The Chemistry Behind Summer Flings (and How to Enjoy Them)

Published on: 03 Jul 2018
Couples playing together in the pool

Sandy and Danny from Grease aren’t the only ones who’ve experienced getting friendly down in the sand on romantic summer nights. Something about summer love makes it unlike any other type of romance we experience.

There are a lot of reasons summer flings are so popular and so intense. Long walks on the beach, sharing ice cream cones, late night skinny dips, cuddling in bed with the air conditioner on full blast — what’s not to love? Not to mention, summer flings are way more exhilarating than those of lazy winter cuffing season.

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Summer Fling Science, Explained

To be honest, summer flings might just be one of my favorite things about summer — right up there with the smell of sunscreen on the beach. There’s nothing like the feeling of having a new crush. When you’re attracted to someone, your brain releases feel good hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine. You can thank these two chemicals for the happy, giddy feeling you get when you have a crush. The more time you’re spending with someone and the more you’re becoming attracted to them, the more dopamine and norepinephrine will be released.

Not to mention, the sun is so good for you, physically and mentally. Sunshine and natural light make us feel great — it’s science! Studies show that there’s a link between sunlight exposure and serotonin levels. With the combination of all these feel-good hormones being released thanks to both your crush and the sun, it’s no wonder why summer flings feel absolutely amazing!

How Summer Relaxation Leads to Flings

Just as the summer months are breeding ground for sunburns and mosquito bites, they’re also breeding grounds for romance because we’re in a generally in a more relaxed and open state of mind. As they say, summertime and the livin’s easy!

“In general, individuals tend to have more relaxed school or work schedules in the summer and more time to connect with friends and acquaintances,” Talkspace clinical counselor Rachel O’Neil, Ph.D., explains. “Thus, new individuals can orbit into your life — like that friend of a friend of a friend that happens to be at the same party as you!” She adds, “Summer (and summer clothing!) may also bring about motivation to look your best — which may lead to more self-confidence which usually translates to feeling more sexy and self-assured!”

Cynthia V. Catchings, LCSW and Talkspace therapist agrees. “[Summer is] a time to escape from routine and open up to new people and experiences. Spending good time with another person increases attraction and invites people to engage in relationships with no strings attached,” she said, “Summer flings offer the opportunity to enjoy and have fun without the worries that sometimes come with long-term relationships.”

Bottom line: Summer flings are great for commitment-phobes looking to have fun and get to know somebody new.

What to do When Summer Flings Become Serious

In order to keep these flings healthy and to keep your heart safe, you have to manage expectations.

“Acknowledging that we are entering into a relationship that might not last long is what makes a difference,” Catchings advised. “A summer fling can be healthy, if we do not have expectations. As long as both individuals keep their perspective, it can be fun!”

But wait! What if you’ve fallen madly in love with your fling and don’t want it to end when the temperature cools down? The key — as it usually is when it comes to relationships — is communication. Dropping hints and being extra lovey-dovey just isn’t going to cut it.

“Be clear about your expectations up front,” Rachel O’Neil cautioned, “If you’re looking for a longer-term relationship make sure you and your partner are on the same page. If there may be any barriers to maintaining your relationship past the summer (for example, returning to school in different states), you would want to be sure to be proactive and communicate about how you’ll handle those barriers.”

No Matter What Happens, Enjoy Your Summer Experiences

Whether or not your summer fling blossoms into something more serious, you can enjoy your time getting to know somebody new and enjoying all the fun date activities that summer has to offer — beach days, county fairs, campfires, whatever suits your fancy. I like to think summer flings enter your life to remind you that love exists, that romance is real, and that love (or something like it) at first sight is possible.

We can experience our most fun emotions during the most beautiful time of the year — and even if it has an expiration date, it was tasty while it lasted.


Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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