There is just something about that thin layer of sweat that can be passed off as a “sun-kissed glow” that makes people turn into these insane, love-crazed zoo animals. We’re all just caged in together — whether back home for the summer, away at the beach, or just in a place where the humidity index is simply unfortunate — ready for someone to make a move. It’s the kind of weather that, between the general dampness in the air and the egregious amount of skin showing everywhere, takes every regular ol’ party at least three steps in the “Roman orgy” direction — half the work is already done for you. Especially, when you're feeling extra cute in that new bikini. Who among us hasn’t had a fleeting moment of, “Ehh, screw it” and made out with someone because, come on, you’re on a beach. So many flings start simply because the weather is right and you’re within the proper proximity to a body of water.
While most summer flings are just that — something that isn’t terribly serious and has an expiration date that we’re usually aware of when we start things — the moment when you have to put on a light sweater and leave things behind isn’t easier just because it wasn’t a long affair. Somehow we can convince ourselves, at the beginning of June, that we’ll be fine when the end of August rolls around and it’s time to put things behind us. And yet, when that moment comes, we often start scrambling to make it work through the distance, the difficulty, and the new opportunities of the fall. Even though they only take a small slice of our life, relatively speaking, it’s never easy to just close the door on a relationship and say, “Okay, that has run its appropriate course. Time to never speak to or think of this person ever again.”
Though we often like to romanticize summer flings as a time when we’re at our most sexy and beach-ready, there are often clear downsides to the whole “90 degrees and sunny all throughout this relationship” angle. Aside from spooning while you sleep being completely out of the question unless you have top-notch air conditioning, there is also the whole business of going back from a day at the beach to a romp in the bedroom, only to find yourself the general color and fragility of an overripe tomato. Unless you want the soundtrack to your lovemaking to be “Oww, don’t touch that” and “Rub some aloe on my back, baby,” you’re probably going to have to abstain for at least a little while. SPF 50: The unsung hero of summer fling sex.
Isn’t it strange how, even years after we leave that one part of the boardwalk or that dock near the big oak tree, we can still feel in our bones the way it felt when we were there, with them? There are places in summer that you can’t even visit after it’s over; it just doesn’t feel like it belongs to you anymore. After you kiss on that sand, drank granitas under that awning, or had a picnic in that field — what could it possibly have to offer to you by yourself? So many of the moments we spend in summer — a time of the year that is so heavily romanticized and associated with specific eras and people — become completely foreign to us once the weather gets cold again. The same places we once drank beer and stayed up all night with friends and our summer fling, stoking the fire and feeling like we were never going to actually have to grow up, have become prohibitively expensive or filled with people too young to really recognize anymore. The thing about summer spots is that they often do stay in that idyllic, youthful phase — but we grow out of them. That one summer we spend with that one person who was perfect for three months is something we can feel down to the last blade of grass but cannot recreate.
How is it that we can manage to fall in love so deeply with someone in such a short amount of time? Is it simply because, during summer, we have more time to devote to the things we love and focus more on the small pleasures that make us truly happy? Is it because we don’t have the solemn responsibility of cold weather and our Usual Selves that we are outside of vacation and good weather? Maybe, but no matter what makes summer love so intense, it explodes and fizzles out just as quickly as the fireworks you probably watched together from a nice vantage point on a boat. One minute, you’ve just met this awesome person down by the water; the next, you’ve never been so taken with another human being in your life. As soon as we have even an ounce of perspective on how ridiculous we were, we regard summer flings as absurdly immature and ill-conceived. In the moment, though, we all become hormone-crazed 16-year-olds who are ready to get our new love of two weeks’ name tattooed on our shoulder.
While the ending to a summer fling can certainly be hard, and we can even attempt to drag it out painfully into the fall, often to be killed off in the Turkey Dump (for college students), it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Not every romance needs to be this life-changing event that ends in divorce court or being buried in matching grave sites right next to each other with some funny saying on the tombstone. Sometimes you can just learn a few lessons from a nice person who treated you well and made the summer fly by. And even if the love doesn’t end up being soul-shattering, you likely will take something from it for the rest of your life. It’s quite lovely to be able to look back on a relationship with someone who, though certainly not the love of your life, made you feel wonderful and for whom you wish only the best. How lucky we really are to have a nice summer under the stars to look back on, when everything lay before us and we knew that, if only for a month or so, we were with someone who loved us.