The Year I Walked Toward Love

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Without a doubt the most popular post on my site is The Year I Walked Away from Love.

It was the first time I opened up and shared with people how difficult it was to end a relationship to travel.

I hadn’t planned to write about the break-up but I was getting so many emails from people asking where to find the courage.

I wanted to share that I wasn’t unusually brave.

I was just a regular girl getting over heartbreak, crying on buses in Mexico…well actually most of Latin America but it would have made for a pretty bleak travel blog.

I wrote that post four years ago

I still get emails each week asking for advice.

All I can say is that if you’re reaching out to a someone you’ve never met to ask if you should end a relationship then you already know the answer.

And for everyone contemplating ending a relationship or still in pain from the end of one I wrote this post for you.

One year ago today I met Chef Rouge.

I was in Charlottetown and everyone told me I had to go try the charcuterie board with the olive oil lemon sorbet at his restaurant.

I arrived late in the afternoon wearing a shirt that said Praise the Lard, he saw me through the pass and sent enough meat for 6 people.

Like I always do I asked to meet him. I thought he was genuine and sincere, he asked if I wanted to see Cooler B  where he was curing the meat – uhh yeah!

We connected but I thought nothing of it.

I left him my business card and shared that he would be in the video below.

And he was so kind that when he emailed the next day asking if I wanted to go for a drink I thought he was just being nice.

I didn’t realize it was a date until later that evening when he reached to hold my hand.

The next night we met again after service and had a great evening. He shared that he wasn’t from PEI and was actually planning to move to Toronto – what luck!

…except that I was leaving for a 2 month tour of Spain in 3 days!

So we texted, emailed, Skyped for 2 months and when I return home from Spain he flew to Toronto to see me.

I’d love to say after that it was easy. But life never is. And it wasn’t the long distance relationship for the two months before he  moved to Toronto.

It was me

I’ve always been fiercely independent. Adamant that I would change for no one.

Traveling solo for the last four years has been amazing but it also created a very selfish lifestyle. Someone had to take me or leave me.

I’ve had relationships on the road, some more serious than others, but I always had the ability to pull the parachute if things got tough.

When the going got tough, I always left

ice sculpture

Chef Rouge is undoubtedly one of the kindest, most considerate and supportive people I know.

But it took time for me to realize that changing some bad habits I had wasn’t stifling my independence, but allowing for us to grow together.

That being in a relationship means you need to consider how your actions makes the other person feel.

I was stubborn at first because I was always in fear of the end, what would he discover about me that would make him want to leave?

How was I going to screw things up?

But his affection and commitment was unwavering, even when I did screw up.

I stopped asking if he was going to leave

Toronto Pride Parade

And finally I realized I deserved someone as amazing as him.

And it would be easy to proclaim that I’m sorry I wasted my time on other guys, that some were losers and I regret dating them.

But I grew as a person with each relationship and now I’m able to see how lucky I was to have someone like Dave.

Now I’m ready

So I guess I wanted to write this to say don’t be afraid that you’ll be alone for the rest of your life.

I’d love to say I knew I’d find someone new, someone better. But I didn’t know that.

At times I wondered if I’d thought I’d be alone. Actually many times I thought that.

What I didn’t realize was that I was that that the universe had bigger plans for me and I just needed to be patient.

I found love. And if you haven’t found it yet don’t be afraid. It will come when you least expect it.

2018: My story isn’t over yet. I just published The Year I Was on My Own Again.

And in 2019: The Cuban Secret I’ve Been Hiding.

Join the Conversation

  1. Michael Hodson says:

    You already know how happy I am for you. Happy enough to actually type of a public comment, no less 😉

    1. Caroline Eubanks says:

      Glad you’ve got your blog husband’s approval!

      But really, so glad you’ve found that person. Things like this can’t be rushed.

  2. Beautiful story, Ayngelina–I’m so happy for you, finding peace, and love, and home. Congratulations to you both!

  3. What a great story. I’ve always enjoyed your post. They’ve been inspiring, interesting and heartwarming at times. I’ve often admired your fearlessness. Having similar nagging thoughts (more often than I’d like to admit) that my independent spirit would leave me “alone forever” dum-dum-dum you’ve always inspired me to pursue my adventures… reading your blog post today I’m happy for you and hopeful for myself. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’m so happy for you! You’re so right, you find love when you least expect it. As a perpetually single person, I always hated it when people said that to me, but then that’s exactly how it happened with me. I’m so glad you found such a wonderful guy!

  5. Katie @ The World on my Necklace says:

    I love your heartfelt posts and this is no exception.

  6. Andre Ribeirinho says:

    Very happy for you!

  7. Andrea Anastasiou says:

    This post gave me goosebumps! I do love to hear a happy ending 🙂 It also resonates with me on many levels – I was single for almost a decade before I finally met someone I could bring myself to open up to. And while for many of those years I chose to be single, for many others I was making bad choices when it came to men – self-sabotaging if you will.

    Then two years ago, just three days before I was due to leave Dubai to travel the world solo, I met someone whom I trusted straight away. It was an odd feeling, as I’d never experienced it before – but it was so strong that I, the fiercely independent woman, ditched my plans to see what would develop from it.

    Needless to say, it was the right choice; two years into our relationship, he also decided he wanted to travel the world, so we left a month ago and are following our dream together 🙂

    I guess my point is, there were so many instances when I thought I wouldn’t meet someone who was suited to me – but I did. I guess we’re both living proof that it can and does happen!

    1. Thanks for sharing. That’s awesome!

  8. Life has a way of bringing us what we’re really looking for– even if we don’t know we’re looking for it. I loved your comment about if you have to ask someone to don’t know for advice, you already know the answer– I get the same question all the time about people leaving their careers, and as much as I try not to give advice, the answer is so obvious. It’s neat to see how things have evolved for you. Congrats!

  9. Emily in Chile says:

    I’m very happy to read that you’re happy – and the pictures you post of the food you two eat make me even happier for you!

  10. Beverley | Pack Your Passport says:

    Ohhhhh I love this SO MUCH! I didn’t break-up with someone to travel (no, that happened much later on when we’d left the UK and lived in Australia for 2 years and then moved to New Zealand and then…oh yeah, ok BYE THEN….) but I can still really really relate to this post. I think we all have that “Oh god, I’m going to be alone until the end of time” feeling every once in a while. I, like you, have become extremely independent since I began travelling solo and (later) living a single life in London, but it would be nice, in the future, when I’m ready, to have someone to share that with.

    I’m so happy for you, I love your story, and I wish you both the best luck in the world 🙂 x

  11. Inspiring story!

    Where there is no LOVE, put LOVE and you will find LOVE.

  12. So happy for you. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, despite how difficult or crappy it seems at the time. I guess leaving something that’s not right, leads you to the next that is right. Wishing you all the happiness! H x

  13. I’m the last of the great romantics and usually I am the person who makes baulking noises at relationship stuff – I have been likened as an ice queen on many an occasion – but, this post is just so lovely. I too am a fan of your great foodie Instagrams and it’s obvious that you are having a great time eating so much AMAZING FOOD. I know it sounds weird as a stranger making an observation on something I probably don’t really know anything about but anyhoo, may it long last!

  14. Lisa | LLworldtour says:

    Yay for love!
    Very happy for you and can relate as well for sure with that fierce independence and having to learn to grow and change to build a relationship together. I’ve definitely been working on the fact that it’s not some kind of ‘caving in’ when you just decide to compromise for love and do things for your partner and for the relationship.

  15. Kristin Addis says:

    I was one of those people who emailed you, and more than anything I just needed to know that it was OK, and you said exactly that to me. I’ve made the realization this week about how selfish I’ve become after 2 years of solo traveling and how hard that will make future relationships, considering one instead of two. In many ways I’m the same, always with one foot out the door because in reality, it’s less scary. It’s much easier than making a change and admitting you want to be with someone and it’s worth giving up some freedom and selfishness. Lovely post and as always, perfectly timed for what I’ve been feeling.

  16. Ayngelina,

    Congratulations!! You have yourself a true keeper. I can’t speak for the intimate relationship side of Dave (Chef Rouge), but I have known Dave since 1999. I have worked with him, hung out with him, partied with him and seen him work his culinary magic many times, both in Ontario and in PEI.

    Dave is all that you have described him to be and more. He is as honest as the day is long and a man of his word., not to mention; a Bruce County boy! You won’t find a better combination!!

    I wish you both a long and happy life together!!


  17. Sniff, sniff. Love this!!! ♡

  18. I love this. I love you. I love that you and I both started our travels after ending really long, serious relationships and spent a lot of time crying in Latin America. Latin America is a beautifil place to cry and heal. I totally struggled with my relationship with Pedro (and sometimes still do) because of how selfish I got. I remember when we first started dating, I was so defensive, saying things like “You can never tell me where to go or where to be. I travel as much as I want, when I want and if you can’t handle that I’m not going to handle you.” when in reality, Pedro wasn’t trying to stop me, and loved that I traveled even though he couldn’t come with me.

    I love seeing you happy. Let’s all be happy together. See you in Puerto Rico, where we can toast to our failed relationships turned healthier ones and our mid-thirties mindsets with early 20s livers.

  19. Oksana from Drink Tea & Travel says:

    Aw what a great post! Inspiration for anyone struggling to find love out there in the world! Thanks for being so candid and sharing your story with others! Happy for you! 🙂

  20. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer says:

    Congrats Ayngelina! I am happy you found love and I am looking forward to finding it too again (they say it happens when you least expect it!)

    BTW, love the food pics you always post from the Chef’s cooking! Makes me hungry everytime 😀

  21. Nice and very inspiring story Ayngelina, we need to read more of these, thanks for sharing! Congratulations and I’m happy for you 🙂

  22. So happy to hear that you are so happy! 🙂

    You two seem like a great match.

  23. So happy for you!! Reading this put a big smile on my face 🙂 A man who can cook – could there be a better fit for you?! 😉

  24. What a cute story! I used to be selfish as well and felt like I was giving up my dreams if I compromised on things, but that’s a relationship. I’ve learned to compromise and life turned out even better than I could have imagined.

  25. I remember reading the post about walking away from love while I was considering moving to Asia and while my relationship had ended, buying the plane ticket seemed like assurance it would stay over. It hasn’t always been easy but I needed to take a step forward. I’m glad you found a happy ending to your love story.

  26. Amazing to hear stories like this, especially in the era of the digital nomad … happy for you!

  27. This post is a great example of why your writing is so engaging.
    So happy for you. Love is so worth it! If you haven’t read this article by Elisabeth Eaves, you should because it’s well done and I think you’d enjoy it. She is a journalist who traveled the world and struggled with the idea of settling down with a man she loved.

  28. Love to hear stories like this. Wishing you all the best!

  29. Diana Edelman says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. Being here in Thailand and single and having not even any opportunities existing here, makes it so incredibly hard. But this piece resonated with me because it gave me hope that I could be at dinner one night, and there would be my chef … or writer … or other … to ask me out for a drink and hold my hand. You are right, traveling does make us selfish and I often think that, even when I am only talking to a guy, that they aren’t the one I am going to give up the life I live for. Your story is inspiring and beautiful. Thank you for sharing it! <3

  30. YAY! Warm fuzzies!

  31. Lovely post. So glad you are happy 🙂

  32. Martine @ Chompchomp says:

    That life changing moment when you realise you have found your soul mate. It is a ground shifting experience that not everyone gets to feel!

  33. Arti (@artisdiary) says:

    wow! Inspiring and heart touching to the core… thanks so much for sharing this and, here’s wishing you all the joys and happiness in life! 🙂

  34. I got the feels reading this. A beautiful story and thanks for sharing 🙂

  35. Congratulations! I’m really happy that you opened yourself up to love. I’m glad that you were able to adjust your independence to still being independent while being in a relationship. I wish the best for you two!

  36. Camels & Chocolate says:

    This is amazing! I remember your trip to Charlottetown, but must have missed all the subtle undertones implying you’d fallen for more than just the city =)

    Congrats, friend!

  37. I needed to read this. I am the opposite side of the coin, letting go of my boyfriend as he needs to move away for a better life and career. I cant join him as I have family commitments that mean I have to stay (want to stay),. my mother is dying and my children have established roots. I understand he has to go but I have made the decision to cut him off from my life completely before he actually leaves in 6 weeks time. I want to start the healing process and cant invest anymore emotions in the relationship. It may seem harsh but its a necessary evil, I am 49 and don’t want to be alone forever, your story has given me true hope that one day I may find love again with someone else. Thank you so much for sharing x

  38. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    You’re amazing. So happy for you.

  39. First of congrats for the happiness you found and I’m sending you wishes for your beautiful life ahead.

  40. Edgar Powell says:

    All well that ends well….Happy Life…Ahead of you..

  41. Valeri Down Under says:

    I just now discovered your blog and I connected with your story on so many levels because I too found love unexpectedly on the road. Finding love when you least expect is such a beautiful and raw experience. All the best on your future ahead

  42. This post really means a lot to me. I left everything to do what I’m doing now. I left my husband, my full-time job, and all of my friends and family because I wanted to travel, write, and work on farms. Everyone says, you’re so lucky! You’re so brave! And I feel that I am those things, but there’s also a lot of times when I wonder if I’ll ever find love again. I wonder how I’ll ever be able to find someone like me. Anyway. This post gives me hope, so thank you for writing it.

  43. Muhammad Abdullah says:

    you always seem to be restless and full of energy, nice post! Keep sharing!

  44. This reminds me so much of the story of how I met my partner, right down to not even knowing it was headed that way when I met him!

    I relate so much to not feeling like I deserved someone that will stick with me through anything at first, and learning to open myself to it. I’ve only found your YT channel and blog last night and I have to say I’m 100% hooked! Love your videos, and your writing style. So open and yet so elegant! My new internet crush <3


  45. Your post has given me a glimmer of hope. I just abruptly ended a 3 year relationship as we were considering a down payment for a house. Something wasn’t right, and I could feel it. It feels like I’m not where I’m supposed to be. This was 2 weeks ago. And it has hurt every single day. It hurts that I have disappointed, destroyed, embarrassed, shamed, and just totally f**ked up the person that I have loved for 3 years. It hurts to think that I may have thrown away what was to be my future, and the best future I could ever hope to have. One of the things that kept me from feeling like it was ok to settle down is my urge to move and explore. She wanted to settle down in a place that I had no intention on staying in for the rest of my life. She owned a business rooted here. It would keep her here until something gave.

    Now that I have uprooted our lives, I find myself afraid to do the very thing that I wanted to while I had the security of a relationship. I have a full time job, and the thought of abandoning the financial security is pretty frightening. At 31 years old, the world tells me that I should already be married with a kid on the way. I should have a 401k that’s starting to become healthy. I should have life insurance. I should be thinking about putting a new roof on my house because maybe it’ll start to leak soon. But those things feel like dying a little bit.

    What’s the purpose of life if you’re just going to repeat the same day, over and over again.

    So the struggles I face are many. Did I make the right decision? Is my regret well founded? Do I leave the security of my job to travel the country or world, meet new people, have new experiences. Am I wasting my time with these pipe dreams? Will I get 2 weeks out and realize that I miss the way things were and be filled with remorse for the life that I lost?

    It’s the scariest and loneliest time of my life, and I hope that something shows me the way.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I absolutely understand how you feel because I was there too. I wondered all the same things, mostly why I couldn’t be happy like everyone else. On paper my life was enviable but I just felt this emptiness. I was petrified to go, but I was more afraid of living life with regret. Now on the other side I can offer a bit of perspective:
      1) We are always so worried about making the wrong decision, that somehow we’ll make a mistake that will ruin our lives. But life is a series of decisions and there’s no one crucial decision that will make or break your life. If you take one path and it’s not working you don’t have to stay on it, you just choose a new one. I’ve never shared this but when I returned from home I did try to reunite with my ex, we thought we could make it work but it was actually worse that before. Leaving was the best choice for both of us because eventually we would have parted.
      2) People who are with the right person don’t feel this need to escape. With Dave I never wonder what if. If anything I feel so fortunate to have spent 4 years figuring out who I was and what I really wanted in life. When I met him I was ready for something amazing. It seems so old fashioned to say you need to sow your wild oats but in a way you did. I went off and had great adventures, did amazing things that I look back at fondly. And now I’m ready to have new ones with him.
      3) You will feel remorse the first two weeks and the first two months. But it will be interwoven with incredible moments of following a dream. It is really tough to be brave enough to stick with a decision even though you are miserable. People laugh along with me when I share I cried on buses for the first year of travel, but I really did. I felt incredibly lonely so many times. But I also felt a tremendous sense of freedom and so much pride in myself that I followed a path that was not easy. I became a much stronger person.
      4) Never let money be the reason you make a decision. One of my very good friends at says you never play poker like you only have a few chips on the table. Don’t make decisions out of fear for money. In the end anyone with some kind of ambition will find a way to make money. My mother always says to me “What’s the worst that could happen, you’ll have to come back and get a desk job like the rest of us?” It’s so true.

      I was 32 when I left. I think it’s a generational thing, we climb the corporate ladder and do all the things we think are supposed to make us happy because it makes everyone else happy. I was 95% happy but all I felt was this 5% of emptiness. It weighed on me. Now at 38 I’m not the VP of my old ad agency, which probably would have happened. It means I don’t have a house. I don’t have kids. But I’m 100% happy. Dave and I just opened a restaurant and he encourages me to still go and travel on my own because he knows it’s so important to me.

      Something better is out there. It’s a process that is fucking painful but when you get there it’s totally worth it.

  46. The best ending would be …he decided to travel and left you. . If you leave someone you love, then you didnt love them and you like games. Thanks for making me forget why i read this.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well we both moved on to new relationships and are much happier. That said, a few years later he did quit his job to travel. Given your disdain for the post I thought you might enjoy that.

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