How can digital nomads find love?

A few people have remarked to us recently how lucky we are to both be into the digital nomad lifestyle. It might not seem like it when Mish is picking at her feet or I’m burping the national anthem, but it’s true – travel can get very lonely on your own, and it’s awesome being able to share the experience with your best friend.

But if you’re a digital nomad, how do you find a partner? It’s not like you’re going to meet someone at work or keep bumping into a girl at your local pub – all the normal proximity-based ways of meeting people won’t work, so you need to get creative.

So although as smug married people we have no expertise in this area at all, here’s all the advice I insist on giving my single friends.

Increase your luck surface area

I can’t remember who I stole the phrase “luck surface area” from, but it makes total sense: you have to create opportunities for serendipity to happen.

For example, I went to an event last week and met a guy who was in my favourite band when I was 16 – he lives just down the road from where we’re currently based, so we’re going to hang out. Lucky? Hugely. But if I’d not gone to the event, it couldn’t have happened.

So you just have to force yourself into situations where you can meet people – and the goal really does just have to be “meeting people”. If your aim is to meet your soulmate, you’ll quickly get disappointed when it doesn’t happen the first few times.

For digital nomads, these situations could be working from a cafe instead of home, couchsurfing instead of Airbnbing, and doing group tours instead of relying on Wikitravel.

Screen for attitudes, not interests

When Mish and I met, her favourite recording artist was Will Young and I was going through a major Mastodon phase. She was veggie (she’s not anymore), and Quorn creeped me out. Her hobby was reading newspaper style guides (she’ll kill me for that one), and mine was going to gigs.

If we’d both been on an internet dating site, the algorithm would have had to be seriously screwed up for us ever to meet.

But that’s OK, because interests don’t matter – it’s shared attitudes that make for a compatible couple. That’s especially true for digital nomads: what does it matter if you’re both totally into rock climbing and freeform jazz if he wants a steady 9-to-5 and you’re more entrepreneurial?

The problem, of course, is that it’s easy to find a rock climbing event in a new city on Meetup.com, but there’s no reliable way to meet based on shared interests. The only thing you can do is to exclude certain activities: if you’re into early starts and hardcore productivity, it’s probably not worth hitting the bar scene on a Monday night in search of love.

Do judge a book by its cover

I don’t have any evidence for this one, but bear with me: we’ve been to a lot of networking events recently, and we could have predicted the people we’d get on best with based on a two-second glance.

It could be the way they’re dressed or just a feeling about what they’d be like based on their body language, but it totally works. It’s not a fashionable point of view, but I reckon being shallow and zeroing-in on people based on appearances is totally the way forward.

If you’re looking for someone to share your life with rather than someone to thrust a business card at, it’s even more important – because you want to be with someone you find hot, obviously. It’s true that we end up finding people more attractive when we like them, but c’mon – you won’t be in town forever, so you’ve got to go with the odds on this one.

If you’re a nomad, how do you try to meet romantic partners while you travel? Does our advice make any sense? Let us know in the comments!

  • I think as a digital nomad you have even more of an opportunity to connect with people who share your passions for travel, photography, blogging and whatever else we all do and your core values. Couchsurfing, twitter, facebook and discussion boards are all good sources to connect with like-minded folks. We actually met on Facebook (oh gawd) back when it was only available if you had a .edu e-mail address.

    Love the inspiration for this post!

  • This is definitely something I struggle with a lot. I’ve moved around a good amount in the last year and am thinking about doing even more traveling in 2013. But it seems even harder to meet people when you might meet something but go in completely different direction within days, weeks, etc.

    I definitely agree with your advice, but it seems like you still need to be stationary at least some of the time to have even a decent chance to really make a relationship work.

  • Love is hard to define but in my case,I think love is a pursuit in someone else of qualities I lack in myself.
    and I totally agree with you on “we have to be with someone we find hot’