How to Keep Your Casual Summer Relationship Going Into Fall

The Last Song. Grease. Dirty Dancing. The Notebook. There’s an endless list of rom coms that start with a summer fling and end with a long-term relationship, no matter how difficult the process may be to get there and how many disasters ensue along the way.  

Like Ronnie and Will and Sandy and Danny, many summer romances begin with the breeze rolling off the ocean. Or maybe they begin like Baby and Johnny at a resort, or like Allie and Noah at a carnival. These are all just a bit cliche, and we know for sure that the rest of their idealized relationships might be just slightly unrealistic, but there are some things we can learn from the resilience of a summer fling. If you want to keep your relationship going into the colder months, there are ways to ensure that your summer romance doesn’t fizzle out along with the warm weather.

1. See if there’s really a connection. 

Is your relationship about more than just having someone to adventure with during the lull between school semesters? Is it deeper than just having someone to get ice cream with when you’re bored? Someone you like for more than just their makeout skills?

If your relationship is more than superficial, then it might survive into the fall. If it’s not, you may want to consider another course of action. Can you really see yourself with this person once school starts again? Can you see them getting you through the stress of exams? The late nights spent studying? If the answer is yes, then you’re golden.

Related: How to Have the Convo with Your Partner About Continuing Your Relationship After Graduation

2. Talk about it. 

Whether or not you want to continue your relationship after the summer months is only part of the equation—there’s someone else you need to consider too. But you can’t figure out what your partner wants if you don’t talk about it. You won’t have a relationship to continue into the fall if you don’t make clear exactly what you’re looking for. 

This goes for all relationships, but the age-old adage rings true: communication is key. Even if you feel like the relationship is going well, don’t just assume that it is. 

If your partner wants your relationship to be more than just casual, then you have to talk about it. If you don’t mutually define the relationship, all you’ll have is confusion and misunderstanding. Your partner may think they’re free to date other people while you think you’re in a committed relationship—and vice versa. Neither is an ideal scenario, so talk it out.

3. If it’s going to be casual, keep it casual.

Keeping your summer flame alive doesn’t mean it has to turn into a serious relationship. You can still keep it casual if that’s what’s best for you. If you’re living far apart and worried about how a long-distance relationship will work, try it out for a little while and see how it goes. Even if you’re going to be in the same city or even on the same campus, you don’t have to make things serious just yet.

Take your time and feel it out. If you’re both ready for a commitment, then make it official; if not, don’t stress—keeping it casual has worked up until this point, right?

Related: How to Navigate Casual College Hookups When You’re a Hopeless Romantic

4. Make a plan to see each other.

Whether you’re both going back to school, one of you is going back home, or even if you’ll be in the same city, make a plan for how you’re going to keep your relationship going. Plus, there’s a whole other level of difficulty if you don’t live near each other. If your relationship is going to be long-distance, you know that it’s going to be difficult. How many times will you see each other during the semester? When? Are you going to visit them? Are they coming to visit you? 

“My boyfriend and I always set a date for when we’ll see each other next before we say goodbye. This gives us something to look forward to and gives us time to plan activities to do together,” says Isabelle Christie, a junior at Marist College. “In the meantime, communication is key–texting, Snapchat, and FaceTime help us stay connected,” she says. 

If you make a plan in advance, you always have something to look forward to, and you always know the next time you’re going to see them (give or take a few spontaneous trips here and there). 

5. Keep the adventures going.

Even if you live close to each other, summers are different than the school year, and the school year provides a whole new set of challenges. Over the summer, you likely have a lot of free time, the energy to go out a few nights a week, and the interest in doing fun things in the warm weather. But once school starts, the mid-week slumps start to hit, the weekends become a time for sleeping off the week, and you become less and less available for spontaneous activities. If you make an effort to keep the adventures going, fall will feel more like an extension of summer than an end to the fun.

If your relationship was built around spending time outdoors, go on some fall hikes. If you spent your summer watching movies, have a movie night or go to a drive-in together. If you spent every day at the beach together (although beaches are likely not the best spot to be in the brisk fall weather), have a picnic—lounging in the sun in a park is like the beach, just minus the swimming and the sandcastles.

Your summer fling can turn into more if you’re willing to put in the effort, if you communicate about what you want, and your almost-SO wants to really become your SO. If you’re modeling your summer-fling-into-fall-relationship after your favorite rom-com (hopefully minus the stereotypical break-up-get-back-together plotline), keep your hopes high. More often than not, they have a happy ending.