This is the first time that I’ve ever travelled as one half of a couple. I’ve travelled with family, with friends, and alone, but never with someone I was romantically involved with. And it’s a completely different experience to anything I’ve known before.
I love Tim, don’t get me wrong. I’m madly in love with him, to be honest, and I hope that doesn’t change any time soon (or ever). But travelling with only him has put a whole new strain on our relationship that hasn’t existed before. I don’t mean to say that travelling is tearing us apart, or that we’re miserable being around each other 24/7. But it’s interesting to see what happens when you have zero exposure to people other than your partner on a regular basis.
We’ve become each other’s only form of physical companionship, and I’m finding myself relying on him more than I ever would at home. I’m normally extremely independent and am guilty of putting plans with friends over plans with Tim a lot of the time, because we lived together and I knew he’d always be there. But now, I find myself checking behind me on the motorbike every few minutes (five minutes if I force myself to wait) just to make sure he’s still behind me, still following. I’d prefer he go in front so he can keep an eye on me, but of course he wants to stay behind me so that he can still see me.
Story time: when we were looking for a hotel in Hue, in the rain with no petrol, Tim’s bike ran out of fuel and I went through a light. I waited on the side of the road for him to appear before I did a complicated u-turn and went back to find him standing at the petrol station, waiting for me. I dissolved into tears when he hugged me, and realised that losing him was a terrifying and very possible reality to me. Ew.
However, the pressure of being the only physical and familiar presence for each other is adding a level of stress I’ve personally never known in a relationship. I’ve always been a person who needs to talk about things, and Tim has always kept to himself when something is going on. I’ve always had my mum, my sister, my friends and workmates to talk to aside from Tim, but now there’s only him. Sure, there’s Facebook and phone calls and emails, but it’s not the same as a face-to-face ‘deep and meaningful’. Tim has become my main emotional outlet, but we both have vastly different coping mechanisms, and it’s hard sometimes to get on the same wavelength with each other.
We’re a bit snippy at times, arguing about stupid things, like if we have soap for our shower, whether we’ll leave the TV on when we get into bed, and even now, when I’m asking him when we last had an argument and he said yesterday, we’re almost about to argue about if we did argue yesterday. So silly and exhausting. I’ve had a few good cries to a mostly bewildered and exhausted Tim when things have gotten too much, and slowly, we’re starting to work it all out.
Turns out when you rely and be dependent on someone, you can also feel alone and abandoned if they withdraw from you. That’s a lesson I’ve had to learn properly for the first time, and a lesson Tim has been suffering through me learning as well. I’ve also learnt that there’s a fine line between comfortably relying on someone for companionship and romance, and being a clingy psychopath. Some days I feel like I’m crossing that line a bit – especially when I’m bawling my eyes out and saying “DO YOU EVEN LOVE ME??” to the guy who worked so hard to get me in the first place.*
So it turns out that all I needed to realise I’m able to rely on someone else without feeling like an utter failure in terms of emotional strength was a little bit of couple’s travel. It’s driving us a little bit crazy, and driving us a whole lot closer to each other. I know people say that travelling with your partner can be hard and exhausting, and they’re not wrong. We’ve shouted, and ignored each other, and slammed things, and slept as far from each other as possible.
But it’s also rewarding and character building, and shows you that good things are worth working for. We’ve held hands at dinner, and laughed while standing in the clouds on a mountain, and comforted each other after near misses on motorbikes, and taken selfies on the edge of a foreign country. Even when we want to kill each other, it’s so ridiculously comforting to know we still love each other.
There’s my sappy post for the month done. I tried to ask Tim how he felt about all this, and he just shrugged at me, and said “You know me, I show nothing.” So we semi-shouted at each other from separate beds, threw some pillows and giggled about it. He feels a lot on the inside, but would probably prefer I didn’t post it all on my mostly unread public blog. Seeing as I can’t read his mind and suck his thoughts out, guess I’m gonna have to respect that.
* Look, PMS makes you crazy, it’s really not (entirely) my fault.