He Didn’t Want to Date a European: On Dating, Travel and Deal Breakers


This post was contributed by Till Kaeslin. 

I mean, look, I’m 21-years-old and have never been in a “serious”, long-term relationship – which is basically to say that most of the “dating” I’ve done has come from right swipes and late night’s out. I didn’t need to think about what truly worked and what didn’t, because I was just having fun.  And I still am. Although I’ve graduated college, moved out to New York City and started my life as a post-grad working in the city, the thought of meeting one person I want to spend the rest of my life with is pretty damn near impossible for my 21-year-old mind to conceptualize (And, by the way, maybe not the way it’s supposed to be? Something to nibble on).

But as I’ve gone on more sit-down, “tell me about yourself” and cocktails dates – especially with guys a few years ahead of me – I’ve started to think a little more about what I’m really looking for in the long-run. More than that, I’m starting to realize what might work and what definitely won’t; those deal breakers everyone’s been talking about rearing their ugly (and sometimes hilarious) heads up somewhere between the first and second round of drinks.  I won’t bore you with a list – more so because I feel like what I think I like and don’t like changes so often that the thought of having it published permanently in an article terrifies me (God, imagine my future boyfriend reading this article and realizing he’s my deal breaker … ). But there’s one that I think ya’ll might relate to. 

The first time I really gave this deal breaker of mine much thought was when I sat down for drinks with this guy I had just met on Tinder (yup, still swiping away). To be honest, I was still a little bit hungover from the night before, running too-low on sleep and I had promised myself earlier that afternoon that I would just have a chill Saturday night in to myself. 

But then I swiped into a guy that literally exemplified my type to T – around my height, brown hair, brown eyes and the best smile – and, my phone still hot from the electric friction of the swipe, I was showered, dressed and on my way to the bar. 

Right off the bat, the conversation was a good back and forth. Although I thought I’d be more nervous sitting down with this man I was so attracted to, I could sense he was nervous too, which somehow always helps me keep my cool. So he was cute, funny and although not quite the person I expected him to be in my head, he seemed nice. Overall, a quality date. 

But there was something he casually mentioned about himself that I couldn’t get out of my head – and it’s still rattling around in there (as you can tell). 

*me sneaking away to the bathroom during the date

Somewhere in the conversation, Tinder boy proclaims that he could never date a European. Hmmm. Now let’s break this down, shall we? This got me feeling a type of way on two levels: 

  1. I’m technically European – although I have an American accent and no one ever skips a beat in questioning where I’m actually from (the white privilege of it all), I was born in Switzerland, hold a Swiss passport (and only a Swiss passport), speak Swiss German and only have my immediate family here in the US with me. But apparently that’s not what he meant? 
  2. What does not wanting to date a European even mean? How broadly does the term “European” apply in this context? Who’s European enough for this man not to date, and what is it specifically about the entire European population (a group made up of millions of nationally, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse people) that makes it a deal breaker for this man to shack up with? 

I followed up with some of these burning questions after he made his deal breaker proclamation, and it turned out it had a lot to do with his parents’ own relationship (one of them being Italian). I dug a little deeper in person (the liquid confidence coursing through my veins making it impossible not to) and it ended up actually being a pretty interesting conversation. But I’ll set that piping hot cup of tea down for now – that’s for him to spill. 

Nevertheless, this man’s strange (and problematic) deal breaker started to get me thinking of my own: Could I date someone that wouldn’t even have considered dating me if I was just a smidge more … foreign? Like, if I had a thick Swiss-German accent and a passion for football?

Ok but for real, could I date someone who drew such huge generalizations about an area of the world and a group of (millions of) people that my life and I are so closely tied to? How would a guy like that even get along with my (very) European family? 

Really what it comes down to is this: After all the traveling I’ve done in my life, each trip fueling me to book a plane ticket to a new spot on this earth, exposing myself to new things and meeting/building relationships with people from around the world, could I date someone who might not share that same drive? 

At what point does travel, and all that it is, cross the line between something I like to write, read and talk about, and become part of who I am? I mean, hell, it comes up in my family history (from immigrating to the US from Switzerland when I was just one and a half years old), in my childhood backstory (from moving to Hong Kong, China when I was eleven), all the way to the “so what have you been up to recently?” question, which I’ll more than likely answer with some goofy story from the latest trip I went on. 

Everyone that reads these articles, or keeps up with Damon and Jo on YouTube, or even just follows the Shut Up and Go page on Instagram – we are all clearly interested in traveling the world. But what’s unique about Shut Up and Go and Damon and Jo’s message, what got me excited every time they posted a new video and motivated to start contributing writing to the site in the first place, is that the company is founded on the principle that travel is more than just “vacationing”

Definition: An isolated event that we have a couple of badly developed polaroids of taped to our wall.

Instead, Shut Up and Go stands for the idea that travel can be a lifestyle; a mindset that means throwing ourselves out of our comfort zones, breaking through those awkward barriers that exist through language and culture and believing that, if nothing else, it’s all worth it. 

Booking a plane ticket might be the action, but it’s not the habit that keeps us coming back.

So now that I’ve pulled all of you into this discussion already with that carefully placed “we”, what do ya’ll really think? 

Is travel deal breaker worthy? 

Meet Till: 21-year-old, new-New Yorker navigating post-grad life, figuring myself out along the way and writing it all down. Keep up with with him on IG. 

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