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, and generally people who haven’t even read anything I’ve written, spoken to me or otherwise checked their facts tend to assume a lot (I guess if a guy is traveling around the world for any amount of time, he must be getting his jollies by fooling women into bed and then leaving in the middle of the night…stranger things have happened).
Not only does this concept not give women much credit when it comes to thinking (thank goodness there’s someone to look out for them, because they certainly can’t think 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 actresses 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 emphasizes: 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 in any way.
There’s a knee-jerk reaction (even in the back of my mind…damn Catholic upbringing) 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. Ho hum, let’s get some cake,’ but this is a little different in principle and action than just wanting to sleep around and and ‘bro it up.’
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 that 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 incredibly 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…generally 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 jive with your beliefs.
Clearing out your ‘stuff’ might be easier to quantify, but you don’t get points for balancing the books, only living the happiest (and therefore philosophically aligned) life you can.