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Finding Love on Camino de Santiago – My personal experience

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We all have our reason for walking the Camino. The real reason, not the one that we necessarily share with fellow pilgrims, or with people back home. While many people hope to lose weight on the Camino, without ever admitting it, many also dream of finding love of their life, or at least a summer romance. I do not want to speculate whether love is the highest purpose of our life, but one thing is certain: W all dream of loving someone, and being loved by someone. So what about Camino de Santiago? Can you find love on the way, and what kind of love it is? Do Camino romances last, or do they end as soon as people reach the cathedral in Santiago? And what can you do to improve your chances? I will try to answer all these questions on the following lines.

 

Camino favors new connections that can grow into romances and relationships

Camino de Santiago is a unique concept. I’ve been to many places and done many walks, but I’ve never found it easier to strike a conversation with a stranger. Just think about it: you see a person with a backpack heading your way, or you catch up on someone. Both of you have the same destination, follow the same route, face the same challenges. It is just natural to start talking, and make a connection. What’s more, since you follow the same route, you can keep walking together.

Now imagine the same situation happening in another setting–in a park in a city, on some one-day hike in the mountains, in a bar, etc. Not only it is ten times harder to start the conversation (since you do not know what you share with the person you try to know), but they can also leave at the next turn (walking another route than you do). Many people are also busy with their work, family, and whatever. Soon enough a phone call or something takes their attention away. That’s not the case on the Camino. We are all walking, eating, sleeping and that’s it for a month. Hence we have time to make new connections, and to give them our full attention.

* May also interest you: Ultralight packing list for Camino de Santiago, 2023 edition

 

Shared accommodation and dinners also help with finding new friends and love

I can afford staying in hotels while traveling alone, but I avoid them at all costs. Hotels are places of isolation, where everyone locks themselves in their fancy room, and guests barely meet. That’s not the case with pilgrim hostels, where you share facilities with others, including your living space and room for sleeping. And though some pilgrims are tired and will put their headphones on and aren’t interested in any interactions, many are the complete opposite, and will cherish every opportunity to talk to you or another pilgrim.

Communal dinners are even better. We generally feel good while eating, and a glass of wine often helps to ease the mood in the room--wine is served with dinner in vast majority of albergues that actually have communal dinner. This is a great opportunity to spend more time with the pilgrim who you find interesting, and perhaps dream of starting a relationship with, or even exploring the face of love with them… To sum it up, the way things work on Camino definitely helps to make new connections, and one of these connections can undoubtedly grow into something bigger.

– Camino Frances, you will always meet pilgrims in the main season. It may get crowded at times, but each coin has two sides as they say: unless there are other pilgrims around you, you can hardly find love on your camino…

 

If you find any information on this page incorrect or outdated, or have a suggestion how to improve it for fellow pilgrims, please let us know. Thank you for helping the pilgrim community, and buen Camino ๐Ÿ™‚

Some Camino romances last, some do not

I’ve had my Camino romance back in the day. The girl was a bit older than me, from a completely different part of the world. But I was impressed how well she understood me, and how good I felt in her company. Did we meet after the Camino? We did. She came to visit me to my country, we met in another country, and we also did one long hike (for 10 days) together, in yet another country :). But eventually the romance did not last, and we stopped seeing each other.

Many of my Camino friends had their share of experiences with love on the way. Some people fall in love quite easily after all… I’ve walked with people who met on the Camino and later married, and I’ve also experienced a couple that did Camino together (they were engaged) just to break up before Santiago. What I try to say here is that in this regard, Camino romance does not differ to any other romance. It may last and it may not, depending on the two people involved, their lives back home, and the sacrifices they are ready to make for the new relationship.

 

You get to truly know the person once they are outside of their comfort zone

Camino is a long walk, and basically everyone (exception just proves the rule) experiences some issues on the way. Most of the time we talk about walking injuries, but some people may also struggle mentally. In such situation people tend to show their true face, which is something I really like. It can make love but also break one, since walking together for 20-30 kilometers day after day (regardless of weather) isn’t the same like going for a movie with popcorn and coke in the evening, nicely dressed, showered, and perfumed, if you know what I mean.

What I try to say here is that as long as you walk with someone for some time (a couple of days or a week for example), you typically get to know them quite well (not only in terms of who they say they are, but also in terms of who they really are, and how they react to different situations). This can help you decide whether it makes sense trying to turn Camino friendship into Camino love, or whether you should rather say goodbye to the person in question, doing a short day, and meeting another group of pilgrims (perhaps with your new love).

 

Improving your chances of finding love on Camino de Santiago

I want to stress that I am no guru on this subject ๐Ÿ™‚. I’ve walked many Caminos, and though I had one romance and on a coupe of other occasions I fell in Platonic love with someone on they way, I am in no way experienced in finding love on the Camino. I am not a bad observer though, and I’ve seen many love stories unfold (with various endings) on the Camino. Hence I believe I can give you a few tips on improving your chances of actually finding love on the Camino.

  • Walk one of the more popular ways, such as Frances, Portuguese, Norte, Primitivo. In order to find someone you can love on the Camino, you first have to meet people and share your walk with them. Going to the Camino in the off season, or walking one of the routes just hundreds of pilgrims complete each year, won’t make it easier (or even possible) for you to find love on the way.
  • Set your criteria clearly. You should know who you are looking for. There are just many pilgrims around, and if you are looking for the ONE meaningful connection, you cannot waste your time with dozens of superficial connections. Know who you are looking for, and as soon as you feel the connection is there, give it your full attention and see where it takes you.
  • Do not press the issue. I remember meeting a woman aged 39 who, after talking to me for barely a minute, announced me that she was looking for a future husband on the Camino. Sure it is nice being honest, but such confessions can lead only to one outcome: you will scare the normal people and attract pilgrims who want to take advantage of your vulnerability.
  • Make compromises. Of course it would be ideal if the person you hope to connect with more deeply had the same walking pace, wanted to stay in the same places, etc. This is rarely the case though. Every good thing in life demands some sacrifices. Maybe you won’t reach Santiago in four weeks as you hoped, and it will take you six instead, but you will get there with a person you hope to love. Think about it for a while. In my opinion that’s a trade worth making, though the outcome is always uncertain :).
  • Take part in activities organized for pilgrims. Be it a communal dinner, an evening prayer, or anything else, you should participate on what’s going on. Such occasions allow you to get to know the fellow pilgrims better, and often also present an opportunity to move your relationship one step further.
  • When the right time comes, share your feeling openly. There’s hardly a sadder sight than seeing two people who genuinely like each other, but are afraid to express their emotions, fearing rejection, or simply lacking the strength to do so. Try to overcome this fear if you meet someone special on the Camino. The worst thing that can happen is that they will reject you, and that’s not the end of the world. At least you will know that you tried, and gave this love a chance :). Buen Camino!

Matej

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