Whether you’re single, in a relationship or experiencing ‘it’s complicated’, going on a holiday is always a welcome break. But when it comes to taking your first trip abroad with a potential long-term partner, you might want to break out a different playbook.
“A holiday is a real time-out from the stresses and strains of everyday life, making it an ideal space in which to work on your relationship,” says author and relationship coach Dr Annie Kaszina. “Being in a different place really does create a different mindset.”
Although travelling together can be the ultimate test, here are 7 challenges you can use to take your bond from brand-new to unbreakable.
Besides sunscreen – and okay, moisturiser – leaving your beauty regime behind while on holiday is one of the most liberating things you can do. Not only does going barefaced simplify your morning routine and allow your skin to breathe, but knowing that your partner loves your natural beauty is a great confidence booster. Plus, the most stressful thing about going make-up free should be where to spend all your new-found extra time – at the beach or in bed?
If the only romantic lighting in your bedroom is the blue glow emanating from your Netflix binge-watching session, your upcoming holiday might be the perfect excuse to log off and shut down. Before you start to panic, a digital detox can be as easy as leaving your mobile in your hotel room’s safe, or taking the perfect holiday photograph together but only uploading it when you get home. Without the pressure to check in, you can leave the FOMO to your friends back home and create special memories for the two of you instead.
On holiday, the only people that can judge you and your partner are complete strangers you’ll never see again, so other than becoming a viral meme (which could be pretty cool) there’s nothing stopping you from pretending you’re a shark in the swimming pool. Or risking a serious case of brain freeze by trying to eat your entire ice cream cone in one bite. Or making a joint decision that matching sombreros make fantastic ‘mandatory’ sun hats.
You may have seen a billion Instagram photos of couples enjoying holiday bliss – and those moments do exist – but they go hand-in-hand with squabbles over which sights are worth seeing or whose fault it was that you almost missed your flight. To boost positive energy, Dr Annie Kaszina suggests taking time out each day to show your appreciation. “Settle yourselves somewhere you both enjoy and set aside an hour, to say only positive, supportive things to each other. If this seems hard or odd at first, that’s even more reason to continue. When you do this, you’ll be building a reservoir of good feelings and benefits that will last long after your tan has faded.”
This is, after all, what hotel rooms were made for. Put on your fluffy robes and slippers, order in room service and hang the ‘do not disturb’ sign outside your door. Stay somewhere like the Sensimar Seaside Suites & Spa in Mexico and you’ll get a Jacuzzi in your room as standard. The rest is, erm, up to you… even if you’re the type of couple who loves nothing more than cuddling up together in said Jacuzzi while you watch the sun set.
Getting active is a great way to relieve stress, and trying a new sport like snorkelling or scuba-diving together is a really bonding experience. “Doing something daring like scuba-diving is a great way to see your partner in a different light,” says Dr Kaszina. “It really makes you appreciate the qualities you might have started to take for granted.” Even if you’re not the sporty type, you can push your boundaries by learning the local language, tasting new foods or exploring a city without a map.
Two weeks might not seem like a long time, but if you’re taking your first holiday as a couple, a fortnight translates into 336 hours. Together. Alone. Which leaves plenty of room to find out he likes to brush his teeth while singing to the radio, or that she’s not quite as neat and tidy as you might have thought. But it can also force you to adapt to each other’s quirks, talk through your feelings and learn to compromise – three things that will make all the difference if you decide to take your relationship to the next level.
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Author: Louis Boroditsky
Published: January 28, 2016
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