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What holidaying with my ex taught me about relationships

Freelance writer Vanese Maddix and her partner of five years split up in 2022, but have since been on four holidays together.

Young man and woman smiling in New York in front of a Christmas tree
4 April 2023
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"Hey Rob*" were the magic words I used when approaching my ex on Bumble almost six years ago. It wasn't my smoothest line, or even my most original, but it led to us falling for one another following several dates that felt like I was in a Taylor Swift music video. Those first-date nerves turned into an incredible five years as a couple. 

Like most relationships, we had our ups and downs. We're polar opposites - but I believe that opposites really do attract. I'd like to think that I taught him how to let his hair down, along with the basics of skincare (despite him still forgetting to use SPF), while he helped build my confidence and taught me everything I know about budgeting. 

In the six years we've known each other, we've truly become the best of friends. Despite our love for one another, in 2022 we mutually agreed to split up. It wasn't an easy decision in the slightest but we knew it was for the best. 

The hardest part to come to terms with was the possibility of not remaining good friends and drifting apart. If the months since we split have taught me anything, however, it's that you can still remain friends with your ex and in my case, even go on holiday together. 

Young man and woman smiling for the camera
Vanese and her ex were together for five years

How did I end up on holiday with my ex?

The first of our planned trips was a week's holiday to New York in August 2022 as a late birthday present. 

We'd booked our hotel a couple of months before our split, which meant sharing a room - luckily we were both OK with this. NYC in August is insanely hot and humid, so we didn't have to worry about any late-night spooning antics. 

Our trip consisted of exploring the city, endless amounts of delicious food and daily Sephora visits. Plus, he took on the role of being my personal photographer without any complaints. 

Young woman shopping in Sephora© Instagram
Vanese's ex became her holiday photographer

I began documenting snippets on Instagram titled "Holidaying with my ex," and for reasons still unbeknownst to us, we had over 50 messages from friends and strangers obsessing over our content. 

We did (and still do) get the occasional message asking when we're getting back together, as though we're a classic TV show duo like New Girl's Nick Miller and Jess or Ross and Rachel from Friends, but we swiftly shut it down and remind people that exes can still be good friends. 

After the success of New York, a few months later we decided that a festive-filled Edinburgh trip would be fun together. We've also since visited New York together twice more, meaning we’ve been on four post-break-up holidays. Though two of our New York trips were because my ex had work planned over there, and I tagged along. As a freelancer I can work anywhere, and took the opportunity to network. 

What was holidaying with my ex like?

The trips had a different feel from our previous ones. For my ex, it was more work focused and for me, I networked like crazy and spent my time pretending I was Carrie Bradshaw. 

MORE FROM VANESE: 'When I can't face the world, my beauty routine helps pick me back up'

Despite not spending much time together, when we finally got the chance amid our busy schedule, we did wholesome things such as visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and exploring the many wonders of Central Park. 

Young man and woman smiling in New York in front of a Christmas tree
Vanese and her ex have been on four holidays together since they split

What’s are the benefits of holidaying with an ex? 

Previously being in a relationship helped our trips to run smoothly. Don't get me wrong, we did have the occasional bicker about where to eat as well as my snack and makeup purchases preventing my suitcase from closing, and subsequently causing us to be late checking out of our hotel, but those are the typical arguments I have with my sister so in the grand scheme of things, all pretty tame. 

We've both come to terms with no longer being together, but there's something about being away and surrounded by Christmas spirit that makes you question your own feelings. You soon realise that life is not a rom-com fantasy, however. 

RELATED:  Why me-time is essential for a healthy, happy relationship 

What will happen when we meet new people?

I'm now in a headspace where I'm open to the idea of dating again, but my experience with dating apps and men, in general, makes me realise that nothing will change anytime soon. 

When we both eventually move on, the dynamic between us will of course be different (it would be silly to think otherwise) but there's truly no reason that we can't remain good friends. 

RELATED: 'How nature cured my heartbreak after a brutal breakup’ 

What has holidaying with my ex taught me? 

  • Ultimately, you both know what's best 

People around you may question whether it's a good idea for you to go on holiday with your ex, but as long as there are clear boundaries and you get on well, why not? Everyone has a completely different perspective after a breakup but ultimately it's your own decision that counts. 

  • Friendship stays after romance fades 

My ex and I have a really good friendship and despite no longer being together, we both agree on wanting to remain good friends. Many relationships start off with friendship long before romance comes into play, so there's no reason why you can't go back to that, especially if you end on good terms with no bad blood. 

  • Caring for someone doesn't stop when you break up 

Lastly, it's human nature to still care for someone you were once romantically involved with since you share so many joint memories and life lessons. It isn't something you should try to erase.

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*names changed

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