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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.” 


“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.

Valerie Mondesir Alarcon

Sunday 27th of May 2018

Valerie Mondesir Alarcon. The one that got away. Jeremy Noel Johnson.

Joan Narciso

Monday 15th of May 2017

I would like to think that in general, people who are attached to traveling have a hard time maintaining relationships, or the other way around. But definitely something connected. And I so agree that travel, with all its great pleasures, messes us up in the head. *cheers*


Tuesday 12th of July 2016

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! ?

Danielle Des

Saturday 2nd of April 2016

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 =)


Monday 28th of March 2016

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. :)