"Where's your boyfriend?" I don't think I've ever gone on a solo trip without someone asking me this — even business trips my boyfriend had no reason whatsoever to be on. People have criticized him for not accompanying me when I didn't want him there. Traveling without my significant other (or anyone) is probably my #1 source of personal growth, and it also may have singlehandedly saved my relationship. So why do people assume that if your significant other isn't with you on every single trip you go on, there's a problem?
I don't know if men with female partners experience this same line of questioning, but I suspect it's at least a bit different for them. People asking me about my boyfriend's whereabouts usually say something reflecting the assumption that a) I need him there to "protect" me, b) He needs to be there to make sure I don't get too close to anyone else, c) He's letting me down because women are clingy and want their significant others with them at all times, or d) There's no way I could possibly handle navigating through a foreign country alone. Please excuse me while I take some deep breaths because my blood is boiling right now.
"A couple still has two individuals in it, and it's OK to for each person to embark on their own journey and do a bit of exploring on their own."
News alert: The desire to travel without your significant other does not indicate any rift in your relationship. It can actually be great for both you and your partner. "Although many adventures, such as travel, happen as a couple, that doesn't always have to be the case," practicing psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, Ph.D., author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, tells Bustle. "A couple still has two individuals in it, and it's OK to for each person to embark on their own journey and do a bit of exploring on their own. Being in a relationship doesn't mean being tied at the hip."
Here's why I won't give up traveling without my partner, apologize for it, or try to justify it when people ask me this obnoxious question.
I Go Nuts Without Alone Time
Everyone needs time alone. Constantly considering how other people might respond to your decisions is exhausting. And personally, spending the daytime alone until my boyfriend comes home at five or six in the evening doesn't do it for me. I need several days at a time when I can recharge and think about nobody but myself. When I'm deprived of that, I feel drained, irritable, and resentful of whoever's putting me in that situation. Traveling by myself is a great way to carve out time where I'm beholding to nobody.
When You're Together All The Time, You Take Each Other For Granted
If you can spend every single day for two months with your partner and appreciate them just as much as you do when you reunite after months apart, that's amazing. But most of us can't. I know I can't. When my partner and I spend months living in the same place, everything little movement he makes starts to annoy me. But after just a few days without him, I'm once again patient and totally in love with him. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, you need to remember what life is like without someone in order to be as happy as you could be with them.
Going Places With Someone Stops You From Meeting People
A roommate of mine once acted flabbergasted that I was going to a concert by myself. But in my mind, if you go with people, you may miss out on one of the best parts: meeting new people. Think about it: If you're looking for a new friend, who would you be more likely to approach? Someone by themselves or someone who's already talking to somebody else? Being alone forces you to get to know people you wouldn't otherwise meet.
When You Travel Alone, You Can Do Whatever The Hell You Want
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's come back from a vacation feeling like I needed a vacation. And that's usually because I got stressed out accommodating someone else's schedule, entertaining them, making sure I didn't do anything that bothered them, and pushing through things I didn't actually want to do. Solo travel is the best kind of travel because you get to plan (or not plan) the trip all by yourself. You can spend the whole time in and out of museums, walk around aimlessly and stop to eat whatever smells good, or sit on the beach reading a book and then decide last minute that you actually want to go to a party. And nobody will get annoyed with you, because your plans literally don't affect anyone else.
The Whole Point Of Travel Is To Switch Up Your Routine
People put themselves in new places because they're looking to access a different side of themselves. If you travel with the same people you're with every day, you risk recreating your everyday life somewhere else. Sometimes, you need time away from everything to reflect on your life, expand your mind to new perspectives, and see what you're dealing with at home from a new angle. The best way to do that is to remove yourself from as many things back home as you can.
Don't get me wrong: I love traveling with my partner. But do I enjoy it as much as traveling alone? Not by a long shot. In fact, there's nothing I enjoy as much as solo travel. To unlock another side of yourself, you need to abandon the life you're used to. And it's hard to find yourself when you're always with somebody else.