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The Art of the One-Summer Fling

Sad but true: You know it’s a short-term deal. Here’s how to get out without coming off as a putz. 

No one wants to be that guy: the one who broke her heart one summer long ago. But every guy wants the perfect summer fling that starts fast, stays hot, and ends easily.

The problem? Crafting the perfect one-summer stand is an art that’s difficult to master. After all, there’s a fine line between being a jerk and a liar—and the heartthrob she can’t take her hands off, but still forgets come September. Fortunately, there’s a solution. For a fire-y summer with the girl of your dreams (that you can feel good about come autumn no matter how you leave things), follow this expert-backed plan. 

Do: Be Up Front

You may not want to ruin your chances; saying, “I like you, but only for the summer” isn’t sexy and a business-deal type of discussion can be off-putting and weird, says Nick Savoy, dating and relationship expert, and found of Love Systems. The list of reasons to keep your lips sealed about post-summer plans (that don’t involve her) goes on. After all, feelings could always change… right? 

Here’s the issue: Women are wired differently than you. “We read into things,” says Karen Sherman, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and relationship expert. “If you’re not up front, she could see all sorts of signs and signals that may not be there at all.” (Turn the tables: If you wanted something serious and she was galavanting around town without you knowing, you wouldn’t be thrilled. Are we right?)

So, say: “I think you’re great and want to have fun this summer, but I’m not ready to make a commitment. If that works for you, I’d love to keep this going,” suggests Sherman. If she agrees, you’re in the clear. If you don’t speak up? “You’re basically leading her on,” says Sherman.

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Dont: Talk About the Future

We don’t care if she’s a spitting image of Mila Kunis—The holidays, upcoming ski trips the two of you should take, or the distance between your real-life homes are all off-limits conversations. Not only does some research suggest women are far better at recalling information than men, but when she hears you talking about anything future-oriented, “she thinks that you’re starting to change your mind about the relationship—that you’re starting to get serious,” says Sherman. Any conversation along these lines also implies “I’m in this for the long-term,” adds Savoy. So unless you are, keep your fall plans to yourself.

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Do: Introduce Her To Your Friends

Just because you’re keeping things casual doesn’t mean you need to keep her hidden. The reality of a summer romance is that you’re going to be having fun—and what’s fun without your buddies? “If you’re in a regular dating situation, bringing her around your friends is an indication that you’re opening up your boundaries,” says Sherman. “But the rules sort of change in the summer.” Plus, including the guys not only guarantees a good time, but also keeps the fling carefree.

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Don't: Introduce Her To Your Family

 “If you introduce her to family, she will take that as a sign of you letting her into your world,” says Sherman. Incorporating her into your social life? Fine. Bringing her home to mom and dad? Misleading.

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Do: Have Fun

To sideline the stuff of serious relationships, keep fun front and center. Midnight swim sessions. Mini golf in the rain. Long, lazy beach days. Pro tip: Sweat together. One study found that women who worked out for 20 minutes were more physically aroused when watching an erotic film than those who didn’t exercise. Other research suggests that the simple smell of your sweat can turn her on—add skinny dipping post-run on the beach and you’ve got a win-win.

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Do: Set Up Expectations

It’s the best way to avoid fights, fast-track fun, and keep things honest. Here’s what you should talk out: Do you guys want an exclusive relationship? Do you have a timeline of when things might end? Are you OK if she sees other guys? “Giving her the freedom to see other people is fair, but it also shows you’re really not ready for a commitment,” says Sherman.

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Don't: Assume She's Available Every Weekend

Why? Because that’s what serious couples do—that’s an assumption that comes with exclusivity, says Sherman. Instead, let her know early in week that you’d like to see her over the weekend—she’ll know you’re not banking on her being around and you’ll keep any unrealistic expectations of anything else at bay.

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Do: Ace The Ending

If you want out come August, that’s fair, but remember: “If you liked her enough to be with her during the summer, you like her enough to keep her in your life—even if you’re not looking for a long-term relationship with her,” says Savoy. If you do call it quits, follow these breakup guidelines.

-Give a real reason. “Tell her that you’re going to be really busy with work and you’ve learned that you can’t commit to a relationship in that kind of environment, or that you’re moving back to some other city and you’ve learned long-distance relationships don’t work,” suggests Savoy. “If you don’t give her any real reason, she’ll wonder what the actual reason is.”

-Do it in person or on the phone. “Breaking up by text message is lame and cowardly,” says Savoy.

-Be sensitive, but don’t draw it out. The sooner the act of breaking up ends, the sooner she can start healing and moving on, says Savoy. Know it’s over halfway through the summer? Be the good guy and tell her so.

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