Does summer lovin' have you a blast? If so, you're not alone! As part of an ongoing series covering the "science of summer," LiveScience decided to do some investigating into the phenomenon of "summer love," the carefree, temporary variety of love that has spawned countless songs, movies, and books.
The editors at LiveScience speculate that factors such as the warm weather, slowed-down work and school schedules, heightened sociability, and skimpier clothing (which might increase sexual arousal) during the summer months all may encourage people to pursue romantic encounters. And there's no end of references to "summer love" in pop culture. But is this really such a phenomenon?
"Yes!" says Jane Greer, psychologist, relationship expert, and creator of "Shrink Wrap with Jane Greer." "It has a name, which defines it, and it has a timeline. It's absolutely real."
Summer flings or love can be liberating, she says, because they eliminate all the angst that can come with long-term relationship. "You don't have to wonder, 'Where is this going?' 'Is he the one for me?' It hits you quickly—everything is packaged all together, and you already know what's going to happen. There's a certain wild abandon that can be very exciting."
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Summer can also be seen as a temporary escape from routine, which may allow people to open themselves up to new places, people, and experiences, psychologist Catherin Sanderson told LiveScience.
"Time spent with someone increases attraction in general—in a classroom, at the workplace, et cetera," she says. "But it also means that people may feel more free to engage in romantic and sexual experiences if 'on break' from their real life. You can see this anecdotally with spring break and summer romances."
As long as you know that you're entering into a relationship with a set expiration date, a summer fling can be perfectly healthy. The key, Greer says, is making sure that you and your beau are on the same page so that you can keep your perspective. "The best way to enter into a summer fling is actually to take it seriously in a way: Know what you're getting into so that when it ends, you won't take it so personally."
Even so, if you find yourself bummed at having to say goodbye come Labor Day weekend, that's okay. There are many reasons a summer fling doesn't turn into a longer-term relationship, such as one or both of you leaving the country, returning to a normal work or school routine, or spending more time with friends and family.
However, most often, those reasons have nothing to do you with you, according to Greer. "Remember it's most often not a rejection of you personally," she says. "It's the idea of a relationship. For whatever reason, the other person probably just isn't in a place to commit to a relationship."