Your current romantic situation started out as something casual for the summer, but now you're wondering how to make your summer fling last and the weather gets crisper and summer turns into autumn. Does the scenario sound familiar? It happens. One minute we're enjoying the single life in the hot weather, the next we meet someone special. Maybe bae slid into your DMs or perhaps you met him/her offline. Things have been going great and you're hoping they will continue.
First of all, congratulations. It can sometimes feel like a monumental effort to find a decent partner and it sounds like you've got something good going on. (#TheStruggleIsReal) If you are smitten with your current situation and are looking to take it to the next level, we have some tips. We know that it can sometimes be scary to talk about the state of your relationship when feelings are involved. And we know that it can be a challenge when you're opening up about wanting something different than you initially discussed. We spoke to an expert to find out how to make your summer fling last beyond Labor Day.
It's fantastic that you're enjoying spending time with your significant other/fling/bae/whatever-you-want-to-call-them. Having a good time can make you want to take things further, but it is a wise idea to take a step back and objectively consider your partner and whether they are committed relationship material.
"The way we select partners for short-term encounters can differ wildly from when we are seeking a longer-term relationship. In a summer fling, chemistry, attraction, and enjoying the same activities fosters connection," points out Rebecca Newman, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Philadelphia. "But when you're seeking a committed relationship, you may prioritize having shared values in addition to chemistry, attraction, and shared interest." If you want to extend your summer fling, Newman says the first thing to ask yourself is if this is a partnership that seems sustainable. Be honest with yourself. "It's okay if you're not quite ready for the fling to end, although that is different than the relationship having a long-term future," she says.
Did you approach this relationship as a casual thing, and now things are different? It can be helpful to do some personal reflection along with your outward observations. Were you coming out of another relationship when you made the choice to keep things low-key? Was life stressful AF? Were you going through a challenging time with family, friends, work, school, or all of the above? "If some of those factors are still active, you may want to think carefully about whether you are prepared to embark on something more serious [for your relationship]," cautions Newman. "However, if pre-existing situations have mostly resolved, it might be okay to change course and see whether this casual partner is a good fit long-term."
Do you wait and see how things go or do you big up and have the conversation about the future with your partner? It's a dilemma a lot of people having summer flings will debate about. Newman suggests the second option to avoid disappointment later on. She says that with any relationship, you should have a conversation about getting serious a couple of months into dating. For summer flings, that usually coincides with the end of summer. We know that talking about the future can be scary, but it's better to see how in sync both of your expectations are now rather than later. Trust us. Newman provides this example: "If one person wants to extend the fling through cuffing season but you want a serious relationship, you might find out about the disparity the hard way after a few more months when they are not interested in coming to your office holiday party as your plus-one."
One of the big things in succeeding in how to make your summer fling last is having the talk. And picking the right time and location is part of that. Bring it up somewhere quiet where you and bae can chat without being interrupted. Newman says it could be in public or not, but consider how you feel about potentially ending up with an audience in a more public location. Stressing about the *big* talk? Look at it this way: "Being vulnerable in this way is never easy, but is required for talking about taking the next steps," Newman says. "You may not like the other person's answer, and it is still important to ask the questions so that everyone is clear about expectations."
If this is the case, she suggests analyzing what is going on between you and your partner. See if there's a more adaptive solution than 'clingy' behavior; perhaps addressing the conflict or distance would be more productive than trying to pull them closer artificially." Not sure if you're being clingy or not? There are some signs.
Here's a thought: If the relationship is moving forward, the goals are going to naturally change, according to Newman. If you're making the fling *official* and you never had any rules/things were less formal and not exclusive, it is a good time to clarify everything in order to formalize the relationship.
Consider yourself and the strengths of the present relationship. "Every couple is different, and you may have found during your more casual arrangement that unexpected things were working well. So, set your own parameters and goals based on what you and your partner need," stipulates Newman. "Ultimately, what is 'working' is an active and ongoing conversation over time." She encourages couples to keep talking about what they need as those needs arise. Communication for the win.
Do you have a checklist (in your head or written) of things you're looking for in an ideal partner? Newman says it can be helpful to seek a partner with whom you have shared values. Things like temperament, views on money, family norms, religion, children, geographic preference, sexual rhythm, politics, travel habits, and professional goals tend to be good predictors of the success of a committed relationship. So, how many link up with you and bae? Newman reveals that shared interests are important, but it is likely that they will not compensate for large deficits in other areas. So, keep that in mind. Also, a lot of relationships can work through a couple of disparities in values. ("We don't want to be with a clone, after all!")
And figure out what things are non-negotiable for you. Problems in those values will arise again and again in the relationship. So, consider them before you're looking to extend a summer fling into something serious.