Every holiday that I took as a single woman was filled with hope that I would meet someone in that city and fall in love. Most single people that I know are filled with that excitement too—of meeting the love of their life while vacationing in some beautiful part of the world. It surely adds to the excitement of the holiday, and when nothing romantic happens, some of the lustre of the vacation ebbs away.
I was very intrigued when a client of mine, 34-year-old K, told me about her “vacation only boyfriend”. A design professional based in Mumbai, K travels a lot for both work and pleasure. She met M—a 40-year-old technology consultant based in California— three years ago while he was visiting family in Mumbai. The attraction was instant and mutual, and they dated each other for the few weeks that M was in Mumbai. Soon it was time for him to head back and the farewell was not heartbreaking for either. They decided to stay in touch. A few months later K was travelling to Milan for work and messaged M to see if he wanted to join her for a short vacation. That’s how their vacation romance started. It’s been almost three years now. K and M have been on ten vacations together in this duration. Most people in their situation would have been discussing their future as a couple together, but not K and M. They want their status to remain single.
I am observing a trend that K and M seem to be following. A friend of mine, D, got divorced two years ago. At the age of 45, she is an exuberant and attractive woman. During one of her trips to London, she met her vacation boyfriend. Like K and M, she too goes on regular vacations with him. D lives in Bengaluru and the vacation partner in London. Neither is interested in changing their single status. Another interesting aspect here is that all of them continue to go on dates with other singles in the cities they are based in.
I can understand why D is not interested in a committed relationship, since she has already experienced being in one. It is K’s mindset that I find refreshing. She loves the lifestyle she has built for herself; she feels that she has achieved the balance between having a romantic companionship and getting the space she needs as an individual as and when she chooses to. K feels that she has the best of both worlds.
In my experience, though, eventually most of us want more from a relationship than mere romantic interludes during a vacation. So, then how are these four individuals making it work for them? For one, they don’t live within the same geography, so there is no scope of any day-to-day dependencies that get formed when you are located in the same place. When you start counting on each other for the smallest of things, it leads to the desire of being in a committed relationship. The other aspect is that they are not anchoring themselves to one person. All four of them continue to date multiple people in their cities. That makes it easier for them to not get attached to that one person, as they keep engaging with people they find interesting and enjoy the company of. The third is, perhaps, their own personalities and level of confidence in not conforming to pressures from society.
The choice of the relationship you want to be in must always be your own. Only then are you truly at peace, will find joy and be wholeheartedly present in that relationship. The last few years have seen the emergence of many kinds of relationships—friends with benefits, situationship, companionate love, and more. I believe as more of us exercise agency to lead the kind of lives we want, many different approaches to love and relationships will emerge. How two people define their relationship is up to them, as long as both of them agree to it.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating in and relationship coach, who can be reached on email@example.com