The Official Rules For Having A Successful Summer Fling
If Sandy and Danny, Baby and Johnny, and Noah and Allie have taught the world anything, it's that a summer fling can be totally hot and exciting (that is, at least, if you keep your judgy friends and family out of it). But they've also demonstrated a pretty valuable lesson: A summer fling rarely cuts off clean come Labor Day.
"There's nothing wrong with a casual, short-term fling if you just want to meet new people and not settle down, or if you know you'll be moving at the end of the summer," says Women's Health advisor "Dr. Chloe" Carmichael, PhD, a licensed psychologist in New York City and author of Dr. Chloe’s 10 Commandments of Dating.
"But it's important to recognize that if, in general, you want something more serious, you could get hurt by trying to keep things casual with someone who offers no potential for a future relationship," she adds.
You see, when you spend time with one person on a regular basis—and start sleeping with them (more on that in a minute)—it's easy to develop feelings despite your best intentions. It's a slippery slope from "This is fun!" to "I want more"...especially if you start off even entertaining the thought of a relationship in your near future.
This adorbs timeline of one celeb couple's relationship might make you rethink a fling...
That said, if a summer of lots of sex and no strings is **exactly** what you need in your life right now, follow these "rules" for a summer fling that's just as smart and safe (emotionally and physically) as it is hot and sweaty...
1. Ask yourself why you want to have a fling.
Dr. Chloe emphasizes how important it is to know what you want before you start any sort of relationship, even a casual one. You also want to make sure that your partner is on the same page about where your connection is going (or in this case…not going).
If you’re truly just looking to hook up and move on at the end of the season, then by all means, go for it (or rather, at it?) and let them know. But if you’d really like something more and your partner is leaving town in a few months or just doesn’t want to commit, compromising your actual desires with a fling is a recipe for disaster.
“Even if intellectually you think you’re okay with a fling, know that it's easier for women to become chemically dependent on someone without even intending to at all," Dr. Chloe explains.
Blame biology: If you're hooking up with your fling and having orgasms (which, hopefully, you are), you'll release more oxytocin, which bonds you to your partner. Men, however, release more testosterone, which doesn't encourage bonding.
So to protect your heart, follow this pretty solid thumb rule: If the person you’re fling-ing with is someone you would date long-term under different circumstances, avoid "dating" them at all.
2. Establish boundaries about your summer fling upfront.
One way to make yourself less likely to catch legit feelings? Be upfront that you need to limit the amount of time you’re spending together and the emotional intimacy you share.
It can be easy to fall into the habit of spending all your time with one person, but try to fill the majority of your evenings with friends or on your own (practicing self-care) so that you don’t become too attached.
You want to make sure your fling doesn’t become the only person around who you can talk to and do things with, says Dr. Chloe. Engaging with other people and activities can help distract you from daydreaming or thinking about your partner too much.
“When you relive great dates or fantasize about a future with this person, your brain actually experiences that as if it were really happening," says Dr. Chloe.
In other words, without some distance from your fling, your brain can trick you into feeling like you've spent more time with them than you actually have, speeding up the bonding process. That's the opposite of what you want for a summer fling.
3. Date other people besides your summer fling.
This one's simple: Keep your options open by going on dates with other potential partners, says Dr. Chloe.
“Oftentimes, people become exclusive by default—you never decided to become exclusive but you ended up spending so much time together that you’re emotionally and logistically unavailable to anyone else,” she says.
Try committing to at least one other date per week so your fling holds less emotional weight. That may sound like a lot of dating, but hey, it's summer, and you should be having fun.
4. Condoms, condoms, condoms. Did I say condoms?
Since both you and your fling might have multiple partners, it’s especially important to practice safe sex. Not only does that mean condoms are a must, but also be open with your fling (and ask them to do the same) if you’ve done something risky.
Start your summer fling with fresh STI tests (say: "I'll show you mine if you show me yours"), then make sure to get screened if either of you hook up with other people. And as always, head to your doc right away if you even have a hunch that something’s off with your sexual health.
5. Deal with any feelings for your fling right away.
So you found yourself falling for your partner. Blame biology, then do this:
Acknowledge that you have feelings for them as soon as they start to pop up, and express to your partner how that’s changed what you want. (Perhaps now you’re hoping to try long-distance when the summer ends, or you'd like to make the relationship monogamous and committed.)
“If your partner seems distant, uncomfortable or noncommittal, but they’re open to keeping the relationship as is, you have to ask yourself is that’s a smart decision for you,” says Dr. Chloe.
She notes that just because someone tells you that they care about you (a common response) doesn't mean that they're developing future-oriented feelings (as in, they'll want a long-term 'ship with you). That's something you absolutely need to be on the same page about. "Really listen to what they say they want, and don’t try to hear what you want to hear," Dr. Chloe insists.
If you get the vibe that they don’t share your feelings to take the next step, it’s best to bite the bullet and stop seeing them. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting something that’s future-oriented, so don’t try to squash that part of yourself in order to keep seeing someone you like,” says Dr. Chloe.
6. Consider their feelings about the fling, too.
Sensing that your partner wants more than you? Bring that up right away, as well.
“Say: ‘I don’t mean to seem egotistical, but the other day you seemed sad about me leaving, or said you’ve always wanted someone like me...I just wanted to check in and see if we’re still on the same page about what we wanted before, something casual,’” Dr. Chloe suggests.
If they try to talk you into changing the relationship and you don’t want it to go further, now might be time to end it. “Love can almost be like a drug, and if the person is getting vulnerable, losing control a bit, and going to a place they didn’t plan, the kindest thing you can do is to stop things before they get in over their head,” Dr. Chloe says.
7. Plan some post-fling fun for the end of the summer.
Even if your summer fling is strictly a fling, it’s going to bum you out when it has to come to an end. Dr. Chloe recommends planning a fun event or getaway for right after you and your partner part ways.
“If they leave on August 21st, you go to Italy on August 22nd with three of your friends,” she says. “That way, you have something coming up that you can look forward to and your focus won’t only be on the relationship end date.”
I don't know about you, but I've never heard a more perfect reason to book an epic Labor Day trip with your long-term people: your besties.