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“In winter you literally can’t see anybody because we’re bundled up in scarves and hats just trying to say warm,” says Christine Hart, a Toronto-based relationship expert.
“So attraction is harder to gauge. In the summertime however, when sun-kissed faces appear on the patios and people are in a better mood, the conditions are better for romance.”
Sometimes in our eagerness to shed hibernation habits and catch up on romantic interactions, however, people expect a passionate experience akin to that of The Notebook. Unfortunately, real life summer lovin’ can be infinitely trickier to handle.
To make the most of your summer romance, ELLE Canada offers Hart’s expert insights to help you play it cool amidst the summer sizzle.
Summer romance DO: Talk about expectations
Although many people believe that talking things over is the kiss of death for any kind of romance, Hart insists that a direct line of communication is really a preventative measure.
“What we get into trouble with is assumptions,” she says. “We assume that people are looking for the same things as us. Guy meets girl and assumes he’s the only one she’s seeing, which of course is not always the case.”
Geoff, a personal trainer, ran into exactly that problem while vacationing in Hawaii a few years ago. “I met this amazing woman and we really hit it off. Then one night I saw her out with another guy, which I wasn’t expecting. Suddenly things felt a lot more serious.”
Of course in the movies, when two people fall in love, everything magically comes together in the end, but as Hart warns, reality is not so scripted.
In hindsight, Geoff believes that having a conversation upfront about expectations would have avoided some of the awkwardness and kept things as light and airy as the warm summer breeze.
For more insightful tips about how to handle a hot summer romance keep reading on the next page... Summer romance DO: Accept summer romance for what it is
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to navigating a summer romance is trying to make it more than it is. “That isn’t to say that the love you feel during a summer romance isn’t legitimate or real in that time,” says Hart. “But you need to ask yourself honestly if you would be willing to follow that person anywhere.”
Often, the magic of a summer romance happens because it unfolds in an idyllic environment – the tropics, the yacht club, a whole new country. It’s a phenomenon that we see all the time thanks to reality shows like The Bachelorette or Love in the Wild. Two people meet in an exotic, exciting location and get swept away by a surge of new emotions. Then, when it’s time to get back to the daily 9 to 5 grind, the romance disappears and frustration takes its place.
“I always encourage people to remember that just because it is a summer romance, not to discount how beautiful it can be,” explains Hart. “Some people get down on themselves when it doesn’t work in their everyday lives, when they really should be appreciating their time with that person for what it was.”
In other words, live in the moment, enjoy the moment and don’t be too discouraged when it comes time to say no to long distance and to quit while the going is good.
Summer romance DON’T: Stay connected
Bombarded by countless social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. – it can feel like the most natural thing in the world to say to a summer lover, “Let’s stay friends.” But Hart warns that keeping tabs on a fling, no matter how genuine your feelings may be, can be disastrous.
“When ending a summer romance you both want to be in agreement about how much fun it was,” she says. Keeping tabs on the other person for months or years to come by creeping their various online profiles can ruin the magical memory you have created and nurture feelings of resentment.
“You might be doing the relationship a favour by ending it while it is good and leaving it at that,” advises Hart.
For more advice about how to take chances with a summer romance keep reading on the next page... Summer romance DO: Remember to use protection
Inevitably, the sticky summer heat means less clothing, which when combined with a rush of new exciting feelings will lead to…you know. And while it is easy to get caught up in the moment (and the hormones) it is important to retain a degree of rationality. For example, Hart comically reminds everyone to remember protection.
“It sounds silly, but often times during a summer romance, people get less serious, more spontaneous and just want to have fun,” she says. “Sometimes they forget about consequences, especially then they find themselves outdoors or wherever. So just be smart, be safe and prepared.”
Summer romance DO: Take chances
Part of the beauty that is a summer romance is that it affords us an opportunity to live beyond what is typical in our lives. Hayley Nickels, a dental technician, says that a summer romance during her youth changed her forever.
“We met while I was on vacation in Europe with friends,” she says. “We fell madly in love, he showed me around, made me try new foods and jump in lakes. In a strange way that relationship helped me learn how to trust myself. I came home more confident and easy-going.”
This is what Hart refers to as an emotional springboard. “Use a summer romance to try something completely new,” she says. “Respect it for what it is and give yourself permission to enjoy and grow.”