It’s a romantic fantasy that so many of us harbor. You’re far away on the most relaxing holiday of your life. Life couldn’t get any better. Then, you run into him. The guy you’re meant to be with.
You spend weeks or months together skiing the snowfields of Japan, on the beach of Ibeza, or safari’ing the deserts of Africa. Your days are spent sharing memories and your nights in each other’s arms. Eventually, you return to your real life, emphatically in love, and bring home your new man to show off to your family – perhaps even announcing your impending engagement.
While it’s a beautiful story, the reality isn’t always so simple. If you’ve ever met anyone on holidays, you’ll be well aware… Holiday love affairs often aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
This isn’t to say they can’t work out, but it is to say, don’t jump your guns. Emotions can run away with us at any point, but we’re especially vulnerable while on vacation. So take a breather, don’t plan the engagement, and read through the following 5 points before you get too far ahead of yourself.
1. You’ve only tested your compatibility in an environment where it doesn’t matter.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship, at some point, you’re going to have to see if the two of you are compatible somewhere it actually matters. Your holiday will, eventually, come to an end, and you’ll be plunged back to reality, with bills to pay, work to go to, and a schedule to work your relationship into.
This is a fundamental flaw with relationships that start on a holiday. You didn’t meet that person in your natural environment; therefore, you can’t know if you’d connect in the same way if you had. That accent might seem cute on holiday in Brazil, but would it have gone down as well if you’d met him at a bar in central Sydney or in a walking group at Southbank? The same traits that make him seem so compatible on holidays may be just that – traits that make him compatible on holidays.
Ask yourself if you’d met this guy under normal circumstances… saw him at a bar or been introduced through friends, do you think you still would have dated?
Quite often, with holiday romances, the answer is, “Perhaps not…”
2. You’ll have bonded over just one or two interests.
An absolute love of the same thing, a couple doeth not make. Two people can share an undying love for yoga, sports cars, or painting, but it doesn’t necessarily make them a compatible couple. The same principle applies to holiday partners.
Whether you found a shared passion as the result of your holiday or whether your shared passion was the holiday, many men and women make the mistake of thinking, when they find someone who is as passionate about a particular topic as they are, they must have come across their soulmate. Such a couple could still be terribly incompatible in other areas. Compatibility on something important to both of you is a great start, but that’s all it is. A start.
3. You won’t have seen him deal with problems.
Sure, he might have missed a flight into Vancouver or gotten bali-belly, but not until we’re stressed and put under real problems do we see the true side of someone. A holiday environment is so outside of the norm that it’s impossible to know what they become or how they handle things when life isn’t going so swimmingly.
4. You can’t read what his habits say about him.
Does he drink most nights? Does he exercise? Does he smoke constantly? Is he stupidly lazy?
You can’t really know what any of these say about a guy, because he’s so far removed from his normal environment that they may just be red herrings. Drinking constantly in everyday life is a very bad sign, but who knows what it means on holidays? He doesn’t want to get up and do things? In real life, that’s a bad sign too, but on a holiday, isn’t it kind of expected? Addictive personalities could be excused. Angry or overly possessive/jealous personalities are likely to not show up. The reality is, you just don’t know.
5. Holiday romances happen unnaturally fast.
Finally, holidays make it very hard to slow things down and maintain a balanced perspective about the person you’re seeing.
Logistically, the circumstances just don’t fit multi-dating and keeping a ‘normal’ amount of emotional distance early on. Sure, it’s easy to fool around with a variety of people while on vacation, but holiday romances typically proceed through the dating process to exclusivity very fast.
You bond over shared interests and spend unnatural amounts of time together for such a new couple. There aren’t friends, jobs, and individual interests to space out your meetings. The circumstances mean, no matter how hard you try, things cannot possibly follow a normal dating process. Within just a few months, you can have the emotional connection of a couple at home who’ve been together a year, but without learning anywhere near as much about each other.
Such fast highs, all too often, lead to equally intense low’s when you go back home and are forced to downgrade to a ‘normal’ dating agenda. It cannot match the high of the holiday, and this often leaves one or both parties feeling let-down.
All this isn’t to say that a holiday romance can’t work. It’s just to say, keep your wits about you. These romances can and, sometimes, will go the long haul. But ultimately, they’re untested entities. You can’t know. Don’t make assumptions, no matter how well you got along on holidays, about your future. Until you get back to the real world and spend some serious time under your real schedule, you just won’t be able to know.