Sun, sand, waves, the one of your dreams and a first kiss? Sound like heaven? Yes, and it could feel like it too. But keep your eyes wide open and your expectations low when you lose your heart on holiday.
Holiday romances are different from normal romances. You and everyone else are out of the usual routine, your usual requirements may be different and your standards may be lower. Who cares that someone is unemployed, seems to drink a little too much or scored five Es and a D in their last exams, when they look like a dream on the beach?
Have fun by all means, but be realistic. Very few holiday romances stand the test of time. Enjoy yourself, but take care and hang on to your heart. Don't get your hopes up too high when you sink into this person's arms. So what should you look out for?
Serial romancer. This is the one who has already had three holiday flings before you arrived on the scene – and each of them thought this was something serious, until they saw him/her on someone else's arm a few days later. And it was definitely not a relative. This person sees the holiday merely as an opportunity to break hearts and boost his/her ego. Hit the road, don't even shed a tear – this person is not worth it. Find solace in the fact that by the age of 35, this person will probably have three ex-spouses.
Already taken. This is the person who is single for the holiday, but has a partner in Cradock or Thabazimbi, who is expecting him or her back on the 10th of January. The existence of this partner remains a secret for the holidays, while the field is being played. And the field is you. Don't feel too bad about being taken in by this – it will not be the first time he or she does this. How you find out about the real partner is usually when you try and phone after the holiday and you get the boyfriend or girlfriend on the phone. And they're not inviting you to come and visit. It is not always easy to know when someone is taken – trust your instincts and don't feel guilty when you're being a bit suspicious.
Sexual predator. Everyone is interested in sex – it is both normal and totally human. And many people have their first sexual experiences on holiday. Just look out for yourself and don't be talked into something you would rather not do, by someone who is trying to put another notch on the bedpost. Some people measure the success of their holidays by their number of conquests – rather be safe than sorry and remember it's either safe sex or no sex. Pregnancy is no longer the worst memento you can take home from your holiday.
Freeloader. This is the person whose purse or wallet is always mysteriously at home when it gets to paying for things. Promises to pay you back later just never seem to materialise. This person usually has expensive taste and likes going to trendy places – with your money. Don't be taken for a ride.
Big talker. According to this person, he/she is a really big shot back home – either a sports star or a brilliant academic or an entrepeneur, or whatever. But exactly how wonderful he/she is, is the main topic of conversation. And you have a sneaking suspicion that this person may be a legend in his/her own mind only. Don't do this to yourself. Anyone who continually has to do a public relations job on themselves doesn't really have much of a self-image.
Wedding bells obsession. This is the person you went out with once and kissed behind the fishing boats. And now he/she is making long-term plans and these seem to feature you in a major way. He/she is choosing names for your children and is planning to take you to meet the family. Unless you feel the same way, which is unlikely in such a short while, run and run quickly. There is a desperation about this person which is not attractive.
Mr or Ms Right. This does happen – admittedly not very often, but there are people who have had successful long term relationships with people they met on holiday. People who were sane and nice and normal and not already attached, who weren't freeloaders or braggarts or desperadoes. It happens, so who knows what this summer might hold for you?
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated December 2011)