There’s just something about summer. Warm nights you can spend in a sundress and strappy heels, bikinis and sixpacks (abdominal and drinkable) at the beach, and the feeling of freedom from school—even if you’ve long graduated and are stuck at work during the hot summer days.
Why do people tend to cozy up with a significant other for the winter, then separate so that they can have a series of summer flings?
Is this even true? Or just a stereotype?
In winter, you probably want to curl up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate—even if the ‘fire’ is of the Kindle variety (or Netflix) and the hot chocolate is spiked
with more than just whipped cream and marshmallows.
It’ not just the cold that makes you need that warm arm around you under the comforters. It’s also the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukah), New Years, and Valentine’s Day. How awkward is it to go to an office holiday party without a date? Or going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to your family members demanding to know why you’re still single and trying to set you up with a friend of a friend’s kid who has nothing in common with you—except also being apparently the only other person single during the holidays.
That pressure melts after the sun starts coming out again and the moisture on the ground becomes dew rather than snow. You’re free to break things off with the friend of a friend’s kid or the Tinder match you spent Valentine’s Day with just because you both didn’t want to be that loser without a date. And look at the beauty around you. Women have been doing squats and sit-ups all spring to be bikini-body ready, shaking off the winter weight from too much eggnog. Men have lifting heavy and going keto to cut the coveted six-pack abs out of their dadbod beerbellies.
With all these attractive prospects milling around on the sand of the beach, or jogging in almost nothing at the local park, why would you want to be tied down when you can have them all?
At least that’s the logic of the summer fling. It’s probably most prominent in students—college or graduate—taking the summers off to travel internationally, roadtrip across the US, intern in their dream city, or tan at the beach (hopefully with enough sunscreen). They know that when they meet a cutie so far from home the relationship probably won’t become permanent. They have their fun together, then go their separate ways once the weather cools down and college calls them back to the grind of daily life. Summer flings are exciting. They wouldn’t be if they happened year round and lasted forever. Spending the summer in a strange land also gives you the anonymity to do the things you’d never do in your hometown but always wanted to. You can be whoever you want to be—but just for the summer. The stereotype is that men want no-strings-attached sex while women want relationships. But this isn’t always true. Sometimes women need to get their craziness and curiosity out of their systems before they settle down. A summer fling (or several) can do that for them. But neither men nor women should go around breaking hearts—or getting their hearts broken. If you’re going to embark upon the SS Summer Fling—which, by definition, is a ship destined to sink at sea as soon as the iceberg of cold weather arrives—make sure both you and your fling know it’s a fling. Ask them what they’re looking for and discuss it. Are they just having fun? Or are they looking for The One?
Don’t have a summer fling with someone looking for a long term relationship. And don’t look for a long term relationship with someone who only wants a summer fling. Sure, feelings may develop during the fling but you can’t count on it turning into a real relationship unless that is what both of you want. If you feel yourself falling in love with your fling, break it off before it turns messy in the fall. Same if you think they’re falling for you but you’re just not feeling it. At the same time, don’t jump into a relationship just because it gets cold and you don’t want to spend another New Year’s Eve without getting kissed when the ball drops. Honesty is the foundation of every relationship—long term, short term, friendship, familial, even business.
Just because you’re not going to spend the rest of your life with your summer fling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honest with them about what you want. You should expect honesty from them about what they want as well. And most importantly, be honest with yourself. Don’t settle for a fling if you were hoping for more with the person. Don’t get into a relationship you don’t want to be in hoping you’ll learn to love the person. And ask yourself if you really want a fling or a relationship? And why? Are you ready for a serious commitment? Can you handle a fling emotionally, getting close to someone then maybe never speaking to them again?
If you can’t answer those questions honestly to yourself, and come up with answers that will keep you safe (physically and emotionally), then maybe you should spend the summer single, thinking about what you want out of a romantic relationship, a romantic partner, and yourself.