Holiday romance – how to find it & make it last

It’s been impossible to avoid the sweet (or sickening, depending on your viewpoint!) sentiments of the last weekend, and as the hearts and flowers were waved in our faces across the airwaves and from every magazine and shop window, it got me thinking about the idea of holiday romances.

Now, I am not one to deter the hopeless romantics returning from their holidays love-struck and full of hope, but I’ve always been a bit more of a cynic, believing that whilst holiday romances can add a great extra sparkle to your getaway, the lustre generally fades with the sunshine. However, as was recently pointed out to me, I have several friends whose holiday flings have lasted through much more than cold weather, leading to happy marriages, romantic proposals and some particularly cute babies, and seeing as the season of romance has obviously gotten to me, I thought I’d share their stories, along with my thoughts on what makes these relationships longer than the tan lines.

1. Both couples that I am thinking of met in the most unlikely of situations, when no one was expecting it

Couple A met in Tenerife; we were four 18-year-old girls on our first trip abroad alone, looking to dance and drink and that was about it. Four guys had the room next to us and were soon knocking on our door, despite the fact that we had no interest in meeting men at all and just wanted to get out on the dance floor! Who would have known anything serious could come from such a situation?

Couple B met in Chitwan National Park in Nepal; my friend and I had been on an amazing trip around Nepal and finished up in the jungle. This trip had been all about trekking, absorbing the culture and sightseeing, definitely no desire for dance floors or drinking, and especially not for men. However, this guy worked in the bar at the hotel we stayed in and, as there was nothing else to do at night in the middle of the jungle in a resort full of couples and families, we sat at the bar with him every evening, playing cards for dried peas, never imagining where it might lead!

2. Both couples agreed to keep in touch but with no real expectations

Now while couple A had gotten to know each other fairly well out in Tenerife, this was before the days of mobile phones and instant messaging, where we all still lived at home with our parents, and the guys lived a couple of hours away, so although numbers and addresses were exchanged, there were tears on parting and no one expected anything more so no promises were made.

Couple B on the other hand were no more familiar with each other than I was with them; the only time they had spent together was while he was working and the three of us were playing cards at the bar, so we weren’t even 100% sure of his interest. However Facebook names were exchanged (how things have moved on) and we were added as friends, again not expecting anything beyond the occasional like and comment on a status, considering the distance between Nepal and the UAE.

3. Both guys made the effort to chase their ladies

Man A had called my friend’s parent’s house on several occasions to speak to her, and then when he sensed she was not committing  and losing interest, he drove the couple of hours to see her, even though she told him she was busy and walked away from him when he and his friends pulled up at her house. He was undeterred and followed us into the town centre where we were on a girls night out, tracking us down to the pub we were in and eventually won her over with his persistence (although I’m sure he thinks it was his charm!)

After the initial Facebook friend request from Man B, he had initiated chats and private messages, which then progressed to Skype calls, at which point the feelings started to become more clear and he invited her back to visit him in Nepal, which she did on a whim. He picked her up from the airport complete with cuddly toy and treated her to a weekend (which she soon extended) in Kathmandu – not bad for their first date!

4. Both couples required commitment and sacrifices for the sake of the relationship

In couple A’s situation, after a couple of months, it became apparent the relationship couldn’t continue at a distance so my friend quit her college course (not advocating this for everyone, but she was determined and ended up doing very well for herself through her own hard work). She moved in with him and his parents, several hours away from her friends and family, where she initially started work part-time in a shop. They were engaged fairly quickly and after spending many years together establishing both of their careers, gradually working their way up the property ladder and enjoying lots of holidays and fun times together, they got married and now have two of the most beautiful and smart children I know (I am not AT ALL biased!) The hard times in the beginning proved to be well worth it for them, so it was good they stuck at it when things were tough.

Couple B were even further apart, and in this case it was the guy who made the move, as he had always been keen to work in Dubai. From Nepal however, his job hunting was fairly limited and he ended up taking a hotel job in Abu Dhabi (around 1.5 hours from Dubai). Working in the hotel’s main bar, he was required to work evenings and weekends and his accommodation was provided at the hotel, so although he was now in the same country, they struggled a lot at first to see each other, with my friend occasionally rearranging her weekends to allow for visits, and with him taking long bus rides from one city to the next to visit her. Eventually, he was able to establish himself enough to start working for himself and was able to move to Dubai so that they could start their life together properly, over a year after his move to the UAE. The challenges didn’t stop there however; the first Christmas that they were due to celebrate together, his visa application for the UK got rejected so she had to travel back to England alone. Since then however, they have gotten engaged and as I may have mentioned in previous posts, I am going to be a bridesmaid for the ceremony in England and back in beautiful Nepal (Note the excitement!)

After these inspiring stories from two of my best friends in the world, I’m now a little more open-minded, and whilst my tendency is still to err on the cynical side, I am well aware that I have been wrong on several occasions (as was even pointed out at couple A’s wedding – I guess I had been pretty vocal about my opinions in that little apartment in Tenerife!) I am certainly no expert in this field, but particularly in the spirit of the season, it’s nice to share a little bit of love and optimism!