So the person you’re casually dating is going to Europe. Now what?

Let’s be real – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding a semi-normal person you don’t hate to hang out with.

Except when said person has a pre-booked Europe trip you hadn’t factored into your plans… after just a few days/weeks/months together.

For the person left behind, it’s bloody bleak.

While they’re off gallivanting around getting a whole lot more than an A grade tan, you’re in the foetal position wearing stale pyjamas refreshing Snapchat every 30 seconds, wondering where the hell you stand and if you’re… together?

Rather than torturing yourself with thoughts of what (or who) they’re doing, heed this expert advice to sort sh*t out before they set sail.

Having ‘the talk’

According to Sexologist and Relationship Expert, Dr Nikki Goldstein, you might actually be doing yourself a solid by having this incredibly awkward and soul destroying conversation now rather than later.

“So many people are wondering, ‘How do I know if it’s monogamous and when do I bring that up?’,” she told Mamamia.

“So this a good catalyst because, yes it’s going to be a awkward, but not as awkward as the ‘what are we?’ monogamy chat because there’s a reason for the asking.”

So now we know why we can’t ignore the thing altogether, here’s how to have the chat without a) sounding like a sorry sop but b) still coming to a concrete conclusion.

Dr Nikki suggests adopting a gentle approach, and leaving the aggression and cutting accusations at home (if possible). Then there’s the matter of expectations versus reality to consider.

“You’ve got to look at the grounds of your relationship. If you’ve just started dating, then asking him what’s going on while he’s away might nearly be too soon,” she said.

“Consider, are you in a position where monogamy is appropriate? If not, you might just have to accept that you won’t know what’s going on in Europe.”

How soon is ‘too soon’ to expect monogamy?

Dr Nikki insists “it’s not so much a time frame as much as a feeling”.

In other words, consider how quickly your relationship is progressing. Some people find themselves in a nauseating love bubble within weeks, but for others it takes longer.

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Dr Nikki suggests rather than using a specific time frame to define whether it would be appropriate to expect monogamy while your partner is away, think about the little everyday signs.

“Are you spending a lot of time together? Do you talk about seeing other people? Do they disappear on a Saturday night? These are the things that determine whether or not you’re ready for monogamy.”

If we’re on a break, does that mean I can see other people too?

“This question is loaded with double standards,” Dr Nikki said.

“If you are the one left behind and you have decided that whatever happens in Europe happens, then yes, it should be the same for you… but I assure you, [women] are supposed to ‘laugh off’ a guy’s sexual antics in Europe, but the same can’t be said if they situation was reversed.”

Long story short, yes you can and should do whatever you like in this situation, but bare in mind it may come with consequences just too close to home. It’s not fair, but it’s also, in many cases just the way it is.

“Chances are you’re not going to find out if they’re getting it on with other people, but although you have the right to do whatever you want, consider the social implications of doing it in the city the two of you could potentially have a relationship in.”

How can I not obsess over their Instagram/Snapchats?

It’s as cliched as dating advice comes, but Dr Nikki genuinely advises keeping yourself busy.

“If your partner is going away to Europe and there’s a question mark over the relationship, you don’t want to be sitting here wondering what’s going on,” she said.

“You need something to distract you because the problem will be if you’re bored, chances are you’ll jump on your phone and send some messages, which is not a healthy situation.”

And while taking up knitting and terrarium planting will only get you so far, for Dr Nikki, finding a way to be comfortable with your situation is key.

“You need to have your feelings respected. A lot of women get into the situation of ‘oh well I’m not ok with this but maybe he’ll break up with me’,” she said.

“If you’ve started dating someone and it’s serious enough that you feel like you want monogamy, and he’s going away and can’t assure you he will be faithful, you don’t have to put up with that.

“At the end of the day, it’s not respectful behaviour. If you’re with someone, going to Europe or not, and they can’t give you what you want, I’d be questioning the future of the relationship. Just because someone travels doesn’t mean they have to sleep with everyone.”

What about when they get back?

While it’s easy to fantasise about a passionate airport embrace, it’s important to be realistic about your expectations post-Europe.

“Start dating again, don’t expect the person to come back and be able to jump right back to the level you were at before,” Dr Nikki explained.

“Maybe that means a few dinners, maybe that means not going straight back into sexual relations… people do change when they travel, so be prepared the person might not be the same person as before.”

And if we do get back together, do I have a right to know the details?

“Uhhh, no.”

Dr Nikki is pretty clear on this one, pointing out this is one one of those things where your curiosity may just kill you.

“You will want to know, but you have to think about what you’ll do with that information because once you know, you can’t un-hear it.

“If he has been monogamous, those words will be said to you because that’s a statement that they want to be with you.”

Now you’re armed with rational expert advice, go forth into the minefield that is casual dating. Good luck.

Dr Nikki Goldstein is a Sexologist, Relationship Expert and author of Single But Dating

Have you been/are you in this situation before? How did you handle it?

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