Summer love. It can happen when you’re a teenager. It can happen when you’re retired. It seems like no one’s immune when the days are long, the water warm, and the desk far, far away. There are no strings attached with summer love. No work; no family. There might even be no email or phones, if you’re somewhere particularly far flung. No wonder you fell for each other.
But can summer love survive beyond that initial footloose and fancy-free mindset? What happens when you get home and the roof is leaking and that work project that was giving you hypertension is still sitting on your desk? What happens when you need to, y’know, live with this person permanently in your life?
Strengths and Weaknesses
The weakness of summer love is that it’s forged on the shifting emotional sands of a holiday. You might be in some sort of tropical paradise, experiencing something completely new. Perhaps you’re lounging about in the north island. It seems just as easy to strike up a new relationship at the same, which of course in the long run it’s not. But the strength of the summer fling lies in its casual nature: there’s very little in the way of expectation and commitment, so you can afford to let things percolate — particularly if you find yourselves heading back to the same home port.
Summer as a Sunday
The best way to think of summer love is like a Sunday girlfriend or boyfriend. You know how these roll: you meet in a club or via a friend, head out on weekends to bars and parties, maybe spend some quality time between the sheets (if that’s your thing), and then two months later it likely peters out. You probably never introduce them to your friends (or if you do, it’s in the most oblique fashion possible), and you certainly never take them to meet your parents. You just enjoy each other’s company for a season or so and then say goodbye.
It’s exactly the same with a summer love. Take it easy once you get back to town, play it cool with your family and friends. Find out how they react to your weekend dedication to the rugby, or that verbal road rage you get every Monday morning, or your habit of leaving your dirty socks on the floor. It’s easy to fall in love when padding along the beaches on Maui, but it may be a little harder when the days have shortened and winter is having its way with your social plans. Don’t try to suddenly change your life or adjust your personality to better fit with that holiday version of you that he or she has fallen for; we all know that’s a bad idea. You need to introduce them to the reality of your life, and you in turn need to engage with theirs.
What Will Be, Will Be
And from there, what will happen, will happen. Just like the Sunday partner, every now and then a summer fling blooms into something more. You’ll know when you’re meant to investigate this further: your feelings will continue to wax rather than wane, and you’ll absentmindedly find yourself reaching for their advice or support, however small, during the week.
Let’s be honest. The chances of your summer love lasting the distance are relatively slim. But then that’s the case with every relationship you enter into, right? Just like that Sunday partner, every now and then your summer love will bloom into something more. Just don’t try to convert every sandy fling into a long-term relationship. Some things are best left in a certain place and time.
photo from ‘Grease’, 1978