Love, Lindsay

'How Can I Turn My Summer Fling Into A More Permanent Thing?'

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

Dear Lindsay,

I met a guy this summer, and things have been going really great. We've been casually dating for the past two months, and while we haven't talked about being exclusive, we spend a lot of time together, so I don't think he's dating anyone else. Even if he were, that'd be OK since we've never talked about it. But here's my issue, I'd like to keep seeing him and become more serious this fall because I really like him and don't want to date anyone else, especially since it's so much harder to go out on dates in the colder months vs. being in a relationship. I don't know whether he wants to continue dating or just sees me as a summer fling, so I'm basically wondering — how do I let him know that I want to take our relationship to the next level?

- Lara

Dear Lara, 

As summer draws to a close these last few weeks, we can already feel a slight chill in the air. That's right, winter — and cuffing season — is coming. (ICYMI, "cuffing season" is the time of year when it's too chilly to do anything but Netflix and chill.) So if you've found a sizzling summer fling you want to turn into a more permanent thing, now's the time to lay down some groundwork.  

Luckily, you've got science on your side. A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General found that short- and long-term relationships look pretty much the same in the early stages. So don't let anyone tell you that a summer fling can't turn into the real thing because it totally can — and here's how to it. 

1. Casually talk about the future.

Emphasis on casual. After all, your relationship is casual so you casually need to nudge it in a less casual direction. Let your summer fling know you want to continue hanging out into the next season by talking about your future plans, like a September party or event. 

Their reaction will tell you whether or not they think of you as someone they want to date more seriously. If they sound interested, invite them along, and ask them about their plans. If they're receptive to your plans and even reciprocate your invite with one of their own, that's a good sign that they want your relationship to progress with the seasons. If they don't, at least you know where you stand and can move on. 

2. Make them a part of your life.

If you've seen the Mamma Mia movies, you know that summer flings feel extra romantic because they can provide a sexy escape from your real life. That fantasy fulfillment is one of the reasons why they're so appealing, but if you want your person to stay in your life, now's the time to involve them in the not-so-hot parts of it. 

Make them feel like a natural part of your normal, everyday life with something simple, like spending some time with your friends at a favorite hangout spot or grabbing a quick meal during your lunch break. These small, but significant, forms of commitment will help you figure out if they're the right fit for fall and beyond. 

3. Do couple-y activities.

Danny and Sandy — the original summer fling turned permanent thing. 

Sometimes, when you want to transition from casual fling to real couple, you just gotta start acting like one. Doing couple activities, like having a beach day or planning a fancy date night, will literally show your person how much fun — and relationship potential — you have together. 

But it's not just about dates. Ask any couple, and they'll tell you that a good chunk of their time is spent doing boring things, like going to the grocery store or running errands, that only seem less boring because of the person they're with. So, if you have the time, try to do a few mundane activities together and see how that goes. If you're still having fun, then that's a good indication you have a solid relationship foundation to build upon. 

Sure, it may not be the steamiest part of your summer fling, but that's kind of the point. The more they can see you as an actual partner rather than a summer fling, the more inclined they'll be to make it official come fall.

4. Enjoy yourself!

Because summer flings often have an expiration date (due to changing circumstances, like location), it can be difficult to avoid thinking about if/when it could end. If you think about the end of the relationship too much, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy simply because you've stopped enjoying yourself, and consequently, so has the other person.

If there's no concrete reason why your summer fling has to end, do your best to avoid thinking about the future and have fun in the moment. You might still slip up now and again, but when you catch yourself worrying about the future, think about all the things you're looking forward to, regardless of your relationship status. This will help take the pressure off so you can relax and let the relationship progress naturally. 

It's important to remember that a summer fling (and any romantic relationship, really) should be enjoyable. If you're not having a good time together, then what's the point? But if you're going on awesome dates, making special memories, and generally having the best summer ever, they probably are, too. And when you're having so much fun together, neither of you will want the fun to end just because summer has. 

5. Be real with them.

Ultimately, if you want to know how your person feels about turning your summer fling into the real thing, just ask. Real relationships require real conversations about what each person wants — and the risks that come with sharing that. So don't be afraid to get a little vulnerable and trust the other person with your feelings. Because, at the end of the day, you wouldn't want to be in a serious relationship with someone you can't communicate with, anyway. 

To ease yourself into a real, vulnerable conversation by telling them how much fun you've had this summer, and ask them how they feel about continuing to see each other into the next season. It may seem scary to get those first words out, but once you do, it really is that simple. 

Whatever their answer, you'll know where you stand. Even if your summer fling ends, you can still look back fondly on the good times and know that if you were able to find summer love, you can do it again, any time of the year. 

Love,

Lindsay

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens of A Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid.

Cover image via Surkov Vladimir on Shutterstock

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