It’s a delicious fantasy, isn’t it? — falling in love while on vacation or on the summer job at the beach. Movies like Grease and Dirty Dancing make it seem so perfect, so possible, so without consequences so, I don’t know, so, so steamy and dreamy.
When people think about having a “summer romance”, they are usually thinking about a fling, not a serious relationship. By definition, a summer romance is intended to last for only the summer. Often it’s a response to being in a temporary place, like an extended vacation or a summer job, where family and friends just don’t have to know. Distant from the responsibilities and relationships of regular life, a fling can allow for experimenting with a different version of yourself, spontaneous fun, casual sex, and intensity without commitment.
But it doesn’t always work out that way. Are you looking for a summer fling? Maybe it’s a good idea to think beyond the movies.
Are you really capable of having a no-stings attached “fling”? Do take an honest look at yourself. A summer fling is intended to be casual and short term. If you are someone who connects intensely with someone you feel attracted to, especially when sex is involved, maybe you should look for love in your usual life, not on vacation. It’s unfair to yourself and to a summer partner if you tend to fall in love easily when the partner just wants a sexual romp. If you struggle with your own definition of what is right and moral when it comes to your sexual behavior, then trying on a fling is likely to end badly. It’s unfair to yourself and the partner if you use a fling to try to work out your values.
Do you have realistic expectations? A fling in the summer means that one of you is going to leave at the end of the season. It’s important to keep your heart somewhat detached or you are likely to end up disappointed and hurt. Don’t count on it evolving into a long-term or long distance relationship. A summer fling is intended to be more like a “friend with benefits” than a foundation for something more meaningful and permanent.
Do you know how to keep things casual? Caught up in the excitement of the romance, it can be easy to forget that the rules of serious dating don’t apply to a fling. So – don’t meet your lover’s family and friends. Don’t expect to spend every waking moment together. Don’t text repeatedly. Don’t, don’t, don’t move in together. These are the actions of serious dating not flinging. Instead, make it a point to have fun with other people to keep the intensity turned down. Maintain your own place and return to it regularly. Text only to make or confirm plans, not to send “love notes”. Keep the focus on fun with trips to the beach and parties, not candle light dinners.
Are you able to communicate clearly? The excitement of being a different you and of falling into bed with a cute stranger can make a serious conversation seem like an interruption. While it may not seem romantic to talk about expectations and rules, it is the most sure fire way to keep things in the realm of “summer fling”. That means initiating the topic if the partner doesn’t. It means being as clear as you know how to be about your expectations and limits. It means being definite about an end date. If you’re not clear about such things in your own mind, you are going to send off mixed signals that will be confusing to your lover and a set-up for emotional pain later. If you don’t talk about it, misunderstandings, frustrations, and heartbreak are almost inevitable.
Can you choose a lover wisely? This is a tough one. You may be clear about your expectations and rules but is the other person? Watch for red flags. Is the person on the rebound from disappointed love? Are there signs of emotional instability? Does the person get possessive if you talk to other people? Does he or she want to be with you constantly? These are behaviors that are not conducive to a playful no-stings-attached fling. By all means, be kind, but steer clear.
A summer fling can be exciting and fun – but only if you name it for what it is and act accordingly. Be aware that less than a third of summer romances evolve into something serious, much less permanent. Yes, you might be one of the “exceptions” but it’s a mistake to count on it. If you can’t keep that in mind and be comfortable with it, a fling may not be for you. Save your heart for someone who can offer you the love you really want.
But if you really can separate sex from love and immediate fun from the demands of a committed relationship, then you may be emotionally okay for a summer idyll. In that case, choose a partner wisely and stay safe. Communicate clearly and often. By all means, use protection. And be sure that both of you understand that breaking up at summer’s end is part of the deal.