. Even if you went to study in Australia there was still the risk of the relationship not working out and the issue of where your lives would have been heading after you had finished studying. I don’t think relationships should come at the expense of fulfillment or happiness for anyone involved.

    I am a single woman in my late 20s from Australia and so far I have travelled to six countries overseas. Relationships are not a priority for me at this time in my life and my focus is travelling. I am strongly considering volunteering overseas in the future.

    • Thanks so much Anne! I completely agree- we really hadn’t spent that much time in person to be sure, and we were too young to sacrifice our dreams and goals for one another. I really hope you’re able to get a position volunteering overseas!

  46. Hi Richelle! I just finished (sort of) bawling my eyes out. Your post really hits home as I’m leaving my boyfriend (of 6 years!) in a few days to backpack through Australia for a year. I keep trying to remind myself why I’m doing it: it’s been my dream, I want to stand on my own two feet, I’m 25 years old and will never be able to quit my job and leave everything behind again, etc. I know this is the right decision for us in the long run, but the whole thing is just so sad. We’ve spent basically 25% of our lives together. He supports my decision and he’s my best friend. I’m losing a part of me. I really hope that traveling in a new country and meeting a bunch of new people will help me move on and be as easy as you say so haha!

    • Wow Kristen, that sounds tough but also incredible! I’m not sure if you guys are breaking up, on a break or staying together- but either way it’s hard to leave someone behind for no other reason than to focus on yourself. The fact that he respects your decision and isn’t trying to guilt you into staying already says a lot about him. While traveling won’t fix everything and you’ll probably miss him at some points, if you just throw yourself into your experience it should make things much easier for you. It’s way easier to move on and focus on yourself if you keep yourself busy and have fun in a new environment. Surrounding yourself by the same people and places while trying to get over someone is so much harder!

      • Oh my god. Stop helping (maybe saying “encouraging” isn’t too unrealistic) people to break up.

        Seriously, this AgonyAunt role you seem to be playing is getting extremely boring.

        You are NOT a role model to these kids. As much as you would like to think yourself to be.

        Overcome that delusion, and maybe you’ll allow some couple to be spared the same reckless decisions that seem to be blighting your life. It’s too late for you but they can still make something of their relationships.

        Though I believe it IS human nature to drag others down with you. So I can’t say I’m entirely surprised.

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  49. Wow great article…I really enjoyed everything about it :D So relateable, insightful and inspiring. I’m actually leaving for China in late August and my now, ex-bf, almost led me off this path!

    • Really? It’s so nice to see someone following their dreams, rather than staying put to make a guy happy. Good luck and I know you’ll have a great time in China!

  50. Hi Richelle it’s a blessing to have found your blog… and a little sad too. In a sense, I understood what my ex boyfriend did.. but it felt selfish.. and a little flaky.. (no offence).

    My boyfriend did kinda what you did…We met off the internet since 2015 end and have connected so deeply and even though we haven’t met (supposed to be in 2018 when he travels closer to Thailand to teach), it felt like he was the one… and we did a 1.5 year LDR…

    Thing is… he wants to travel around Asia and eventually settle down in an Asian country from South Africa all along. And I was bonded to my country due to the course of my university study (medicine) for 5 years in Singapore. Before the relationship, he knew about my limitations… yet he started it nonetheless.

    However on the contrary I did what you wished your ex boyfriend didn’t… I did not give him an ultimatum. I was more than happy that he was getting closer to what he wants (and also closer to me), and I was so willing to give long distance a try. As his plans was to teach 2 years in Thailand, 1 in China, 0.5 years in Korea and Japan each, I would be pursuing my career in Singapore. However, recently he broke off us as he thinks that “the relationship/ I am a burden to him” and he doesn’t want to feel “strings attached” while travelling. And now, he doesn’t want to even settle down in Singapore as he thinks its expensive and small (despite us initially planning to find a place to settle down together).

    P.S medical career in Singapore is a little warped due to the bond + inability to practise elsewhere without additional certifications. Plus its so difficult to find a doctor job in Asian countries other than Singapore due to language/ salaries…

    Due to our distance and circumstances, he said he forcefully made his feelings fade, and wouldnt be willing to try even if those physical barriers are gone…

    I feel like, he chose his life plans over me (when it could be both together?)… Then I saw your other post and felt a bit disheartened as well… about the fleeting relationships they can have vs like a LDR in which me and him would not be together FOR MOST TIMES… It feels like he’s very selfish and irresponsible for starting a relationship and then not willing to commit.

    Maybe you can shed some light on this? It just hurts so badly to be left/ he doesnt want to fight for it? As I have been really not living a life worht living post breakup (lost 6 kg in 2 months.. appetite decreased.. wondering why I am alive at all… no meaning in life kinda stuff)

    • Hey Sheryl, thanks so much for reaching out and I’m so sorry you’re having a rough time. I read this comment a few times and had my current boyfriend (yeah I wrote this post a few years ago!) look at it, and we both came to the same conclusion. Honestly, I think your ex is a bit selfish. I know you’re stuck in your studies, but I can’t believe he couldn’t make some sort of time to visit you. I think he really did have strong feelings, but now he has chosen himself and travel over your relationship, and there’s nothing that you did wrong. From your comment, it sounds like he’s young and he wants to travel and focus on himself. I think you’re much better off getting your med degree (congrats!), focusing on your own accomplishments and finding a guy that truly appreciates you.

      I thought it was the end of the world when my boyfriend and I broke up. Now 5 years later I have a new Aussie boyfriend that loves travel just as much as I do, and he even moved to Beijing to be with me while I finish my job contract. It may seem like the end of the world, but just console yourself that you deserve way better than an indefinite long-distance relationship. You have so much going for you right now. You live in a beautiful country and you’re studying medicine! You’re alive so that you can help people through your profession, and I think deep down you know that. While it can be frustrating to wait for the right guy to come along, my advice is to forget this flakey ex-boyfriend and focus on yourself because you deserve it :)

      • Thank you Richelle and Chris for taking the time to read this even though this post was eons ago:(! It really means a lot to me…

        I know, everyone says he’s selfish as well. To be honest he said something like the distance would drain him both “emotionally and financially” ( I think because of the exchange rate between South African Rand and Singapore dollars). And that it’d be late by the time both of us get to have a proper relationship (5 years later, as previously mentioned). But even if I do not have the bond, it’d be ridiculous to ask me to follow him around (while he teaches and I find another job)? I don’t see how we would have worked out either way and hence I’m kind of angry he even started the relationship..(we did have a very strong connection and he did acknowledge that what he had was special. But now he said he doesn’t like to work on “maybe” factors even if what we had was special)

        Is it true that it’s difficult to have a relationship while you’re teaching in different countries? ( I think for girls, it’s easier as we are more emotional/loyal (oops no offence)) But for guys, well they might have needs like one night stands and all… This is something I can’t bring myself to understand and recently I kept asking him about this problem and he shed light that he probably won’t be in a relationship (thinking about it makes him bloated). But I can’t help thinking about how he would date girls from countries he would be teaching and that makes me feel sick as well. If that’s the case, I really don’t see what is bad about us having a 5 year LDR and then eventually settle down, since he is not the type who would do ONS and dating.

        So now, he’s being really cold/indifferent/not really caring about my life or me despite me trying to reach out and be there for him during his problems /want to still be part of his life. It still doesn’t make sense to me how both life plans and the relationship can’t be done together. And I think it’s made worse because whenever I see couples around ( particularly Caucasian males and Asian females), it’s like rubbing my failure of the relationship into my face. And destroying my self esteem in terms of my looks/personality (you know all that post breakup stuff like I am not good enough that’s why he left/ didn’t even want to try ) and also me becoming very cynical even though it’s not the real me (like what’s so good about these countries etc etc) :( I really hate that.

        I appreciate the advice really but do you think he’d ever regret his decision? You mentioned when it gets tough, you did have some regrets but you got over it? He’s a very stubborn/logical person when he wants to so I don’t think so right? I do know about all the ” deserving better” things but I guess for me, the relationship with him was rare/maybe special/once in a lifetime where we could genuinely connect and talk about anything. Oops sorry for such a long reply:/

        • Hey Sheryl,

          To be honest, I don’t really know your boyfriend so it’s hard to speak for him, but I would say that he really just wants to focus on himself right now, rather than just hooking up with random girls. Like I said, I didn’t even really date anyone when I studied abroad in China.

          I do agree that he was probably selfish starting a relationship and then backing out of it, but people make mistakes, especially young people. Maybe he thought he would follow through, but when he sat down at looked at the logic it didn’t make sense. That’s what happened with my ex and I.

          I will tell you that there will be other fish in the sea. It might take a while (it took me 5 years!), so there’s no need to replace him right now. Just focus on yourself and the right guy will come along when you least expect it :)

          • Thank you Richelle for your reply:)

            I guess I belong to the other camp where I tend to put others before myself most of the time (unless self-preservation calls) or at least a relationship and me on the same level. I guess people do have the right to choose what they do in their life and it’s selfish, yes but it’s their choice. Maybe that’s why despite so much people telling me logically about things, I don’t really agree with the whole “la-la land” kind of approach and hence still feeling rather sore about his selfish decision of choosing himself instead of trying to work things out.

            Hence I was a bit taken aback by the part where you said people make mistakes especially young people haha (no offence) :P I think making a mistake doesn’t justify hurting the other party and ideally people should work things out before calling it quits (like what you tried to do the LDR thing with your ex). It kinda feels like: okay so our relationship was a mistake? There are circumstances though, where this is true, e.g. affair with a married man/woman, falling in love with someone who’s a criminal like a cold heartless murderer kind of thing?

            Part of me wishes I could be more logical like you and everyone here who left their partners for themselves/ be more self-centered/focus on themselves kind of thing. I think it takes the pain of heartbreak away when you can tell yourself that you’re doing this for your own good vs being the one who was “sacrificed” for the other person’s good when you wouldn’t think of ever hurting that person this way.

            Nonetheless thank you for your advice hehe:)!! As much as I know there are better guys out there, feelings and emotions still make me want him back even though all he thinks is about himself:x

  51. I find myself faced with this question and your blog post was great information. It makes me see I’m not alone in it, and reassures me I’m likely making thee right choice. I’m 41 however, and m still trying to find myself. I don’t think it matters if a person is 20 or 40- they should follow their dreams.

    • I totally agree James. Thankfully I was young enough and didn’t have kids/marriage to worry about, but ideally the person you’re with should push you to follow your dreams rather than hold you back. Good luck!

  52. Thank you so much for this post. I just broke up with my fiancé to go teach English in Colombia and I was feeling really bad about it. This post really made me feel a lot better and it reminded me that if he doesn’t support me in a dream I’ve had for the last 8 years then he isn’t the right person for me. Thank you again and I wish you the very best!

    • Wow congrats to you! I know it’s a rough time right now, but you’re so right. If he doesn’t support your dreams and can’t compromise at all, he’s not the right guy. Definitely, focus on yourself for the next year teaching on Colombia. You deserve it!

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