July 9, 2013

The Grown-Up’s Guide to Summer Loving. ~ Kimberly Lo

Anecdotally speaking, summer is a time when a lot of relationships end and many new ones begin.

The summer fling occupies a special place in our culture from movies like Before Sun Rise, A Summer Place and Grease, to the song “Summer Lovin” from the latter’s soundtrack.

Despite their depiction in pop culture, summer flings aren’t just for teenagers. I know having had my own experience when I was 22 years old and traveling alone in Europe, following my graduation from college and the break-up of a relationship with a man that I thought could have been “the one.”

I met Chris, the very tall, very blond, California surfer on the train from Cologne, Germany, to Prague. It was a long ride, and we spoke for several hours. As it turns out, he was reeling from his own break-up with a long-term girlfriend. The attraction between the two of us was strong. By the time the train pulled into Prague, we had decided to check into the same hostel and see what would happen over the next three days.

As it turns out, we had a blast together—even now, 14 years later, I look fondly back at that magical time.

My experience is not unique. Over the years, I have met a lot of people with stories of their own summer loving. Some of them ended up being long-term relationships, others were just flings. Some, like mine, are still remembered fondly while others not so much.

Regardless of how yours turns out, here’s some tips to keep in mind before you dive head first into your summer of love:

1. Be honest

Ask upfront if your new guy or girl is already in a relationship. If they say they are on a “break,” then ask what exactly that means. i.e., is it okay for them to date other people during that break?

Likewise, if you are taking a break, be honest about what that means to you and your significant other. While some people I know seem to believe that whatever happens during the summer stays during the summer, the truth has a way of getting back to others especially in this age of social media.

However, even if it remains a secret, ask yourself how you would feel if the roles were reversed, and your boyfriend or girlfriend had a summer fling. If it doesn’t feel right to you or if you have doubts, then perhaps you should let this one pass.

2. Be safe

If your romance leads to sex—and often they do—then take the necessary precautions. Again, it can be tempting to “live a little” but the lingering effects of an STD or an unplanned pregnancy can last years after you start to forget what first attracted you to your summer sweetheart in the first place.

Most of us know that we should be practicing safe sex and that there is no way of knowing short of testing whether or not the person you are with has an STD, but so many of us want to trust someone when we are in the throes of lust/love.

Often, if they say they are clean or on the pill or that is a safe day to have unprotected sex, we’ll believe them. The fact is, there are many people who have STDs and aren’t even aware of it and contrary to myth, you don’t have to sleep with a lot of people to contract an STD.

A lot of women claim to “know” their cycles, but the rhythm method has a high failure rate even with perfect use. Therefore, stay on the safe side, and have a condom with you just in case you wind up needing it.

3. Ask questions

If you are with someone for more than few days and starting to develop feelings for them, speak up. Make sure that the two of you are on the same page. Is the other person open to the possibility of a serious relationship? If so, is it feasible esp. if there happen to be many geographic miles separating the two of you? These questions lead me to #4.

4. Check in with reality frequently and often

I’ve known a few people who decided after only meeting someone a few days or weeks that s/he was their soulmate and radically altered their lives to be with them. A few worked out, but most did not.

The truth is, it’s easy to get swept away, but often times we aren’t completely grounded in reality when we embark on these summer romances. This is especially true for those who meet on vacation or while at a retreat. Getting to know someone at a vacation or  retreat is not the same as knowing them in your every day life which, if it is anything like mine, tends to be complicated and often times very unromantic trying to balance work, kids, etc. It is impossible to really know a person after a few days, weeks, or even months.

Often times what happens is we end up projecting on that person and set ourselves up for feeling sad, disappointed, etc. when they do not meet our expectations. If it does work out for you, though, then great.

In my case, my summer fling ended with the two of us catching a performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” at a centuries years old church in the heart of Old Town Prague. My sweetheart then walked with me to the station, made sure I got on my train, and we exchanged one last kiss.

He thanked me for the magic, and I mentioned something like if he was ever in London to look me up. I know, though, this would probably be the last time I ever saw him.

A few weeks later, while I was visiting my mother in North Carolina, I received an email from him saying he had arrived back in California safely, and that was the last time we were ever in contact.

All I have of that time is the memories; I don’t even have photos as this was well before the days of Facebook and camera phones and as luck would have it, I broke my camera and the film inside was destroyed.

In many ways, though, that is how I prefer it. It’s likely we never would have made it in the real world, but the time we had together was pure magic and few things before or since has come close to it.

This day, I still think of him whenever I hear the familiar strains of “The Four Seasons.”

Perhaps that is how it was meant to be.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via Pinterest}

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