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Breaking up on vacation is a different kind of heartbreak.

She travelled to Vietnam to see a beautiful, green-eyed love called James. He was Irish, had an irresistible accent. He could play the guitar and she loved him. They had met in Australia while he was travelling. And, after he left Queensland, they would chat every day. Fall asleep on the phone together. Plan their reunion in Southeast Asia. 

She met him at a hostel near a Vietnamese beach. They laughed. Had sex. Made a bonfire on the sand. It was everything she had imagined. Until he took a phone call, and his behaviour changed. 

She tried to shake it off. But he got weirder. She didn’t know what was wrong. Where once there was free-flowing communication, and nothing, it felt like, was hidden, she was all-of-a-sudden treading on egg shells and unable to diagnose the problem. 

After a few days of pushing against each other with heart-achingly forced smiles, she received a message from his girlfriend.

She hadn’t known he had a girlfriend. She also hadn’t known that this girlfriend was expecting him to come back to Ireland. She thought he was coming back to Australia. 

She left him there and travelled the rest of Southeast Asia by herself. Heartbroken and lonely and overwhelmingly confused. He kept sending her songs he’d written on his guitar. But he didn’t break up with his girlfriend. 

Now, years later, she still wonders about him. And she still never wants to go back to Southeast Asia. 

Holidaying together can make or break a relationship. We all know this.

Some scenarios, like the one above, doesn’t have much to do with the holidaying, it’s more to do with the person in question. But still, these horrible unknowns, these hidden tensions, have a habit of arising while on vacation.

They come up as guards are let down. They appear once the relationship is thrown into a together-24/7-in-an-unfamiliar-place type of intensity.

We’ve all been told “Oh it’s your first holiday together, I wonder how that will go?” as we’re about to disembark somewhere exotic with our newest special person.

(As if we need any more pressure between thoughts of too-stark airport lights, late nights, early mornings, language barriers, as well as disagreeable food and thin bathroom doors.)

Yes, the beach time and the cocktails and the adventuring can bring you closer.

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You can return from the holiday happier than ever. Blissful in the knowledge that you survived with an album full of cute couple memories, and a stronger relationship because of it.

But what happens if it doesn’t work out like this?

Here are the most cringy, difficult, actually-for-once-not-envious-of-other-people’s-holidays break ups on vacation we could find.

Brace yourself.

My boyfriend was living overseas for a few months and we met up in Budapest to begin a two-month holiday. We were staying with some of my family who were living there at the time when I found out he’d been cheating. To try to keep the peace and not make things awkward for my family, we had to pretend like everything was well and good for those couple of days and had to keep sharing a bed. Looking back, I probably should have kicked him out. Or at least made him sleep on the floor. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t survive. – Amy, 28.

You have no safe zones. I was left locked outside a house for four hours in a strange city and dwindling battery life. She was in a bar getting too blasted to answer her phone and/or realise her funny ‘hide the key’ game was not funny. You’re forced to try and make the best of it and sometimes all you do is draw out an already failing relationship. – Sam, 32.

I decided to break up with a partner while on holiday, but did it when I got back! – Jane, 34.

My boyfriend’s sister and her boyfriend broke up in Paris. They had a MASSIVE fight, he left her there and went back to London (where they live). A couple of years later they are happily back together. – Jess, 24.

I met a guy while I was backpacking around Southeast Asia for a few months and it was a typical whirlwind romance: going to beautiful deserted islands, hiking through the rain forest, kayaking. It was such a fun two weeks and we honestly thought we were in love. We met up in India a year later and I realised how boring he was. It was so awkward because we’d planned on travelling together for about 6 weeks, but I couldn’t last more than 10 days. I had to tell him that I didn’t want to continue our trip, and instead travelled solo and met up with another girlfriend on the way. I felt bad about abandoning him, but I also didn’t want to waste my hard earned money and vacation having a terrible time. I don’t regret my decision at all. We kept in touch a lot over that year so it kind of felt like a break up. – Sarah, 38.