“My Partner Can’t Travel As Much as I Like. Should We Break Up?”

I was able to retire very early and travel a lot around the world. (I always was a traveling type.) My partner, who has a job and a child from a previous marriage, is not able to travel as much as I do. We have been dating a year and live in separate cities. I have scaled back my travels to include her when it works. I do travel alone; I have friends all over the world I like to visit. Plus, I’m an artist (music and painting), so some of my travel is work-related.

I am tired of the same questions from my partner when I do travel on my own. She wants to know who the people are that I am seeing, how involved they are in my life, why she hasn’t met them (yet) and, of course, there is always the question of other women as well. When alone, I tend to travel somewhat spartanly or stay with friends. My partner wants more luxury, meals, shopping, etc. So, there is also a cost factor for me when I travel with her.

To accommodate the relationship, I stay home for weeks at a time instead of traveling, and I spend weekends with her. I do stay at her place from time to time as well.

My best friend bought a house in Bali, and he invited me (us) to visit him. I would love to go for at least two months during the winter and to explore Asia. My partner can get, at best, two weeks off, which she says would be a nice amount of time there for us. However, I would like to stay longer. I’ve suggested flying there together and then she can fly home alone while I stay. She doesn’t like this idea.

I am on the verge of breaking up. This is an opportunity I can’t let go of. I feel like a caged bird, especially when I am told I already travel enough. Maybe my traveling days are over? — Caught in Wanderlust

It sounds like your lifestyles aren’t a match. Sure, you could continue compromising and reduce the amount you travel and the duration of the trips you take with your partner, but if doing that has made you feel like a “caged bird,” what would be the point? And even when your partner one day has the time to travel more, it doesn’t sound like your travel styles are a match. You like very long, spartan-style travel where you crash with friends and stick to a tight budget, whereas your partner prefers more of a traditional-style vacation when she travels. I’m not sure she’d even want to be on the road more than a couple weeks, even if her schedule allowed.

Travel is important to you. It sounds like it’s among the most important parts of your life. And it sounds like you would prefer a partner who shared your passion or, at the very least, supported your pursuit of it even if it didn’t always (or even mostly) include her. Your partner may love you and meet your needs in other ways, but she doesn’t support the kind of travel you enjoy in the way you’d like to be supported. Only you can say whether this is a deal-breaker for you.

I want to underscore that neither of you is wrong here. You aren’t wrong for wanting to travel as much as you do, and your partner certainly isn’t wrong for questioning who you might spend time with on these travels and what your days look life. Her questions, which you are so tired of, seem completely reasonable and normal, and I would suspect most women you might date will ask similar questions. So the question you might want to ask yourself is not necessarily whether you should break-up with this woman, but whether you might be happiest not being in a committed, monogamous relationship at all.

You’re not a caged bird. You have the ability to fly free whenever you want. If a relationship is making you feel trapped, maybe it’s not the person you’re in a relationship with; maybe it’s being in a traditional relationship, period.

I’ve gotten a lot out of reading your columns, and I really appreciate everyone’s opinions. I’m an adult child who has moved in with my aging mother (my father is deceased). Between my brother and me, I was geographically closer to our mother, so it made sense that I would be the one to move in with her and help care for her. While I’ve been here, my brother has been constantly asking our mother for money and she keeps giving it. Not only do I take care of almost all the household chores, I’ll continue to be there for our mother to take care of her until her death.

I am feeling so resentful. If anyone should be getting anything from her, it should be the person who’s there supporting her while her health will continue to deteriorate. The will is completely 50-50 and I’m fine with that, but currently I feel like I’m getting screwed. Please help because this is causing not only friction in the household, but, unfortunately, I think it will cause a fracture in my sibling relationship. — The Caregiving Sibling

The advice I gave here can apply to you as well. Your mom may have lots of good reasons to give your brother money when he asks. She may have bad reasons, too. But the fact is that it’s her money to do with as she pleases. You aren’t entitled to a certain cut of it just because you are her kid and her caregiver, though I can certainly understand why resentment would grow as you watch her continually give money to your brother (who’s not entitled to it either!).

I would suggest talking to your mom about her long-term financial plans, including estate planning, creating a will, and creating Powers of Attorney. As you discuss these end-of-life plans that are so important to have in place as your mother ages and becomes less independent, you can ask whether she has considered how to divide her assets among her kids, assuming she wishes to upon her death. If her intention is for distribution to be equal, you can remind her that she’s been giving a lot of money to your brother already. Maybe her plan is to subtract from what she’ll leave him. Maybe she has other plans or ideas. Again, just because she’s your mother and you’re her caregiver doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a certain cut of her money – either now or when she dies.

What you ARE entitled to is living a life you are comfortable with. If living with your mother and being her full-time caregiver isn’t a good fit for you, or if you need more support in this work, that’s a separate issue than your mother giving your brother money, and it would be where you should focus your attention. If there’s money to continually give to your brother, there’s money to hire some help. With help, and with some honest and open discussion with your mother about her financial intentions, I suspect your resentment will decrease significantly. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider moving out and finding full-time help for your mother that isn’t you.


  1. LW1: I think that it is possible to be in a committed relationship and have the freedom and autonomy to make a two-months trip by yourself, or partly so. It exists, I know such couples of friends who are fine with such a way of life, and are monogamous. But they need to have a lot a trust in each other and a solid foundation. I can’t see it here. Maybe you could speak of trust with your girlfriend and ask her wether you could be both more independent, while remaining faithful. Accept to answer her questions, but ask her to trust you as well – if you are to be trusted, of course. You will see how she reacts.
    LW2: Just speak openly with your mother: tell her that your care has a value (your time and work). Charge her for your care: why not? Instead of focusing on the period after her death, focus on getting her appreciate the cost-value of your present care. It is a difficult conversation with her, but you should make it happen. You should also speak of her will and the account she makes of the sums she gives to your brother in the final share. You can suggest an appointment with her notary to discuss such matters and get professional advice. It is a very common situation that you shouldn’t bear passively. Better speak with your mother than become resentful.

  2. LW 1, you are not compatible. I have a similar lifestyle and many friends who live like this. Some are in relationships with people who are also okay being somewhat nomadic. (Dual citizenships, houses abroad, portable jobs/enough money). It’s very specific and you need someone who can hang with you or is okay with you being gone fairly often

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