I had my first holiday romance at the age of 14 on a trip to Spain. I can honestly say I have never felt emotional pain like it since that fateful day when a liverpudlian charmer informed me he just wasnt that into me and buggered off to snog a girl with bigger boobs. A week of flirting, stolen looks and poolside banter out the window. I learnt many lessons that day, and have learnt many more since on how to navigate a summer fling. Here are my top tips.
Realise men are like souvenirs
I brought a beautiful Greek plate home from a trip to Athens once to give to my mum. It looked absolutely gorgeous in the window of the shop gleaming in the sun, but a piece of old tat once my mother removed the tissue paper back in the UK. Dudes you bang on holiday are exactly the same. This is a direct result of men looking better with a tan, slim pickings, alcohol consumption and the fact that we don't have to imagine anything long term. This is no problem, but just try not to wrap him up and take him back with you. My mum could throw the plate away, disposing of a body is more problematic.
Know your enemy
The types of guys you can roll around in the hay with on holiday can be lumped into a few categories. It's a good idea to have a clear idea of which kind you have chosen.
-The club rep/ waiter/ party boy - these guys are professionals and even when they look like a guy who has been hit in the face with a spade, can still get laid. A solid choice for a woman with zero time to mess about with so-called feelings.
-The friend you travel with - This is the lazy woman's choice for sure. It has some benefits in terms of knowing what you are getting into, but kind of defeats the whole point of escaping your reality with some random.
-The good enough guy - The typical choice is the boy nearest to you in proximity. You don't really want to have to do much more that look up from your Jackie Collins novel and scout the best of a bad bunch to divert you for a few days. This is risky as they are normally about as appealing as an ingrown toenail.
Don't play hard to get
I get it. You read The Rules and are supposed to act like you are a walking, talking Jane Austin novel. This is all well and good when you have time to spare, but the clock is ticking on your two-week package tour and you have needs. You want to accelarate your typical mating dance to turbo speed. The same goes for pickiness. I totally understand that back home you have a 30-point checklist of what you want in an ideal mate, this should go out of the window. Literally.
Don't ditch your mates
This is especially true for trips where there is only two of you. For God's sake don't couple up with a slamming hottie, causing your long suffering friend to give you the evil eye across the dinner table as you palm her off on your lover's mate who spits in her ear as he tries to get in her pants.
See it for what it is
After he has managed to get it up on three consecutive evenings and you lie next to him on polyester sheets in your luxury 3-star hotel experiencing post-coital bliss, check yourself. It is easy for many women's hearts to be in their vagina and after a few days of pleasure to forget reality. If he is travelling around the world in a van with a mattress in the back and you live in London trying to get ahead in finance, perhaps the stars are not aligned for a long lasting relationship leading to wedded bliss and babies.
End it well
If you have caught yourself a barnacle on the beach who will stick to you no matter what waves come his way, you may need to consider how you break things off on the last day of your trip. You can always Houdini and just never speak to them again. This is totally acceptable if you only 'socialised' with them after dark. If you snagged a clinger then it's best to be straight with them. I recommend telling them as late as possible so they don't ruin your summer buzz by asking too many questions (Why? What did I do wrong?). When the luggage is already in the taxi is safest so you can zoom off as they cry into their Sangria.
Sally Fazakerley is a 30-something Brit, who has been living in Madrid since 2010. After finishing her degree in Psychology she moved to Spain to teach and sing in a band while undertaking an unofficial psychological study of Spanish men.
hoto: Yasmin Alnajjar / @yasminagraphy