Holiday romances: Why you should leave them behind

HOLIDAY ROMANCES: It's easy to fall in love when you're overseas.
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HOLIDAY ROMANCES: It's easy to fall in love when you're overseas.

Ah, holiday romance: it's beautiful, it's exotic, it's exhilarating… And it's usually bound for disaster.

Sure, there are success stories. There are those who've met that random guy or girl in a hostel or a bar somewhere overseas and managed to turn that exciting fling into something long-lasting and beautiful. I'm even lucky enough to call some of those people my friends (hi, Jo and Amit).

But for the vast percentage of us, holiday romance should stay just where it started: on holiday.

Sorry to be a downer. I mean, it is almost Valentine's Day, and love is most definitely in the air. And an overseas fling can be a beautiful thing. But that doesn't mean the charming, exotically accented guy or girl you met on holiday is going to turn out to be The One. In fact they probably won't.

Something strange happens when you're travelling. All of a sudden you're attracted to people you wouldn't normally give the time of day. You're finding yourself in the arms of someone who in normal life would be completely wrong for you on every level. But somehow it feels like it works.

For exhibit A, I present to you: every single European tour bus driver ever.

I used to work as a cook on these bus trips, and the tour leaders and I would always marvel at the bizarre allure of the bus driver. Usually male, usually average of looks and occasionally bulging of beer gut, they would nevertheless prove to be dashing Casanovas with the female passengers, who'd all swoon at the mere rattling of bus keys.

What the hell is going on, we'd mumble to each other as girls giggled at their lame jokes. That guy?

But there are several factors at play here. One is that the drivers were often charismatic, fun guys to be around. Another was the position of trust they automatically assumed as "Coach Captain" of the tour. That's attractive. And another was the fact that everyone else was on holidays, carefree and fun-loving, up for a little romance – and hey, why not that guy?

Being on holiday impairs your judgment. All of a sudden your stringent romantic standards are reduced to something like "has exotic name". Or, "sounds a bit like Javier Bardem".

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You can be seduced for days or even weeks by a sexy accent, swooning at its lyrical greatness, before you realise that the actual words being spoken in it are completely ridiculous. Or boring.    

You're on a high when you're travelling. You're up for trying new things. You're fine with hooking up with that guy or girl that you wouldn't normally touch. Vive la difference! What's the harm?

This pink mist of greatness falls over your world, where everything is wonderful, where people are charming and charismatic and fun to be around. Everything is exciting, it's all an adventure.

You explore foreign cities together. You taste strange food together, get lost on the metro together, get drunk in smoky bars together, share confessions and passions and dreams for your future life together. It's intoxicating. Love is inevitable.

But then you get home. Then you have to experience something together that you've never had to before: normality. Boredom. You have to find out what your new partner is like after a long day at work. You have to see what conversation you can make over a dinner eaten at a quiet kitchen table in a flat in the suburbs.

If your new partner is foreign you might have to leave everything and everyone you know for them. Or be responsible for making them do the same for you.

You have to introduce them to your friends. You have to meet theirs. You have to take those bad habits that seemed so quirky and attractive back in, say, Paris, and live with them forever.

Things tend to go south after that. It's impossible to maintain the thrill of shared adventure that brought you together when you're back in boring old home.

That's not to say holiday romance won't work in the long-term. Sometimes it does. Beautifully. But more often than not, it's a failure.

So enjoy your overseas fling. Cherish it, be swept up by it, be thrilled by it, be seduced by it, and ride it out for as long as it can possibly last.

And then leave it where it began.

What has been your experience with holiday romance? Has it worked for you? Or did it end badly?


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