I know it is officially autumn, but with the end of one season, I feel a wave of reflection on the summer months coming upon me. Before my epic illness of misery, I had a chance to spend a mini-vacation on Cape Cod. It was a family trip with my aunt, consisting of beach visits, lunches, and shopping, so I didn’t have a chance to engage in any lascivious activities, but it did get me thinking about summer romances and vacation flings.
Yes, another Grease reference. Don’t you know me by now?
Did you have a summer romance this year?
I didn’t, but that’s not entirely my point here. I guess I am interested in the whole idea of flings as an entity in and of themselves. Why are they appealing? Why do people have these brief romances when they know there is a non-negotiable expiration date looming above their heads?
I guess, first off, I’ll tell you that I’m not into flings. I’m not really a “dating for fun” kind of gal. Like most everything in life, I do things with purpose and set goals. I don’t feel the desire to date unless there is an intent to marry or to commit to a long term relationship. I realize that in order to get to that level of intimacy and dedication, one has to try people on for size, so to speak, and test compatibility through the ritual of dating. However, there are people who enjoy dating for dating’s sake. People who put themselves out there to “have fun,” to “meet people,” and to “gain life experience.” I fully agree that men we date enrich our lives just by us having known them and that experience makes us wiser, but I guess I am just not one of those people who wants a new exciting date every Friday night. Quite frankly, the thought of going on a date stresses me out and making new meaningful connections, even with female friends and coworkers in the workplace, gives me anxiety. I am a dichotomy; on the one hand, I am pretty social, talk to a whoever I am introduced to at an event, and get along well with others, while on the other, I find it hard to initiate introductions, and make new friends without a common bond (like college classes or a mutual friend).
Therefore, I find that the idea of making frequent, rapid, transient connections unappealing. In addition, I think my aversion to dating without purpose makes me less inclined to seek flings or short romances. My reasoning would be to question the long term value of a connection with a man (sort of like assessing stock options). When the summer is over and you return to your normal routine or when you return from a vacation back to the real world, what did that tryst with your fellow cruise-mate or affair with the neighbor at the rental in the Hamptons get you in the long term? I’m not talking about pure one-night-stands here where sex is a main goal for both parties and the you know (even deep down) that the rendezvous will not amount to much outside of the bedroom or some sparkling flirtatious conversations. I mean a succession of dates in some capacity where there is getting-to-know-you exchanges, genuine (or attempted) interest in the human being next to you, and feelings (one-sided or not, real or imagined) of chemistry or connection.
Take, for instance, the summer romance. You are either independently wealthy and thus, able to spend your months somewhere fabulous and relaxing or are vacationing in between school or classes as a teenager or young adult. Essentially this scenario consists of a meeting period, dates and activities, and an eventual break-up at the end of the summer. Both of you know that you have to go back to wherever home-base is and that your romance exists within a sort of bubble in perpetual stasis. You’ll always have that fun summer in X place together, but probably not much else in the future. On the off chance that you live in the same area and have such a strong connection that the relationship is taken back home, the shelf-life of summer romances and vacation flings is only for the duration of the charmed weeks in paradise.
Let’s face it, you are probably a different person on vacation. Stress is at a minimum, you are enjoying yourself, and having fun. The outside pressures of your real life are suspended and you are at your happiest. Romance can flourish quickly in these circumstances, but often we are perfect versions of ourselves at these moments. We may even become people we don’t recognize on vacation. Where do you think the slogan “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” comes from? We are also possibly looking for short romances to spice up a dull year or to cheer us along with that sunny patio view and cool margarita in our hand. In other words, I guess people who “fling” are looking not only for a break from their life, but for a romance vacation of a sort.
This is all fine and dandy if that is what you want. This is not what displeases me about flings though. What is appealing about this formula I’ve mapped out? The answer to that question is also the answer to why I don’t enjoy flings. Yet, I can see it both ways. Little romances are fun for people who love the chase, enjoy dating as a process, and who feel enriched in the life experience department after every encounter, good and bad. The fleeting passion or companionship provided by a fling makes it all the sweeter for its brevity and intense burst. Some people even like having a termination date stamped on their relationship so that awkward conversation doesn’t have to happen and so that complexity is taken out of the equation.
I guess I like permanence, stability, and longevity in people. While I like spontaneity and change in aspects of my life like travel, social gatherings, and living arrangements, I wish I could pack up my friends and loved ones in a box with my books when I move so I’d have them forever. This is why I think the idea of a momentary affair turns me off. Flings may be for some people, but I’ll let them pass me by with the muggy heat of August.