I know this is a dating blog and not a travel blog, but bear with me; it will get relevant soon enough…A few weeks ago I hopped on a plane and traveled a day and a half away from my home. About a week into my trip I found myself stranded on an island with 25 travel companions who weren’t so fond of me, ‘nor I of them. Alright, we weren’t exactly stranded, but we were about an hour boat ride away from any other civilization and it rained for nearly 24 hours straight on the only two days we were booked at the resort. On our last day on the island I was determined to continue with my vacation, so after receiving extremely unenthusiastic responses from my fellow travelers about booking any tours on the island, I signed up for a boat ride where we were to spot marine life, on my own.
I boarded a boat with 13 other tourists, a tour guide, and some dude driving the boat. It was raining and cold on the water, so I was naturally somewhat miserable. I had gone pretty make-up-free, with my glasses on, in a sweatshirt that clashed against my summer dress sticking out the bottom, and with my hair tied up under the hood of my sweatshirt that was pulled tightly over my head, I looked possibly bald. I wasn’t dolled up by any means and appearing attractive to others was the last thing on my mind. The tour was about a little over an hour long. After some time had passed starring at the water hoping a dolphin or turtle would pop up again, I sat down and started zoning out. “Here, you look cold.” The driver of the boat had put a dry towel over my shoulders. I looked up and thanked him. Everyone in that country had been over-the-top nice. It didn’t occur to me that this action could have been anything else.
I went back to starring at the water when he asked if I was traveling alone. I explained that the situation with my group wasn’t ideal. The conversation continued and our names were exchanged. He was only a couple of years younger than me. “Come here, you’re gonna drive the boat,” he announced. I walked over and he explained some levers and had me start steering the wheel. He picked up my cellphone I’d set down in front of us and asked how to use the camera on it. I showed him and he held out his arm to take a picture of us. At this point my mind still hadn’t quite registered that he was flirting with me, but I was starting to realize he was cute. Immediately I wished I hadn’t looked so slummy, but once I remembered he was still initiating this conversation when I looked my worst, it made me feel kind of awesome. I almost crashed the boat while he was taking our picture, but we got back on track without any of the tour realizing. I don’t remember every word of our conversation, but we made each other laugh at various points and he mentioned that he was also working at the dolphin event my group was attending that evening.
The tour was ending and now I was getting the feeling this had been more than just a friendly boat driver. “Do you have FaceBook?” I asked. I took down his full name after explaining I wasn’t using any internet on the trip and said I would friend him when I got back home. I enjoy internet-less vacations. “Oh, I was going to say message me if you get bored later…” he replied. I hesitated, “Well, um maybe I’ll borrow a cellphone from someone on my trip…” Not that I was on great terms with anyone using the internet. As he docked the boat, we said we’d see each other at the dolphin event in a few hours, and I made my return to the beach. I started to construct a plan to ask him to hang out with me when I saw him that evening. As I pictured it playing out in my mind, I began to see it quickly getting ruined. I was traveling with twenty girls dying to hook up with someone from this country. They’d swarm him the moment he headed towards my group and I’d never get a word in. He’d make plans with one of them and I’d lose my chance. -But if we already had made plans he’d have to be a jerk to cancel them to spend time with someone else from my group. “I’ve gotta beat them to it,” I thought. I sighed, took my cellphone off airplane mode, and accepted roaming charges while logging into FaceBook. “Hey, when do you get off work?” I messaged him. We made plans to meet at the hotel reception area at 8:30pm.
I was very proud of myself for locking in those plans with him once we got to the dolphin event. It went exactly the way I’d visualized it would, except when the girls were swarmed around him and I approached, his face lit up and he turned to greet me knowing me already. The look on the face of the girl he had been talking to was priceless. She hadn’t been all that fond of me either. I kept thinking, “Well, I did invite you all to come on the boat with me…” When we were about to head back to our hotels he put his arm around me, “See you tonight!” he said. A few more people in my group shot me a curious look. I ran to my hotel room and did the quickest pre-date routine I’d done in my life -showering, dressing, make up, jewelry and all, still managing to keep a casual enough look. I sat in the hotel lobby and he appeared. We debated getting a drink and decided to just head back to the staff lodge where he lived on the island.
Initially I felt odd standing in the small dorm-like room with an invitation to sit on the bed, as there wasn’t really anywhere else to sit, but we listened to music he put on and talked, and eventually it didn’t feel so awkward. I filled him in on my plan to message him before anyone else got to him. He also let me know that he’d been trying to catch my eye on the boat, but when I didn’t look his way he came up with the towel idea. There were multiple times he said sentences that were word-for-word things I have said. Hours passed and inch by inch we were closer. I guess that applies to bonding as well as being physically close. He kissed me and I was surprised by how comfortable I felt around him. What seems to take me many months with others had occurred in just a few hours with him. Possibly I was subconsciously pushing myself and rushing through things while very aware of the fact that after that night I’d most likely never see him again in my life. Things continued from that kiss and they were good things that went well. Fast forward to a bit later and I was lying in his arms, debating what came next, and weighing pros and cons. I could stay there which felt amazing having been single for so long, but I’d have to leave in a couple of hours to pack my suitcase and catch a boat to board an airplane to a new city. I’d also risk getting uncomfortably questioned by my roommates. I didn’t want to cut it shorter than it had to be thinking about how when I got up it would be over forever, but at the same time I didn’t want to wake up next to him feeling any more attached and then have to let go. I told him I had to head back. He said, “Then I’ve got to get it out of my system now” and gave me a long hug. He walked me back to my hotel room around midnight. He kissed me. “Well, it was nice knowing you, I guess,” I said and went up to my room.
So, fast forward again to today. I’ve been home for a few weeks. We still talk on FaceBook nearly every day. He asked me to send him pictures of my apartment and the sites here while he sends me the same from the resort he works at. He called me through a free app on his birthday when he was drinking and I suggested it. That 40 minute phone call reminded me of how much of a real person he is beyond appearing just as words on a screen, and he sent me a message that it was good to hear my voice. Having a mutual attraction to each other’s accents was a plus as well. On that phone call he also let me know that he’d bought his plane tickets for June, would be close to my country, then in my country for a couple of months, then in my city for a week in September, and had agreed to stay at my apartment for a couple of days during that time. (I’d invited him, of course.) He recently got out of a ten year relationship that ended partially because they weren’t sexually active anymore, so I’m under the impression he wants to meet other girls to hook up with while he’s here and that’s why he isn’t interested in staying at my place the entire week. When I stated that hypothesis to him in a joking tone he confirmed that that is part of the reason, and I really wished I hadn’t brought it up.
Why bother with any of this when a long distance relationship seems sure to fail and it would be insane to move to a new country to get to know someone you’ve only known in person for less than twenty four hours? Why even put yourself through having a crush on someone that has made it clear they have no intention of pursing a relationship, let alone one with someone living in another country? Does the pro of the feeling I have chatting with him outweigh the con that I know there will never be anything more between us and I feel jealous being aware of the fact that he’s sleeping with other women, no matter how much I play it cool when I message him? If I mention my dating pursuits he might feel inclined to talk about his, which I’d rather pretend didn’t exist. Why would I even try to remind him that we’re not something exclusive in an attempt to draw him in when that’s already extremely clear and this will never be any more than what it is now? How do you even flirt with someone from close to 10,000 miles away? Not that the internet and phones don’t make that a bit easier, but how do you stay in touch in a breezy manor with that much distance between you? How do you check in without seeming clingy? How long of a breather do you give in-between messages when you’re on entirely difference schedules and days of the week? It feels like I’m doing my best to look at the situation logically, applying realistic expectations, while allowing myself to take part in this fantasy world where I have this fake “non-boyfriend” in another country. It’s fun and there’s plenty I enjoy, but I have concerns over how long I can keep it at this rate, and am trying to curb the ever growing desire to be in an actual relationship with someone now. The tease has me clicking away on dating sites, but the attachment towards him has me feeling as picky as ever and coming up empty handed when it comes to picking a new date.
Don’t overthink this. He’s a friend, a good friend, even perhaps a FWB if you want, but time and distance makes any thoughts of an exclusive relationship unreasonable for both of you. He is being very clear and direct with you and I think he is doing that to hopefully mitigate your hurt feelings.
He just came out of a LTR –that’s the good news – he can commit. That’s also the downside because he needs space and time to explore and recover. He is being honest and open with you so you are able to make informed decisions — that is a wonderful gift.
My suggestion is enjoy his friendship, learn the lessons he is offering you about the type of man you want, but don’t pause your own journey. I’m a believer in there being a person for a “reason, season or lifetime”. He may be your reason.
Now, put your jealousy aside. He isn’t yours to be jealous of. I know it’s hard and most women don’t like the competition, but jealousy is very unattractive and, in this case, impractical. Enjoy the friendship and congrats on acing out all the other girls in your travel group — well done!
While I appreciate the good advice and thank you for the comment, it is still one thing to state “they’re just a friend” to oneself and another to be able to stop feelings you’ve developed no matter how unreasonable…
And sex is a common topic in our conversations combined with a lot of “in 8 months from now” (when he’s visiting.)
Haha. Good luck!!
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