Should out to my friend Miriam, who provided me with the inspiration for this post.
I haven't spoken with her in a while but we caught up and traded 'horror' stories recently. Miriam told me, that being an out-of-towner, it just keeps on getting harder. For example: guys are constantly complaining about how much they have to spend on dates (e.g. driving, parking, dinner, drinks at a lounge, etc), but do they realize that for a single working girl to travel to NY, it costs a plane/train/bus ticket, plus the hours of actual travel time and then time taken off work?!
Also, when the shidduch is that bad that you know within minutes it's pointless, it is the most disappointing feeling after all the effort/time/money spent, but that is part of hishtadlus, right?
In any case, one of her biggest frustrations is when she asks for a guy to travel to her first. She had some who were hesitant, some who came without any issues and others who give the ultimatums, such as 'if she comes to NY first, THEN, and only THEN, IF he is interested, then he will THINK about entertaining the idea of traveling to her town for the next date or two' which is quite frustrating. She also went on to tell me of her recent experience where she traveled to NY twice to meet the same guy. This one had an excuse and between work and college it was just impossible and she liked him enough that she traveled twice. When it was time for him to come to her he was very hesitant and eventually the Shadchan got it out of him that he could not make the commitment to travel. She was devastated-not so much that it was 'overs' but all the time/energy/emotion wasted and for what? If he would've expressed that sentiment in the first place, then she wouldn't have even bothered going out.
At the same time, some guys think out-of-town is across the globe. I must admit-I'm not a major traveler myself. I haven't been to that many funky places. I've been to Israel, sure, but hasn't everyone? I've been to a few cities/states/countries and Europe-I guess that's cool enough, but do I love traveling? Absolutely not, and especially for dating. There is no relaxation/rest or fun shopping, it's a frustrating job getting work done before/catching up after, then trying to find transportation, booking, cancelling, hours of travel, place to stay, hair/makeup, different weather/climate and clothing, etc. But we all gotta do our hishtadlus, so when it comes to that-I make the effort and travel.
So all you guys-if you're not interested in traveling or out-of-town scares you, please be honest at the beginning and no one will get hurt. It's better to be upfront and perhaps even risk sounding like a sissy, then getting involved with someone only to hurt them after.
Lastly, everyone needs a break now and then. Sometimes travel can surprise you. Sure driving can be a pain and long hours-but scenic drives are nice, and there are tourist places in every city-just get some friends and plan a road trip around a date, or better yet, set some up and enjoy the fun. Flying also has its downs-there can be delays/cancellations and being at the airport a few hours early, not to mention what you can bring on a plane and the expenses. But once you're up in the air, it's calming, there is no stress, no cellphones, free drinks and snacks :) get a good book/download some music/videos and enjoy the flight. I say the same for trains-especially the ones with WiFi.
Make the best of travel, don't make us out-of-towners sounds like aliens. Being an out-of-towner myself, I understand the hesitation in traveling but sometimes it just might be worth the trip :)