Can a holiday romance last?

When you fall in love on vacation or on holiday, you need to keep your feet on the ground. Most holiday romances don't last.
When you fall in love on vacation or on holiday, you need to keep your feet on the ground. Most holiday romances don’t last.

Have you ever experienced a holiday romance that swept you off your feet?

You watch the sun set on a perfect day. You have spent it with your new holiday lover. Together, you frolicked on the beach, held hands, made promises with your eyes and parted so reluctantly no one would ever guess you’re meeting later for dinner. This lover seems so perfect, you are swept off your feet.

Being swept off your feet is a wonderful feeling. But take a moment to think of those words “swept off your feet.” Literally it means you’re in flight, off the ground. Like being in a Chagall painting. Metaphorically, it means you are getting out of touch with reality. Floating up in the heavens may feel great but the fall back to earth, to reality, can be very painful.

Holiday romances can take you to the greatest highs and leave you floundering in the lowest of lows. Single or attached, you may be drawn by their allure.

Fleur, a twenty-five year old personal assistant met her holiday lover at a North Queensland resort. Fleur said, “I thought I’d met the love of my life. I really fell for him. When he stayed on with me after his conference finished, I thought he felt the same as I did. Ha! Was I in for a shock. He turned out to be married.”

Fleur had recklessly indulged in fantasies of having a future with a man she’d just met and knew little about. She felt so wonderful, she wanted to believe the feeling could last indefinitely. Unfortunately, holiday romances rarely have a long-term future.

Why are we so vulnerable to a holiday romance?

Holidays are not the reality of our everyday life; they are an escape from it. Our mood is different on holiday. We actually feel lighter. And we are. Worries that bother us eleven months of the year are postponed. We pretend they don’t exist. We are living in the moment. In this frame of mind we buy the illusion that this holiday romance is everything it seems. And for those with partners back home, it is only a small step to pretend that they don’t exist either.

Some holiday romances are a little like Octoberfest in Munich. People throw themselves into the festival spirit with such gusto that the Divorce Laws recognise the irresponsibility of people’s actions at that time. Adultery, during Octoberfest, is not grounds for divorce.

This attitude is apparent in a group of women I know who holiday together once a year. Their young children are left at home with their husbands while they head off to Surfers. As soon as they arrive, these women regress back into adolescence. They dress seductively, go to clubs, flirt outrageously, compete with each other for men’s attention, have torrid holiday romances and gossip like schoolgirls. The holiday atmosphere changes them radically, but only while the holiday lasts. As soon as it is over, they turn back into responsible mothers and wives. Although they are realistic about the limitations of holiday romances, they cannot resist gossiping about their holiday lovers whenever they meet, husband-free, during the rest of the year.

This radical break from responsibility seems to act as a safety valve in their marriages, which remain solid.

Not everyone will feel so guilt-free after indulging in a holiday romance when their partner is at home waiting. The live-in-the-moment nature of holidays leaves one vulnerable to the attention of admirers. Giving into this feeling and having the romance may create regrets later.

What should we do then, forget it or confess?

Every circumstance will be different, the seriousness of the relationship, for example. But some things are always the same. Your partner will never understand what happened. They’ll have no idea how unreal and out of control you felt. They will only know you forgot about them and feel betrayed.

If you want a truly honest relationship you should tell them. In telling them you demonstrate your desire for an honest relationship. But realise you risk losing the relationship; they may never forgive you. Better to think of the consequences before you indulge.

Holiday romances can bring much joy. They may build our confidence and create a lot of fun and warmth. Occasionally, they lead to long term relationships. But they also have their downside. If we want to avoid the heartache while we are enjoying the romance, we need to keep one foot firmly planted on the ground.

Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Romances

  • Do decide to flirt and have fun.
  • Don’t believe everything your lover tells you.
  • Do enjoy the attention and love making.
  • Don’t dream of a future with them. You haven’t known them long enough.
  • Do take pleasure from your holiday-induced, free-spirited mood.
  • Don’t give into temptation unless you have considered the consequences thoroughly.
  • Do remember that your everyday responsibilities and problems are only postponed.

Cleo’s Story

Cleo, a university student, goes away with her parents to the North Coast leaving her boyfriend Justin behind. Out with a girlfriend she meets Hal, a handsome, hunky lifesaver. She flirts, but refuses his offer to take her home. Later, at the beach, having coffee and at the clubs, she keeps bumping into Hal. Her heart races each time she sees him.

At a club, late at night, Cleo is dancing closely with Hal. She hears the lyrics of a sixties song, If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. They hit a cord with her and she gives into her heady feelings for Hal.

Cleo spends every day and evening with Hal. The rare occasions they are apart, she thinks of only of him. Each day, her feelings deepen. She relives every moment of his lovemaking and dreams of a future together. Cleo’s mother is concerned with her lovesickness and wonders about Hal’s intentions.

On Cleo’s last evening, Hal thanks her for a wonderful time, making it obvious he considers the affair over. Cleo is confused. He reminds her that they both have partners elsewhere. Cleo is too embarrassed to confess her feelings; she thought their romance overturned other relationships.

On the way back in the car Cleo is very shaken. She realises she will have to deal with Justin and agonises over what to say.

At home, she is so happy to see Justin she decides not to tell him. But over the next few days her fluctuating moods make him suspicious. He presses her and she confesses. He is devastated.

The relationship struggles on for a few more months but Cleo’s holiday romance has dealt the relationship a fatal blow. Eventually it ends.

Although she is deeply hurt and alone, Cleo doesn’t regret the holiday romance. It taught her a great deal about life, love and herself.