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Grease. Dirty Dancing. The Notebook. There’s an endless list of rom-coms with characters who start with a summer fling and end in a long-term relationship, no matter how difficult the process may be to get there. The summer romances begin with an ocean breeze (looking at you, Sandy and Danny!), and while their storylines may be a bit cliche, there are some things we can learn from the resilience of a summer fling. I spoke with experts to learn how to keep a summer fling going into fall semester and ensure that it doesn’t fizzle out along with the warm weather. Here’s how.

1. be honest with yourself

First, ask yourself: Can you really see yourself with this person once school starts again? Can you see them getting you through the stress of exams and the late nights spent studying? Is your relationship deeper than just having someone to get ice cream with when you’re bored, or someone you’re attracted to for more than just their makeout skills?

If the answer is “yes,” then you’re golden — and if not, that’s okay too! Take some time to reflect on what you want for the next semester and what you’re looking for. Know that you can still keep it casual if that’s what’s best for you. Take your time and feel it out. If you’re both ready for a commitment, then consider making it official; if not, don’t stress — keeping it casual has worked up until this point, right?

If a relationship is what you want, there’s always a chance that your summer fling can survive into the fall semester. Regardless, you should be honest with yourself (and the person) about what you want.

2. communicate clearly

Whether or not you want to continue your relationship after the summer months is only part of the equation — remember, there’s someone else you need to consider, too! However, you can’t figure out what the other person wants if you don’t talk about it. This goes for all relationships, but the age-old adage rings true: good communication is key.

Rachel Sommer, PhD, a clinical sexologist and expert at MySexToyGuide.com, tells Her Campus that the key to helping a summer fling last is to start by being clear about what you’re looking for. “The best strategy is to be upfront with your summer fling about how you feel about them,” she says. “Of course, keep the communication light…but ensure your intentions are clear.”

Janika Veasley, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship coach, recommends having an open conversation with the person you’re seeing and letting them know what’s on your mind. She tells Her Campus, “To continue a summer fling, the first step is to be clear and intentional. Have a conversation about what you want, without being pushy or presumptive.”

Veasley also highlights how open communication can prevent conflict from happening later in the semester. “Simply communicate and ask your partner if they want the same things you do,” she tells Her Campus. “This prevents things from continuing without any clear direction, and minimizes the risk of getting hurt because they didn’t know what you wanted, or didn’t know that you weren’t on the same page.”

If you and the person you’re dating don’t mutually define the relationship heading into fall semester, it can lead to 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 when in doubt, talk it out.

3. find ways to stay connected

Whether you’re both going back to college, attending school in different states, or otherwise, make a plan for how you’re going to keep your relationship going. If you’re long-distance or don’t leave close to each other, there may be a whole other level of difficulty. How many times will you see each other during the semester? When? Are you going to visit them? Are they coming to visit you?

Isabelle Christie, a junior at Marist College, says that finding ways to stay in touch with her partner has been crucial to keeping the relationship going during college. “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,” she says. “In the meantime, communication is key. Texting, Snapchat, and FaceTime help us stay connected.”

Veasley agrees that keeping a summer fling going into the fall is all about finding ways to connect. “Once school begins, it’s easy to get busy and caught up in your schedule,” she tells Her Campus. “Make time for each other, whether it’s a Netflix-and-chill kind of night or heading to a local concert. Be creative. The goal isn’t to be fancy; the goal is to spend quality time together. Schedule it and let it be a priority.”

Whether you’re planning to spend the semester in-person with your partner or you’re going long-distance, Dr. Sommer says gift-giving can also come in handy. “Getting thoughtful gifts like a care package — or a gift based on an inside joke — can ignite a lasting impression.”

4. Maintain a sense of adventure

Summer is pretty different from the school year, and going back to college can present a 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 back up again, the weekends become a time for rest, and you might be too busy for spontaneous activities. However, 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 summer fling was built around spending time outdoors and you want to continue the fun, try doing a fall hike. 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 over the summer, try a picnic in the park where you can watch the fall leaves change. Your semester may be busy, but there are always fun ways to keep the sense of adventure going!

5. remember to take a deep breath

“Just like your [summer] fling kicked off in a relaxed, tranquil mood, take things a day at a time,” says Dr. Sommer. “Don’t get carried away by the future and the ‘what-ifs.’ Take a deep breath, relax, and savor every moment in the build-up to fall. Overthinking the possibilities [can] put stress on both parties.”

If you decide to keep your casual summer relationship going, it’s totally possible. If you’re willing to put in some effort, practice good communication, and if your partner is on the same page, your summer fling can turn into more this fall. Take this expert advice into account, and if you’re modeling your summer-fling-turned-fall-relationship after your favorite rom-com — hopefully sans the stereotypical “break up, get back together” plot line — keep your hopes high. More often than not, it has a happy ending.

Rachel Sommer, PhD; www.mysextoyguide.com
Janika Veasley, MFT, LMFT@janikaveasley

Isabelle Christie, junior at Marist College

Makena is the Decor Section Editor, and former Style Section Editor and Editorial Intern at Her Campus. She is a senior at Marist College majoring in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Graphic Design. One day she hopes to put her writing skills to work at a magazine or women's publication.  Follow her on Instagram @makenagera and Twitter @makena_gera.
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