People tend to assume a lot of things about me, and that’s just fine. Keeps things interesting.
But one aspect of my life that seems to get an untoward amount of attention are my relationships, and the predictions, commentary, and advice offered is often surprising, if not shocking, because of who it comes from.
“You’ll find a pretty girl in some foreign land and settle down soon.”
That’s one I hear most often, and from people of all ages, genders, political affiliations, and sexual preferences. Apparently settling down is popular across the board, and lots of folks want me to follow suit.
“You should stop being a man-whore and sleeping your way around the world. Tricking girls into thinking the relationship will go somewhere is bad policy, bro.”
Generally people who know me at all don’t hurl this one at me, but I’ve had quite a few people accuse me of similar things. People who haven’t even read anything I’ve written, spoken to me, or otherwise checked their facts tend to assume a lot.
Not only does this concept not give women much credit when it comes to thinking for themselves, it’s also patently wrong, but I’ll get to that in a second.
There’s one more that I hear, and though it’s not as often, it’s been popping up with increasingly frequency:
“Don’t get tied down. You’re doing the right thing. Enjoy people but don’t offer up your life as a sacrifice.”
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it in exactly those words, but that’s the gist of what’s said.
Shockingly, it’s not Seattle hipsters or porn actors or polyamorous couples (quintuples?) who usually give me this warning, but older men and women who have led a more traditional life and experienced many years of happy marriage, have kids, etc.
My personal philosophy on the matter tends to stray more toward what that last group prescribed: I fill my life with meaningful and valuable relationships. I surround myself with people who enable me to do more rather than those who would limit me, and do the same in return.
There’s a knee-jerk reaction to look at this idea and say “Oh wow, a guy who doesn’t want to get locked in a relationship, now I’ve seen everything.” But this is different in principle and action than just wanting to sleep around.
If you look at how I live my life, as a traveling entrepreneur and minimalist, you’ll note some consistent trends in how I approach the world. I aim for personal education, increased communication, and clearing out the clutter to make more room for things I value. This applies to the stuff I own, of course, but it also applies to my relationships.
When I meet someone who I like and respect and want to get to know better, I do what I can to get more involved with them, whatever shape that involvement might take.
Sometimes this means that we start up a project together, sometimes this means we end up engaging in deep conversations on whatever topics come to mind, sometimes this means we have what I call a “mini-relationship,” sometimes it means we have a physical relationship. Sometimes it’s a combination of many different things.
Whatever the method, though, the important point is that if you want to truly live your philosophy, it means allowing it to cross over into all aspects of your life, not just where it’s easy and most obvious.
Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk, as the kids say.
Keep in mind I’m not encouraging any particular kind of relationship here, just that you take a good hard look at how you interact with others and manage your relationships, and make sure that they align with your beliefs.
Clearing out your “stuff” might be easier to quantify, but you don’t get points for balancing those books. Only for living the happiest (and therefore philosophically aligned) life you can.
Update: February 3, 2017
One of the wildest comments of this kind that I’ve come across was from a literal comment section, possibly on YouTube, after I was interviewed for a small-town news station as a fluff piece. Nothing was said in the piece about dating or sex, and I’m pretty sure all I did was show how to pack a bag. Regardless, some old guy posted something about how I was clearly irresponsible, traveling the world, getting people pregnant, leaving all those fatherless children in my wake.
I should add, too, because the above piece is a little cluttered and not clear on this:
Relationships and minimalism go well together because the latter is about spending your time, energy, and resources on the most important things in your life. That means the most important relationships should get more of you, and less will be spent on the superfluous or superficial ones. This approach makes an immense difference in how we deal with each other, particularly on the significant other level, but also just with friends and associates.