If you haven’t had your holiday yet, you’re probably counting the days – and hoping that you’ll get a decent dollop of sun, some relaxation, plenty of reading and a chance to eat lovely food that you haven’t had to prepare yourself.
You may also be banking on the holiday doing wonders for your relationship. Or even that you’ll meet someone new.
Holidays are inextricably linked to romance. I once conducted a survey of busy women and 96% of them told me that they immediately felt sexier once they got away on a break!
But we also use holidays to reappraise our relationships. In 2010, the luxury travel firm Kuoni conducted extensive research into how holidays affect us. They discovered that huge numbers of holiday makers make life-changing decisions while they’re away. Not surprisingly, such decisions often concern our love lives.
We can probably all recall going on holiday with some new love-interest or other – only to find that when we had limitless time together the passion quickly faded. And that can happen when we’re single and over 50 just as much as it did when we were younger.
But when you’ve been with someone for a while, you know their vacation foibles. You’re familiar with how they behave towards waiters. You’re aware that one of you likes lazing around while the other prefers to be busy. And usually you’ve reached a compromise about how to spend your time off together.
However, sometimes, even when you know each other really well, a holiday can make you question whether your relationship has reached its sell-by date.
Sandra and John went on the holiday of a lifetime to the Maldives. Their youngest child had recently flown the nest and they decided to splash out on this luxurious long-haul trip in a bid to re-connect with each other as partners and lovers.
Unfortunately, as they sat opposite each other over a fortnight of romantic dinners, they realised that had nothing left in common.
You may think that this holiday was a terrible waste of money! But they both look back at that vacation – some 12 years on – and say it was cash well-spent because it forced them to look at the reality of their relationship while they were still young enough to forge new and different lives.
There are all sorts of reasons for heartbreak on holiday. And whatever your age and whatever the stage of your relationship, a broken heart is just about the worst emotional pain you can have.
But you will get over it. Lean on your friends. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to heal. Write a list of everything that you don’t miss about your ex – and add to it daily. And throw yourself into a varied and stimulating single life for six months or so to rediscover the real you.
You might even want to have another holiday! Personally, I advise you not to go anywhere for about three months because you’ll only be packing your misery along with your swimming costume. But after about 12 weeks, some sun and relaxation – perhaps accompanied by a platonic friend – could be just the tonic you need.
When we’re heartbroken, we think we’ll never recover. But, amazingly we do. And the happy truth is that most of us go on to love again.