It's official. Summer is almost over and Labor Day weekend is around the corner. Many students are returning to school, and parents, both single and couples, will now have a much different schedule to adhere to.
So with the change of seasons, how do you know if you can handle a long distance relationship this fall? And, if your guy is still in town, how do you know if your passionate summer love was just a fling or the real thing?
If you notice your relationship is starting to taper off, you're not alone. You might be asking yourself if you should part ways as friends now that summer is over and wish each other well. Or, should you sign up for another season of love? I've always said that long term relationships should go through multiple seasons to determine if you're truly compatible with your significant other or not. Yes, that means winter, spring, summer and fall. All of them, each with their unique beauty and differences, can help you pass the test of time.
As cliché as it sounds, we know there is some validity to the three-month honeymoon phase. At first, everything about the other person is exciting. From giggles and hiccups to their exercise regime, you just suck it all in like a sponge that won't dry out.
When these relationships peak in the summer, it's often hard to tell whether it's lust or love with all of the outdoor heat. But oddly, as the summer ends, it's not unusual to start receiving less text messages from your beau. The days in between getting together seem to be getting longer as the days themselves become shorter. The routine of your love life just isn't as exciting as it used to be.
During months three to six, the "imperfect stage," don't be surprised if one of your girlfriends sees your guy's dating profile online, where he's just fishing to see who might write to him... even if he isn't setting up any dates. After that, you may find out about a few questionable social media chats that were incorporated into his routine to create distance between the two of you. Someone notices a fishy Facebook check-in. He's busted and there's a major explosion.
If you can relate to this feeling or sequence of events, the problem may not be with the calendar. More often than not, it is related to serious commitment issues that one of you struggles with.
The next thing you know, he isn't sure if he's "feeling it" anymore. Rather than be honest about the relationship, he's cultivating conversations on Facebook with high school or college pals to create distance. The trust dissipates. It's the beginning of the end as all of the plans you talked about scheduling through the fall have dropped out of the conversation. Why do so many of these relationships end when the summer is over?
Weather changes, months change, routines change and even those relationships with the best of intentions do run their course. At the end of the summer, it's like the end of the calendar year. It's a time when couples reevaluate their relationship status and decide whether to renew for another three months leading into the holiday season.
If you feel this is happening to you, don't panic just yet. Instead, have the conversation with your partner sooner rather than later. Don't toss away the relationship so quickly if you have a deep connection and friendship. Acknowledge all of the amazing things you've done together as a couple and honor the memories you've shared. Ask the other person if there's anything they can do to keep the relationship alive. Remember, bumps on the road are an opportunity for personal growth within a relationship, not necessarily the beginning of the end.
If, at the end of your conversation, you decide you aren't compatible, aren't feeling it for him or her anymore, or someone has already strayed, wish each other well before you start logging on for love, looking for their replacement.
It's important to mourn the loss of your relationship because your friendship, bond and the daily connectivity will have abruptly ended. Trying to get together immediately again as friends during this emotional time is not a good idea. It will backfire. There's no such thing as a mutual breakup in which everyone is happy. One person might think it will lesson their guilt. It won't. You fell in love with someone for a reason, not a season.
If you find that your summer love has ended, don't reactivate your online dating profile for at least a week. Sure, it's great for your ego to see people lining up to meet you for dates, but it isn't fair for someone new not to get the best shot of you. Dating while you're still pining away for your ex can increase your sadness. You're a wounded person and it's healthy to take a break.
After enough time has gone by and you both have moved on with other relationships, it's possible to be friends with your summer romance in another season, but in my experience, you truly need at least six months to segue a romantic relationship into a friendship. But then again, do you really want to be friends with someone who broke your heart?
Have you ever had a Memorial Day through Labor Day relationship? How did it end? Answer in the comments below!
Julie Spira is an online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She's been coaching singles on the dating scene for 20 years and is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating.
For more dating advice, visit the Cyber-Dating Expert blog and follow @JulieSpira on Twitter.
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