Monday, June 04, 2007

Traveling with a bachelor

It's been a week since my vacation. I went with a friend of mine, a guy friend who I've known for more than 10 years. He's a few years older than me and single. Long ago we explored the idea of dating and concluded that we were not compatible. You could say it was like going with a male cousin or something.

We traveled together about three years ago. For the most part we got along, but some minor tensions eventually built up, primarily due to his frustrations with the tour guide and my frustration with his unwillingness to plan ahead. He was tired of not being able to understand the tour guide who was speaking more in Chinese to make the other people in our tiny tour group happy, plus he got a one day stomach thing. I was mad because we tromped around a little town for a several hours, carrying all of our bags, looking for a hotel that was acceptable to him, shadowed by an annoying Chinese woman trying to get credit for whatever hotel we visited. I was annoyed, but I quietly went along with it because I had agreed to it before the trip. Still, I think it was pretty obvious to him that I was less than happy with the situation. We didn't come to blows or raise our voices, but suffice to say we spent a day doing our own things.

This time, I made sure to address any potential sources of conflict before leaving the country. I reminded him of our different travel styles and expressed my desire to have some kind of agreement in place before signing up for the trip with him. I made it clear that he was welcome to wait until we reached town to find a hotel, but that I would be making a reservation for myself. After a week, he came back to me with a story about how he's learned that his style of travel has made others uncomfortable in recent years. He decided to wholeheartedly go with whatever plan I put forth.

When it came to the tour group, I let him assume most responsibilities such as paying tips to the drivers and tour guides, getting keys to our hotel room, basic travel arrangements. I'm always on time, he's always late. There were times it was a little frustrating to be the last ones to board the bus in the morning. He disliked the fact that most of the group was always early or on time. Sometimes, it was also tough to know what to do when we had say 30 minutes to explore before needing to return to the bus. I felt like I had to stay with him (hence why I should have remembered my wristwatch).

The most striking thing for me was learning and thinking about the time we spent in the hotel room together. It made me think about what it must be like and what is required to live with someone else. As two people who have been single for some time, our individual habits and preferences were clear.

Little things:
- finding stubble in the sink (yuck)
- who chooses what television station to watch (I let him watch the basketball)
- finding stuff placed on top of your toothbrush (okay, I should have put it away better)
- staying up when the other person wants to go to sleep

Bigger things:
- a girl who tends to sleep cool, a guy who likes to sleep warm (in different beds), which is reverse of what you would normally guess, causing disagreement over how to set the thermostat
- eating late and fast versus wanting to eat early and leisurely
- 8am is when you need to be at the bus, not the time to leave your hotel room
- not paying a driver's tip because you didn't see anyone else pay him (buy they did)

The other weird thing that came up or probably came to both our minds was the notion of propriety regarding dress. As I said, since I know him, I tended to be less concerned about my choice of clothing in the hotel room. If I was traveling with an acquaintance or friend's husband, I probably would have worn leggings or knee-length shorts. In the company of close friends, I feel like I can wear my short exercise shorts. Sure, the thought briefly passes through my mind, "does he sneak a peek at my ass?" But then, I let it go because guys will be guys and it's not like he's the type of guy that would say something inappropriate about it.

All in all, the trip went well (ignoring the two days he got a stomach virus from the water). I did my best to voice any concerns I had in a polite way. The only time I was frustrated with him is when I would comment about something and received no acknowledgement. Then, an hour later, he would make the same comment or ask a question that I answered in my earlier comment. Why does this happen to me? Okay, in a couple cases, I think his illness made him kind of spacey, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. My friends was good too. He always tried to be a gentleman and made sure to give me access to his dental floss each night since I'd left mine at home.

My friend and I definitely have different styles, different attitudes towards life. It was interesting to spend so much time with one person because it made me think about the compromise and patience necessary to live with someone. Granted, two weeks in hotels is not quite the same, but being in such close quarters 24/7 requires some adjustment. It was a good learning experience for me, a reminder that I can't always have my way (even though I think it's often the best way ;)). Being single, it's easy to get comfortable with doing things a certain way and forgetting to be open-minded.

And yet, I sit here wondering how much compromise is reasonable. What makes for two people who will get along well? What is too much give and take? I hate confrontation, so I worry that I let things go too much in order to keep the peace. I'm probably more guilty of that with men I'm dating versus friends. At least I'm more aware now.

1 comment:

zerodoll said...

there is, of course, always compromise. just being in a relationship is a compromise with your freedom. the balance is making sure you're getting more from being in it than from not. and you do have to let the other person know sooner vs. later if something is bothering you. it's probably harder with just a friend to judge that sort of thing since it's not a long-haul type thing.