Holiday romance for the over 50s
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In her marvellous book, Too Young to Get Old (the Baby Boomers’ Guide to Living Life to the Full), Christine Webber’s chapter on Endless Love gives many insightful ideas and interesting suggestions for keeping romance going in a long-term relationship. Indeed, one or two of her recommendations brought a blush even to my ‘been there, done that’ cheeks! Christine is a writer, broadcaster and psychotherapist, who has done much research with our 50+ age group, and I’m delighted to report, is of a similar age.
We recently talked about romance, relationships and holidays. Now here’s a thought provoking anecdote, Christine recently asked a roomful of 50 women when they felt most sexy, and 46 said when they were on holiday! Is it anticipation, preparation and finally relaxation that is the key I wondered, casting my mind back to horrendous washing frenzies and fevered searches for passports in the days before departure, so that once you are en route there simply is nothing more you can do but relax and enjoy. Actually, it seems the answer is even more pragmatic, wearing less clothes and being in warm climes (often) brings the sexy feeling out in us. (It might be different with skiing: loads of clothes, aching muscles and being completely physically whacked always gives me a deep need for sleep, however we’re keen to know what happens to you!).
A further interesting fact – in a survey Christine ran on her website, to which 500 women aged 45-65 responded, the outright top ambition was to travel! Although this doesn’t seem to be the case so much with men. Some women do indeed want to undertake the Thelma and Louise style trips, whereas many are keen to explore cultural hotspots, Venice, Florence, Paris with a little light shopping thrown in. Christine thoroughly recommends the odd long weekend apart, it can certainly give you plenty to talk about at home on your return, and the proverb, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ will hopefully be applicable here. (My recent solo trip to Namibia resulted in a terse ‘phone call asking about the exact location of the new Hoover bags, so it doesn’t always work).
The weekend trip or short breaks together are good too. Christine certainly recommends them if you’re holidaying as a couple for the first time, after years of family vacations. There is a massive change in the dynamic of a holiday from four or five in the family, messy teenagers, boisterous meals and 3am curfews, to just the two of you. (I still print off the packing list, which includes buckets & spades, Calpol and colouring books.) Christine cites the example of a couple, who once empty nesters, took off on a three-month cruise round the world. It was an absolute dream trip, much anticipated and sadly, in reality, a total disaster. Perhaps five days around the Med would’ve been a good ‘warm-up’, or a few days in Istanbul or Madrid whilst they got used to the new twosome situation. An all out grand gesture can create just too much pressure and impossible expectations, leading to dreadful disappointment.
Holidays are so often a catalyst for change, Christine said, when you are away from the daily doings of life, together with no buffers or immediate distractions. At times, a holiday can bring with it the realisation that once the children have left home, the relationship, romantically, is over. If handled respectfully, this can be very liberating for both people. And the opposite is true too, so delighted are the couple to be free from the restraints of family life at home, that they return to love’s young dream of twenty or thirty years earlier. Christine told me of a couple who bought an old camper van and took jaunts in it to Europe, re-visiting trips of their youth and very literally, re-discovering and reinvigorating themselves. A weekend at Glastonbury works for some too.
Then there are single travellers, well, Christine was quite honest here. She is of the opinion that men will be snapped up, short of one or two unforgivable shortcomings (halitosis etc), so her advice to solo women is to travel with an open mind, friendly and ready to meet new people but not obviously looking for a man. She thinks it is off-putting and I agree. An energetic, fun vibe is attractive to everyone, as is a soft, collar length hairstyle, no helmet head short cuts please. So often a new partner is found at one or two steps removed, a work colleague of someone you met in Cyprus, or the aunt of a young couple you spent the day with on a gulet. Even think Shirley Valentine, for new experiences and a revival of the familiar!
We totally agreed that making an effort on holiday is essential, ensuring both of you have a say in what you do (we plan alternate days, me with respect to the fact that not everyone can look at icons for a whole day, and he aware that reading the FT by the pool does me for about 45minutes). And there is time to have a siesta, dress for dinner, linger over meals and take a gentle stroll. Christine hinted that depilation, new underwear and a bit of make-up can really kick start romance. I would add that leaving off the socks with sandals will seriously help too!
Too Young to Get Old (the Baby Boomers’ Guide to Living Life to the Full) by Christine Webber can be purchased at Amazon.
For more information about Christine Webber, visit www.christinewebber.com
For those planning a single’s holiday, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Solos Holidays
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