Finding love is an eternal dilemma. In the ever-changing arena of humanitarian aid you lead a life less ordinary. To find – or hold on – to love can be a challenge. Love makes you feel good, and releases happy hormones that makes you more productive and energetic. If you feel good, you can do good. In this post we explore the often heart shattering dilemma of the humanitarian aid worker – to find or not find love seems to be the question after few years of dashing from one emergency to another. Please feel free to to share your experiences in the comment box below – and do join our mailing list.
Finding Love – A Life Less Ordinary
Is finding love really that hard? If you work internationally the chances that you should meet someone ought to increase, right? Yet, the humanitarian field see many – especially women – leave when the biologic clock starts to tell body and mind that this is one emergency too many. It isn’t the work as much as it is a fear of being ‘alone’ one day.
During my career as a Human Resources Officer for the UN, I had the privilege to recruit many young, bright people. They entered the organisation full of bushy-tailed idealism, eager to do good for those in need.
Finding Love: Stay or Go ?
A few years later – after a couple of emergencies, broken relationships and a strong dose of hard realism – some would come back and tell me how they had come to a cross roads. Should they stay ( in the UN ) or should they go? Their ex-boy/girl friends were married, and had children on the way… Their families back home would start to question why they wouldn’t ‘settle’ as other people their age do – and a sense of loosing time was setting in.
The hard truth is that a career in humanitarian aid allows you to have experiences that are so intense, adrenaline pumped and in some instances extreme – that your life is not ordinary. In very few years, you experience more than most people do in a lifetime. What you see, experience and live will affect you.
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Finding Love: Extra Ordinary Life
You lead a life less ordinary, and ‘settle’ will never be your thing. Once you have seen the world, it will always be with you. Your experiences will mark you and also make you less easy to understand for someone who isn’t in the humanitarian aid game. Does this mean that you will find it harder to get someone special in your life?
Maybe your soul mate is already sitting there next to you? Someone who shares your need to do good, and wiling to travel the world to do so? Love is an eternal dilemma, yet so many couples that met during their time in the aid game lead very rich lives full of shared extraordinary experiences, and have a bond that makes them invincible.
Finding Love – The Eternal Dilemma
Two people meet, fall in love and live happily ever after… So the story books tell us. We grow up thinking that we will all meet that special someone. A knight in shining armour, and a princess in a castle? Yeah…Right?!
Just like how it feels when you understand that Santa isn’t real, the realisation eventually comes that finding love cannot be conjured up with a wand. Finding love it is a stroke of luck, chemistry, timing, space and situational awareness. To have a happy and healthy relationship you need heavy doses of humour, shared experiences and the ability to work through whatever the world throws at you.
What Is Love?
Love isn’t reserved for what two people’s connection can mean. It is also what you feel for your family, close friends and that intangible wish to ‘do good’ in a world that needs so much. This kind of love is one that a humanitarian aid worker has felt again and again.
Finding Love – Humanitarian Affairs
This love is utterly complicated, and not easily reconciled with ‘coupleness’ nor does it forgive or let go of you easily. This love plays with you as you get older, and at a certain stage you can stand in the middle of chaos and love that – yet feel so alone as you have no-one special to share it with.
Finding Love In The Field
Statistically speaking the chances to find love ought to increase with each passport control you pass – however, it would seem that this complicates matters. In an ordinary world, you go out, meet someone, have a date, and make plans for a second date.
Too many alcohol drenched escapes from the daily work includes coupling of a less successful sort. A book by Andrew Thompson coined the term Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures), and describes ‘love’ and work in a war zone. The word ‘humanitarian affairs’ take on a different shape and become quite real for many.
How do you get any hope from this? Well – if you believe Aid blogger Motherhood & Sanity there are 52 reasons why you shouldn’t date an aid worker. Hope however comes from Whydev.org who give us 52 reasons why you should (date an aid worker) .
Finding Love In The Aid Game
Finding love is not at all impossible in the aid game, but while ‘the odds are looking tougher for the aid worker who’s looking for their life partner while fighting power cuts, poor Internet connections and waiting more than three days for the water to be turned back on.’ (source: whydev.org) the truth may be closer to ‘home’ than many think.
It is often said that when you stop looking for love, it will find you.
5 Tips: Finding Love in Humanitarian Aid
Nothing is quite as off-putting as desperation, and that is often what one radiates when one feels alone. Therefore, a few tips can go a long way:
- Finding intimacy and learning to love oneself before seeking love from others is a key step. Great tips can be found in this article from Psychologytoday.com: Simple questions that will change you search for love.
- Use your contact book to find the love that has been hiding. Maybe you have already met your life partner, but just don’t know it? Helpguide.org has some wise advice in this post: How to find lasting love.
- ‘Opposites attract’ is something we often hear. Have you thought about doing away with that illusive person you type cast in all your fantasies? Love is so much deeper than looks, and digging deeper into qualities that challenge you rather than going for the same old thing – can make a huge difference. Check out the books from Amazon.co.uk, below under Related and Recommended 🙂
- Globalaidworker.org strongly recommend you claim your right to have a life. By realising that you need work / life balance you change your chances.
- There is internet dating sites dedicated to humanitarian aid workers from all over the world. Try this one: Humanitarian Dating
Finding Love – The Voice Within
It is easy to blame the organisation, the duty station, the reassignment – or lack thereof – for not finding love. The answer is not in the external circumstances, but within yourself.
Love comes in many different shapes, and when you start by looking to yourself and how you feel – it is time to see that the first step is accepting who you are, and feeling good about yourself.
Findning Love: Lifestyle Change
Making a few lifestyle changes can make you feel better, and by doing so you also radiate from a stronger inner core. Your mind and body respond to positive lifestyle changes, and who knows? Maybe the person you are looking for will find you instead?
Sometimes it is also about making choices. Setting up your wellness goals, and seeing what is working and what is not.
Perhaps it is time to draw a line in the sand? Take leave-without-pay, and do something different for a while. Seeing different views, can make you experience new things. Perhaps not as adrenaline satisfying as a full-on emergency – but quietly peaceful which is often a road less travelled for humanitarian. Putting yourself in the centre for a while isn’t a crime, but a must. To do good, you need to feel and be good to yourself too.
Finding love is not a search for the sake of love, but often something that just happens. It will find you – but you need to let it in….
Recommended and Related:
- A Life Less Ordinary – An Aid Worker’s Story – The Guardian
- You Can Have a Life Too! – globalaidworker.org
- Working Away: Coming Home Stress or Zen – thegoodista.com
- Why Love Is All Around (for aid workers) – whydev.org
- R and R: Rest and Recuperation or Rock and Roll? – thegoodista.com
- Books from Amazon.co.uk: