Dear, oh dear. I haven’t been publishing as regularly as I wanted to. I’m not mad, though. It’s because I’ve been swamped with freelance work! Just to show that I haven’t forgot about you, here’s a new post. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about for awhile and I hope it gets you thinking too.

* * *

A few weeks ago at a party my friends were discussing Christmas plans. A couple of them just moved to London from Canada and it will be their first Christmas abroad without their family and friends; it will be my fourth in a row.

“I’d like to go away somewhere, even if it’s just in the UK,” Ali said.

“Me too, but I think it will be really expensive,” Diana added.

Cue the collective disappointed Yeahhhhs. There was chatter about us all doing something together. Diana turned to me: Alyssa, do you have any plans for — oh, nevermind, you’ll be with your partner.”

I used her accidental interruption to prove my point:

Travelling as a couple means people ignore you.

A lot of people will quickly dismiss having your company. They won’t tell you but if you confront them about it, they’ll probably say they thought of it but figured you would be with your significant other. Or they’ll call it ‘giving you space’. Either way, it will happen.

Does having a boyfriend mean I wouldn’t want to do something with my friends? Do people think we’re attached at the hip? Does having a significant other remove the need for friends?

I’m an expat here too you know!

* * *

I never made more friends and met more people while travelling than when I arrived in Martinique the first year by myself. People offered to help me or take me out and I learned about a lot of things that way.

Sunset in Martinique, Teaching Assistant Program in France, Travelling as a Couple, Making Friends, Pointe Marin, Martinique
Martinique, the early days

In London people are curious too: “You moved to London by yourself?!” Then they find out I have a partner here and it all makes sense.

I’m no longer adventurous and interesting…

Just a girl who moved abroad to be with a guy.

I met with a client yesterday and even he was curious about why I moved to London. I gave the party line: It’s the best city in the world, I have the opportunity to live and work here with a visa – why wouldn’t I? It’s true, but not the whole story. A former journalist, he probed with questions.

“But do you have any connections or family here?”

Oh, I get it.

“Well… My boyfriend is from here.” I wanted to hide my slight embarrassment. “I try not to make that the first reason I give when people ask…” Cue my nervous laughter.

He finally seemed satisfied with my answer. The same thing happened in a job interview a year ago.

When my partner and I travel together people talk to us but I can see that they try to give us space. They rarely invite us out to do things with them and it’s the same thing living in London. When I was in Barcelona by myself people came out with me, offered me their hostel cooked dinner, and invited me out.

Maybe people assume I won’t come; maybe they don’t want to infringe on ‘couple time’ but I am certain that it doesn’t occur to people to invite me places. Or it does but they think I’ll be doing something else.

I confronted a friend about this once.

She said, “Well, surely you spend time with your boyfriend’s friends…”

Yes, that is true. But they are his friends, not mine. So, I’m doubly disadvantaged in this situation because my partner is a local here.

When I shared my theory with Ali, she agreed. She moved to London on her own in September and people were falling over themselves (maybe a slight exaggeration) to help her out and take her out to meet new people. God forbid someone let the single woman in London be by herself!

“I think people assume that you’ll figure it out on your own or your boyfriend will help you,” she said.

I suppose.

* * *

If I was cool enough to have internet trolls, I’m sure that they would say something like “You’re probably an unlikable bitch” “Well, have you ever considered it might be you?”

Yes, of course. I’m naturally quite shy and an introvert so I generally prefer to be alone or with a few people. But I make an effort to accept invitations and when I do, I’m a pretty fun gal.

Party in London
See? I do go out without bae sometimes – oh wait, I think he’s taking the photo

I went to a former co-worker’s birthday party in the summer. I stayed out until 3am and we had a great time.

Another colleague said on Monday, “Alyssa. You’re actually kinda fun.”

Uhh… thanks?

But how would she know? The only time we had all gone out together was at a work function and I certainly wasn’t going to be any more than interesting – no matter what people say about London work culture.

I make an effort. I joined dance classes, the gym, I go to London meet-ups…

* * *

It’s a vicious cycle, really. Travel couples don’t always try very hard because they have each other to rely on. People know couples do this and don’t make an effort. Then travel couple can’t make friends and Bob’s your uncle: a vicious cycle.

Just because we travel together or I moved abroad to be with him doesn’t mean I want to spend every waking moment with him or his friends. I may do it out of necessity, to combat a lack of socialization, but I’d rather have my own friends.

Married people lose friends, couples travelling together can’t make any. Don’t force us to make our lives all about each other because you think our lives are all about each other.

I’m interested to hear from you! Do you agree or am I full of crap? Hey, maybe it’s because I have a blog or because I wear toe shoes at the gym… Leave your opinion in the comments below!


17 thoughts on “One Reason Travelling as a Couple Sucks”

  1. I love traveling!!! That said, I’m with a bit of an anxious traveler. I’ve had so many good trips though with friends or by myself. I think I’m going to try traveling alone again because I just enjoy being a free bird so much. I’m spontaneous and like talking with locals and even hanging out by myself. My husband is so anxious on trips and because of that can be unpleasant and controlling. I’d wondered recently if I just hated traveling now but realized I just miss enjoying traveling because I just can’t with him.

    He feels terrible about it because he knows I love it and it’s just a part of me ; I’ve been all over the world. But hey if being somewhere new where English isn’t the language makes you anxious and irritable, it’s ok I feel to let your partner go do something somewhere that makes them feel alive!!! I let him go on a vacation with friends recently to sort of start up the new trend of traveling apart. I’m ready and though this also makes him anxious, I cannot live my life for you so that you don’t feel anxious about everything with and without you.

    Traveling is such a big part of me I’m actually looking forward to doing it again and finding myself and my passion again!!! Yes you can be married and be happy with your partner—and be happy on a trip without them too! 🙂

  2. Gosh! I see what you mean. I really like your post.
    We’re an international couple too (my husband is German), and I have to make an extra effort to get out there, as we’re also the very few in our set, who have a child. Notice I use the word: child. Most of our friends don’t have children. By the way, I live in Berlin so there’s no need to follow societal norms LOL! As a result, it’s not the marriage thing or the couple thing that’s the issue, it’s the child thing.

    Luckily for me, my husband is an introvert and doesn’t really like to go out too long, so we go out together, he comes home, and I get to show my face in the right places, as I’m the extrovert one. Thankfully, our son is 12 now and has social functions of his own with camping, hiking, martial arts, and geeking out on black and white films LOL!

    1. Hi Victoria! I see what you mean, I guess having a kid will definitely make you stand out! I’m the introvert in the couple, unfortunately, making it all the more difficult for me. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Great post! I really loved this. I moved to London three years ago with my boyfriend and get a similar reaction when I’ve tried to build my own social circles. I actually recall meeting you both at an event some time ago, would be great to meet again soon 🙂

    1. Hi Colleen,

      Of course! It was at the Traverse Mingle for WTM last year – did you go this time around? Again, super pleased I’m not crazy haha! Thanks for commenting and good luck with the blog awards!

  4. I’m reading this and I’m laughing so hard! 🙂
    I’ve been travelling a lot around Europe with my boyfriend and we rarely met anybody, and I miss that so much! I guess that everybody thinks that they should leave you alone in your romance, with sunshines and rainbows. And all I want is somebody to hang out with, to chat and have fun!
    I remember when I was going to seaside with my girlfriends, we met people all day long.
    It’s just not fair! 🙂

    1. Spend too much time in the sunshine and you eventually get sunburned!! I’m glad someone else can empathize – I thought I was crazy/alone here! I figured I’d throw it out there anyway – just in case. 🙂

    1. We compromise great – we always do what I want haha! It’s not a problem between him and me, it’s a problem between him & me and the world when we travel, which is what this post is about. Thanks for commenting!

  5. I understand you completely, I’ve been living abroad for 5-6 months now, similar situation, boy meets girl.. girl moves to his country, girl doesn’t get invited anywhere because she is part of a couple. And don’t get me wrong I’ve met a lot of people, I really like his friends and this whole experience has been great and exciting, but I think I understand what you mean with this. Anyway, thank you for the post and sharing, I really enjoyed reading you!!

    1. Thanks Thalia – I’m glad I’m not the only one! Here I was thinking it was just me… 🙂

  6. Always love reading your articles – so well written. I understand where you are coming from with this one but I find that whatever you seek you will find, so if it is adventure, awe-inspiring moments and new connections, then that is generally what your travels will result in – whether or not you are flying solo or with a significant other. That has been my experience – granted when traveling as a duo those expectations, needs and wants to are best realized when in synch as others pick up on the ‘vibe’.

    That said, I’ve never been to England – just throughout the continent. Those folks seem as eager to meet, greet and help (as well as share a bottle or pint) as anyone could imagine. For instance, you can sit at a bier garten minding your own business but the communal tables give way to friendships and evenings with others whether you seek it or not. lol

    1. Thanks Jamie! I agree with you – travel is what you make of it. Where I differ is the connections. It’s easy to create a fleeting friendship where someone is your BFF for one night, but despite a year here, I don’t think I’ve made many friends who I would come back here to visit once I leave…yet!

  7. This is very interesting. I have only traveled in a relationship a couple of times and now that I look back on it, we were not invited anywhere, but as a single person traveling I get invited all over the place.

    Reading this story however made me think of a different spin on your story – being a constant traveler. I probably get about 50% less invitations to do things by friends here at home than I use to because they assume that I will be ‘out of town again’.

    1. That sucks – don’t they just know to ask 3 months in advance?! haha. But seriously, I know what you mean. When I’m home my friends usually want to see me a lot – at least for the first little bit! Then it goes back to normal 🙂 Thanks for commenting, Chanel!

  8. It is actually a matter of pros and cons. Personally, I want to travel with someone for security purposes. But travelling together may not always mean you have the same agenda. You can always go on your own as soon as you arrive in the place and do your own adventures then meet again for snacks or dinner and do your own activities activities the next day.

    1. Hi Lemuel,

      I only listed one reason it sucks – not all the other reasons it sucks and the reasons it’s awesome! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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