The holiday romance survival guide

Sunshine, cute boys and Cosmo’s love advice: all you need for a summer of fun.

The holiday romance guide

Maybe it’s your dishevelled-yet-so-sexy beach hair, or the fact it’s cocktail o’clock at 3pm – but holidays are the perfect pulling environment.

“People have time on holidays, to have fun, try new places and meet new people,” says sex and relationship expert Gabrielle Morrissey. No wonder we find ourselves lusting after guys we’d never normally glance at twice, or working up the guts to approach a sexy bartender.

But adventurous behaviour aside, are there rules? Whether it’s staying safe or beating the butterflies, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about holiday affairs of the heart.

How to have no-strings-attached sex… the right way!

When the hot guy from your hotel slides up to you at the bar, gives you a smile and asks for your name, you’re damn right to be thinking: YOLO. Because, despite what Hollywood tells you, it is possible to have a casual fling. But just like FWB arrangements and one-night stands, you need to make it very clear from the outset – preferably before you hop into bed with them.

“Be up-front with the person,” says relationship psychologist John Aiken. “Tell them it’s a casual and fun arrangement with no commitment, so both of you know where you stand.” Honesty helps in the long run.

So what happensif one of you *does* want more?

If it’s you: Be straightforward and confident, says Aiken. If you’re keen to spend more time with the cute guy from last night, ask him some casual questions to test the water first.

If there’s a great restaurant or sightseeing tour you’ve heard about, suggest going together. Try something like, “Hey, have you heard about that new Mexican restaurant? It’s supposed to be really good – would you like to go check it out with me?” His reaction should highlight whether he’s open to seeing you again.

But don’t be too distraught if he’s suddenly keen to hang with his mates. Flying solo can be a good thing – you can flirt with any dude you like.

If it’s him: OK, so he’s not so witty in the absence of several margaritas, but that doesn’t mean you have to be cruel. “Explain it was fun and enjoyable, but you’re not looking for anything serious,” says Aiken. “Point out that you’re on holiday with friends and don’t want to get tied down, then remind him that he’s a great guy.” You could suggest meeting again for drinks later in the trip, but make sure it’s a group affair and not a one-on-one that he could perceive as a date.

And if it’s just plain awks the morning after, and you both know it was a one-night-thing, you can always resort to the classic exit-strategy line: “That was fun, I had a good time and I might see you around.” Short, sweet and hands-down effective.

Can you ever bring the fling home?

You’ve been hanging with your hottie and discovered a mutual appreciation of True Blood and Kanye’s latest album. Things are going well… Could this have potential, you wonder?

“It’s difficult to make accurate judgments about a fling when you’re away on holiday, because everything is so exciting,” argues Aiken. “When you meet someone new, your brain floods with all sorts of feelgood chemicals, so it’s hard to know how true your feelings are.”

He suggests not making long-term promises, but waiting till you’ve come down from the holiday high.

Whoops! Baby did a bad, bad thing

When your partner’s not in the same postcode or continent, the combination of drinking and meeting new people is an obvious recipe for temptation. But is cheating ever excusable? “Not unless you have an open relationship,” states Morrissey. “Your partner trusted that your relationship could survive a short holiday apart.” If you cheat, you owe it him to own up. But what if it meant nothing?! “It’s no different than at any other time,” says Morrissey. “You can make excuses all you like – they’re all as lame as each other.”

Whether you decide to own up or not, the real question is what motivated you to stray in the first place. If nothing else you should probably question how committed you are.

Try putting yourself in his shoes – imagine how you’d feel if he cheated while away on a boys’ weekend. Would you be able to forgive? Any betrayal, however small, affects a relationship. Consider how you’ll broach it and prove you’re trustworthy again.

Dating against type

Remember that time Serena and Blair spent summer in Paris in Gossip Girl? (Season four, in case you need a refresh.) While Blair pined for Chuck, Serena had a blast dating a bevy of French waiters and bartenders – miles away from her usual New York playboy-type.

The moral of this story (aside from the fact Serena’s a serial flirt)? When you’re on hols, dating outside the box can be more fun than a shopping spree at Chanel.

With zero pressure to make the relationship work, and no friends/family/work balancing act, you’re free to date anyone you like. Whether it’s a younger guy, a vegan yoga instructor or a mysterious traveller – the shake-up in sex, affection, conversation, friends and shared activities can be as good as the holiday itself.

One word of warning, though: most often there’s a time limit to your relationship, says Aiken.

If you’re not sure whether your unexpected romance has LTR potential, keep in mind that small differences, like career paths or hobbies, matter a lot less than disparities in family values or relationship expectations. He may end up being your type after all!