As a first-time solo traveler at 60, my 70-day journey around the world challenged me, an introvert (not shy – more on that in this post), to connect with strangers from different countries speaking different languages with different customs. I shared meals, drinks, stories, and laughs with people I may never see again in life, and some who remain connected with my life as friends. The takeaways from meeting and connecting with strangers as a solo traveler are five tips I’ve applied to meeting people for dating back home.
1. Dating is fun. Like traveling, I see new things, explore, and discover. I have fun checking out unknown territory while traveling. Meeting someone for the first time after connecting online is the same for me. I focus on creating fun experiences and learning opportunities, not “boyfriends” or…whatever. That first meeting might not lead to a second date, but I’m going to enjoy myself doing something I enjoy doing at whatever public place I am, and I am paying my own way. Whether walking, sipping, noshing (or some other Covid-cautious, socially distant, outdoor activity), I am going to enjoy doing it. And just like when I travel, I make sure to do my due diligence first, because ignoring my safety is not fun.
2. Have no expectations for an outcome. The beauty and wonder of travel can only be appreciated when the mind is open. I have no expectations for what’s going to end up happening when I’m discovering new travel destinations on my own. Yes, I’ve done my research and planned a basic itinerary as a launching point, but I’m ready for anything. In dating as in travel, keeping my mind open, unhampered by set expectations for a certain outcome, helps me appreciate and see what actually does end up happening in the moment.
3. Stay non-attached to any preconceived ideas. When connecting with locals and fellow travelers during my travels, I don’t form opinions beforehand about who and how they are, who I want them to be, or how our interaction will turn out. I focus on hearing their stories and sharing our experiences. Again, it’s about fun and learning – not judging, complaining, or bashing. Same goes when meeting and connecting on a first date.
4. Have no checklist of the ideal person. Nothing shuts the door on opportunity like a checklist of must-haves. In travel lodging? OK. In people I meet? Not so much. The locals and travelers I met while solo traveling spanned a wide range of folks, and some who’ve become friends were, well, pretty unexpected. Similarly, I’ve formed some pretty unexpected, lasting friendships from first dates that didn’t turn into romantic relationships but add to my life nonetheless.
5. Keep an open mind to all experiences because I never know what they might turn into. It all boils down to this. Ditch the checklist, preconceived notions, and expectations, and open the mind to just having fun and discovering something new – whatever that turns out to be.
Check out my Instagram for what having fun looks like when it turns out to be something special.
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