So you've just gotten back from vacation, and while you were there, you went ahead and you met someone with whom to get freaky. You both presented the best versions of yourselves: the gentleman opened up, baring his soul and becoming vulnerable, and the lady wore a tie around her waist and nothing else, sauntering around and flaunting her perfect backside (“Up in the Air“? Anyone? No? OK then).
Now, the vacation's over and you find yourself at home, slouched on your couch with a Trader Joe's ice cream sandwich shoved in your mouth, watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and mindlessly stroking your cat's head. You're bored, you've seen this “Sketti” episode twice already, and you can't help but let your mind wander away to that night in the hotel room.
You pick up your cell phone and scroll back in time. There's your faraway lover's number, staring back as if to taunt you with the memory of how fantastic the sex was, the very sex during which you were more open and honest about your needs than you've ever been, wherein you made bold requests and kept the lights on and even maintained eye contact during foreplay.
What if, you think, what if I just…give him a call?
You start to fantasize about a rendezvous, about meeting up in New Orleans or flying across the country to recapture the quick tryst. You consider which weekends you might be available. The idea becomes nearly all-consuming.
Allow us to suggest that you should just say no.
Instead of following through, you should put the phone down, eat another ice cream sandwich and do what's best for everyone: leave the vacation sex on vacation, and maintain the happy memory.
See, here's the thing that happens during vacation sex. The affair is so brief, so fleeting, that you can momentarily believe in the faultless iterations of self presented by you and your one-time partner. It's hopeful, and it's exciting — especially if you live somewhere like L.A., where dating can be a motherfucker — to pretend that there's a person out there whose flaws may as well be nonexistent, because they are just so perfect for you, in every way.
In trying to drag the fling into reality, though, something is guaranteed to be lost. The more contact you have, the more likely your dream lover is to become just another girl who smacks her gum while talking on the phone, or a dude who sends gchats so cryptic that they require a Ph.D in interpersonal communications to decipher.
And yes, having a new relationship morph from fantasy to actuality is part of the dating process. But let's be real — the farther away your vacay-sex friend lives, the less likely you are to see them again, and before you know it, you've muddied a perfectly good memory and you have little to show for it except a high phone bill and a near-neglected feline companion.
Still, the most disappointing thing to lose in eroding the happy recollection of a vacation fling might not be the fantasy of your lover, but the insight into yourself. After all, the side of our personality that we tend to channel on vacation, the side that behaves in accordance with impulsivity and desire, isn't one we can always act on — but if we can hang onto her in real life, she may provide a guide to our most interesting self.