Some holiday romances become happy memories. But life is not a novel or film, and it’s also possible for a holiday romance to leave us feeling deflated.
Is now the right time to have a holiday romance, or is it just going to leave you feeling bad about yourself, or worse?
Here are good questions to ask before a holiday romance to protect your psychological wellbeing.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE STARTING A HOLIDAY ROMANCE
1. What is your intention for the holiday romance?
Yes, holiday romances can happen simply as we intend to have fun.
But there are also holiday romances that happen because we have set out to punish an ex, posting photos on our social media with an attractive holiday lover, or we want to try to impress someone.
While we can feel smug in the moment, in the long-term, negative intentions tend to hurt not just those people we mindlessly involve in our scheme, but our own self-esteem and ability to like and respect ourselves.
Also clarify your intention for what any romance will become. If you are pretending you are okay with a fling but actually want to be in love, don’t set yourself up for heartbreak and months of feeling rejected by lying to yourself. Likewise, if you only want a fling, why pretend you want more? Is the guilt worth it?
2. Are You In a Good Place Mentally?
When we are suffering emotional pain we might think distraction is the answer, whether that is drinking, ‘partying’, or a summer fling.
But if we are already feeling sad or bad about ourselves, distractions tend to just take us further away from ourselves. And when the fireworks end, our pain is still there, waiting. Worse, we might have added to it, by creating a situation where we feel rejected, abandoned, or used.
If you are just fresh from a breakup, a bereavement, or a major life disappointment, is getting involved with someone you hardly know really going to help?
[Not feeling good and want to speak to someone fast, while on a vacation? It is possible. Our new site harleytherapy.com connects you with counsellors you can talk to by phone and Skype wherever you are.]
3. What are your personal values?
Your friends might be telling you it’s ‘just what you need’, to go out and ‘have some fun’. And you might even be on vacation with these very friends, who are all themselves having holiday flings. Which might be the right thing for them.
But you are not your friends.
Take a moment to get clear on your personal values – if you don’t know how, read our article on the ‘Power of Personal Values’. If yours are fun and freedom, then maybe a holiday romance is ahead. But if you value loyalty, commitment, and deep connection, then is it really worth going against your own grain?
The moment we listen to what others expect of us instead of our own personal values we set ourselves up for anxiety and low self-esteem.
4. Is this you being impulsive?
Are you often doing things because it feels exciting in the moment, only to regret it later?
You might suffer from what is called ‘impulsivity’ in psychology, which means you really can’t trust your own decision making process.
If that is you, try to slow down and think this over. If you are with good friends, ask for their honest advice. If you are alone, try to write down the facts about this other person. What do you really know about them? Is this the right person to engage with, and what facts do you have to prove that?
5. Are you being yourself around the person you’ve met?
Holidays are time-limited bubbles where the rest of our life is out of the picture. And it can be tempting to pretend to be someone we are not.
While it might seem like a bit of fun to lie about who we are and pretend, you are sending your unconscious mind a message that who you are is not good enough. It’s a recipe for low self-esteem.
6. Are you being mindful?
Holiday romances go wrong when we want to pretend we are in a fairytale. We gloss over the wedding ring we saw on his or her bathroom counter and change the subject when they mention they are not looking for a relationship.
In other words, we live in a projected future instead of the present moment.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and caught up after meeting someone on vacation, take mini ‘mindfulness breaks‘ throughout the day. Draw your attention to your breath, breathing deeply and relaxing your shoulders, and notice five details around you right now. Use all your senses. Then check in with how you are feeling.
[Not sure you get what mindfulness is? Read our free and easy-to-follow Guide to Mindfulness.]
7. Do you have addictive tendencies around relationships?
If you have a history of addictive relationships, or are a love addict and/or sex addict, then thinking about a holiday romance should be a red flag. “One little drink won’t hurt’ said the alcoholic, ‘one little holiday fling won’t hurt’ said the sex and love addict. Reach out for support.
I’ve had a holiday romance months ago and can’t get over it. What do I do?
Holiday romances can trigger all sorts of psychological health issues. We can get back home and feel abandoned, rejected, not good enough. Obsessively stalk the other person on social media. Or we might be the one being stalked, throwing ourselves into many other casual relationships and trying to laugh about it, but deep down suspecting we have a problem.
If a holiday romance has left you feeling unstable and unhappy, and it’s been going on for six weeks or more, consider reaching out for support. A chat with a counsellor or psychotherapist can help determine if the holiday fling has triggered old unresolved issues.
Harley Therapy has long been known for connecting you with really experienced therapists in central London locations. And now our new service, harleytherapy.com, connects you with therapists across the UK who you can also talk to via phone and Skype even when you are on vacation.
Have a question about your holiday romance, or want to share your experience with our other readers? Use the comment box below. Comments are moderated for quality and appropriate content.