How To Break Up With Your Summer Fling

Photographed by Renell Medrano.
When the summer begins, it can feel like everyone is so much cuter and all you want is someone to share all your beach trips with. So you might fall into what we call a summer fling: a short-lived relationship that's usually casual and fun. But the PSL is coming back to Starbucks tomorrow, so that means sweater weather is imminent. And maybe now you're realizing that your summer love really was only meant to last while the weather was warm. But how do you end it without sounding like a complete jerk?
Well, it depends on whether or not your summer bae knew that this was a temporary thing. If you've been clear from the start that all you wanted was casual sex, someone to take road trips with, and someone to be your Instagram husband/wife/non-gendered partner, then the break up shouldn't be too difficult. And, despite whether or not they can read body language, your partner probably knows that the fling is coming to an end. So go ahead and tell your summer S.O. that you've had fun, but you're ready for the relationship to be over. “It’s always best to be direct and honest about where you’re at," says relationship coach Adam Maynard. "There’s no harm done in acknowledging a fling has run its course, even if the other person isn’t quite ready to give it up yet, or if they were possibly hoping for something more."
If they were hoping for something more, then the conversation might be more awkward than you'd hoped. But still, stand your ground. A relationship only works if both people want to be in it, so it's totally fine to be the person who still wants your summer fling to end. But as long as you had a good relationship with this person, be kind. “Even if your mind is made up and you’ve already moved on, try your best not to be callous about how you break things off," Maynard says. "Honor what you shared together, affirm what you really appreciate about the other person, and respect them enough to give them a chance to respond." It can also help to explain why you're not interested in a relationship. Maybe you were off from school or work for the summer and now that you're going back, you don't think you'll have time to be a good partner. Or maybe you always thought of the relationship as something that was fun, but don't think that you and this person make a good match for serious dating. Being able to give a reason could help soften the blow.
And that's especially important if you weren't clear that this was just a summer fling from the start. "Ending even a short-term relationship can feel so sudden, unreasonable, and potentially deceitful," says break up coach Chelsea Leigh Trescott. Sometimes the beginning of a relationship feels so exciting that we mistake that exhilaration for chemistry. So maybe you didn't realize that your summer romance was really just a fling.
So if you wake up one day and realize that the relationship is a lot more work than you're willing or able to deal with, or that you and your partner's values don't match up, or that their spontaneous nature was only fun when you could drop everything and go to the beach, then the best move is to be kind and to explain why you don't think the relationship will work out. Sure, it might be awkward or painful, depending on how upset your partner gets, but being honest is always the best choice. "Sincerity ultimately heals people," Trescott says. Often, when people don't explain why they've ended a relationship, their partner fills in the unknown information with self-deprecating talk. So, the kindest thing to do is to be clear about all of the reasons you're ending it. Explain why you don't think you and this person are a long-term match. "It may sting, but it will provide the person you’re breaking up with the necessary clarity," Trescott says. "And that clarity will grant them peace of mind."

More from Sex & Relationships

R29 Original Series