How Not To Fall Out With Your BFF On Holiday
The Debrief: Something about sun, sea and sightseeing makes holidays kryptonite for friendships. Here's how to deal
Illustration by Assa Ariyoshi
She’s your best mate, so nothing can go wrong, right? Nope. Going on holiday with a friend seems to be the best way to go from BFF to nemesis in seven days flat. Out of the nine friends I’ve been on holiday with in the last years, I’m only really talking to four of them, and one of those is with a strained politeness.
Something happens when you go away with your best friend. Unless it’s your (sexual) girlfriend or boyfriend and you can just patch up an awkward sniping with a good shagfest, bickering can turn into simmering resentment that’s usually fielded off with passive aggressive shrugs and plenty of 'Yeh, whatevers.'
Going on holiday is meant to be the funnest thing in your calendar, but anticipation can lead to disappointment once the reality kicks in. My friend Charlotte still winces when she remembers a friendship breakup that she caused two years ago. 'My best friend at the time Anna had booked us a girl’s weekend break in Portugal, just me and her, to relax. I’d been really busy at work and hadn’t had a chance to look at any of the emails she’d sent over about the place. When we got there, well, it was kind of disgusting. I spent the whole weekend moaning about it. It was far from the beach, it was really hot… I was a bitch.' Unsurprisingly, relationships cooled between them and Charlotte lost her best friend.
One friend weekend away I had seemed to go really well. We’d been friends for five years and had met at university. We laughed like crazy, sheltered from the horrible weather, got stranded because of a freak storm, and ate almost no food because everything was super expensive. We got home and almost immediately she stopped talking to me. I wasn’t strong enough to confront her and ask her what the problem was. My loss.
So, why can doing something as nice as going on holiday lead to rows and unpleasantness? For a start, you’re with your friend 24/7, and unless they want to move in with your or marry you, they’re unlikely to care as much as your mum or other half about putting up with all your shit.
The way to solve this is to be flexible AF. Your friend wants to go to the carnival but you’d rather gouge your eye out with a rusty spoon? Make a trade and say you’ll go with her only if she traipses around the art gallery with you (or whatever you want to spend your afternoon doing).
If her idea of chilling is lounging by the pool and ogling topless boys then go nuts, but just not every day. Balance your holiday and your friendship will probably survive. Mel - not her real name - was the life and soul of our friendship group. Going on holiday with her turned into a disaster because every night she went from normal fun to a K-head who only cared about getting laid and hitting up all the local bars. We got into a flaming argument midweek when I said I didn’t want to join her on her epic pulls, and that I’d prefer to go home. She called me 'boring' when I just couldn’t be bothered with her vibe.
Sex can bulldoze its way through relationships, especially if one of your friends decides to turn her holiday one night stand into a holiday boyfriend. Spending time with your buddy suddenly turns into being the awkward third wheel, turning your trip into a lonely isolated foray to the beach, a one gal meal out, or cocktails with… oh, just you. Plus, hearing your friend have sex (or even worse, being politely asked to vacate the room while your friend gets lucky, yes this really happened) could be a death knell to your friendship.
If you think sex could be the worst thing about a holiday, what about the person you thought was your best friend but who just turns out to be crazy for wifi? Michelle told me about the time she went away with her friend Lucy to Peru. 'Every time we went into a cafe or a bar she would ask for wifi. We’d sit and eat just staring at our phones.' On the third day Michelle raised it with her and all hell broke loose. 'She sulked and made a big deal out of putting her phone away with an eye-roll. The next day she actually made a comment that if our conversation wasn’t good then she might as well get back online.' Needless to say, that was a comment that caused the pair to fight. They only properly patched up a month after they got home, such is the drama of being on holiday with your BFF.
To avoid unnecessary paddies, book hostels rather than private rooms so you can mingle with other people, and, unless your holiday is a patching up exercise from a previous vacation gone wrong, there’s no need to spend all your time with one another. Schedule in trips, plan day excursions, and say yes if you get invited to do things with other people.
Worse case scenario? You can always patch up previous arguments moaning about the people you hung out with the night before like the best friends you really are.
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At work? With your gran?