What 3 Women Learned From Their Summer Romances

Photographed by Renell Medrano.
The summer days may be drifting away, but at least we can reminisce about the heated nights we've enjoyed over the last few months. This was the year that the summer fling – a rite of passage – became a "dating trend". Someone (it's still unclear who) in the world of dating vernacular started calling it "freckling" in reference to its fleeting nature: it pops up in summer, then disappears as the seasons change. Disregarding the fact that, er, lots of us have freckles all year round, the term did bring the formative concept of summer romances back to the fore. They never went away of course, but we'd forgotten what thrilling emotional rollercoasters they can be. Summer loving may happen fast but it's often a blast – and can teach us a whole lot about sex, love and relationships.
Ahead, three women tell Refinery29 what they learned from their brief but significant romantic encounters this summer.
1 of 3

I’ve learned not to judge potential partners based on jobs, circumstances or first impressions

Julietta Edwards (not her real name), a 23-year-old student, had a romantic encounter with a 28-year-old man she met on Tinder while working in Tel Aviv, Israel, this summer.

We met for drinks just once, as I left the city a few days later, and I was shocked at how our conversation flowed. When he told me he managed the bar at a club I was sceptical, but he's really the only man I’ve ever met who's been interested in my job and my research (art history). He asked me to show him pictures and made astute comments. We then had a heated discussion about systemic racism in Israel, after which I was surprised when he invited me to his flat, as I was pretty sassy. We walked there and didn’t touch at all, so I thought I'd been friend-zoned. This belief was only enhanced by the fact that he is the most devastatingly handsome man I've ever met. I thought no one that hot would ever be interested in me. We got back and I chatted to him and his flatmate until 2am – we all got on so well.

He then said he had to drive his friend to hospital, which I thought was him trying to pie me, until his flatmate confirmed and said he was genuinely a really nice person. Then he kissed me in what was the best, sexiest, most life-affirming make-out session of my life. I left, and he left; we didn't sleep together and didn't see each other again. But I think about him all the time – more than anyone I’ve ever slept with.

I’m so grateful it happened, and honestly think if we had slept together, which is usually my style, we wouldn’t have had the deep conversation and connection and I might not still be thinking about him so much. There are layers to the romance that are as yet uncovered, and I'm clinging to the hope of exploring them soon when I go back.

Prior to this person, in London I tended to date Oxbridge Wanker Bankers. I judged him for having a job in a club but later found out he had an economics degree, was hyper articulate and curious. He was the full package of fun, cleverness and easygoing-ness that I didn’t think existed. I’ve learned not to judge potential partners based on jobs, circumstances or first impressions.

Summer flings can be great and can teach you a lot about your prejudices in your dating choices. You are often in places or situations where you feel more carefree, less tied down to commitment or responsibilities. You also have fewer expectations and less pressure. Things can develop faster and easier. It sucks when you actually fancy the pants off them, though.
2 of 3

When you're given a sign, DON'T IGNORE IT

Ronke Peters (not her real name), 24, a creative relations assistant in London, began a dating app marathon this summer and met one particularly memorable guy on Hinge.

What resulted across Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagels and Hinge when I began my dating quest was a series of no-replies, dead chat and unwanted sexual advances – but then came the guy I'll call 'T'. His first message was 'What's your favourite book?' To which I responded Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He said 'No way in hell, that's actually mine. The scenes with her dad stressed me out so much. And I hated that while I read it, but by the end I realised that was the most emotion any book has ever made me feel. So it became a favourite. I loved her auntie and granddad though. What do you do for a living?' I put that in Google to see where he'd plagiarised it from, because in what world do you share the same favourite-novel-of-all-time by an Igbo-Nigerian woman with a white man?

And so we began a sweet conversation. T told me he was a policy researcher specialising in southern Africa and south Asia, a spicy white guy. He wanted to meet for drinks and discuss Chimamanda and Purple Hibiscus, and it would be the beginning of some epic love story. I even overlooked the fact that he replied to my statement about most of my activities involving wine with, 'I don't drink anymore, I hope that's okay'.

Then a fortnight ago my roommate, who also happens to be my twin sister, who also happens to be on a dating marathon, began to tell me about some of the guys she's matched with. She said, 'Some guy went straight in about my favourite book.' It's Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I asked her what his was; she said Purple Hibiscus. I knew it was foolhardy to forget my sixth most uttered mantra: men are invariably trash. I asked her what his name was; she replied with the name I knew she would. I asked her to show me his profile; she showed me a mirror image of the fool.

And so, as most flings do, the anticlimax was swift and brutal, but I'm forced to believe that T is going around telling every black woman he sees that his favourite book is Purple Hibiscus in the hope that one of them will meet him for drinks he can't even have. It's rather unfortunate that two black women within his five-mile radius are a) twins and b) live together. But I don't regret the experience – I've learned that when you're given a sign, don't ignore it. Summer romances are the bedrock of any contemporary baby girl lifestyle. You feel young, carefree and powerful. And you have someone to stand outside the pub with.
3 of 3

I learned that it often pays to be spontaneous and forward

Andrea Thornton (not her real name), 25, a public sector consultant in London, had a brief relationship with a New York-based artist this summer.

We first met three years ago at an art exhibition in France, and ran into each other at a gallery in London earlier this year. We had a really fun night together before he had to return to the US. I then booked a trip to New York in the summer with a few friends and in the back of my mind was hoping he’d be there and would want to see me again.

I got in touch with him about a week before I arrived in New York and ended up seeing him a few times while I was there. He showed me some of his favourite places in the city; I was surprised by how well we got on and was sad to leave knowing that I probably wouldn’t see him again.

I’m pleased it happened because I had a lot of fun with him and got to see parts of the city that I may not have found on my own, but it was sad to feel a connection with someone and know it’s probably not going to go anywhere.

I learned that it often pays to be spontaneous and forward. I was quite worried about getting in touch with him in case he wouldn’t want to see me again, but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have spent this time with him and I would’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if I had.

The fact that you know a summer romance is going to come to an end eventually takes the pressure off a bit, so it’s easier to enjoy it for what it is, rather than worrying about what you want in the long term. That was a positive for me because I’m not really looking for a serious relationship at the moment.

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