What Happens to Relationships When Summer Ends
Summer Love Affairs
From teenage crushes to boomers with empty nests, something odd happens around Labor Day weekend for many relationships. When you hit the 3-month mark, the honeymoon phase, it’s common to see a shift. It may be a tell tale sign that your relationship can’t go the distance, or you just might be getting tested for the next phase.
For those flying solo, the end of summer can be a reflective time thinking about your relationship status as you head into the holiday season, kicking off with Labor Day.
When summer is over, wardrobes change in closets, the temperature starts to dip, and inevitably a summer romance, one that went from Memorial Day to Labor Day, often runs its course. It’s often a time where relationships fall by the wayside. Before you call it quits, read this entire post to determine if your relationship is worth saving. If you’re already single, then I have good news for you. You’ll be in good company with many others who are looking for someone just like you and this weekend will be hopping digitally, big time.
Also, with students leaving for college, some students will find themselves in a long-distance relationship, which has its own set of challenges.
Single parents with children going back to school, will find their calendars split between parent-teacher meetings and filling up their date cards. It’s a new season, so get ready for the ride.
If you’re logging on to dating sites more often this weekend, you’re not alone. Sunday will be a peak day of the holiday weekend for new sign ups and log ins for singles who’d like to change their status to “In a Relationship” before the year is over.
Does a Change of Season Mean Your Relationship Has to End?
With the change of seasons, how do you know if you can handle a long distance relationship this fall? If your significant other is still in town, how do you know if your passionate summer love was just a fling or the real thing?
If you notice your relationship is tapering off as we lead into Labor Day, should you part ways as friends now that summer is over and wish each other well, or sign up for another season of love? These I can guarantee you are questions that you will be asking yourself. I suggest you take the time to really think about the next relationship stage.
The Four Seasons of a Long Term Relationship
I’ve always said that long-term relationships should go through multiple seasons to determine if you’re compatible with your significant other or not. Yes, winter, spring, summer and fall. All of them, each with their unique beauty and differences can help you pass the test of time.
First Three Months
As cliché as it sounds, we know there is some validity to the three-month honeymoon phase. At first, you’ll find everything about the other person to be exciting. It’s like having a first crush all over again. From giggles and hiccups to their exercise regime, you just suck it all in like a sponge that won’t dry out in those early days, especially in a summer romance. All those cute text messages are becoming part of your daily regime. It gives you a high just to hear the customized sound of your partner’s text tone.
When these relationships peak in the summer, it’s often hard to tell whether it’s lust or love with all of the outdoor heat, but oddly, as the summer ends, it’s not unusual to start receiving less text messages from your beau, or to want to spend more time with your friends instead. The days in between getting together seem to be getting longer while the days start to become shorter. The routine of your love life just isn’t as exciting as it used to be.
During months 3-6, the “imperfect stage,” don’t be surprised if your single friends see your steady sweetie’s profile reactivated online. He or she may just be fishing to see who else might send a text or email, even if they aren’t setting up any dates. Then a Facebook check in mysteriously appears when someone is supposed to be home sick and boom, they’re busted and you’re in tears. During this phase, you should be enjoying time with each others’ friends and family to see how everyone fits in, or not.
If you can relate to these feelings or sequence of events, the problem may not be with the calendar, but more often-than-not be related to serious commitment issues that one of you may be struggling with.
The next think you know, someone isn’t sure if they’re feeling it anymore. Rather than be honest about the relationship, they’re cultivating conversations on Facebook with high school or college pals to create distance, and the trust dissipates. It’s the beginning of the end and it hurts big time.
Weather changes, months change, routines change and even those relationships with the best of intentions run their course. At the end of the summer, it’s like the end of the calendar year. People reevaluate their relationship statuses and decide whether to renew for another three months.
By months 6-9 and 9-12, you’re probably in a committed relationship. You’ve defined the relationship and might even talk about moving in together or the future. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel a shift at the end of the summer. It might be just a bump on the road, but it’s a time to review your relationship status and see if you’re on the same page.
What to Do if Your Summer Romance is Fading
If you feel a distance growing between the two of you, this is what you need to do.
Have the conversation first with your partner sooner, rather than later.
Don’t toss away the relationship so quickly. Acknowledge all of the amazing things you’ve done together as a couple and honor the memories you’ve shared. Ask the other person if there’s anything they can do to keep the relationship alive. Space apart isn’t the end of the world, or even the end of your relationship. Often someone needs some time to miss the other and pulls back to regain their sense of self and individuality. Remember, bumps on the road are an opportunity for personal growth within a relationship, and are not necessarily the beginning of the end.
Say goodbye gracefully.
If at the end of your conversation, you feel you aren’t compatible or if someone has already strayed, wish each other well before you start logging on or swiping right on your mobile apps looking for a replacement.
If it’s really over, it’s important to mourn the loss of your relationship, because your friendship, bond and the daily connectivity will abruptly end. Trying to get together immediately as friends during this emotional time is not a good idea. It will backfire. There’s no such thing as a mutual breakup where everyone is happy. One person might think it will lessen their guilt. I’m here to tell you that it won’t. You fell in love with someone for a reason, not a season.
Take a breather and make time for you!
If you find that your summer love has ended, don’t reactivate your online dating profile or mobile dating apps for at least a week. Sure it’s great for your ego to get people lining up to meet you for dates, but it isn’t fair for someone new not to get the best version of you. Dating while you’re still pining away for your ex can increase your sadness. You’re a walking-wounded person and it’s healthy to take a break.
Can you Really be Friends with Your Ex?
Some people stay friends with their ex’s and have no problem with it, but I can tell you it doesn’t happen seamlessly and instantly. My ex-boyfriend is one of my best friends, but it took time to get to that point and we had a serious talk about boundaries. Also the guy I originally wrote this article about three years ago just sent a text over Labor Day weekend, after disappearing many years ago.
After enough time has gone by and you both have moved on with other relationships, it’s possible to be friends with your summer romance in another season, but in my experience, you truly need at least three to six months to segue a romantic relationship into a real friendship (without benefits or jealousy).
But then again, do you really want to be friends with someone who broke your heart?
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Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may swipe or roam. xo
Julie Spira is an online dating expert and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert. She’s the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating and creates Irresistible Profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more dating advice follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and Instagram. Sign up for the free Weekly Flirt.