Ah, summer loving. Nothing beats a whirlwind romance with an intriguing stranger on a hot, summer's eve. But if states across America are still social distancing come July and August, singles everywhere will be deprived of a summer fling, and thus, will have to seek their thrills elsewhere.
According to Sarah Melancon, Ph.D., a sociologist and clinical sexologist, most, if not all, of the country will likely continue to recommend social distancing measures through the summer months, even after states begin to reopen businesses and parks. And that will undoubtedly have an impact on typical summer hotspots, like bars, pools, and beaches, where new flames so frequently meet.
Chances are people will be wary about physical contact for a while longer, too. According to a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bustle, hugging and handshakes are among the top worries on people's minds as they begin to navigate a reopened world. And that could, in turn, mean there will be less interest in hookups and other forms of contact.
I just adopted a dog, so I was really hoping to be out and about at outdoor bars, using her as a ploy to meet cute boys.
The loss of the summer fling might be the very last straw for those struggling with loneliness while in quarantine. For Edmarie, 26, summer has been a "depressing thought," as she faces more time alone in her apartment. "I'm just coming out of a breakup and wanted to jump back into dating and get some company," she tells Bustle. "That impending feeling of, 'Wow, I'm going to be lonely from now until whenever this ends,' is tough."
Humans are such social creatures, Melancon explains, which is why isolation — and a lack of opportunities to meet and hook up — can be so difficult. "Our nervous systems are designed to co-regulate with others’ systems to help us feel safe, calm, and connected," she says.
Samantha Leach, Bustle's culture editor, can't help but dwell on what could have been. "I just adopted a dog, so I was really hoping to be out and about at outdoor bars, using her as a ploy to meet cute boys," she says. "What I love about summer is the spontaneity. There's a feeling that you can meet anyone, any night can end in a hookup, any hang can lead to a fling."
There are, however, many other ways to feel to emulate the sensations of a fling, including meeting people online. Swiping on an app might not compare to the adrenaline of falling for someone on a hot summer night. But the chances of meeting someone online are incredibly high, and that can be exhilarating, too.
"Tinder is reporting record use rates," Melancon says, "and some apps like Coffee and Bagel are adjusting their platform to be more coronavirus-friendly. Where chats used to expire after seven days, now they’re available as long as one of you has spoken in the last three days."
Many apps are also implementing video chat features, so you can talk face-to-face with someone who's piqued your interest. Leach says she's willing to consider giving them a try. "I'm definitely thinking about it (and letting my dog casually 'pop up' in the background as a flirting technique), but I'm way less excited about it."
Of course, not all flings are simply about sex. Some summer trysts really do lead to long-term romance. Jared M. Grand, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of Mental Shifts, tells Bustle that not is the time to think out of the box and come up with new ways to date while traditional meeting spots are closed.
"Why not set up some Zoom coffee dates? Or deliver takeout to arrive from the same restaurant to your different locations? [Or] try going outside and looking up at the stars while talking on the phone," he says. "Dating may require some extra steps right now, but it is certainly not impossible."
Summer dreams ripped at the seams, but oh those summer FaceTimes...
Sarah Melancon, PhD, sociologist and clinical sexologist
Jared M. Grand, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist and president of Mental Shifts