Every summer for the last three years, we’ve been treated to a nightly dose of the most unsuitable, drawn out holiday romances ever documented. From partner swapping to onscreen sex, like the dirty-washing-airing of fifty years ago and the oversharing Facebook statuses of five, the cast of Love Island has voluntarily offered up their love lives for our viewing pleasure for which we are all, of course, eternally grateful.
But whilst the realities of dating abroad aren’t quite like this – for a start, not many of us are actually already living with the people we go on first dates with – a recent survey has found that the Brits’ appetite for it is almost as profound as the villa contestants’ appetite for a sponsorship deal and a Boohoo discount code.
According to a recent poll, one in seven eligible Londoners use dating apps abroad and of those that do, nearly 45 per cent of them do so because they hate the realities of dating in the capital.
Ever since Audrey Hepburn hopped on the back of a Vespa with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, people have idealised the concept of the holiday romance. Between the clashing diaries, cryptic messages and overwhelming choice, dating in London can often feel more like a job hunt than a pleasurable pursuit, so it’s hardly surprising that singles are sacking it off and jumping on a plane instead.
What is surprising, though, is the prevalence of dating apps on these foreign excursions -singles are choosing to hedge their bets by swiping rather than waiting for a poolside encounter. All it takes is a couple of taps to change your location on Tinder, Bumble and the likes and suddenly a whole new pool of singletons opens up.
Bored of the kind of guys she was meeting in London, PR Hollie Day made the decision to try a little dating tourism on a recent trip to America and documented her escapades in a blog, Hollie Day Diaries, for good measure. After 35 dates in 11 weeks, she’d managed to de-clutter her dating life with aplomb.
“I love dating abroad – there is significantly less life admin and pen-pal-ing involved in setting the dates up,” she said of the experience.
“During a three-month tour of America I would frequently rock up in a new city such as Austin, San Francisco or Washington DC, hit the dating apps with my “Hi, I’m Hollie from England, fancy a drink in an hour” and off I’d trot.”
Logistics, it seems, is one of the biggest appeals of using dating apps whilst abroad. Jennie*, a 30-year-old teacher, agrees. “It’s just so easy – all you have to do is log in in a new city and you’re set – there’s something really exciting about having a whole new pool of potential dates who don’t know anything about you.”
It’s this simplicity that overwhelmingly appeals in general – whether that be through an app or a real-life encounter. But is this just another way to hide from the reality of our daily lives?
According to self-confidence expert and relationship coach, Ben Edwards, it’s the “escapism” and feeling of closeness that we’re after: “holiday romance sparks a short-term gain. It [offers] a quick fix and a fast feeling of happiness as you spend the majority of your day with one another, compared to dating someone in the UK who we may only see for several hours a week.”
Perhaps the reason we’re finding foreigners more interesting to date is because we can be whatever version of ourselves we want to be without the constraints of our real-life circumstances. Heartbreaks can be forgotten, social norms left behind and what usually seems normal and awkward about us suddenly becomes charmingly exotic: that self-detrimental over-politeness instantly seems demure; those sunburnt cheeks take on the blush of an English rose.
After all, everyone looks better holding a mojito against a backdrop of glittering blue seas and skies. When you think about it like that, it all starts to seem a bit ‘Paolo’ from Friends.
But in a world that seems to be barely holding itself together, don’t we all deserve a bit of fun?
Whatever your reasons for opening the Tinder app on your next holiday, as long as you stay safe and use your common sense, there’s no harm in a bit of foreign passion.
If nothing else, the stories of your escapades will prove to be the most memorable souvenirs of all. And I’d much rather take that than a tacky fridge magnet any day.
*Names have been changed to protect the person’s identity.