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Defining “the one that got away” when ...

Defining “the one that got away” when traveling

We’re back to this crossroad. For the past 2 years, I haven’t really written anything personal about love and relationships on the road because nothing’s happening in that department yet. But now is a good time. A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me “who is the one that got away for you?” I stopped and thought: do I really have that?  When we’re younger, we tend to put labels to all of our ex relationships basing on what we feel at the moment. Until you realise that you’ve called everyone ‘the one that got away’ and you just couldn’t identify the real meaning anymore.

“What do you really mean with the one that got away?” I asked my friend. She told me that for her, it’s that one person who you are crazy in love with but both of you couldn’t get to the same page. Ha! I have a handful of that. In this lifestyle, I was never in the same page with another person (friend or boyfriend) because my individuality comes first. I always trust my gut and how I feel about myself is more important than anything else.

Further defining “the one that got away”

He’s not the one you made out in a Mustang while Radiohead was playing on the background. Oh God, having relationships while traveling is I think, the hardest part of being constantly on the road. No one is stable. Everybody’s fcked in the head. Everyone has their own thing. Justin Bieber’s Love yourself is the national anthem. And to be honest, this is something wonderful about knowing people who are sure about what they want in life, even if it means that you won’t be a part of it.

So this is how I define ‘the one that got away’. Of course, I will not mention any name(s) to protect the privacy of ‘that’ person.

He wasn’t even my ex to begin with and I believe we weren’t even in a relationship. The one that got away doesn’t necessarily have to be your ex, take note. He’s just a person who has made a place among my past relationships. Traveling is another life you make and it is far from reality. You will get attracted to a lot of people whom you think you’re going to share the rest of your life with. The feeling is more intense because you think you are on the same boat. Duh. You’re traveling. You do the same things, like the same things, go to the same places even if you’re not together. It’s a part of all this long-term backpacking hurrah. But then again, as time passes, you will come to realise that relationships on the road are pretty tough. Even if you are willing to give your 100%, you will be hesitant because the other person is only at 50%.

I think he was also thinking the same — that I was at 50 and he was at 100. You see, it really is confusing!

Do you remember my story about moving to Argentina for my ex? Arrggghh, well, I wrote that in a vaguely manner but I think it has something to do with ‘the one that got away.’ Oh no, the Argentine ex is not Mr. TOTGA. I am talking about a different person here but that experience with Mr. Argentine made me gamble in life less. After that incident, I promised myself that I will never move to another country for love. I am so done with that. I think this is what led me to hesitate to start a life with ‘the one that got away.’ He wanted me to fall in line — you know, move to his country so we can be together. For the first time in my life, even if I really wanted to move for him, I didn’t. I don’t know if it’s because of my pride or traumatic past but at the time, I was just sick of giving 100% to anyone. The adventurous and fearless me hid behind the scared and young me. The latter prospered.

So, he left and we didn’t work out. But up until today, he is still a part of my life. We exchange messages every now and then, we’re a part of each other’s important life events and the best thing about ‘the one that got away’ is he is my friend. I can call him whenever I am in trouble and rest assured that he will be there for me no matter what.

It hurts until it doesn’t. You think it’s going to break you, but it won’t. You may not sleep as well at night, but you will be fine. Numb. But numb and fine are the same.” 

— MELLIE GRANT

“The one that got away” for me is not the person who you ended up with bad terms with. He’s the one who stood out; the one who understands me, the first person I think of when I wake up until I fall sleep even if we were 10,000 miles apart. I’ve had flashing images of the future with this person but it was in a parallel universe. More often, I wasn’t sure if I have to be in that bubble or get out and face reality. I was somewhere in between because it feels good. He feels great.

Just to be clear, “the one that got away” did not cheat on me neither did I cheat on him. For some unexplainable reason, it just didn’t work out and probably, I will never find out why. Our prides just ruled our parallel universe because I want him to move for me, not the other way around. But he couldn’t do that. Both of us just had other things to do before prioritising this kind of love. He needed to be home; I wanted to travel more. You know, those kinds of unfortunate events that you think are so easy to deal with but they aren’t. The stars weren’t aligned for us even if we were crazy about each other. The thing is, there is no big deal with who moves or who doesn’t. Even if we’ve traveled a lot on our own, travelers are very cautious. We need to be in our turf to feel comfortable in starting over with another person. Everyone feels that way, I tell you.

We are both good, smart, well-traveled people. At least I’d like to believe in that. But you know, travel fcks you up in the head and maybe, just maybe, despite how good people we are, we weren’t good enough for each other at the time. We’re both in a very good place now but things will always be unresolved between us.

But you know what? This situation doesn’t make me feel sad at all. I am very happy with what I am doing in life, even if it means that I could not be with the one that got away. After all, he will not be Mr. TOTGA if I am with him, right?

Sometimes, I keep thinking of what we could’ve been. He always raised the bar of what love could be like and I guess we will always be ‘another used to be.’

… in another life.


A lot of readers keep asking me about maintaining relationships on the road and I want you to know I am terrible in that department because it’s not easy. However, I would like to hear your experience about falling in love while traveling. What was it like for you?  

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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha also loves extremely spicy food, pineapples, plants and symmetry. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

  1. Evan Kristine

    25 March

    I love this article, Trisha! You have such a positive view on this. I think your thoughts were very rational and I totally agree about thinking about yourself as the priority. Experiences shape up the whole being! <3

  2. LeAnna

    26 March

    I’m pretty fortunate to have met my love, soul-mate, husband and traveling companion when I was just 18. Travel has been such a catalyst to creating an amazing and unique bond that only we can share with each other due to the things we have seen, explored and done together while seeing the world

  3. Drew

    26 March

    What a great, personal post. It is true that sometimes things don’t work out between people, even if there is not a major fight or incident. Sometimes it is just a case of bad timing. Obviously, you and Mr TOTGA are probably better for each other as friends. You are able to learn something about yourself, rather than just dwelling on what could have been, which is fantastic.

  4. It was so nice reading this. There’s always that one you tend to “wonder” about. Your one sounded like a great person, but time always brings these people into our lives to leave an impression and then take them away again.

  5. I love the honesty in this article. Sadly I’ve just experienced a departure from the one who I think will be my MR TOTGA so I can relate. Good to see you’ve had an incredible life without him. The inspiration I need right now 🙂

  6. It’s good to know reflect on the one who got away often it more self reflection than about him anyway and because you’ve still got to look forward to finding ‘the one’. Then you won’t have the a TOWGA anymore.

  7. When I was reading this article, I felt like I wrote it myself. I feel you! Well, one day you will find that one who chooses to stay.

  8. I tend to travel because I’ve had a bad break – the opposite end, and yet quite close. Numb but fine…

  9. anna

    26 March

    Love this article! I’m a big believer of the universe conspiring to give you exactly what you need-although sometimes it messes up the timing. :p I met Tom when we were both traveling and somehow, we managed to make things work. Timing is everything and just because it didn’t work now…whose ruling it out in the future? xx

  10. Jackie

    26 March

    So personal and real, Trisha. I couldn’t help but feel how lucky to have found my Mr. The One that I didn’t let “get away.” You’re so right about timing and the Universe aligning correctly. There were opportunities to sacrifice myself and who I am for “love,” but as hard as it was in the moment, I had to stay true to myself. I think that’s where the true beauty of your post is. You can remain true to yourself AND be happy and satisfied not in spite of that, but because of it.

  11. Nisha

    26 March

    I love your honesty and truthfulness.

    It’s not easy to maintain a relationship on the road and at the same time keep your individuality intact. I think you’re doing a great job and who knows you’ll get your ‘the one that got away’ in the coming years. 🙂

  12. Katja

    27 March

    So true. Sometimes the right person comes along and it’s the wrong time, other times you are ready to meet *that* person….but they never show up. As long as you are open to new experiences and the potential for meeting new people – which it sounds like you are! – then it will all happen in time.

  13. The term ‘the one who got away’ now has a different meaning to it then I first thought it had. It sucks completely and utterly if you are in love with someone and you would actually be GOOD together but for whatever reason, things cannot and will not work out. I was there once. It’s so much easier to move on if you realise the person you are dating is an absolute idiot – but if there is, in principle, nothing wrong with the person….that’s a hard one to go through. But, even a breakup of that kind happens for a reason and i really really believe we are compatible with many more people than just one…so if one gets away…the next one comes 😉

  14. Mar Pages

    27 March

    Traveling definitely makes it harder if your partner isn’t that same kind of traveler as you are, but the many happily married couples who roam the world together are heartwarming inspiration! Together or alone, as long as you’re happy. 🙂

  15. Brianna

    27 March

    The way I see it is there is a reason he wasn’t the one despite still being friends. The true “one” won’t get away. ….

  16. mark

    27 March

    It must have been a big love to move to a whole other country and at the same time shattering that it did not work out.

  17. Travelling leads you to so many people, but it also leads you away from so many people. Relationships that start on the road can be fleeting, or lifelong – you just have to have faith. And acceptance. And a really really good sense of humour.

  18. Meg Jerrard

    28 March

    Thanks for writing such a personal post Trisha – I know first hand how difficult it is to maintain relationships while you’re traveling and continually on the road. I was quite lucky in that I found someone while traveling and it just worked, though I don’t know if I really believe in “the one who got away”.

    I think that people come into our lives at certain times for a reason, and then as is with everything in life, there comes a time to move on. It’s great to remember them for the contribution to our lives at that certain point in time, though who knows how different your life would be right now if we didn’t accept that people come and go from our lives 🙂

  19. Dariece

    28 March

    I love this article! I love the rawness and truth in it. I love how self-aware you are. And I love “love”. It’s nice that your “the one that got away” is still in your life, and remains a close friend. What a special gift. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  20. I haven’t read many love and travel articles so this was definitely a change of pace. You are right, when you are in the middle of things you think everyone is the one but when you step back and really access the relationship you realize they weren’t it. I’m so happy I found my boyfriend and hopefully we can be husband and wife soon – no getting away from me =)

  21. Mika

    12 July

    Earlier this year I stumbled upon this write-up of yours and it didn’t make a huge impact ‘cos I was doing well with my own Mr. TOTGA at that time. Now that he’s gone and back on the road, I am in awe of how this exactly sums up what I feel at the moment. Travelers could be our best and worst lovers indeed. We remain friends but the gravity is heavier moving on without him onto my next journey. Hope to soon find the peace you found. I’m a big fan! 😉

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