International Friends with Benefits

Dating for those who live for adventure can be complicated. Finding someone who thrives on the unknown, undiscovered, and uncivilized is like finding a needle in a haystack. You won’t find people like this sitting in a bar, waiting just for you. And you won’t find them online, as people who create dating profiles often list travel as a passion, but when you meet them in person, it is more likely they don’t travel in the same style or with the same goal as you.

I realized a long time ago that I am absolutely bored with traditional dating. I am so bored, that I cannot stand meeting a person for dinner, spending 1-2 hrs of my time making small talk, and trying or avoiding getting to know this person. What is worse is what comes next. If you like the person, you now have to devote time every week doing exactly the same thing, to discover if some day, the two of you will like each other enough to spend more time together. To reach this point, you have to endure texting, playing games, meeting other people, walking on eggshells, learning about what tics this person off, dealing with their irrationality, their insecurity, all to conclude at some point in the future that this was a complete waste of time.  No thanks.

Many years ago, I decided to explore dating from a different angle. I resolved to do what I like to do only, and see who shows up for the adventure. I made a list of 20 things I always wanted to do, but my exes never wanted to experience, and I started dating myself. Imagine the bliss of doing things that you enjoy every single minute, and doing it for yourself, by yourself. It was a beautiful experience.

In fact, it was so enjoyable that people started to ask if they can come along. At this point I had to become selfish and reject people whose company was not better than my own. I rejected all my female friends. My rationale was that I have been encouraging them to do more things on their own, date themselves, and since they were unwilling to do this, I wasn’t going to compromise my bliss, holding their hand through life, or creating beautiful moments for them.

As I checked dates off my list, I started to venture out on destinations that were close to home. I explored woods, beaches, vineyards, racing schools, falconry schools, log cabins, lakes, animal sanctuaries by following my bliss. Soon, male friends noticed my adventures and they started asking if they could tag along. Though they were more welcome than my girlfriends, I still had to be selfish and only allow the ones I thought were worth my time to join me.

But here is where it got interesting. It turns out that the ones who were worth my bliss were people who were also self aware, interesting, experienced explorers, adventurers, fearless risk takers, and those who expected much more out of life than the mundane traditionalism I dislike so much.

Having no expectation of a traditional relationship, I started to plan longer trips with these men. My requirements remained the same- the trip had to be something that I really wanted to do (this was not about him at all), and my invitation would go out to several men at the same time. I would then select the most fun, interesting person to join my adventure, and it was always preferable that I go alone. These trips spanned the globe, and as a result I had adventures in Thailand, UK, Greece, Dubai, wherever my whim took me.

What I learned was that the person who showed up on my adventure was always a thousand times more compatible to me than that guy who asked me out to dinner a dozen times, then wasted my time texting in and out of the relationship. People who travel tend to appreciate life. They understand that life is short, and like me, they believe in taking risks, enjoying every moment, and avoid wasting time on people who don’t want the same.

No, I wasn’t 100% compatible with all of them, but I was much happier meeting them abroad, seeing how they perceive foreign cultures, how they experience the unknown. You learn more about a person when you share a hotel room for a few days, than you would after 3 months of traditional dating.

But most importantly, you are meeting people doing what you love best. Anyone who shows up on these adventures is much more likely to be your type, want the same things, and enjoy the same moments. What I wasn’t expecting is that adventurers tend to be better communicators.

Knowing that we only have a week together in a distant land, communication is key. Certain things must be spelled out up front, such as the terms of the “friendship”, expectations, habits and boundaries. Again, it is much more refreshing to learn that about a person up front, then find out after a few months of dating that the person you are with hates being alone and needs you to help him face everything

Over the years, I have had beautiful adventures with people I never would have met in the traditional dating world. What made the experience amazing was that each person had something to teach me that I hadn’t experienced before. More importantly, I learned how to appreciate myself, chart my own course, and stick to it. Today, it no longer matters that the guy I am seeing doesn’t like interacting with wild animals like lions or tigers. All that matters is that I do, and I will do it anyway. Who shows up on my adventure is much more likely to be compatible with me.




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