My first trip without my family happened when I was 23. It was also my first trip with my then boyfriend. A boyfriend who I had been seeing for exactly six months. I was excited but nervous. Excited because I wanted to learn more about him. Nervous since I had never spent more than 2 hours at a stretch with him. What happened after was a disaster.
I found out that my boyfriend smoked a cigarette every 2 hours. Also that he didn’t flush after use. And that he cared more about watching movies in the room than exploring the outside. This and many other things that just didn’t sit right with me. But I turned a blind eye and continued to be with him for a long, unhappy time. And then we went on another trip. This time we fought, about everything. About choosing a luxury vs. austere hotel, whether we wanted to walk to a spot or take a rickshaw, if dinner would be at the quirky Chinese place or the homely Indian one and so many other mundane things.
Travelling can be an eye-opening experience. It helps you discover sides to yourself that you’ve only suspected to exist, but never really seen. Add another person with their own set of feelings and opinions to the mix and you are sure to find out much more about each other than daily routine can ever show you.
Maybe that is why a friend of mine refused to marry a seemingly nice boy, picked out by her parents, before taking a trip with him. She was sure that the unexpected situations they would be thrown into and the way they would deal with them together, would reveal something about their compatibility that long discussions never could.
But I still wasn’t convinced. Was it really right to judge your relationship on the basis of a holiday together? Can travel, however intense it is, really show you the true face of your relationship?
Then I met boyfriend number 2. And our first weekend away happened after four months. I wasn’t so excited this time. But he really was. He invited “a couple" of friends for drinks with us (most of his friends lived in this city we were visiting). The couple turned out to be more than 15. A bunch of 15 strangers, all creating a fuss over me. Now, I’m an introvert, so this made me nervous and I felt some anger towards boy 2 for putting me in this situation. Later during the week, he took me on a hike that covered both hills and beaches. I’ve always imagined myself to be an adventurer, but never really done anything to be one. I loved the hike for exactly 30 minutes and then I was done. He carried on, but I knew it was too soon to tell him that I wasn’t the daredevil he had hoped I would be. I dragged my feet thinking he would get the hint, but he patiently went on. When we finally made it to our destination, he asked me how I had liked it. I blurted out a few angry words. His expression remained unchanged and he showed me something on his phone. It was a blog post I had written some years ago – “I want to hike, swim and see the world. And I want a travel companion who will stay with me while I try.”
The trip changed me in a lot of ways. It mellowed my disillusionment with love. It also helped me get to know a guy who, for a change, was not fighting with me but for me to be the person I had always wanted to be.
I still don’t know whether it was the travelling that helped us get closer or the fact that he was such a great guy. But I know that the two times I travelled with my partners, I found out more about our chemistry than I would have sitting in a café in my city.
Do you think travelling is the true test of a relationship? Has something indicative ever happened to you while you were on a trip with someone you love? Tell me in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.
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